Chapter 8

Speeding Up

"I sent a messenger to Kaleb to notify him of Taryn's absence. I sent him early yesterday morning, and he's got the fastest horse available. Hopefully he should reach Kaleb before evening." Henry laid a comforting hand on Jamie's shoulder. "She'll be fine."

"I sure hope so. If that messenger doesn't notify Kaleb soon, I'm afraid that she'll end up getting hurt... or worse. Oh, isn't there something else we can do, Henry? There's got to be something else!"

"I'm afraid not. Neither you or I can go, and it's not as though we can send the girls. I would suggest William, but since as of now he is the only heir... well, we can't afford to send him."

"Does William even know about what happened to Sarah?" Jamie asked.

"I haven't told him, and by your reaction, I'm guessing you haven't either. Should we tell him?"

Jamie contemplated the idea. "No, it's probably for the best that we don't tell him. You know how protective he is of her. He'd rush off as soon as we informed him. He's like her big brother."

Henry face-palmed. "Don't remind me. He would do anything for her, which really bugs me. What if she convinced him to leave with her or something? His love towards his friends will be his end someday..."

"Oh, come on. Don't tell me you wouldn't do the same for a friend of yours."

"Well, that's a different story," he began.

"How so? Come on, don't' be so hard on him. You know, he reminds me of you..."

Henry leaned forward and gently kissed her. "Why are we so off subject? Didn't you call me in here to talk to me about something? I only told you that I sent a messenger because I figured that you would be happy to hear something good for a change. Now what is it you want to talk about."

Jamie hesitated. She had completely forgotten about what she was going to talk to Henry about. "Um, well... I wanted to talk to you about..."

"About what?" he prompted.

"About... trying for another baby."

"Are you hiding something from me again?" Henry asked suspiciously.

She chuckled. "Not quite. I'm serious. I want to try for another baby. I miss getting to cuddle William, Seraphina, and Elizabeth. You may not understand it, but it's hard for a woman to watch her kids grow up. I'm only thirty-four, so..."

"Gosh, Jame, I don't know..."

It was Jamie's turn to put a hand on Henry's shoulder. "You don't have to answer now. Just... think about it."

Henry nodded, then smiled and left the room.

"Let's see. According to the directions that that man back at the store gave us, we should arrive at Brighton tonight." Kaleb looked around at his troops, all highly regarded Royal Musketeers and friends. "We've got to keep moving. The sooner we get there, the better. Now let's go over the plan one more time—" He was cut off by the sound of a man shouting. A young man, roughly twenty, galloped up to Kaleb and skidded to a halt.

"You are Kaleb Young, correct?" After Kaleb nodded, the young man continued. "I come bearing news from King Henry and Queen Jamie. It seems your wife, Taryn, has left your youngest daughter Allison in Queen Jamie's care. According to the king and queen, Taryn has journeyed to find your daughter Sarah on her own. They believe that she took a shortcut and will be there this afternoon."

Kaleb didn't move. His worst fears had just been confirmed. Snapping out of his trance, he practically shouted, "That means we've got a couple of hours maximum before she gets there." He gazed down, his glare seemingly penetrating the rock at his feet. Then he unexpectedly banged on the makeshift table that he and his troops had been talking around. "I can't believe she would go behind my back like this!" he yelled. He stood up and raked a stressed hand through his dark brown hair. He had been doing that a great deal lately. "Ugh, this infuriates me!" He kicked a stone into a nearby tree grove.

"With all do respect, Kaleb," his best friend, Charles, began hesitantly. "If she really is going to arrive there soon, I say we kick it into high gear and get up there before she does. It won't be easy, but if we hurry we might just arrive there when Taryn does. There's no reason not to try. At the very least we won't be so far behind her."

Everything seemed to be fuzzy at that exact moment, but Kaleb managed to choke out, "You're right. Everybody, saddle up, and don't stop until we get to Brighton!"

As he dashed to his horse, he suddenly felt faint. He was very dizzy, and had the slight sensation that he was falling... falling... "Oomph!" He hit the ground with a thud.

This wasn't normal. In fact, it had never happened before. Being almost 5'7" and having a lean, muscular build, this kind of thing didn't happen often to people like this. And he was only thirty-six!

"Captain Kaleb? Are you all right? Captain Kaleb..." The voice seemed to fade, and Kaleb thought he heard the distant sound of his friends shouting for help. It was useless to try and get up, though. All he could do was sink deeper into unconsciousness...

"Kaleb? Kaallleeebbbb..." Kaleb could hear a gentle, singsong voice call. Was that Taryn?

"Ugh... is that you, Taryn?" Dare he open his eyes and see? He dare. Opening his eyes, he could see the harsh sunlight filtering through the gaps in the leaves. Wait, leaves? He turned his head back and forth, his eyes adjusting to the light. The sight that greeted him was not the familiar look of his wife, nor even a sight that was indoors.

Kaleb was lying on his back, propped up against a large rock in a small wood. A concerned looking Jesse was looking up at down at him. Ah, something familiar. Jesse, a red haired woman who was about Taryn's age, was Taryn's former apprentice. Jesse had become so good, however, that she had quickly skyrocketed to the rank of Trainer. The only ones above her in rank were Taryn and Kaleb himself.

Suddenly everything came tumbling back. The search for Sarah, the message from Henry and Jamie, Taryn's absence, and lastly, his fall.

"Oh, good. You're awake," Jesse said, breathing a sigh of relief. "You're men went on without you. They knew that's what you would want them to do. I volunteered to stay behind so that way I could make sure you were okay."

"Why did I—why did I, you know, pass out?"

"Well, you did fall pretty hard, but I think you were going to pass out either way. I think you were so stressed and concerned that you made yourself dizzy. That's never good..."

"Taryn... come on, Jesse. We have to catch up with the other men. There's no telling what Edmund could have up his sleeve." Kaleb stood up on wobbly legs. After climbing on his horse, he felt much better.

"I couldn't agree with you more." She climbed on her own horse and led the way.