Luck hit Khadir at last.
He had gotten word from the mercenaries at the docks that Mary has been sighted with two elves - but she hadn't emerged from the Evenstar.
Khadir was sure that Mary was heading his way. So he watched and he waited, every day and every night. When he became fed up or tired, Matthew took watch. After about a week, Khadir's patience finally paid off.
He saw Mary riding a horse along the grass-lined road, the elves named Ead and Tostig following her on their own mounts.
Khadir whistled his two-note bird-call.
Mary paused abruptly, and looked around.
“Who's there?” she said.
“It's probably nothing,” Tostig remarked.
Mary ignored him and dismounted. She waded through the tall grass, peering through the fine blades.
“Announce yourself!” she said.
Khadir stood up from his hiding spot directly behind Mary, and said in a voice that boomed, “What on earth were you thinking?”
Mary spun around in fear, and then relaxed slightly, “Uncle... Uncle Khadir, what a relief!”
“How could you run away with those elves? After everything we discussed!” he said.
Ead stepped into the grass, “I kidnapped her,” he said, Tostig following closely behind, “I take full responsibility for her departure.”
Khadir glared at Ead, but continued to converse with Mary, “You may have been taken by them, but you seem to lead them now, Mary. Tell me exactly what it is you intend.”
“Uncle Khadir-” Mary began.
“If this is a bid to convince me into attempting to avenge Mariqah's death, please just save it.”
“Will you allow me to explain?”
“By all means.”
“Uncle Khadir, I want to kill my mother.”
“You do, now, do you?”
“It's only right that I do. You know this. Aunt Mariqah didn't strive to kill my mother only because of their personal quarrelling. Aunt Mariqah strove to kill my mother because my mother didn't learn her lesson, because she continued in evil ambitions. Even now - with little support and no army - my mother still seeks to overthrow the Earth-realm,” Mary swallowed, “She must be dealt with.”
Khadir folded his arms and raised a brow, “And you would do this?”
Mary looked away slightly, closed her eyes, before looking back at Khadir, “Because I loved Aunt Mariqah, Uncle Khadir. Everything she did for me, everything she gave me, taught me. And my mother killed her, turned her body to dust,” Mary paused, “In all honesty, Uncle Khadir, I want vengeance.”
Khadir regarded her for a long while, before he said - in barely a whisper, “And you would endure torment for the rest of your life for this? Be known as the child who murdered her mother?”
“I only had one mother, Uncle Khadir-”
“Mariqah is not-”
Mary raised a hand, “But she stopped being my mother as soon as she left me in the hands of her enemies to spare herself. No true mother would do that. If she had taken me with her, maybe things would be different. Maybe I would have harboured some love for her. But I don't. I... I hate her, Uncle Khadir. For what she did to me, what she's done to Aunt Mariqah and what she's doing to all of us now,” she said, “but Aunt Mariqah spared me from my mother's enemies and did the thing she most hated - raise a child, you told me this yourself - only because it was the right thing to do. The very least I can do in return is succeed where Aunt Mariqah failed. The least I can do is kill my mother.”
“But Mariqah said-”
“Aunt Mariqah said what she said to you,” Mary snapped, “Not to me. I'm not dishonouring her wish, and neither will you be by allowing me to finish her aims.”
“If you die, Mary, I will be.”
“Then I won't die.”
“Do not be so cocky,” Khadir made a face that was most unbecoming of him. It was a look of sorrow mixed with indecision. He stepped towards Mary, chewing his bottom lip, “You might be of Britney FeCamp and Richard Shankar, but you are... you are her. Always so certain, determined and... unable to see the more unpleasant possibilities,” out of no-where, Khadir pulled Mary into a hug, “You were raised before my eyes and you will ever be like a daughter to me. I wouldn't want to lose you anymore than I'd want to lose my own arm. I ask you to beware this course, Mary, but I will not hinder you further. Whatever your motives, you are correct - Britney FeCamp must be stopped. And... you have my apology - for doubting you and mistrusting you. Only... don't make me regret my decision to let you go,” he released his hold and gazed into Mary's eyes. She said nothing, “She is camped just south of here. On the way you will pass an abandoned ranch-house. Matthew and some of the others are there if you need aid or weapons. At the campsite, you will find the Lord of Brimone and twenty or thirty soldiers - and your mother. Set your horses free and be on your way.”
“And what about you?” said Mary, as Khadir began to turn away.
He didn't say anything for a while, but then, “I'm going to sit here and pray that you don't die. Because if you die,” Khadir looked away, “I will no longer be able to live with myself.”