The moon glowed bright over the clearing as I moved silently through the Fay's Forest, the dark trees clawing at the silver moon. My bare feet skimmed the cool water of the forest pool, ripples dancing across the surface like miniature waves. My magic thrummed in the night air, my raven's wing black hair swirled down my bare back. Tiny fire pixie dances through the air around me, drawn in by the magic I admitted. The wind brushed my bare skin, the scent of loamy, ancient earth thick on the breeze. My arms reached above my head, stretched to the vibrant moon. I arched on the rock back, skin silver, eyes glowing, thrumming with excitement. I could feel the power of the earth, the magic it possessed, ancient and archaic. I dove, the black pool swallowing my naked form as I dove into her arms. I was a Secret Dovante, I was a witch, I was one with the night.
"Secret! Get out of bed you lazy thing, there's work to be done girl." I groaned and rolled over as my aunt Rose called up the stairs to me, the dawn sun just breaking over the valley. My cousin She remained on her thick straw pallet, her soft snoring breaking the stillness. I rolled my eyes, if my mother had still been alive she would have never let her sister bully me like this. She wasn't though, taken in as a traitor for marrying a Wolf. Killed for loving the wrong person. I rose with a grimace, still tired from the rituals of the full moon. The thrum of magic in my blood was still strong though, I never wanted to let it go. It was illegal, to be a being of magic without registering to the Sorcerers of the Demonic and to not follow their rule. A crime that could get you put to death at the hands of a Battle Dragon, the most elite warriors in the land who backed the rule of the Sorcerers. I wasn't about to be caught though, I would never serve them or their tyranny over my homeland. I would rather die, my father would say I spoke like a true Wolf, not that he would have wanted me to join them. The Gray Wolves were a pack of outcasts and rebels who fought against the Sorcerers, living in hiding across the White Mountains on the Fallen Wastelands. The desolate, rocky territory of the Wolves was the most traitorous in the land. I had traveled on it once, preferring to stick in the White Mountains with the trails and helpful dwarves. I grabbed my discarded wool trousers, pulling them on. I pulled on my linen tunic as well, shaking my familiar off it. Lessh was a Moon Otter, she looked like any other otter except for the night of the full moon when she turned a beautiful silver. My aunt thought she was just some dumb animals I had nursed back to health, not knowing the truth about entire of us. She sent me a cold glare when I dumped her onto the floor.
What a nice way to wake someone up Secret. Are we in a hurry? Did you sleep in after your long night out? You didn't come back until almost dawn, I was worried."
She crawled onto my now vacant pallet, flopping on my tick stuffed pillow with a light humph. I glared at her, narrowing my eyes as her sharp gaze locked on mine. She knew I wouldn't talk back to her when there were other people in hearing range. It didn't stop her from chattering insistently though. I sighed and scratched her head, smiling at her. She chittered and leapt into my arms when I held them out to her. She scrambled, up onto my shoulders, draping herself around them. I walked down the ancient oak stairs, down into the tavern below. Aunt Rose was stoking fires, her gray streaked blonde hair sooty with ashes.
"Secret, finally, got draw water from the well and start boiling it for breakfast before our guests wake up. Hurry!"
I grabbed the large black pot from the hearth, heading out into the cool dawn. The tickling grass was wet with morning dew, shimmering like the scales of a dragon. Lessh slid off my shoulders and headed for the little pond where our dairy cows and horse drank when out to pasture. I drew the bucket up from the well, slowly filling the pot. Lessh splashed around happily, her dark eyes blissful. "Let's go little one, there's work to be done." She glared at me, her eyes narrowed.
Yeah, your work, what does that have to do with me?
"Stop being such a brat Lessh." I hauled the pot up, grunting under the weight. The otter grumbled, but clambered out of the pond, her sleek coat soaking. "Don't think you can ride on my shoulders soaking wet Lessh, you can walk back to the tavern. She sent me another glare, sticking her nose up in the air.
I see how much you love me Secret. Maybe you should just go find a new familiar.
She was about to continue, but froze, bristling. I whipped around, eyes on the ridge that she was growling at. The little otter could be fierce as hell if she needed to, dangerous even. I heard the pound of hooves before I saw anything, backing away slowly. Lessh leapt onto my shoulder, her eyes wary. A dark horse crested the ridge, the rider on his back sneering down at me. His face made my blood boil though, it was a face that haunted my dreams. The youngest Battle Dragon, Dane Death Cheater, stared down at me, eyes cold. He was the one who had executed my mother, the one who had condemned her. I froze as his dark eyes swept over me.
"Who are you?" He cocked his head, sneering.
"Secret Dovante." My cool ice eyes narrowed "What business does a dragon have here?"
"That is not your concern girl. Where can I board my horse around here in this little….village."
My hand tightened on the handle on the pot, eyes narrowed. "There is an inn ahead owned by my aunt, you could board it there." I hauled the pot onto my shoulder, turning my back on the damned man. His horse chopped on the bit, almost harsh sounding in the quiet dawn. Lessh was ridged around my shoulders, her body wound like a spring. I cooed gently to the sweet creature, sneering at the dragon over my shoulder. I shrieked loudly as the pot was lifted from my arms, the dragon riding parallel to me. He scowled at me as my scream split the morning air, my now empty hand gripping the hilt of a long knife with white knuckles.
"I'll carry it for you my lady, it seems heavy."
"I've carried it myself since I was young Dragon, I don't need assistance." My ice blue eyes narrowed even further as he glanced at Lessh. "The tavern is over that hillock." He grunted in answer, his dark eyes straight ahead as I moved down the old dirt road. Aunt Rose was in the yard, gathering eggs from the coop, she looked up in shock when she saw us coming. I saw the blood drain from her face from a distance. She flew into the inn, squawking for my cousin Shea.
"She's done it Shea! They're gonna put her to death! Lord that girl is a demon." I rolled my eyes as my aunt's frantic voice echoed from inside the inn.
"There's a stable around out back, you can use it." I took the pot from him and headed into the inn, growling as Shea flew around the corner with panic in her eyes.
"Secret? Why is there a Battle Dragon in the back yard? And why is my mother screaming about you being a criminal."
"Go take his horse to the stable, it's Dane."
She understood my twisted hateful features immediately.
"Oh honey, go start breakfast, I'll see to the Dragon." I nodded woodenly, heading for the kitchen. My aunt's cook, Catalyst, was already hard at work sweating over bread dough.
"Breakfast duty this morning Secret? That's a rare one for you to be on."
"There's a Battle Dragon lurking around, Shea knows I'll do something stupid if I'm around him too long." I grabbed the huge iron skillet and slapped into down on the hot coals of one of the cooking fires. The fresh hen's eggs were sacrificed first, a thick slabs of smoked bacon that smelled like heaven. I sliced a loaf of fresh grainy bread, setting it on a platter to be served to guests or travelers. Shea hurried back in fifteen minutes into the cooking process.
"He wants you Secret, I tried to tell him you were busy." My flustered cousin wiped sweat off her brow. "He won't listen!"
I ground my teeth, the dragon wanted to die this morning. Catalyst glanced over at me, her silver eyebrow shooting up. "Give me the knife before you hurt someone girl." She reached out toward me with one aged hand, her fingers curved like talons. I growled and pulled the blade from my boot, throwing it down on the table with a thud. "The one belted around your skinny waist as well Secret." I stuck my tongue out, but took it off. Catalyst could read me like a book. "Go, and behave yourself, the damnable man will be gone in the morning."
"That is not soon enough." I rolled my eyes and left the kitchen, sweeping my dark hair up and tying it messily. The tall man was slouching gracefully in a chair at the bar, dark eyes sweeping over the room. Other guests eyed the dragon with displeasure, his kind were not loved here. I put on my sweetest smile and moved toward him, Lessh almost tripping me up on the way over. I shot my otter an irritated glare.
"Shea told me you insisted on seeing me." A thin smirk spread over his pale lips as I spoke.
"I remember this place; it's been a long time though." His dark eyes darted to my face, searching for a reaction.
"Oh?" I tipped my head, eyes blank. "I haven't been working long, I wouldn't know." Leave it you scaly bastard.
"Five years ago, when I was first titled as a dragon. I was quite pleased with that title. I remember my first mission, to hunt out a traitor in a little village with a homey tavern."
"It must have been a dangerous criminal to warrant the assistance of a dragon." My icy eyes narrowed again.
"No, but she committed crimes of treason against the Sorcerers. She bore the child of a Gray Wolf and raised it in secret. The girl was only twelve when her mother was killed. I'd say she would be around seventeen now."
So you can do math asshole, your mother must be so proud. "Really? The child wasn't put to death as well."
"No, the Dragon's had some interest in her, she was left alive. They wanted to see what she would develop into."
"And are they impressed?" His dark eyes glowed with humor as I dropped the acting, spreading my arms wide. "Do they like what they see?"
"Tier will judge you when he arrives girl. In the mean time you are under arrest for supplying outlaws, supporting rebels, and speaking against the Sorcerers. Crimes punishable with slavery or death." He leaned closer, mouth against my ear. "Personally I'd pick the first one for you. I'd love to see you on your knees." I snarled as he tied my hands behind me, the patrons in the tavern looking on in shock. Shea was standing in the doorway to the kitchen with a plate of eggs, eyes wide.
"Secret?" She looked worried, her stormy gray eyes flickering between me and the dragon.
"Tell your mother I won't be working today, I left early." Shea nodded as the dragon pushed me forward, sneering. I was murderous, I couldn't believe Catalyst had made me leave my knives in the kitchen. If I had them now the dragon would be on his knees with his balls shoved down his own throat after I'd finished castrating him with a rusty kitchen knife.
"Your eyes are absolutely venomous Secret. Care to share what's on your pretty little mind?" He smirked again, making my boil with barely suppressed rage.
"Your shame and death dragon, which would be slow and drawn out. Something quick is too good for scum like you." I winced as he shoved my down the front steps, hitting the hard packed dirt on my knees.
"Keep your mouth shut wench!" Hadn't he asked? He must not have liked the answer. I was in the process of using my magic to loosen the ropes around my wrists when a pair of pale leather boots stopped in front of me. Dane was still perched on the stairs, eyes scanning the road for any sign of the other Dragons. My eyes shot up to the stranger standing in front of me, his aura had strong magic. I instinctually tramped my own magic down, smothering it so he wouldn't sense it. He was elf, which was rare in these parts, but ever rarer still because he carried a crest of their royal family.
"Why do you have the little human tied in the dirt?" His sharp vibrant eyes were locked on Dane, curious.
The dragon sneered at him. "She is a traitor to her people." At this I shot him a burning glare. "She is awaiting judgment and punishment."
"Hm." His deep violet eyes were locked on mine, he had sensed it. He had sensed my magic. I narrowed my eyes back at him, anger taking over. He smirked lightly, his pale lips curving up at the corners. "She is a traitor, you can see it in her eyes." My hands knotted into fists, the ropes loosening farther. I grimaced as the fibers bit into my skin though, trying to keep the pain from registering in my eyes. He glanced at me before walking past, his inhuman grace making his stride almost predatory. He slunk gracefully onto the railing beside Dane.
"What will her punishment be?" Those wicked violet eyes landed on me as I continued to work the ropes, growling as they drew blood.
"That is up to my captain." Dane shot the blonde haired elf a perplexed look. "Why do you care anyway elf?"
"She seemed to innocent to be a criminal." He shrugged, acting aloof. "I was actually here to find a magic user."
My eyes widened, what game was this pale haired elf playing.
"There is no registered magic user in this place." Dame frowned, his dark eyes narrowed. "They would be illegal."
The elf shrugged again. "That is the rumor, a witch with hair dark as the night." His eyes flickered to me again, sparkling. "A powerful witch."
Dane shot him a cold glare. "Why would you be looking for such a witch? She sounds like trouble to me."
"She is rumored to be one of the best, her magic had been sensed in the forest during the full moon." His eyes twinkled. "My father wants her to bind her magic with his court." I froze, he was an elven prince. The violet eyes landed on me as I twisted my wrists, slipping my left hand free. I had to flee an elf summons and a pissed battalion of dragons. Damn my luck, and damn Dane for making locating me so easy. I slipped both wrists free, sighing lightly as the pressure eased on my wrists. Dane glanced at the elf.
"So you are one of the three princes of the elven court?"
"Yes, the middle one, Orist." He twirled a thin silver dagger around his fingers. "My father's errand boy." I gathered my magic, preparing to make a dust cloud large enough to hide my escape. Dane was focused on the elf now, the oddity before him distracting him from my actions. Wind swirled softly around me. I hated both of them, their cocky man prides having them thinking I was safely secured. I was one of the best, and there was no rope in the entire land that could hold me. By my magic was violent and untrained, making it all the more dangerous. The elf tilted his head as the wind picked up.
"Your dragons best hurry."
Dane glanced at him, brows furrowed. "Why?"
"Because, there is going to be a hunt. May the best man win Dane Death Cheater." He hopped off the railing, eyes glowing as they focused on me. I threw back my head and roared, the wind rushing around me like a long lost friend. Dust and debris swirled around in a choking cloud, blinding my pursuers. I raced around to the back of the tavern. Lessh waited there, her brown eyes worried.
An elf is poking around where he is not welcome as well Secret. I believe it is time for us to go.
"Damn right, let me get the saddle on Illusion." My beautiful black mare tossed her head as the storm raged mer meters away, the ball of dust trapping the elf and hunter inside. I threw the saddle on quickly, grabbing my bag and flying. Illusion was the fastest horse in the valley, her wild nature earning her a reputation. We were a dangerous partnership, ones built to survive. Lessh was in my satchel, curled up safely in the bottom. I thundered around the dust cloud, heading for the safety of the Fey Woods. Once through them I would head for the Forest of Song and the relative safety of a tavern owned by an old family friend. They catered to the Wolves there, and I might be able to contact my father and birth brother, find shelter among the outcast and rebels. A furious shout echoed behind me as I let the magic die, the way cleared for the Dragon and violet eyed elf. I was more worried about the summons to the elf court, it could be a trap set by those who wanted my power. I knew Dane would be easy to lost in the Woods, they were the elf's ancestral home though. As I rode away from the tavern and home, I realized I would not be back, not for a long time. I knew it would happen eventually, I was a witch and the offspring of rebels, but it hurt more than I ever thought it would. I would actually miss persnickety old Rose and Shea covering for me and Catalyst being my voice of reason when things looked bad. The storm was rising though, the stage set, and fate had a funny way of fucking me over. I glanced over my shoulder. For better or worse.
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