When I was 12 my father beat me with a piece of burning iron. I ran away that day. Why should I have stayed? Needless to say…some scars still run deep.

Acqura cantered around one of her fenced in fields, mounted on one of her young colts, working on breaking him to the point where she at least could ride him.

The woman lived in the mountains, her main business was guiding caravans and travelers through the treacherous pass that she called home. Every once and a while she would change her job title to 'professional smuggler.' When she was younger she had learned how to live off others and thievery was the name of her life. Smuggling was just as easy only it gave her more coin and she could find many different loop holes to keep herself out of trouble.

She had first come to the pass by sheer will power, the will power of a demi-goddess named Devi. The demi-goddess had caught Acqura red handed trying to steal from her own carts and figured this would not only be a suitable punishment for the unruly woman, but it would also be useful for her purposes. At the time Acqura first came to the pass Devi had given her two wonderful herds of horses that obeyed her the moment she stepped into the pass. When travelers came to her, she always put them on her horses, knowing that her beasts knew the trails and footing better than anything alive. Also, if anyone lost their lives because their moron of a horse was too stupid to know what loose rock was, she would be blamed for the death and the group would turn mutinous. Which was not an idea she enjoyed entertaining.

Thanks to the demi-goddess, she had enough horses that she could rotate them and give half of them a year long break while the other half worked. The ones that were not working were allowed to roam through the pass, relearning trails they did not travel during the previous year. They were also allowed to run free and remember what it was like to be horses. Sometimes they would meet up with the working group and show different ways through the pass.

That was how this colt had come to be. A traveler had a stallion that had taken a liking to one of Acqura's mares while the mare was free to roam. A while later she had a new dark coated and very noble looking foal running around. Acqura's self imposed rules said that the colt was to grow up in the pass and learn how to survive the trails and the mountains.

Now the colt was two and a half years old and it was time to break him. The problem was that he did not want to be broken. Currently Acqura was able to keep him at a canter, but his flat ears told her something she was not going to enjoy was about to happen. Her electric blue eyes narrowed behind pure white locks of hair and she hissed a warning to the beast as she tightened her grip on the reins she had barely been able to attach to the colt. His ears flickered forward and back innocently, his evil plans postponed.

The colt was handsome, his coat was dark chocolate brown, his main and tail thick and feathering hair ran around his hooves. His had his father's looks but his mother's small size, making him better suited for mountain life than his father could have dreamed of being.

Where the horse was boldly handsome, the woman on his back was exotic with a brilliance no one could put a finger on. Her face was smooth but tanned slightly from working in the sun. Bright blue eyes stared out from this face and the purest of white hair framed it. However, the hair that fell to her shoulders and just down her back was pitch black with white flaming different lengths up from the middle of her back. She had a lean body that was clad in a tight leather vest with metal clasps going up the front. She had very loose pants tied at her waist and ankles, hiding knives and daggers that were sure to be strapped to her legs. On her feet were very worn boots that also hid a dagger or two.

Her tanned skin was covered in a thin layer of sweat as she continued to work with the horse. Once again the creature had put his ears back and she once again readied herself, hissing another warning. This time the horse did not heed her warning and jumped forward with enough force to cause Acqura to go whip lashing back. Instead of pulling the horse back into a steadier pace, the woman righted herself, bent low over the horse's neck and kicked him into and even faster gallop. Every time he started to slow she kicked him again, determined to keep him going at the pace he was so determined to go just a while ago.

The first couple of times he was kicked, the horse snorted and bucked before he launched forward into a faster gallop. He very quickly learned that going faster was a bad idea. When he went faster he could feel the amusement coming from Acqura and she would make him continue at the newly chosen speed.

Acqura kept the horse running until his neck and shoulders were damp and his sweat was seeping through her pants. With a sigh she let him slow into a walk so he could cool off and finally she brought him to a halt and she patted his wet neck.

"Good boy." She murmured to him as she jumped off him. His ears just flicked at her and he snorted his disagreement. Laughing softly, she took the bridle off him and went to open the gate. Just as she reached out for the latch there was a loud crack and the horse whinnied and trotted over to her side, dancing nervously in place, eyeing the spot he had just been and the woman suddenly standing there.

Acqura glanced at the colt and patted him. "Boy, you are a coward. That is nothing but an increasingly annoying demi-goddess."

The woman who had appeared crossed her arms and scowled at Acqura. This woman was dressed in glittering read robes that seemed to be moving even though there was very little wind. The woman's hair was short and did not go past her chin. It alternated between a dark, deep red and a black just a couple shades lighter than Acqura's. Her eyes were forest green and her fangs poked from under her lips.

"You know Acqura, if you keep talking to me like that bad things could happen to you and I will do nothing to stop it." Devi muttered, striding over to her reluctant follower.

"Yeah, I thought about that. But then I thought about it and I found that I really do not care. Bad things happen any way and you would just call it a favor later and make me do something for you." Acqura finally got her colt under control and she leaned against the horse, who still eyed Devi with unease. "Besides," Acqura continued, "just because I'm your follower doesn't mean I have to worship you. It just means I have to believe. And obviously I do."

"I still say you have to watch your tongue around me. Some day you will need to me to take pity on you." Devi growled, baring her fangs at the mortal.

Acqura bared her own, less impressive fangs back at Devi. "And when that day comes you will be the first to know, I promise."

"Well as long as the 'Queen of Thieves' makes a promise I have nothing to worry about."

The sound of her nickname made Acqura's gut clench and she hissed at Devi. "You know that I am as honest as I've ever been and don't you dare use that name for me. It is not yours to use."

In the past year Acqura had been sent on a mission to protect a woman, a sorceress named Paws, from men who wanted nothing more than to marry and bed her. Most of these men were harmless and stupid, but once of them had been a sadistic duke with magic and the ability to sap magic from the people around him, one way or another. Acqura had helped Paws and together they destroyed the duke and placed the crown on the rightful ruler, whom Acqura happened to have run into in the dungeons. Their journey had only been a few months, but they had made fast friends after almost killing each other. Near the end of their journey, Paws had started calling Acqura the Queen of Thieves, and then they had to go their separate ways. After a few months have having someone to talk to Acqura had come home to a bone deep loneliness that was starting to drive her insane and she missed her friend and the arguments they had.

Devi smirked. "Fine, I won't call you by your little pet name."

Acqura growled at her and crossed her arms. "Tell me what you want and leave me alone. I have work to do."

The demi-goddess laughed and stepped closer, holding her arms wide. "Pack up my little thief, my sister and I have a new chore for you. I hope you don't mind working with your little 'whore' friend again."

Keeping everything under control, Acqura stared at Devi, her eyes narrowed slightly. "I would assume that I do not have a choice in this."

"No, you do not."