A commotion rattled out in a quick staccato from the front. Edward and I cut around the corner, not bothering to go back through that death laden house. Two motorcycle riders were just cutting the engines of their mean looking bikes. With the black leathers and matte helmets with tinted face shields, I couldn’t even tell if they were male or female. I presumed male simply because the bikes looked to be the kind men would ride – big, heavy, powerful.
“May I help you?” Edward’s voice sounded too loud in the silence. His arms were crossed and he moved toward the riders, blocking their way to the house.
The first rider reached up to remove the helmet. In that instant before I saw the rider’s face, I knew it was Caiden. I’m not sure if it was something in the way he moved, or if I’d grown telepathic powers in the time since I was abducted, but I was so certain it was him I staked my life on it.
I ran past Edward. His arm shot out to block my way, but I ducked under. I missed Micah, though. He’d been angling behind the bikers and managed to tackle me just short of my goal. Caiden.
“Let. Her. Go.”
I’d never heard Caiden’s voice sound like that, not that I’d spent all that much time with him. That tone was one I generally put high on my “do not mess with that person when I hear that tone” list. I also noticed in that moment that the temperature was dropping. From my position half twisted toward the sky I realized the sky had grown to an ominous dark greenish yellow. Any good Midwesterner knew that meant nasty storms and tornados.
“I do not know who you are, but you are on private property and I must ask you to leave.”
Edward was sealing his fate with that statement. A bolt of lightning arced down to connect to the ground just a few yards from where this vignette played out.
“I didn’t offer an option. Let her go.”
Edward stood for a few seconds studying Caiden and the other biker.
“Let us negotiate a deal. Her value to me is greater than you can imagine.”
The way he said that, I knew Edward was trying to angle for his little ceremony to go off before he let me go.
“Fine. Let us parley.”
“Ah. The old terms.”
“I know who you are,” Caiden hung his helmet from a hook on the rear of his bike and swung his leg over, “Now. Let the lady up. If you know the old ways, treat her as she deserves.”
Edward ducked his head, “Touché. You have caught me out. Micah, help her to her feet please.”
“No, Micah. It does not matter what she did. A lady does not merit such treatment.”
Micah helped me to my feet. I jerked my arm away from him when he held it a little too long after I stood. Dusting the dirt and grass off, I watched as Edward and Caiden bent their heads together to speak in low tones. After several minutes of this, Caiden gestured to the other biker, who got off the bike and joined them, still helmeted.
I tried to inch my way closer to hear what was being said, but Micah stopped me, “That is parley. It is not to be interrupted or attended by any who are not leaders.”
“I am my own leader, thank you very much,” I said trying once again to inch my way closer.
“Not here you’re not.”
I sighed and gave up. Micah would likely call his crony in if I kept trying to push it. So, I started to mull over the whole deadly illness issue Edward had abducted me in an attempt to address. While I didn’t know that much about Weather Riders and such, my parents were both doctors and I knew a decent amount about illness.
“Micah, what happened to start the illness? Who got sick first?”
Micah stared at me for a long moment saying nothing.
“Come on! I’m trying to help here. That is why your boss kidnapped me.”
“Whatever. Are you going to answer my question?”
Micah scrubbed his hands over his face, “There was an ancient ceremony. It was meant to bring an end to the drought that’s been killing us as surely as this is. But, there had to be a sacrifice. Jana volunteered.”
“Wait a minute. Ya’ll killed someone?”
“No!” Micah looked as if I’d slapped him. Hard.
“You said you sacrificed someone.”
“Sacrificed, yes. Killed, no. Jana was ill. Her powers were a burden to her, so she volunteered to sacrifice her power in order to fuel the ceremony.”
“People started to get sick after that. We tried the healing ceremony on our own first. Marcus volunteered his power.”
“Was he ill too?”
“No. Old. Nearing the end of his time and he said he didn’t feel like he’d miss the power.”
An idea was starting to form in my head of what may have been happening to these people.
“It didn’t work, did it?”
“They started to die. Even when we brought outsiders here for the healing ceremony, it didn’t work.”
Caiden, Edward, and the biker gestured for us to join them.
“We’ve struck a bargain for your release,” Edward said.
“Is it a done deal?” that idea blossomed into a plan, “Or can I add a bonus to the deal for not harming me?”
“A lagniappe? That has not been done in centuries.”
Caiden grabbed my elbow hard and whispered in my ear, “What the hell are you doing? We need to get out of here!”
“I need to save these people first. At least the kids, and I think I might know how. Help me!”
Caiden shook his head and let go of my arm.
“Yes. She is offering Lagniappe.”