Make your own free website on Tripod.com

Bow & Blade

Sample Chapter

Home
Synopsis
Sample Chapter
Cover Art

============================================================= Chapter One

=============================================================

 

     The figure in black creeps through the woods, then stops and watches the roaring fire. She checks her bow, seeing that the damp air from the forest has not weakened the string. Slipping closer still she reaches the edge of the trees, three hundred yards from the fire itself.

 

     She can make out the shapes of two figures seated by the fire, and with the vision granted her by her nature, she sees her target bound and facing her. The other man by the fire is a mystery to her. Her dark vision makes out the patterns on the kilt, but she does not recognize it.

 

     She shakes her head and mutters under her breath, "Your time has been wasted warrior... this traitor is mine."

 

     She puts an arrow to the string, and draws.

 

===============================

 

     "Your soul will burn for this Merc."

 

     The bound man has long ago stopped his struggles, but continues with his taunts. The other man laughs and looks at him.

 

      "It's your soul you should worry about Carin..." the warrior laughs and takes ladle full of soup from the fire.”And you should pray I get you to Lord McCalister safely...he'll treat you more fairly than the ones you are running back to."

 

     Carin growls and spits, glaring at the Highlander before answering, "What do you know about the ones I'm running to Highlander?"

 

     Danel Blackwalker chuckles and spoons out his supper, taking a bite then responding, "Quite a bit Carin... the Demons you worked for won't be too happy you betrayed them to Lord McCalister....even if you are betraying him now. They'll kill you after you are tortured."

 

     "And why do you care Merc? McCalister will kill me too!"

 

      "Honestly Carin... whether you swing or walk free, I don't care. McCalister's gold spends easy... and he pays on time."

 

     The prisoner mutters and then looks to Danel, a smile forming as he speaks, "If it's gold you want Merc... it's gold you can get... I pay well... you Highland Mercs are always looking for more gold.....I have plenty!"

     Danel shakes his head, spooning up more soup before answering, "Sorry Carin... but McCalister paid your bounty, and I don't betray that. Unlike you, I do have Honor."

 

     "Honor? You're a filthy mercenary you Highland scum!!! You're not fit to..."

 

     Danel leaps up, sword drawn and swinging his hammer preparing himself for the danger he senses.  The sound of metal on metal is heard as the as the arrowhead shatters against the hammerhead.  Danel looks to the direction the arrow came, and puts himself between the archer and Carin and warns, "Get down...you're hide is no good to me dead...I have never lost my charge, and I won't this time."

 

     A second arrow sails in, Danel barely slicing it down the shaft with his sword. He strains his eyes to see the assailant. He smiles as he hears Carin scramble into the bushes, then laughs loudly, smelling the air before calling out, “Come out Demon...Danel Blackwalker awaits!!!"

 

==================================

 

     ".....Danel Blackwalker awaits!!!"

 

     The archer shakes her head and mutters, "Of all the Carin's captors...it had to be a Highlander." Fitting another arrow to her bow, the assassin searches the shadows for the traitor, but sees him not. With a growl, she calls out, "Stand aside Highlander... this has nothing to do with you. That one has earned punishment...and I have been sent to give it."

 

     Laughter rings out from the fire, and she can see the Highlander's face. She watches as he crosses his weapons, and kisses the blade. "Carin is my bounty Demon...I have no quarrel with you....but he is under my protection until I bring him back. To take him...you must kill me."

 

     "Pray to your gods then Highlander...for the traitor's soul belongs to Meraphist... and it is my life that is forfeit or his. You have no part in this war...but if you stand in my way...you will fall."

 

     She watches as the Highlander stands ready. "Make peace with yours then Demon. All of us wake from this dream of life sometime, if it's my time, so be it. But you shall not get passed me."

 

     With out another word she begins fitting shafts to the bow and firing them at the Highlander. One scores a hit in his arm and he cries out in pain, and then begins a battle chant, laughter in his voice. The air around the Highlander begins to shimmer, as the shafts begin to slide by before speaking out, "I have a few tricks for those that attack from afar Demon...If you want Carin dead....you'll have to face me blade to blade."

 

     She shoulders her bow, and slips out to long, thin, curved daggers, almost the size of short scimitars and rushes the campsite, a shadow making more sound than her. She knows her dark vision will aid her, and only slightly regrets the death of one not part of the war.

 

===============================

 

     The Highlander sees the movement, and sets himself. He braces, and as the archer launches in the air, he hears Carin's scream.

 

      "NOW MY PET!"

 

      A screech rends the air, and the Highlander's world erupts in flames.

 

==========================

 

     Carin surveys the scene as his fire drake lands. He laughs as he sees the blackened form of the archer. "So....Meraphist sends his best to hunt me...Too bad Stasciana... your first prey lost....as well as your life."

 

     He turns, and looks at the form of Danel Blackwalker. When Carin kicks him, the Highlander groans. "You're still alive? Well...I should kill you...but I could not have evaded Meraphist's assassin on my own....For that....you shall live Highlander...You will not die by my hand tonight...."

 

     Howls sound from the distance, and Carin smiles evilly. "But for your impudence of capturing me.....the dire wolves will have you....You're death is assured."

 

     Laughter rings out from the traitor, as he climbs to the back of his fire drake, and flies to the west. The howls get closer, as the wolves sense an easy meal.

 

==============================

 

     The howls get closer as Danel starts to stir, his breathing coming a little more regularly. The healing powers course through him, his Highland heritage keeping him from death. The blood flow slows to a trickle, and then stops as the wounds close up. Standing and shaking off, Danel slowly comes to his senses. He looks around the camp site, his horse nothing but ash. Kneeling before it, Danel lowers his head, mumbling an epitaph, "Life Fades....Death Comes...may the Embrace of the Spirits welcome you home."

 

     The dire wolves howl louder, and Danel reaches for his sword, looking for escape. Turning his head, he sees the form of the assassin. He takes out his dagger to slit the Demon's throat, and turns the form over. His gasp is loud as he sees an all too human form of a woman lying before him.

 

     Shaking his head, Danel reaches to check for a pulse, finding the faint sign of life. He sighs, and stands as the first dire wolf enters the campsite.

 

     "Alright you mangy bag of bones...One of us will meet the Spirits tonight."

 

     The wolf growls and darts in as Danel Blackwalker begins to sing his battle song.

 

=============================

 

     Stasciana moans out, and starts to stir, every movement pure agony. She tries to raise her arms, and finds them bound.

 

     "It won't do you good...those bonds were created to hold Demons by the Angels themselves....and strengthened by the Spirits."

 

     The voice of the Highlander brings Stasciana completely to consciousness. She opens her eyes and stares at her captor. She snarls at Danel, "So am I now your prisoner Human Swine? Torture me as you wish....it will not break me."

 

      She watches as Danel barks out a laugh, "Human Swine is it? Well....that answers my question...I knew I smelled Demon on you....but I wasn't sure that I couldn't be wrong."

 

     Kicking at the Highlander, Stasciana growls, "I am Cambion....release me and you'll soon see how wrong you are!!!!"

 

     The Highlander steps back, avoiding the kick and sitting on a rock near by. Shaking his head, he pulls out his sword, cleaning off blood. "No, I think not.  Not until we've come to an agreement."

 

     Growling, Stasciana kicks again, finding the chains attached to another boulder. Struggling once more, she sighs, and the fight goes out of her. "Do your worst Highlander...Meraphist will have my heart and soul for failure as it is...just kill me and be done with it."

 

     "And why now would I be killing you after saving you?" Stasciana looks up to see Danel smiling, and sheathing his sword before continuing, "There's no honor in that, and none in killing a foe whose crime was doing her duty."

 

     "What do you mean...saving......" She looks around finally, seeing the corpses of the dire wolves littering the campsite. She growls, "Why save me after fire balling me? You and your master Carin could have been gone, and my bones would be rotting in the belly's' of these beasts."

 

     Danel spits and growls himself, "First lass... that foul rat was to be my bounty, not my master. I was bringing him back to face justice." He stands, walking over and unsheathing his blade. "Second of all...I didn't fireball you...that was Carin's little pet.....who's skin I plan on making a tent. And finally...."

 

     Stasciana's eyes close as she sees the sword that Danel has raised swing downward. She flinches as she hears the metal on metal chime, and feels her bonds fall apart.

 

     "Finally....it wouldn't be right to leave some one that was defenseless."

 

     Rubbing her wrists to get feeling back in them, Stasciana looks up at Danel, seeing him ready to defend himself and then she speaks, "You show me mercy? Why? Mercy is weakness." The mantra rings false even to her ears.

 

     Never taking his eyes from her, Danel smiles before answering, "Not from my viewpoint Demon."

 

================================

 

     The flames from the fire pit cast dancing shadows as the two hunters sit across from each other.

 

     Danel looks over, speaking calmly, "You know neither of us can face that drake alone...our only chances of succeeding are to work together Demon."

 

     Not meeting the Highlanders gaze, Stasciana sighs, "And then what shall we do Human? You will not let me kill him....and my life is forfeit if I let you take him in for human judgment."

 

      "Well Demon...we can't complete our tasks until that drake is taken care of. I do not like the thought of a human facing Demon justice....but we will deal with that after we have taken the drake." Danel smiles, and extends his hand. "Do we have an agreement?"

 

      Stasciana looks up and reaches out her hand as well, clasping his and answering, "We do Human...but know this...I will not stop watching you....I am skilled in betrayal...and I will not fall for your tricks."

 

     Not letting go, Danel laughs, "Highlanders, Demon....do not betray....that is against our honor...and one other thing......the name is not 'Human'.....it is Danel Blackwalker."

 

     Her face still an emotionless mask, Stasciana nods. "As you say Hu-...Danel...and you may call me Stasciana."

 

=========================

 

     Danel reaches behind his rock, pulling out the bow and swords of Stasciana. She growls, leaping and snatching them from his grasp. Stasciana rolls, swords drawn, bow and quiver in front of her. "Do not EVER touch my weapons again Human!!!! NOT EVER!"

 

     The Highlander grins slightly, bowing mockingly but never taking his eyes off of her. "As you wish...but the name is Danel, Demon... do not forget that." He stands, and looks around the camp. "Now....seeing as you ruined my meal, and seeing that neither of will trust the other to sleep....I believe we should begin our chase."

 

     Stasciana slowly backs up, sheathing her swords, and putting her quiver on her back, her eyes never leaving Danel. "As you say...lead the way Hu....Danel." Danel laughs slightly and Stasciana growls, her eyes going hard as jade. "What is so funny?"

 

     With a wry grin, Danel cocks his eyebrow and looks to her. "I Stasciana, will not stab you in the back....you though....I don't trust your Demon nature with the same respect. You lead."

 

     "And what makes you think that I should trust you Danel? You had me bound...." her words trail off.

 

     "Aye...I did...and I could have had you dead and buried Stasciana. But I did not, THAT is how you can trust me." Danel smiles, and gathers up the gear he can use.

 

      As he moves about the camp, Stasciana pauses, watching. Her mind and heart war with each other, one wanting to eliminate a threat, the other, her human side, wanting to trust and show compassion. She shakes her head, as if to clear it, and then tightens her gear. Her voice, somewhat unsteady, rings through the campsite, "As you say Danel...are you ready?" She pauses, and he nods. "Then let us go...Carin flew that way."

 

     Stasciana begins her run, and the Highlander follows, his stride swift, if not as silent as hers.

 

========================

 

     An hour passes, and their pace does not slacken. Stasciana looks over her shoulder, seeing Danel and noticing he's not even winded. Her amazement stays hidden from her face as she wonders how anyone short of a Cambion could keep up with her. She slows up, and stops, looking around to get her bearings.

 

     "Unsure of where we should go Stasciana?" Danel stops as well, taking his water pouch and drinking some down.

 

      A growl sounds from her throat as Stasciana turns to the Highlander. "Do you doubt my skills?"

 

     He shakes his head, offering his water to her. She takes it, drinking a sip before realizing what she has done. "No lass...I just don't know how you are tracking him...you're on the path that's true....but I know not how you are doing so. Whatever your skills are, they are working well."

 

     Stasciana bites back the growl, and swallows, "I am sorry...you would not know...The Dark Lord Meraphist gave me a sample of blood that he had for Carin....with it....I formed a blood lock...now, the traitor could not hide from me where ever he goes." She cocks her head to the side. "How would you know which path is the right path Human?"

 

      Taking his water pouch back, Danel smiles before he answers, "Well lass... we Highlanders have our connection to the Spirits that guide us in this life.  Through it, we can track a single rain drop in a storm. I have never lost a prisoner....until now." He chuckles, and re-straps his pouch on his back.

 

     The unfamiliar feeling of embarrassment hits Stasciana and she turns to hide the red flush in her face at the tone of his voice. She clears her throat, and keeps her head turned. "He has gone this way, hurry up Human....don't make me lose my first target as well..."

 

     The heat of her face is not from anger, but from embarrassment as his laughter rings out and they begin their chase again.

 

=======================

 

     Red eyes stare from the trees as the pair run off. A piece of shadow drops from the canopy to the ground, showing the form of a small imp. It mumbles words, and then the image of a great Demon appears before it.

 

      "What Do You Have To Report Nasan?" the harsh voice of Meraphist sounds out.

 

     The imp grovels, and hides his eyes, then looks up. "Dark Lord....the assassin you have sent....she has allied herself with a Highlander, her prey still runs free."

 

     "A Highlander? Has She Betrayed Us As Well?"

 

     "Nasan knows not Dark Lord....Nasan will follow....Nasan will inform."

 

     The Demon's face darkens more, and he snarls. "That Is Not Enough Nasan...YOU Will Be My Eyes....But.......If The Assassin Has Turned On Us.....You Will Be My Blade....My Spell Will Deepen...What You See....I Will See...."

 

     Nasan screams in pain as the spell takes hold, writhing in agony on the ground. His convulsions stop, and he stares, his eyes now a sickly green. Meraphist's image growls at him. "You Will Not Fail Me Nasan....You Know The Punishment If You Do."

 

     The sniveling imp prostrates himself on the ground. "Nasan knows Dark Lord....Nasan will not fail...no, Nasan will not...Nasan will watch....Nasan will wait.....and if the need arises....Nasan will kill."

 

     The Demon's image laughs and then focuses on the imp. "So I Have Commanded....Now Go!!!"

 

     The spell ends, and the Demon's visage fades away. The little imp stretches his wings, and flies off, following the now vanished forms of Highlander and Cambion.

 

=======================

 

     Dawn begins to break, and Stasciana finally begins to slow her pace. She looks back, a small smile of triumph on her face as she sees Danel breathing slightly hard. She leans against a tree, squinting as the light begins to brighten. Danel catches up, pulling out his water skin again.

 

     "We need to find a place for rest....Dawn comes."

 

     Danel arches his eyebrow. "Lass, No Demon that I know of fears the dawn, so why should you?"

 

     Sighing tiredly, Stasciana directs a level stare at the Highlander. "Demons do not....most Cambions do not either...I though, am one of the few that is bothered by the light."

 

     Danel squints, looking to the horizon. "Well Stasciana...we're in luck...not more than a kay from here is a small village...we can rest there, and replenish our supplies, as well as see if they know where Carin has traveled to."

 

     Spitting on the ground, Stasciana shakes her head. "No villages....the people would see what I am, and hunt me down....or is that what you truly want?"

 

     Rolling his eyes and strapping his water skin to his side the Highlander looks to her. "Lass, I told you....if I had wanted you dead, you would have been long since. For as much strength as you seem to have, I can tell it's lagging...and I'm not much better." He smiles, and winks. "Plus...if I could not tell you were a Demon by looks, no one could...I could smell the Demon in you, but your looks betray that....and unless there is Highland Blood in the villagers, they won't even be able to know that much."

 

     "As you say Highlander...but there you will have the help you need...what is to stop the villagers from attacking me if they find out what I am?"

 

     Danel draws his sword and hammer, causing Stasciana to flinch back and get in a ready stance. She watches as the Highlander draws the edge of his blade on the back of his forearm, bringing blood to the skin. "By my Blood....by my Honor...No harm shall come to you while you stay with me. This I swear."

 

     Taken aback, Stasciana just stares as Danel sheaths his sword again. She licks her lips.  "Why...why did you swear that?"

 

     Danel smiles, "We made a pact, to run together until the fire drake is taken care of. That might not make us friends, but it makes us companions, and as such, I will see you come to no harm." He adjusts his weapons and gear. "Now lass, we still have time, but this time...I'll lead...I know the way."

 

     Danel turns his back and starts a steady stride in the direction of the village, and for the first time, Stasciana does not even think of eliminating the competition for her prey.

 

==========================

 

     Perching on the branch, Nasan hisses as the sun rises and the two run off. The light pains him, and he knows he can not follow his targets into the village. He would be too out of place.

 

     "Stupid Cambion...." he mutters, "make Nasan chase you...stupid stupid stupid. Nasan will make you pay....yes Nasan will."

 

     The imp giggles to himself as he finds the dark hole of a hollow tree, and curls up thinking murderous thoughts.

 

=========================

 

     The first houses of the village come into view as the sun comes completely over the horizon. Stasciana begins to grimace, discomfort starting to show. Danel slows his stride, looking at her with concern. "Will you make it?"

 

     The Cambion grits her teeth and nods. "Just...find us...a place....to rest...Dawn...is the worst time....for me....." Stasciana tries to continue on, then staggers; almost falling until Danel catches her arm and holds her upright.

 

     "Don't TOUCH me!" She attempts to jerk away, only to be held tight in an iron grip. Her mind sensing betrayal, Stasciana begins to fumble for her sword. Danel stays Stasciana's hand with his own.

 

     "Lass, you're about to fall over...I think the dawn affects you worse than you indicated. We're almost there...I'll carry you if I have to."

 

     She growls. "I don't need the help of any one...let alone a Hu..."

 

     Danel interrupts, "Oh right...and you're not going to fall down defenseless in three steps. I told you Stasciana...we are companions, comrades in arms so to speak, and I will protect you from all harm while you are with me." He gives a roguish grin. "Even if that harm comes from you."

 

     He looks up and sees the inn sign. Before Stasciana can protest more, he speaks again. "Now, bite your tongue, and accept help and we'll be where you can rest and recover in a moment. Accept help Stasciana, it makes you stronger."

 

     "That is not the Demon way Highlander...and Cambions are part Demon...we rely only on ourselves. Mercy is weakness." Again, the mantra rings false in her ears, as she stares tiredly at Danel, shuffling along.

 

     "Well lass...maybe then you should follow your human side some times...you'll find that sometimes, those that are the strongest, are the ones that admit they do need others." He turns his head, leaving Stasciana to her thoughts.

 

     She feels the weakness rising in her body, and her voice echoes in her own ears as though from far away. "Highlander..."

 

     Danel turns to her, still supporting her weight as she starts to stagger even more. "Yes Stasciana?"

 

     "Don't....don't let me fall......Danel...don't leave me alone...." Her vision clouds, darkness setting in. Her last sight is the Highlanders concerned face. From the fog and haze that is her mind; she hears his voice echoing back to her.

 

     "Worry not Stasciana....you will be safe."

 

     And then the world for Stasciana spirals, as the blackness of unconsciousness sets in.

 

====================================

 

     Floating in the fog, mind unfocused, Stasciana realizes she is in the depths of her mind, in her own dreams. Her thoughts drift back, remembering her childhood. There, the shadowy form of her mother stands speaking with The Master.

 

     "She is too young.....she is not ready...." Her mother speaks out, clutching the child that is Stasciana to her.

 

     The Master merely laughs, and folds his arms across his chest. "Your opinion on the matter carries no weight woman. You are only the brood mare for this weapon...SHE belongs to Meraphist...She is his spawn, she is his weapon."

 

     Her mother shakes her head, clutching the child Stasciana tighter. "No... She is nothing like him... she is not...You can not have her. YOU CAN NO......"

 

     Stasciana screams soundlessly in her own mind, watching her mother's head fly from her body, the blood gushing over her younger self. The body slowly falls to the side, quickly going cold.

 

     Stasciana knows her tears are falling, but then sees as the head bounces to her. Dreading the sight, she looks down anyway, but instead of her mother's head...she sees her own.

 

     The blood curdling screams that ring out echo over and over in Stasciana's mind, as the world comes crashing in.

 

=========================

 

     Stasciana sits bolt upright, still screaming from her nightmare. Danel rushes to her side. "What? What did you see?"

 

     Still disoriented, Stasciana shakes her head to clear the last vestiges of her nightmare filled rest from her mind. "Noth-nothing... The past coming back to me in dreams,  that's all." Her eyes dart around the room, seeing the darkness. "How long have I slept?"

 

     Danel looks at her, still concerned, then moves back and sits in the room's chair. "Only about an hour lass...Took me half that time to convince the innkeeper that you were just drunk, and not carrying some plague." He chuckles, rolling his eyes. "And even then the goat sucker charged me three times what this place should be worth. Now, do you think you need more rest, or are you fine?"

 

     "I have rested enough Danel...I need no more."

 

     The Highlander yawns and leans back in the chair, pulling a hat down over his eyes. "Fine, you're turn to watch out, I need my rest. After our meal, I'll go see about restocking our supplies. You don't have to stay here...but don't go far...who knows if Carin still believes we are after him."

 

     Stretching, the Cambion looks across at Danel, her face a mask of confusion. "You trust me while you sleep? What makes you think I will let you wake?"

 

     Danel lifts the hat, grinning slightly. "Well lass, I'm a good judge of those that travel with me...I have read you, and you aren't as lost to the light as you may think. I believe it's worth the risk. After all, I need to trust sometime...and neither of us will defeat Carin on our own." With that, he lowers the hat again.

 

     A breeze followed by a dull thunk is felt and heard as the dagger embeds itself by Danel's ear in the wall. "THAT is what I think of your judgment Human...what say you in that?"

 

     A small chuckle escapes from under the hat, Danel not moving one bit. "I say...it's well placed...because the dagger is in the wall, and I am alive. Now....just wake me in one hour Stasciana, if you are awake yourself."

 

     Curses fill the room in a quiet tirade, but no other daggers fly through the air.

 

==============================

 

     Soft snores come from under the Highlander's hat, and Stasciana stares at him. How easy it would be to just slit his throat, her thoughts echo in her head. Her hands itch to pull out a dagger, but she can not. She owes her life to him, and in him sparing hers, it causes Stasciana to rethink things. The Highlander follows her same path so to speak, yet he shows compassion. Instead of slaying Carin right away, he was bringing him to trial.

 

     Her heart and mind war once again, leaving her confused and angered. Knowing her life deserved better, she made up her mind. One way or another, when this assignment was over, she would be out, and she would find her own way.

 

=========================

 

     "Nasan...You Will Report....." The words thunder in the imp's mind, boiling like liquid fire. He awakens from his slumber, and casts the spell to see Meraphist's image.

 

     He whines and grovels before the image. "Dark Lord...Nasan is watching...Nasan has seen no treachery...."

 

     "FOOL!!!!!" The image screams, causing the imp to cower in the hole. "Do You Not Understand What Being My Eyes Means???? I See All You See....And I See You SLEEPING!!!!! Where Is The Cambion???"

 

     Nasan falls to the ground in front of the image. "Dark Lord....The Cambion has gone to a village Dark Lord...Nasan can not follow...no Nasan can not....Please Dark Lord....Nasan will not fail!!!!"

 

     "Silence Worm! You Will Go To The Village...And You Will Find Them!!!! You Will Not EVER Let Them Out Of Your Sight Again....THIS I Command!!!!!" The image flashes and explodes, causing the tree to erupt and splinter. The imp is thrown from it to the ground, picking splinters of wood from his skin.

     The imp growls and whines. "Cambion will pay....oh yes she will....and Highlander will as well....Nasan will be all powerful...Nasan will make Dark Lord PROUD!!!"

 

     Nasan shakes, then takes to the air, flying low and squinting in the noon day sun, winging his way to the village.

 

============================

 

     The sense of some one coming with in inches of him causes Danel's eyes to pop open under his hat. His instincts kick in and he grabs for the wrist with one hand, his other hand streaking to pull his dagger. Halfway unsheathed, he hears a voice. "Highlander...It's me!!!!"

 

     Blinking under the hat, Danel loosens his grip on the dagger, and reaches to push his hat up. His eyes adjust to the light of the room, and he sees the face of Stasciana, looking like a thundercloud. Her wrist is shaking in fury and he releases it.

 

     Stasciana rubs her wrist, glaring at Danel. "I thought you said you trusted me Highlander."

 

     Doing a quick mental check, and taking a breath, Danel stretches. "I do Stasciana, but my body reacts when it thinks there is a threat...some one sneaking up on you in your sleep is a threat. You could have just called out."

 

     Growling, Stasciana steps back. "I DID call out Highlander...but you did not stir. Your snores were enough to scare any Demon away."

 

      Danel mutters, standing and reaching for his sword belt. "I, Stasciana...do not snore...you must be mistaken."

 

     A rough, unpracticed laugh barks from the Cambion's throat. She cocks her head to the side, her mouth almost quirking into a grin. "Well then Highlander...this Inn must house the Demons I said you would scare away. Now hurry....I wish to eat, and we must restock as you say....and I don't want the traitor's trail to get any colder."

 

     Danel watches as Stasciana walks out of the room's door, and shakes his head in amazement at the first sign of anything resembling humor from her.

 

================================

 

     "Will you hurry up already Danel...he's too far ahead as it is." The frustration is evident in Stasciana's voice. They have been in the market place for the better part of two hours, and the slowness of the bartering wears on her.

 

     Danel turns, reaching to his belt and throws Stasciana a coin pouch. "Tell you what, I will finish here, you see about getting us some horses...it'll give you something to do."

 

     Growling, she throws the pouch back. "I have my own gold Highlander...just hurry; I will meet you soon with the horses." She turns and storms out.

 

     The shopkeeper wipes his forehead, looking nervously at Danel. "Edgy isn't she?"

 

     Laughing, Danel turns back to the shop keeper and grins. "Well, she's worried that's all, my friend. We are chasing after a friend of ours....perhaps you have seen him....."

 

     A smile appears on the shopkeeper's face. "Seen a lot of people...mayhaps I've seen your friend...."

 

     Danel reaches in the coin pouch, sliding gold across the counter. "He'd be about my size, dark haired, and gruff.  He would have been headed west bound, with no mount, and he might have used the name Carin."

 

     The shopkeeper's face clouds with apprehension. "You are friends with him? Take your gold...I want nothing to do with that sort."

 

     "And why is that friend?"

 

     "Don't be calling me friend Highlander...that one...he came to Korinth as if he owned it...bellowed and cursed that we were a flyspeck of a village. Then, he talked with some of the local head bashers, and took them on. The lot left just last evening." The shop keeper starts backing away.

 

     Danel grins again. "Worry not friend...that one I bring to justice...he's a wanted man and I mean to take him in."

 

     The shop keeper shakes his head. "That might be your plan Highlander...but he has you out numbered....and your companion...she doesn't seem in to be the one looking for justice."

 

     "Don't worry friend, she's will cause no harm here...and she'll be a great help when I do catch him." Danel turns to leave.

 

     "Pardon my saying so Highlander..." the shop keeper calls, "but that woman must be a Demon to travel with."

 

     Danel laughs, not even turning around. "Friend....you don't even know the half of it."

 

============================

     Mounted on their horses, Stasciana and Danel begin riding out of town, leading their packhorse. Stasciana turns to the Highlander. "The time you wasted could have been spent catching up with the Traitor."

 

     "Ah lass, but I found out something we might need. It appears that Carin picked up help and protection."

 

     Stasciana turns to him on her horse. "What do you mean Highlander? How did you find that out? Is that more of your Spirit talking Human?"

 

     Laughing Danel clucks to his horse, making it move slightly faster. "No lass, it's called asking...you should try it sometime...Not everyone is an enemy, sometimes, people will help you."

 

     "That....is not the Cambion way Danel..."

 

     He turns to her in his saddle and cracks a grin. "Well then lass, it's a good thing I didn't use the Cambion way." He laughs, and then continues on, "If Carin continues along this line, we'll soon be vastly outnumbered Stasciana...looks to me as if we might need help."

 

     She sighs, urging her horse to catch up. "And where might we find that Highlander? Do you expect to pull an army out of a coin pouch?"

 

     Danel winks, flicking his reins. "Have a little faith lass, Shontar is twelve kay from here...we'll make it by dawn. You can rest there, and then we can gain allies. I have a few old friends that should still be there."

 

     The hint of a smile shows on Stasciana's face. "Well Highlander, we won't get there talking...you lead the way."

 

     They urge their horses to a gallop, and ride off to the west, and to Shontar.

 

==============================

 

     Unknown to both, a shadow flies low in the sky, keeping watch.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Back Home

est 2008

bwplogo2.jpg