Interlude: Ambrus

By the time Massima noticed his absence, Ambrus was two hours away, speeding down empty highways in Regine’s newest sleek performance car, just over the border into North Dakota. Better to ask forgiveness than permission. This time, he’d left the collar behind on purpose, hoping Regine would understand. This was his son. If he was ever going to be more than the lapdog Emrys loved to accuse him of being, if he was ever going to be a man, he had to do this.

He could have stayed and asked – or even tried to demand – to come with the hunting party, but that would have cost precious time, and would likely have resulted in him being ordered to stay home and safe. So he’d slipped out while they were still arguing, unnoticed in the disarray.

He’d had a bare minimum of training – what Luke and others could bully Regine into giving him, through the years – and none of it had been in tracking, or in any sort of scrying, for which he didn’t have the talent, anyway. But Ambrus was a phenomenally good listener, and for twenty years, people had been telling him things.

“It started out as a means of control,” Sang Ki Akinobu had told him, “the Naming of children by their fathers. Their mothers have them until they reach the age of schooling, of course, but if a father gives them a name with some meaning, some connection to himself – well, to know someone’s Name is to have some measure of control already. To have given that Name is a connection that is very hard to sever.”

He had given Emrys his own Name; that had to be a strong enough connection to start from. He’d thought he could just drive with his gut, but his stomach was still tied in knots and not acting reliably as a compass. But there was something else...

“Blood calls to blood,” Cormack had drawled. They were both pretty drunk at the time; tired of serving them, Lady Maureen had left them alone in the bar. “When you come down to it, it doesn’t matter how far away she takes him, how long you’re gone. When you get right down to it, your son is of the same blood as you, and that, my friend, is all you need.”

“Blood calls to blood.” He’d found an old scar down the inside of his arm, and shuddered through an instant-replay flashback of the memory. Terror, humiliation, pain, and anger. He’d been almost the same age that his son was now. He sliced the scar open again and dipped the fingers of his other hand into the blood.

“Blood calls to blood. Emrys Morn, Emrys sh’Catherine cy’Drake oro’Shahin,” (the stupid boy, but what could you do?), “Emrys Ambrosius.”

Now, now he knew where he was going. North, north-east, straight-line as a crow or a dragon flies. Pain and fear and anger vibrated through the blood, and, spurred on, Ambrus sped through the dim morning light.

”Emrys,” he murmured to himself, when the pulsing became less indicative, pushing more blood out of the shallow cut as he needed to. He had sold everything he was to keep his children out of slavery, and now they were at risk. “Emrys sh’Catherine cy’Drake oro’Shahin.” He tasted the same resonance of pain and fear, growing stronger, growing closer and more desperate. This time, though, there was an echo, an icy pulse of panic and fear near the end of his son’s Name, in perfect counterpoint to the first.

He tried again, concentrating on all four Names this time, pulling the cut apart for more blood. “Emrys Morn sh’Catherine cy’Drake oro’Shahin.” He was expecting the memory of his own fear. He was expecting his son’s anger, fierce and defiant. But the cold backlash of terrified pain nearly drove him off the road.

He shuddered, forcing the car back into the lane, glad the long highway was empty. “Emrys,” he tried, when he had control of himself again. “Shahin.”

He gripped the steering wheel tightly, heading for the panic and pain. If they could hold it together until he got there, so could he.


Copyright © 2009-2011 Lyn Thorne-Alder with Elasmo. All rights reserved.
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