The second chance was reluctant, Vukasin's horse was right up against the rump of the horse given to Avci. They had put Amal at the front of the caravan, separating the friends for the safety of the latter.
Avci couldn't care less, he could feel the hate warming his chest, the adrenaline coursing through him as his captors kept him close. In the depth of his conscious he wanted to know their plan, where they were taking him. East at the moment, there were a lot of villages this way. As well as militia camps or thug hideaways. This group was neither, they were too organized to be normal thugs and too average looking to be the flaunting militia.
Whether or not they told him where they were going, he had no intention of continuing with them after tonight. He had a horse, proper traveling clothes. All that's left is stealing a sack of supplies from one of them in the night and leaving as quietly or hastily as he could.
A tearing sound made Avci glance back, Vuk was ripping some jerky apart. The sun-kissed man looked stared back at Avci with stern gold eyes. “You can forget any chance of running off. That horse ain't going to listen to anything you tell it.” The man smirked and took a bite of the dried meat.
Avci could feel his mouth water when the smell of the meat wafted past him. The stew Amal had brought him last night and the biscuit from this morning had long lost their effect. He watched as Vuk's lips perked in a smirk and then looked away. He was not going show any more weakness, they witnessed his heart break as they dragged him from his love. They were not going to see him beg for food.
He closed his eyes and released a thick sigh, the rumble in his stomach bringing back memories of when he was tortured. Just like what he had done to Amal, except for a much longer span of time and much crueler methods.
“Something wrong there your majesty?” Vukasin teased, tearing another bite of jerky.
A roll of his eyes and Avci narrowly glanced back at the thin warrior. "I am only considering which of you morons to use as a hide when the storm hits."
To Avci's surprise Vuk grinned -though further consideration made Avci realize that was nothing to be surprised by. "Well if I were to choose, Lev would be the best. He has more skin." He snickers. "But we'll be out of that storm you're seeing come from the West mountains before it even puts out the fire of your little castle." If Vuk noticed the rage that refilled Avci with, he didn't let it show. But he did take notice of the sharp look from in front of them.
"Vukasin." The girl chided. "We're not her to antagonize him."
Avci looked to Meave, red hair, pale skin and confusing hazel eyes. She was from the North, far North - her accent revealed that. "Then what are you here for?"
She returned his stare, silence hanging in the air. The crunch of snow from horse hooves and wagon wheels, heaves of breath with vapor from the beasts below them. The woods were more silent than a graveyard. "We're taking you home." She said and turned back around.
Shock settled slowly into Avci, he felt his breath halting and body freezing. Home. He had never considered that as a possibility in this, he was told it was destroyed. That all the men were killed, women and children abused and beaten then left to rebuild themselves some how. Only the pretty ones were taken. And if he attempted to return he assumed he would become a prisoner for his crimes, try him guilty and dispose of him. His name wasn't well known, but his group was. He had done nothing differently than the last leader in this sense, he didn't boast of his own name, but he boasted of the groups name. He didn't want his name getting back to his mother under such acts. His mother. Was she still alive? If they say they're taking him home, then that means there could be a chance that his father was still alive. Could that be true?
He despised the hope that began to rise through him. Yes, he longed for the much over due reunion. But this was not how he pictured it, being returned as a prisoner. If he were to return home and find it in ashes or to find it standing then he wanted to do so on his own free will. He looked past the group up to Amal, could this really be a late rescue? There had to be something more to it.
“We need to find some shelter! Feels like a storm is coming in.” Someone from ahead hollered to the group.
“There's a station ahead. Let's pick up pace.” Amal ordered, confusing Avci as to why Amal was starting to call the shots.
Vuk came up beside Avci and grabbed the reins of his horse. “Better hold onto your saddle.” Once those ahead of them picked up pace Vuk pulled Avci's horse to follow, muttering a command to it when they get moving. The sudden gallop about made Avci fall off the back of the horse until he grabbed the knot of the saddle.
They traveled for an hour longer before arriving at a hunting lodge with smoke puffing out of the chimney. A welcoming smell of burning wood against the crisp cold air. Nostalgic in many ways. Avci could remember winters when he was with his family, helping his father chop the wood and stack it, then assisting his mother with the dinner. He also remembered his first winter away from his family, a burning fire two rooms down, he could see the warm glow from his holding cell, but never did he feel it's embrace. He remembers seeing and hearing the old leader of the group play around with his mate, a harsh woman whose icy gaze froze even the bravest of hearts – he witnessed it several times. Nostalgia brought back last winter, after raiding a few villages and plundering some caravans returning home to a warm chamber with his love was the best thing in the world. Holding her while bundled in blankets and feasting on a meal he didn't have to make.
His chest began to ache as he continued to think about Keeva. He wanted to be with her so badly. To hold her once again.
Lev pulled him from his horse, holding the back of his coat until he gained his footing. “Come on and behave.” The large man releases Avci's coat and pushes him forward, causing the brunette to stumble through the thick snow.
The lodge was fair sized, just barely large enough to hold the travelers. A handful of the travelers, the ones that appeared to be soldiers, headed into the lodge first. Leaving the helping hands to take care of the horses and supplies. The only fighters that were still around were the three Avci knew the names of, and Amal. Was he considered a fighter?
Avci decided to take advantage of the moment. He jogged over to his old friend, hearing Lev pick up his pace to keep close in case Avci acted out again.
Amal was unhooking a bag from the saddle of his horse, undoing the buckle with gloved hands. He turned his eyes to Avci, only a hint of caution in his blue eyes. “Hey.” He slowly turned his eyes from him and paid attention to taking the pack off.
“Where do you stand?”
“Hm?” He looked back to Avci and pulled the pack strap over his shoulder as it slid from the rump of the horse. “Where do I stand? ...Well, here.”
Glaring, Avci took a breath to keep from yelling at him. “In this...rescue team.”
“Oh. Well I'm...in charge I guess. Searching for you was my idea, these are guys I met along the way and have hired to help me.”
Confusion began to swarm through Avci's mind, he stared at Amal even when the man looked up the hill as Vukasin laughed and interjected. “Hire would go along with payment, that deal dropped long ago kid.”
His friend smiled sheepishly and winced as Meave his his back. “He's the leader, plain and simple.” The two made their way for the lodge, their belongings over their shoulders along with their weapons.
Leader? He could hardly believe that. This cowardly whelp was leading a group in a job to find him? Impossible.
“Let's go inside, and,” Amal hesitated, he seemed as if he was unsure of the possibility of what he was about to suggest. “And, if you want. We can talk more.” His blue eyes pierced Avci with expectancy and innocent hope.
Part of Avci was eager for the opportunity, but he wasn't about to let his defenses down. “Answers are long over due.”