|The Traveling Tales of the Gypsy Sun
Author: Passionately Yours PM
AU I fail to see what you mean murderer." She hissed while struggling to release her wrists from the tight ropes. His smirk grew into a mischievous grin. "What's not seen Gypsy? I want you...The situation before me beckons."SKoW round 10 Best MC Runner-upRated: Fiction T - English - Fantasy/Adventure - Chapters: 3 - Words: 22,717 - Reviews: 50 - Favs: 32 - Follows: 43 - Updated: 10-22-10 - Published: 07-07-10 - id: 2825691
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
So there's bound to be a few grammar mistakes. Please bear with me. I just really wanted to post it since I haven't in forever. Within a day or two, it'll all be corrected. As of now, please enjoy the rough draft and review! Please please please please review? I'll love feedback! 0=)
Maybe it was the sharp stinging in her wrists, or, quite possibly, the uncomfortable position she had been bound that woke Sobrina. She felt the thick, braided rope rubbing her wrists raw, the abrasive fibers irritating the tender flesh. Jolts of pain coursed through her body with the slightest of movements, making her nauseous and delirious though her vague lucidity. Her thoughts swam through murky consciousness – actualities and hallucinations mingling. Nothing made sense, contorted and jumbled. What happened?
Slowly, as the drug faded from her body and left her for good, her senses returned – her grasp of reality reaffirmed. Aside from the throbbing ache, Sobrina could now feel a cool metal wrapped around her right wrist, above the ropes, constricting and just barely soothing the burning skin.
She was alive. The Gypsy, however, didn't appreciate what accompanied the fact. Captured alive, bound to a tree, gagged with thick fabric, and lightheaded from the sleeping draught left her feeling uncomfortable, miserable and, most annoying of all, scared.
Although tempted to visually assess the damages even though she could feel that she was relatively unhurt, she refrained and kept her eyes tightly shut. She hadn't been out of her drug induced sleep long enough to know if her captor was still nearby, plotting her death. Her heart thrummed, pounding inside of her like a hammer, and from her distress, adrenaline rushed through her veins and heightened her senses, making them more acute than ever before.
The pulled fabric of the cotton gag in her mouth was the first thing that she noticed after she became accustomed to the pain in her wrists. Its fibers ran tightly over her tongue, pressing it down against the bottom of her mouth, and absorbing her saliva. Her mouth parched from the lack of moisture, and swallowing was impossible. All in all, it was something she dearly wished to rid herself.
The fire, a short distance away, hardly warmed her from the cool, spring air, but it was oddly comforting – the crackling in the midst of the night's noises like a lullaby. Sweet, calming yet contradicting of her plight. Had it been an ordinary night, she would have enjoyed listening to the symphony of chirping crickets, hooting owls, and the roaring flames. But this was no ordinary night, and her pleasure had swindled to nothing at this point.
She could feel the damp ground below her, the cold mud sliding against her legs. Mentally, Sobrina blanched, but forced herself to ignore the feeling.
Straining to hear more beyond the fire, in hopes of catching any rustle of movement from the man, the only sound her ears caught was the lazy munching of oats from an animal – a horse? – nearby, each crunch ringing in her ears. Why couldn't she hear him? Was he even here?
A strong breeze blew through the forest, making the trees groan as they bent towards the ground with its force. It hit Sobrina's exposed legs like thousands of icy needles, digging their pointed tips mercilessly into her body. Her eyes flew open at the sudden sensation, and, holding back a whimper, her gaze flickered towards her legs.
The sight that greeted her was unexpected, at the least. She was absolutely mortified. The clothes that she had worn previously were gone, and in its place, an immodest, scarlet dress adorned her body – cheap and tacky. The hem, made of fringed lace, rode up her thighs, curving to her own curves and left little to the imagination, if anything at all. The neckline swooped dangerously low, her breasts threatening to spill. It wasn't as degrading to her as most others would feel – after all, her own dancing clothing exposed much of her skin as well – but what irked her was the fact that someone dressed her as a whore without her consent. Her blood broiled at the thought.
But her burst of anger didn't last long. The reality of her situation dropped upon her like a ton of brinks. Here she was – utterly defenseless and tied to a tree – under the complete mercy of that... that murderer. The change of clothes was an example of his dominance in their situation.
Sobrina's eyes darted back and forth, nervously scanning the forest as questions rapidly formed in her head. Why did he take her? What did he plan to do to her? Rape her? Kill her?
Her iron will banished the morbid thoughts from her mind – keeping her from hyperventilating. She couldn't be scared, not yet.
Luckily, the man wasn't in the area, and the halted breath hitched in her throat released itself. Thank Feliks for that. At least she was safe... for now.
Turning her head, the Gypsy found that she was tied to a relatively young baelir tree, small but sturdy. She knew she didn't have the strength to break free – she doubted anyone would – but now, she could examine her injuries – which burned at the thought.
Leaning towards her left side as far as she could go, while at the time clenching her jaw as if that could stop the pain, she turned her head over her shoulder slowly. Her neck popped, stiff from the long periods of time of being immobile, but successfully, she was able to see a flash of pink before the strain of exerting herself made her lightheaded.
Sitting straight against the tree, she closed her eyes, ignoring the biting wind and stinging wound, and pulled her knees to her chest, the dress, thankful that it was able to hide enough of herself from the world.
Her temples pulsated, and a sudden headache came upon her, brief but excruciating. It was most likely from keeping her head using so much effort in order to eat. She trembled in her awkward position – her lower back screaming at her at the same time. Biting her lower lip to the point of bleeding, she was able to keep herself from screaming out loud and few moments passed before the feeling subsided. Maybe not all of the drugs had passed through her body just yet...
Taking a few deep breaths, she opened her eyes cautiously.
The sight before her was familiar – probably due to the fact that the Gypsies set up similar camps on their journeys, though this one was a smaller scale compared to their massive version. The fire, a few feet away from Sobrina, was now smoldering embers – glowing orange and red against the charred wood inside of the crudely made stone circle. The lack of any sufficient source of heat made her shiver – the hairs on her body sticking straight outwards and raised bumps covering the exposed skin, which happened to be everywhere.
Though the fire no longer illuminated the small clearing, the moonlight streamed through the tree tops – leaving intricate, lacy patterns against the damp ground. It wasn't a consistent source of light, storm clouds frequently obscuring the moon, but it was enough to see her surroundings.
The outlined figure of a horse tied to a tree was now visible, the actual color still unknown since the creature was hidden by the shadows of the forest. Closer to her, she could see a ragged blanket, torn and holes dotting the material, a thin pillow near the fire pit, and a curious glinting just below the pillow...
Sobrina couldn't see what it was. The orb had recessed behind the dark clouds, rumbling and groaning with unreleased rain. Her gaze remained fixated on the strange object, waiting for a trickle of light to uncover its identity.
Once the moon peeked from its blanket, she was able to catch a glimpse that left her seething.
Lying innocently next to the sleeping supplies was a dagger. Not just any dagger, her dagger. Hers.
Her eyes narrowed, anger sparking at the sight of it. It was a memento from her deceased mother, one of the few, cherished object she had left to remember her by. Sobrina's instinctive possessiveness ignited.
The Gypsy struggled furiously against the bindings on her wrists, the sawing of the rope against her exposed flesh just barely tolerable, yet, her efforts didn't even loosen the durable material. The peeling bark rubbed harshly against her back and, if anything, the scratchy fibers dug further into her skin, constricting around her arms like snakes and cutting off circulation. But she couldn't give up. There had to be some way to escape – to get her dagger and run. If only someone could just hand it to her...
A thought came to her.
Ryssa, she called mentally, hopeful that her companion would answer.
She'd be able to chew through her bindings! Why hadn't she thought of it earlier?
But strangely, Ryssa didn't respond, worrying her greatly.
Sobrina called for the Nurix several times, each time sounding more and more desperate. Where was she? She'd always answer...
Left with no choice, the girl probed her mind – something she avoided doing since it was slightly painful to her counter part. As she searched the depths of her mind, she was able to feel a connection, weak, almost severed. The warmth that indicated the presence of another dwindled, and, like a flickering candlestick, the small flame dimmed to almost nothing. Why was Ryssa in this condition – as if she were suffering some great injury?
The metal cuff on her wrist that she had previously ignored sudden drew her attention. It couldn't be that... could it?
She leaned her body towards the side once more, this time to the right side, trying to get a view of her wrists by squirming and shifting her position as much as she could. Laboriously, the silver bracelet came into view – marked with words she didn't understand. Now more than ever she wished she could read, but she had traveled to enough places to know what was around her by sight, confirming her suspicions. Around her wrists was a binding specifically made for captives, blocking most forms of magic including companion magic. In short, a slave binding.
Sobrina had never wanted to kill someone as much as she did now – and she was a relatively peaceful person. Her freedom was something she cherished and to have it snatched away from her was a blow to her pride. The murderer would regret taking her, she would be sure of it.
Swaying branches in the forest distracted her silent fuming – squishing footsteps sounding the dark night. Her heart picked up speed – fluttering frantically at the thought of being defenseless – but she steadied it within moments. Whatever may come, she'd handle it.
As soon as she was able to locate the sound of boots approaching, she glared heavily in the direction, awaiting the offender to make himself known. And the figure did make himself known, though it was not one she expected.
He stepped from the shadows of the Cylinth and into the visibility of the moonlight. The man's sharp planes were illuminated and the usually harsh, hazel eyes were now filled with surprised. It was Calin. Her body almost melted with relief, moisture gathering in the corner of her eyes.
"Calin," she screamed, though the gag muffled the noise, "Untie me!"
The Gypsy man didn't hesitate to comply. He took long strides, his thick shoes sinking into the mud, until he reached her and relieved her of the gag – his thick hands fumbling with the tight knot as he untied it. Her long, blonde hair hand tangled within the knot and at one point, he accidently tugged at it. Sobrina held back a loud yelp – Calin wasn't the most gentlest of men.
When the strip of cotton was thrown to the side – fluttering harmlessly in the wind – she gulped the air down her throat, gasping in relief. Flowing air had never felt so wonderful. The girl took deep breaths, making up for the hours of restriction, savoring the expanding of her lungs.
Calin's eyes traveled down her provocative outfit, making her feel uncomfortable but she waved the feeling away. This was Calin – a fellow Gypsy – and even though they were never on the best of personal relationships, he'd never take advantage of her – he couldn't. He'd be shunned by their people.
His gaze flickered back to her face, though it was apparent that he was trying desperately not to look any lower. His hands cupped her shoulders and gripped tight.
"What are you doing here dressed like this? Or, more importantly, why are you tied to a tree?" he asked when he caught side of the bindings on her wrists.
Sobrina opened her mouth to answer, then hesitated. A feeling of regret filled her, washing away the excitement of seeing someone she knew in an unfamiliar environment. Why should she feel wrong for telling Calin what happened?
Briefly debating mentally with herself, she pushed aside the strange sentiment and launched into her story, staring from when Adrian sent her to the mayor – she conveniently left out the Elrosian – to the boy who was asleep at the front desk, which she realized at this point that he was most likely under the same drug that was given to her and finally, to the murder.
"It was," she shuddered, "absolutely horrifying."
But Calin's eyes were calm, almost indifferent, to what she had told him.
"Did you see his face?"
"Did he have green eyes and black hair?"
"I already told you," she replied with mild irritation, "I didn't see his face."
An awkward silence ensured before.
"Now that I've gone through the entire story, can you please untie me?"
Just as the man was about to answer, another voice from the depths of Cylinth interrupted him.
"Calin, the delivery has been made."
Sobrina weaved her body in an attempt to look around Calin's burly figure – scraping her arms against coarse bark – for the source of the statement. How did the speaker know Calin? What did he mean? What delivery? Calin wasn't working just yet...
The Gypsy man – at the stranger's word – stood and turned to face the man approaching them, allowing Sobrina to see him between his legs. It was a Naga man – a snake shifter from Velouria. Pale as moonlight, hallowed cheeks, dark bags under their black eyes, the Naga looked like mortal men, save for the curious jewel in the middle of their foreheads, said to represent different traits. This one, as it so happened, had a gleaming, obsidian jewel.
"Who bought the," Calin faltered before continuing, "package?"
"The King's followers."
The Naga man shook his head in response.
"The other then?'
The stranger nodded.
"How much?" Calin demanded.
"A good sum of money but," the shifters gaze, cold and calculating, shifted towards Sobrina, penetrating her with his beady, dark eyes, " Who is this?"
Calin growled in response, "It doesn't matter Farok, she isn't apart of the deal."
"What are you talking about?" she interrupted, confused. What in the world was going on?
Neither man answered. They both, instead, sized the other up and the air between them sizzled with tension of male dominance. Yet, it didn't last long. The Naga – leaner and less muscled – backed down first.
"I meant no offense akris," it hissed, elongating the s at the end. "I was just surprised at your... guest."
There was something about the man was strange – the entire situation finally dawning her as peculiar. What was Calin doing here, in the middle of the forest, with a Naga? Why was the Naga away from Velouria – particular during mating season – when the snake people hardly traveled out of their homeland...? Something was amiss and she couldn't place her finger on it.
The larger of the two men ran his hand through his hair in exasperation, "It's alright kyrir. It's my fault for not mentioning the one I wanted to keep. I need a moment with her still. Get the horses ready. And," he pointed to the stallion tied to the tree, "take that horse. We can sell him at the next town."
Farok narrowed his eyes, obviously displeased by the flippant order that Calin gave him. But still, he shifted – the skin tearing to expose the ebony scales beneath. His body fell towards the ground as it elongated, wriggling while its slender figure thumped against the damp ground. Flickering its ashen tongue once in their direction, the snake slithered away from them, leaving Calin and Sobrina, full of questions, alone.
"What were you talking about?"
Calin turned to answer her, his eyes glinting in the dimming moonlight. A drizzle began to fall – like a mist – leaving a coat of moisture on their skin.
"It isn't any of your concern!" he barked.
Their ruined personal relationship reared its ugly head. Irritation soared at his harsh words, but she continued with her questioning.
"What are you doing out here of all places? Tonight was your duty to keep watch."
"I had work to do."
"Work that ranks higher than your clan?"
"I'd never associate myself with those damn bastards – they are fools. They deserve the fate that they are going to receive." His face darkened in an angry flush and the rain began to steadily fall harder, each drop landing painfully and leaving welts. It was cold – but something about Calin's aura was colder. More menacing.
"You want to know what my work was, dearest Sobrina?" His voice turned mocking, cruel. "You seem so desperate to know."
Thunder clashed, and the wind howled through the budding trees, destructive and deadly.
"I sold them."
At the look of shocked disbelief on her face, he inched closer, like a stalking animal.
"That's right. I sounded the alarm, woke them all up, and when they were rounded up," he was now a short distance away from her, his hot breath on her neck, and shot her a half-smile, "I tranquilized them and the gave them to Farok... for a price."
He reached for something lying on the ground beside Sobrina. She didn't know what he grabbed, only watching from her peripheral vision. She couldn't take her eyes off of him, no matter how badly she wanted to. The man before her wasn't someone she had known all her life – he was a coldhearted, callous monster.
"They're on their way towards Hallindar – to the Nazriel."
She shuddered involuntarily at the word. The Nazriels were grotesque creatures similar to Orcs, but larger and more brutish. They were the very reason that Orcs no longer existed in the Aelorian lands. They were cannibalized by their brethren. How could he ever do that to her people? She wanted to say something back to him – yell at him, fight him, but everything inside of her mind was at a standstill. Lleana, Adrian, Demetrius, M'Gama, and even Mirela – they all would die at the hands of Nazriel.
But she couldn't think. She couldn't breath. Nothing made sense anymore.
Calin whispered harshly in her ears. "They are fools – earning money through little more than trinkets and fortune-telling. And, what's more, they depended on a woman to support them."
The malice in his voice made her tremble and salty tears mingled with the pouring rain. But no response came from her mouth – no word possible to describe the raging emotions inside of her. Calin pulled his face away from hers and scowled.
And the gag entered her mouth once more – muffling the scream from the impact of the heavy hand hitting the side of her head, lost in the resonating thunder, and rendering her unconscious.
Farok's sharp eyes caught the glinting silver on the woman's wrists as the lighting flashed.
"She's wearing a slave binding. What you're doing akris," the Naga gave Calin a pointed look, "is against the law. She's already another's."
Slavery had just been allowed recently in Estelle – but there were still laws that governed the business. Those with bindings legally belong to their masters and if they were found by guard, they'd be in massive trouble. But then again – in King Henric's current state, brainwashed by the High Mage – they could easily get by without any issues.
"I didn't ask for your opinion Farok, just bring the brute closer. We need to head west – away from Hallindar.
The Naga man nodded thoughtfully as he untied and played with the worn reins between his fingers. The horse at the campsite was godsend – a powerful stallion, calm though there was a fierce storm. Whoever owned him had a good eye for horseflesh.
"The situation there is getting more hectic, each day the King listens to The High Mage. They're even taking the free people of their country to the Nazriels as a trade."
"A trade?" Calin asked, mildly interested. His attention was wrapped more so around his unexpected prize.
"Yes, but for what, I do not know."
The Gypsy man didn't answer – preoccupied by the ropes on the Sobrina's wrist slumped against the tree. Although it took a few minutes, he was able to finally release her and had Farok hoist up her up after he got into the saddle himself.
"Easy, easy. Don't want to damage her body – that's the only good thing about her."
The Naga whistled and another horse, a black mare, emerged from the woods, prancing nervously. Horses, in general, didn't prefer to come close to the snake people but this one had no choice. It was the storm or the snake and the frightened animal picked the Naga.
"I think you've done most of the damage. Her lip is bleeding, and there's a bump where you hit her."
"A minor issue."
He grunted as he repositioned Sobrina so that she would lean against him.
"I've known her for years, and trust me, she's much more pleasing when quiet."
"Is that the only reason you want her?"
Calin stared seriously into his partner's eyes.
"I've always wanted her. But she... she is not like other women. I don't like the way she acts."
"But then again," he chuckled as he pulled her closer to his chest, "that can always be fixed."
The rain fell faster and faster, and Farok's sense of alertness heightened as he mounted his own steed.
"We need to leave Calin. There's something in this forest – something dark and evil."
The more muscled man rolled his eyes. "Are all Velourians superstitious? It's probably a wolf."
Eyes, black as coal, flashing, Farok responded, "My land is of snakes and thieves. It's not superstition, its instinct. Instinct to escape predators and there is..." His gaze scanned the dense forest uneasily. The thin air grew thick – oppressing and heavy with tension.
And in that second, an arrow pierced the black horse's heart.
Just once he wanted to have a normal life. Well, as normal as his life could have ever been, but that was beside the point. The fact of the matter was that he wanted some peace, maybe a beautiful woman from the court, but essentially, he wanted to relax, to enjoy himself. But of course, it was too much to ask for, but at least hunting offered temporary relief from the building stress. Maybe it was the concentration, the search for clues to find the prey. Or maybe the physical aspect, using all of his muscles to follow the beast. Either way, it provided some relaxation – a break from his situation.
The doe he was tracking was injured, unable to even lift its right, hind leg – or so the dragging hoof print in the mud indicated. But the flickering moonlight made it difficult to track correctly – more often than not, he paused to wait for a source of light. The earlier rain, still threatening to fall, dampened the ground and made each step painstaking – the thick substance tugging at his boots, trying to encase him and restrict his movements. If he had a choice, he'd rather be sleeping. It'd been maybe two days since he last slept, and the annoying little buzz in the back of his head nagged at him for it. However, he was completely out of food, and now that he had adopted some company, they needed to eat something.
The thought of the woman formed a scowl on his face. She'd left a nasty cut in his cheek, still stinging each time a stray drop of water trickled from the tree tops. And as much as he wanted to reciprocate the action and give her a little cut of her own to whine about, he refrained. Men – he could deal with: smash their faces, slit their throats, drown them with rocks in their stomachs. Women, however, were a different story. Damn his mother – though he loved her to bits and pieces – for teaching him manners and – he cringed at the word – chivalry. On his good days, he was surly, on his worst, he was a downright bastard and he knew it.
But now wasn't the time to dwell on his unfavorable characteristics. It was time to hunt.
The moon shone through a small hole in the clouds before disappearing completely into the dark sky. The man cursed under his breath. At this rate, the trail would go cold and he wouldn't catch anything. Not to mention the girl at camp was probably awake now – since the draught only last a day or so – screaming bloody murder through the gag. He needed to hurry up before she attracted any unwanted attention.
He shut his eyes – a similar darkness greeting him – and brushed his fingertips lightly over his eye lids, chanting in a low voice. It was a Velourian spell, one of the few gifts the then Naga Prince – now Naga King – had given him after a particularly important favor he had done for him. It wouldn't give him night vision – which have been tremendously helpful – but thermal vision, which was better than none at all.
Opening his eyes, he found no real change in vision – the same, cold night now sprinkled with the shifting of the yellow-red birds nesting above him. Sighing, he forced himself to follow the concealed trail, relying on his instinct and his horrid luck.
The long bow was light in his grasp, the wood smooth in his hands. He remembered when he first got it as a present and didn't know whether to smile at the memory or to curse. Damn Saethan and damn Henric. Damn them all.
Each squishy thud against the sodden earth was painful loud in the silence of night – broken only by the occasional rumbling of the oncoming storm. The darkness – stifling. His breath eventually grew laborious, brow dripping with cool sweat – the fluttering hood hardly blocking the chilled air. But he couldn't stop. Not yet.
Gnarled branches groaned above him, the blistering wind bending them against their will, though he couldn't see them. He couldn't see anything. He was relying solely on luck, and that, for him, was unlucky.
Few minutes passed and he continued on, weaving and dodging fallen logs and holes in the ground, muttering under his breath when he missed and tripped. He was blinded already – he should just turn back and seek shelter before the rain began to fall.
Right as he about to return to his camp and accept defeat, he stepped in something different than the uniform texture of mud he had been walking through. It coated his boot, and once the odor reached him, made him wrinkle his nose in disgust, though it was a good sign. Excrement – likely, from the doe.
His heart began to race with anticipation. It was still fresh – not even half an hour old. He reached his hand towards his back and pulled the long bow out of the quiver, prepared. She was still nearby, somewhere, and he'd find her.
He crept on hastily, ready to end the long night, excitement gnawing at him alive. Scanning the forest, his thermal vision caught sight of a rabbit, hiding under the thick brush and nibbling delicately on its leaves. It was bright – yellow and orange – compared to its surroundings.
The man debated for a second. Either he waste one of his few, precious arrows for sure game, or let it live and risk the chance of not finding to doe, leaving the forest starving. The first option sounded more favorable.
His breathing became shallow, lightly expelling small puffs of air. He held the weapon at his side, against his leg as he used his free arm to reach behind him and grab an arrow. He didn't take into account, however, the swooped branches he had previously avoided, and therefore, rattled them.
The rabbit froze mid-bite, its long ears swiveling in his general direction, legs tensed under its small body. It was prepared to bound towards safety – towards its damp, drowned home within the ground. But the man didn't give the creature a chance.
In the blink of an eye, he had the bow drawn and shot with precise aim, and the creature squealed in pain before the quickly flowing blood ceased its life.
He took long strides towards the brush, bending over and winding his hands through multitudes of twigs and leaves. Pulling the animal out by its limp legs, the hot fluid across its chest smeared on his hand, warming them as it ran down his fingers. He wrapped and encased the creature in a decent sized sheet of cloth and placed it safely in the bag on his back.
The blood that had spurted from the animal was most likely on the ground – although he couldn't see it. Wolves and other creatures of the sort would be attracted to it and he really didn't need the extra company. He already had enough.
Another large clap of thunder shook the ground, trembling in its wrath and a light drizzle followed, dampening the already damp forest. The humid air left beads of moisture on his face, collecting especially on his eyelashes and brows.
Wiping at them with annoyance, he stopped for a moment's rest as the settle on top of a fallen log. Bending forward, he cradled his head in his hands, feeling sorely defeated.
Why hadn't he hunted during daylight?
It may have had something to do with the Nazriels trailing after him. Or quite possibly due to the fact that the folk of Damas were trying to search for him with pitchforks in their hands for retribution of their mayor.
But really, it would have been more convenient when he could actually see.
Right as he was about to stand up, the snapping of branches caught his attention. A large figure – yellow and red – greeted his vision, stripping the bark of a nearby baelir tree and chewing it carefully, as if quietly trying to avoid predators. Not that it would help. His gifted vision would not change the creature's fate.
He could see the mangled leg now, lifeless and dragging. And the man seized his opportunity.
His muscled body tensed with concentration – all his senses absorbed into bringing the animal down. Eyes narrowed, he held the bow at his side, prepared. He wouldn't waste a single arrow – only one would be needed.
His tongue began to water. Finally – something more savory than rabbit meat and salt. Deer meat had always been more appealing, and its pelt could be sold to Gilbert – he always enjoyed such luxuries in his inn.
Reaching behind his back and into the quiver, he pulled out a single, wooden arrow – sharpened to a point. With cautious deliberation, he drew it back, the feathered end brushing against his cut. It stung, but beside the slightest facial twitch, no other movement indicated the pain.
Just before he released the arrow, a singular howl alerted the doe. Wolf. The Nazriel wolf. He could tell by the quavering in its sound. And, most likely, it was coming for him.
The helpless animal, under the impression that the wolf was coming for her, attempted to limp into the protection of the forest. But the forest could only do so much for the injured. Her leg hindered her movement, and she fell quickly under the arrow's penetrating shot.
The light drizzle became a heavy downpour, visibility reduced to zero. The fire had probably gone out, he mused as he hoisted the corpse on his back. Maybe the girl would be cold seeing that he had hardly left her in any clothes at all. Not that it could really be helped – riding on a horse with a whore was much more socially acceptable drugging a woman and taking her hostage.
Still, he couldn't help but be attracted to her – she was beautiful after all. But he was sure that she'd give him hell, just as she didn't think once about jamming the sharp dagger into his skin. Truth be told, he would have much rather preferred to leave her. He didn't have much of a choice. If he had, she was bound to tell the townspeople – as if he needed more than just the King's men and Nazriels after him.
The creature was heavy, dead-weight, making his movements sluggish. Every step made him sink into the ground, and forced him to use his powerful leg muscles to exert his foot from the encasing substance, and the collecting puddles from the rain made deep depressions, rippling with the falling raindrops. But between each clash of thunder, the growling and howling that was once at a distance grew nearer. A wolf – or wolves if the entire pack followed – were coming.
The man grunted as he repositioned the body after a few steps. He didn't have time to stop. He had to get away, and soon. It wasn't the doe he was worried about, it was himself. The Nazriel pets cared not for dead animal meat. The creature, like its grotesque companions, at its meat fresh. Alive.
Sighing heavily, he beat his way through the heavy brush, his back caving from the carcass. Relying on his memory, he was able to find his way back to two particularly unique baelir trees – branches twisted and entwined in the shape of a heart. How painfully romantic.
He was close though – no more than a few minutes away. But the moment the thought came into his mind, a flash of red flew by his vision, followed by a snarl.
There, in the brush, glowed the crimson eyes of the Nazriel wolf.