To bear twins at this time was a curse. The disappearance of children in general was not unheard of, but usually such cases were eventually explained – for better or worse. But twins vanished as if snatched by an unknown entity, never to be seen again.
While the dangerous gift changed everything for Thomas, a graver turn of events was to follow as if an apocalyptic horseman. Seven days after the twins were born, Racael developed a fever during the night, and was gone by morning. The speed with which she died hit Thomas as a palpable blow. Every ounce of physical and mental strength was instantly snatched from his being. After he realized what had occurred it would be several hours before the needy cries of his children would penetrate the paralysis of his senses.
From that moment a consuming void was created inside Thomas. Every attempt to rationalize, to reconcile, to recover, was instantly devoured. He knew that the beast lay within, but had no means to expel it. He sensed its anger and allowed it to feed. But when it salivated at the door of his own sons he began to sharpen his sword. The battle was decisive. A new creature emerged from within – also strong, angry and wilful – but unlike the first beast, this one had purpose. It had detected the maternal void, and was bent on filling it. The purpose gave it strength and agility. Instead of feeding on emotion and burning energy until it was spent, the new force inside Thomas focused on what needed to be accomplished. Now that he was without her it would be very difficult for him to conceal the presence of the infants. Had they been a little older perhaps things would have been different, but he could not work, feed and defend them all at the same time. His father had been a voyager for trade, and that was his childhood memory – a life at sea. Now he would become one again out of love for his children – a self-imposed fugitive. He sold the few possessions that might be worth something and found a an old trader at a nearby port who was ready to retire his sea legs, especially when offered a decent piece of land and comfortable home in exchange for his small cargo vessel.
Thomas hired periodic help for the first few years to care for the boys during their travels, but once they were past their eighth year they began to become helpers to him, proving themselves capable deck hands. When they were twelve they had the experience of travel and trade that most men would not gain until they had many more years. Their independence grew as well, and in one moment perhaps it was this independence that was their undoing.
Thomas had arranged a healthy trade at his home port after a long voyage. He was always reluctant to return here, but his knowledge of the area and people generally enabled him to find a somewhat better profit here than in most other ports. Besides, he could keep the twins below decks for the brief stopover and the danger would be negligible.
Did the twins leave the boat? Did they simply come up on deck for a while out of curiosity to see this homeland of which their father had long spoken? All Thomas knew is that when he returned after completing his transaction that day, the boys were gone and a small troop of soldiers was waiting for him in his cabin. Initially they bound and gagged him until his rage subsided. Then the chief lieutenant explained that he was to be escorted to the capital at first light the next day. He was told not to ask questions as none would be answered. He was told that any attempt to escape would endanger the lives of his sons. That was all he needed to know.