“Who sent you?” Isaac repeated, panting as well. Discharge didn’t only take its toll on its victims.
Knowing he’d pay for his silence, the Stranger remained resolute, determined not to give away anything that might deter his mission – Isaac Vidar knowing who sent him would likely cost him his life. He tried to brace himself, knowing what was coming as Isaac swung his arm once again, but it didn’t lessen the pain upon impact. The Stranger had known pain, had felt pain, in his seventy-six years, but he’d never felt pain like this. Unable to hold in the anguish from Isaac’s discharge, he cried out again, despite his best efforts not to.
“Who?” Isaac cried again, aiming this time for the Stranger’s unprotected stomach. “Who?”
It was excruciating; searing electricity coursed through his body from the point of impact. He was coughing up blood now; breathing was becoming more and more difficult. Isaac staggered back a couple steps; the Stranger could feel his eyes on him as his head sagged forward, gasping, trying to catch his breath. His mouth slacked open; he couldn’t seem to close it. Blood and spit dribbled down to his lap. How he’d ever find a way out of this situation was beyond him. Cursing inwardly, he berated himself for not being prepared to encounter the man who was rumored to be the girl’s father.
In that moment, in that thought, something prompted him to look up. He didn’t know what stirred him to do it, but as he did, he saw the very thing he was strapped to this chair, suffering, for. The girl.
She stood in the doorway, face aghast as she clutched a shirt around her so tightly her knuckles were white; her dark hair hung loosely around her shoulders; her porcelain legs contrasted with the darkness of the hall behind her. But what took the Stranger most by surprise, what stopped his breathing and made the pain disappear for one miracle of a second, were her eyes. Her eyes pierced his, sending a jolt of electricity through him – not unlike Isaac’s blows, but without the pain.
In that moment, the Stranger’s world shifted. Those two eyes – one green, one silver – brought back out of the recesses of his memory the words of his mother, uttered years and years ago. In that moment, Rein Torvald, the Stranger tied to the chair, knew two things that just a few moments ago he would have scoffed at as impossible, were absolutely certain:
Æydan Csitrali, this woman who was barely more than a child, had unknowingly robbed him of his heart. And she would, he felt in the depths of his soul, be the death of him.