Why Al knew how to stitch up a stab wound, no one knew, but they were thankful nonetheless. The kitchen had been a frenzy of movement as they tried to save their humble beast. His injuries were cleaned and sewn up, but Tristand had lost a significant amount of blood. Only he could pull himself through it.
And they could only wait. They all sat in the living room, which resembled an Old English hunting lodge, emotionally depleted and physically exhausted. Except for Marion, who paced around before them as though she were trying to wear a hole in the carpet. The fire burning in the fireplace sent highlights dancing across her red hair. Rob sat in a leather upholstered chair, counting the seconds until her rant would begin.
“Clara,” Moon said, gently breaking the silence. The young girl looked up with puffy wet eyes, her hands ringing a soiled tissue to tatters. “Go and sit with him.”
Clara nodded and bolted upstairs to the room where Tristand was lying. They listened to her footsteps fade away upstairs, followed by the soft click of a door closing. Once the youngest member of the group was safely away, Marion opened her mouth to speak.
“What happened?” Moon asked sternly. Marion blinked with mild shock and then sat down, wanting to listen to what her lovely friend had to say. “What happened,” Moon repeated when no one answered her. She stood up and took Marion’s place in front of them. She looked very different, backlit by the fire, than the quiet calm princess they knew.
“We went to find the tinderbox. And we were attacked. Tristand helped us escape.” Rob said succinctly, too tired to for long-winded answers.
“Attacked? This is the third time we have been attacked.” Al reached for Moon’s hand to bring her back to her seat but she pulled it away from him. “Someone is trying to kill us, and you went looking for a tinderbox? We were shot at, Clara was strangled just two weeks ago and now that man—” Moon cleared her throat and lowered her voice to a strong whisper. “And that man may well be dying up there. Not to mention our guest who is sitting traumatized in the office.”
Celestine had paled and nearly collapsed when Tristand’s bloody body was hauled onto the kitchen table. Moon escorted her to the office and done all she could to comfort the woman. One box of tissues and a strong scotch later, Moon was able to leave her for a moment.
“Now one of you, any of you, please tell me that you at least have this thing you risked our lives for.” With that Moon crossed her arms over her chest. None of them ever thought she could be so intimidating. Marion was rather impressed.
“We don’t,” Al answered. “When we got there, he already had it. For all we know he still does.”
Moon let her arms fall and sat back down again. When Al made another attempt to touch her, she shifted away again.
“Actually, that’s not true.” Goldie said. She dipped her hand into her leather jacket and pulled out a small plain box. “Couldn’t let him keep it. He was such an asshole.”
“Do we even know who he is?” Marion asked, inspecting the tinderbox.
“Yes. It’s Nottingham.” Robin said.
Marion nearly dropped the box. “What?”
“He’s here, my love. He’s the one who’s been attacking us.”
“You know this man?” Moon said.
“Unfortunately.” Marion’s lip curled into a slight snarl.
“What should we do?” Goldie spoke up, feeling very uneasy after Marion’s reaction.
“I suggest we actually find out what this tinderbox can do.” Moon gently took the box from Marion and handed it to her husband. “You all went looking for this. Might as well see why it is important. I need to check on Celestine.” Then she rose and left the room.
No one said a word for a full five minutes, utterly bewildered by this assertive version of Moon.
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