After a long day’s travel, Alton and Revanth stop for the night. They are attacked by a handful of men, but Alton seems to be taking care of them.
“I can do this all night,” the wood sprite bragged.
The boy struggled to his feet, rushing the wood sprite once more. A knee to the face bloodied him, but didn’t stop him. The third pass, Alton held out his hand, holding the boy by the forehead as he swung useless fists at the wood sprite’s midsection. With another blow to the back, Alton dropped the boy. Stepping carelessly, he put his foot on the young man’s neck, pressing his face into the dirt. He gave a glance at the friends, but they had run away somewhere early on in the skirmish.
“Do you have a death wish?”
The boy squirmed. Alton increased pressure and the wiggling stopped.
“Do you have a death wish?” he repeated very slowly.
“No!” the boy roared. Getting a mouthful of dirt, he coughed and sneezed.
“Didn’t anyone tell you that attacking a well armed wood sprite, was a sure way to die? Or did you think your fae blood would save you? Even three quarters, or half, you are no match for a full blooded fae, especially one who’s lived as long as I.”
“You’re just a kid, barely my age!”
The words were blurred and muffled by the loose dirt, but Alton made them out well enough. Laughing caustically, he let the boy go.
“Son, you’re an idiot as well as pathetic. Don’t you know that fae don’t age like humans? I’m far older than I look. How old are you?”
Alton chuckled. “I am nearly ten times that. Can you count that high?”
Rubbing the dirt from his face with his sleeve, the boy blushed.
“Thought not. Never assume you have the advantage.”
“Because I didn’t assume, I knew. Now, had you and your friends been as well trained as me, I might be the one bleeding and covered in dirt. A man traveling this road may seem an easy target, but would I be traveling with only one companion, if I weren’t fully capable of taking care of myself?”
“Companion? I see no companion.” The young face hardened, his aspect changed slightly. “While my friends and I distracted you, Old Man, someone’s made off with your friend.”
Alton’s eyes narrowed and the hair rose on the back of his neck.
“Do you think that even an ignorant farm boy wouldn’t have more sense than to attack a full fae, even with four to one odds? Never assume you have the advantage.”
Alton spared a quick glance for Revanth. His bedroll was there, tumbled around. A scuffle had ensued. While the boy distracted Alton, someone had made off with his companion.
“Gods balls! Who sent you?”
“Who do you think? My mother says hello.” In a blink, he was gone, disappearing into the woods as if he’d never been.
“You haven’t won, Rialtia!” he bellowed into the darkness. “You will never win!”
A mocking laugh echoed around him, melting into the darkness.
As he gathered up their scattered belongings, Alton tried to make contact with Revanth. He could only assume his friend was unconscious, because each time he met with only silence. Leading Revanth’s steed, he followed the lingering scent of his formerly horsey friend. Distinctive, it stood out like a beacon among all the other smells.
“I’m coming, brother,” he cast out to the shadows of the night. “I’m coming.”
Revanth woke with a very sore head. He was chained to a wall of smooth marble. Stripped to the waist, only his pants were left. His feet were bare, his sword gone from his side. He sat up, hearing his name called inside his head.
“What?” he replied in the same way.
“Oh, thank the gods. Where are you?”
“Who else speaks to you like this? Of course! Describe your surroundings.”
“A bed hewn of marble in a room carved from the same. No doors, no windows. The ceiling is domed.”
“You have plenty of air?”
“No doors, no windows? No air.”
“There’s a flow of air, I can feel it. I can’t trace the source. Where am I?”
“That’s what I want to know. I’m following your scent. At least you were taken overland—thus far.”
“The air is dry, almost cracking. The stone is warm, as if it had taken heat from something else—fire is unlikely. Sun?”
“Don’t try to figure it out. If I lose your scent, I’ll call you.”
“As you wish. In the meantime—maybe the girls are here? The first chance I get, I’ll look.”
A door appeared in the wall in front of him. It swung open slowly and dramatically, gradually revealing the person behind it.
“I see you’re awake,” a voice said. The tone and pitch did nothing to clarify the speaker. “Is he coming?”
© 2019 Dellani Oakes
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