He stumbled blindly down the tunnel, following the sound of clanking armor and harsh breathing that was Alistair ahead of him. More than anything Aedan wanted to turn back, to rush back down the tunnel to the kitchen pantry but by now Howe’s men were there. It would only lead to his death to go back.
Yet he wasn’t really seeing the problem with that.
Oriana and Oren were dead.
Mother and Father were dead.
Fergus could be dead somewhere along the road for all he knew!
All that he knew was left of his family was Dane.
Suddenly an armored hand gripped his shoulder and Aedan looked up into Alistair’s hazel eyes, blinking at his friend for a moment.
“I need you,” hissed the other young man. “Aedan. I need you if we’re going to live through this night and see Howe come to justice.”
“Why?” he answered, his voice breaking like it hadn’t done since he was a youth. “Everyone I love is dead! I’ve got nothing left to see justice for!”
Alistair snarled and shoved him against the side of the tunnel, spitting, “Fergus is still out there! And, damnit, man, I love you like a brother! You’ve got me!”
Aedan blinked hard, sudden tears rushing to his eyes, and he breathed, “Alistair…”
His friend – no, his brother in everything but blood – released him and stepped back even as he held out an armored fist. Expectant. Waiting.
“We’ll do this,” insisted Alistair. “Together. You, me, and Fergus. We’ll see him pay.”
The hope that filled Aedan suddenly was almost foreign, like he’d forgotten what it felt like as he’d been consumed by grief. As he reached out and grasped Alistair’s hand tight, he said brokenly, “Together.” And he knew – knew – right then in that moment that they’d succeed.