She ran through the forest.
Marius was close on her heels, his feet digging into the earth and he ran. Years of training enabled him to move quickly without being encumbered by his sword or shield, or the long cloak bound to his shoulders. His blond hair was ruffled and mussed from the wind, his blue eyes glowing and violent. They were fixed souly on the blue-painted female in front of him.
Her hair was red and curly, braided with beads and leather ties, but most of it was free and around her shoulders. She wore leather pants and a black leather, sleeveless top. There were boots laced tightly to her legs.
Caitrin was livid. The bloody Romans had betrayed them, and now they meant to slaughter her people. Marius with his ambassadors and intermediaries were actually trying to scope the area for the best attack. She didn't care that he was powerful and a seasoned warrior, she was going to kill him if it was the last thing she did.
Curse him to bloody hell, she thought, if he believed that calling her name would get her to stop he was mistaken. Her bow was tethered to her back, her own sword in hand, and she planned to fix the metal into the spot with his heart was supposed to be.
His non-existent, black heart, that held nothing but cruelty and evil. The same cruelty of his own people, which only planned to rape and pillage the land of her people.
She would rather die than see that.
She cursed him again.
"Fine!" she turned and skidded to a stop. Raising her sword at ready, she caught Marius unprepared.
"Wait! You must let me explain-"
"There is nothing to discuss!"
Caitrin swept the sword downward. It caught Marius in the shoulder, and she felt an odd rush as the blood welled forward. He yelped, stumbled backwards, and touched his shoulder.
"Damn you," he glared, "I told you to listen."
"You thought I would stop and listen like your Roman women?" she said, "You are an enemy in my country. I will not hesitate to kill you."
Marius frowned, "I will not fight you."
"Then you will die."
He managed to dodge her next attack, raising his shield to parry her sword. The sound of their battle echoed the song of battle in the field just beyond in the trees. Caitrin was quick, and Marius had learned early on in their meeting that she was stronger and more skilled than his veteran generals.
His own sword scrapped her arm, but she ignored it. Her blade nicked his thigh, he barely felt it.
"You son of a whore!" Caitrin caught his leg, tripping him. He stumbled into a tree, "I will kill you or I will die trying!"
Marius slammed into the old tree behind him.
Time froze as her sword fixed into his left shoulder, the same shoulder she had wounded earlier.
Memories flashed through his head. Meeting with her on the beach, living with her family during the trade negotiations. He remembered sparing with her, having her out drink him in the tavern, kissing her and making love in the moonlight. He could still smell her scent, and despite their situation, he yearned for her more than he ever did.
She drew near him, and he reached him to grab her. Caitrin yelped, and struggled as his grip strengthened on her upper arm.
"This is not necessary," he ground through his teeth, "Please, listen-"
"Everyone was right about you Roman scum," she breathed, "You take advantage. You take everything without a care about the feelings of others."
"I care," he told her, "It was not my choice to attack your people. My superiors ordered the attack and I tried to stop it."
"I have loved you from-"
He cried out as she pushed on the sword's hilt, impaling the blade into the tree behind him, twisting it into his shoulder. Blood soaked his arm and shoulder. How did it come to this? Just not two night earlier they were laying in a field full of daises, naked as the day they were born. He could still remember the noises she made, the feel of her skin as he moved over her.
"Caitrin," his voice was horse. He was so tired, but he would use every bit of his strength to fight. This particular battle had nothing to do with his family, or the empire, or his superiors. For the first time in his life he wasn't letting status and etiquette rule him. Caitrin was everything in his life that was good and wonderful, and if it had been possible, Marius would have thrown everything away to have her. Damn the emperor, damn Rome, "Caitrin, please."
The plead in his voice made her stop. Tears were streaming down her cheeks, and his grip on her arm loosened. She was hurting him, and it was horrible. Everything in her wanted to pull him into her arms and comfort him, but that wasn't possible."
"I have loved you from the first moment I saw you," Marius whispered, his hand releasing her arm and touching her face, "I still love you, and will always love you. Even if I die, I will come back from the afterlife and find you."
She stared at him, and slowly she pulled the sword back. He gasped as the blade released him, and he sunk against the tree. Her wide green eyes watched him as he lifted his head to return the gaze.
"Damn you, Marius," she murmured, "Damn you to hell."
"I am already going there."
He grabbed at her with his uninjured arm, and pulled her into his chest. Caitrin lifted her mouth to him as he captured her lips, sinking into his warmth. His blood smeared over her skin as she wrapped her arms around him, opening to him, tasting him as he tasted her. It was almost savage as he gripped her hair, pulled her head further back, and plundered.
She burned. Her hands ran over his smooth skin that wasn't covered by his tunic, breeches, and cloak. Gods alive, he was exquisite, so much so that she knew she would never get enough. Slowly pulling her lips away, listening to their ragged breathing, she opened her mouth to tell him that she loved him. Caitrin loved him so much it was painful.
It came out as a gasp as something punched her in the back, shoving the air from her lungs. Marius felt her jerk towards him, and thought for a moment that she lost her footing and tripped. He then felt her go limp, and a wave of panic rushed forward.
"Love," he looked frantically over her. She was already slumped forward, the weight dragging them both to the ground, "What is it?"
His hands were soaked in red. The arrow stuck out of her back, right over her heart. Looking back at her, there was blood dripping from the corner of her lips, "No," he shook his head, "No, no. I will not allow it. No."
The wry smile twisted her lips as he fell to the ground. She draped in his arms, over his lap, her head in the crook of his arm. Her pale hand reached towards his face, and he grasped it, pressing her palm to his lips.
"No," he wanted to close his eyes, but didn't want to look away from her, "I will not allow you to leave me."
"Never...will," Caitrin said, "Love you."
She was completely limp. Her beautiful green eyes that reminded him of the fields were fixed and blank, her hair plastered to her face by blood and dirt. Even in the state Caitrin was in, she looked hauntingly beautiful.
A tear slipped from the corner of his eyes, and Marius leaned forward to press a kiss to her forehead.
"So touching. Just let the barbarian bitch die, already."
He gasped, and looked up.
Verres was his second. He was supposed to be his best friend. All the clues sunk into place.
"You disobeyed my orders to attack," Marius replied, "You were the one."
"It was an order from the emperor himself."
"It was wrong!" Marius roared.
"Your judgment was impaired by you dalliance with the woman. You ignored the mission."
He shook his head, dragging Caitrin's form to his chest, "You betrayed me, Verres."
The tall Roman solider walked towards him, the crossbow raise. It was aimed at Marius' forehead.
"You were always too weak."
Verres pulled the trigger.
"No!" Katherine shrieked and stood out of her chair.
Wide eyes of her friend Abby fixed on her, "Katie, are you okay?"
Katie had fallen asleep in the lounge again. She always did when she worked overnight at the office. Right now, she was working on too many cases in too little time, and it was taking a toll. Abby Nixon was a police officer, and always met her in the lobby for lunch. Because of a meeting she was late, and Katie had fallen asleep in the chair again.
Her dream were always so vivid. This time she imagined that she was some sort of Celtic warrior princess stalking a Roman soldier, who was also her lover. Then she died and he was killed by-
"Yeah, I'm okay," she pushed her hand over her face. Her hair was knotted on her head, although it was probably starting to frizz out, "Just had a bad dream."
Abby sighed, "You need rest, not more coffee."
"I don't have a choice, " Katie picked up her briefcase, "I have five more appointments, a few cases to work on, and an angry judge to deal with. Raymond was not happy with me about the last case, I wouldn't be surprised if he rules against me because he hates me."
"Be careful, Katie," Abby frowned, "You don't want to make him more angry."
They walked from the precinct, and headed towards the cafe.
"So, what did you dream about?" Abby smiled.
"Oh, it was strange," she replied, "Some hot guy dressed like a Roman soldier. I've had it before, so I wonder if my mind saw some guy once in the train station or something stupid like that, and latched onto it. Wouldn't be in the first time."
Katie was notoriously known for being a space case. She also had tendencies to weave crazy theories that were complete nonsense. That's why she was a public defender. Katherine A. Larson, the resident defender of nut cases, because she was one herself.
Tonight she was working a double because her co-worker Al was out with a cold, which meant working the night shift. Katie was well aware the kind of people that were pulled into the station at night. Maybe she could get a big cup of coffee and make a plan of action for her next case. Hopefully, she would tick off Judge Raymond so badly this time that he would eject her from the courtroom.
"This is ludicrous and I won't have any part in it."
"Oh, come on, Mark," Vincent Preston sighed, "The company is ours for the taking. All we need to do is reach out and grasp it."
Mark Waverly pointed at the invitation on his desk, "If we go through with our plan, not only with the CEO be completely bankrupt, but he will loose his home and his family will be on the streets. He has a five-year-old daughter with leukemia."
Vince frowned, "When has that ever stopped you? It will mean major profits for LiveTech, and your reputation with soar. All you need to do is buy him out on Wall Street, and you'll own the entire thing. Wham! Bam! All yours by dinner."
Standing from his desk, Mark paced around his office. He did like buying out companies. He liked the challenge, and he liked the feeling of power that he got. It fed his pride like nothing else could to be able to look out the window and know that he owned half of the city. But at the end of the day, what did he really have? A bunch of metal and rock that didn't really mean anything except the praise of people Mark didn't really like. Money didn't do much in terms of being lonely.
Mark was lonely.
He had family in Europe, but that was it. Vince was as close to family as it got, but other than scattered acquaintances, there weren't many other people that Mark cared about.
"Hey, hey," Vince smiled, "We don't have to make a decision today. Say, do you want to come out with the guys tonight? A little time to unwind might help."
Time off. That was almost a novel idea. Mark could list at least twenty things he needed to do, but the ambition to do them was lost. He wasn't in the mood to sit at his desk until some god-awful hour in the morning and work. Choosing the difference between someone's livelihood and Mark's own reputation in the company was starting to wear on him. Since when did he start to think of executioners whenever someone brought up his name? He could use an evening away from the office, and maybe in the morning, his mind would be clear enough to make a choice.
"Alright, I'll come."