Dark Roads Book One - The Pact

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Fantasy  |  House: Booksie Classic

Chapter 2 (v.1) - Chapter Two

Submitted: December 17, 2018

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Submitted: December 17, 2018

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In the morning, before setting out, Serenity consulted her cards. She did this every morning, not in divination or horoscope, but in simple, deep-thought meditation. Morning exercise, preparing mind and spirit for the journey of the day.

Few knew the skill of casting runes, and even fewer tolerated it. To the general populace of Geiral, it reeked of dark magic, black magic, practiced by only the meanest of witches and sorcerers in blasphemous pagan rings. The art of rune-weaving was the art of touching the otherworld, traversing the natural into the supernatural, and doing business with the spirits of the unknown.

Back home in Eclipse, weavers like Serenity faced little trouble. Before the logging men and trappers came along, the first colony grew up around a school of the arcane, a school filled with scholars studying the ways of rune-weaving. So in Eclipse the weavers were, from the very beginning, neighbors and friends. The students lived their lives as peacefully as any of the townspeople. No grand displays of magic or power there, no flirting with spells and curses in public. The weavers observed a clear level of etiquette toward those not of the study, and in return, the people of Eclipse never batted an eye. Truth be told, Serenity always suspected they might feel secretly proud, living in the shadow of a weaver's school. Power meant protection, and sometimes it didn't matter if such protection came from men taming the unknown darkness.

Outside Eclipse, though, in the Geiral heartlands and the more populated cities, on well-traveled roads and closer country, rune-weaving and curses found little welcome. No, outside havens like the school back home, rune-weaving was absolutely feared.

Serenity dealt out the pack, arranging the cards in order, before collecting them and shuffling them out of it again. Had anyone crossed her path now, to see her spreading out her runic cards and gathering them back up, they might take it for something innocent. They might think her an entertainer, preparing to tell the fortunes for a bit of coin. But they might see her for what she was: a student of the arcane, a woman capable of true magic.

Men of the church called it harlotry and devilry, and their followers obeyed with eager ears. Soldiers and city slickers found it barbaric, and worried over what might happen if wild magic got loose among their careful, ordered lives. Even those with no particular religious preferences or municipal attachment shied away from men who could twist the signs. They warded weavers away as spooks and villains, lost souls of the poisoned Rachalör, the blighted country crouching on Geiral from the farthest northern wastes. Men feared what might come out of that inhuman place, and what they feared, they wanted gone. Because at its very heart, rune-weaving meant opening your mind to the spirits of the otherworld, and making a deal with them.

Deals with the devil never went over well.

So you had to be careful where you threw the cards or who might notice you when you twisted a curse. Enough demons already ran loose in the world. A weaver didn't need people itching to burn another.

Especially one like you, D'aej reminded, who carries a demon within her own skin.

Serenity completed the third repetition of her card-shuffling ritual, returned the deck to its pouch, and slipped it into her knapsack. She took out her journal next, and scribbled down a few thoughts for later review.

Serenity grew up among the rune-weavers and their quiet quest for greater knowledge. She'd lived in the Wolf's Den since she'd been three days old, adopted by the town and its people when the impoverished clan of her fathers was forced to leave her behind. The Den already provided a home for other girls, and Magda gave them room and board, and a pittance for their labor. She took care of them too, and never set them to whoring. Serving Magda's tables, Serenity met scores of travelers and heard their stories: tales from the train towns of the far west and the coast where the family of Jacqueline Spade, rail baroness, held court over the dawn of industrial breakthrough and trade; to the golden eastern heartlands, farms, and fields lying in the shadow of the mysterious midnight country called Nostra, where the most secretive and exotic practitioners of deep magic dwelled and where the sun never showed its face; all the way to the bright southern lands of the tribal people, their vibrant forests and riverbanks peppered with their stone keeps and colorful pavilions, alive with the chanting choruses of their extraordinary songs. More importantly, she saw dozens of men playing rune cards, weavers who visited the school and spent their time studying ancient tomes and texts over their dinners. Most of them loved to show her a trick or two, turn a red ribbon into a coin for her or produce a flower for her hair out of nothing.

These days, flowers didn't suit her so well. Stowing her journal, ready to set out, she pulled the long, blonde sheaf of her hair into a sloppy ponytail, and hid it under her hat.

One of the keenest of the weavers—Jack, of course—saw something special in her, something of great potential. Once he saw it, he quickly declared simple tricks like coins and flowers nothing but a waste of her time.

When Jack took Serenity on as his student, beginning her education in the world of weaving, he meant for her to learn the rites of a peacekeeper and a protector, the same ones he'd mastered himself. Jack was a lawman, a self-appointed sheriff who'd seen many a brawl in his time. He liked to put an end to them, when he could. Not surprisingly, his skill with the runes evolved to make him something of a paladin. Magda always said Jack was a white hat—always playing the rescuer, always out to save the little children and the damsels in distress. None of those things mattered to Serenity. Jack thought she showed promise, even as a gawky little waif serving tables, and he wanted her to be part of something big.

"With these, you can do just about anything," he'd constantly reminded her, fanning out the twenty-four rune cards and watching her eyes widen with delight at their hand-painted illustrations. "And if you're lucky, Serenity... well, if you're lucky, if you're good, you will do wonders."

They always held their studies at a table near the fire. She sat while he stood behind her, watching over her shoulder. He smelled like warmth and the hearth, the pleasant scent of home cooking and underneath it all, a strange smell of the earth, of the forests and trees. She would always associate these scents with comfort. This—he—was her family and her home. She loved him. Each precious session with him, each careful study of the cards and each patient lecture, brought her closer to him, growing to love him as dearly as she might have loved any brother of her own blood.

Already the sun, still hardly halfway to its noonday peak, baked the white desert with a dry, shimmering heat. She shaded her eyes against the glare and searched the landscape. Not much movement in any direction, save the far-off shadow of a circling hawk, and the wavering light of the heat mirage ahead of her.

Tidying the rest of her camp, she took care to obscure the signs of her presence. The last thing she put away was the journal Jack himself kept, the journal she now carried and consulted like a constant friend. She'd fallen asleep with it, studying the lessons put down in his handwriting right up until she could keep her eyes open no more.

Jack had warned her the art of weaving brought along dangers. Everybody—even the people of Eclipse—knew it, and she had to know it, too. Rune-weavers threw in with darklings for their knowledge, and darklings were the treacherous children of the otherworld, the world of spirits. So the first thing Jack taught her, despite her impish hurry to learn the art of card play and the signs, was what lurked on the other side of reality.

"A darkling is only a lesser demon," he explained. "They rank higher than the mutants and corruptions wandering the Rachalör—the ones we call darkling spawn, or lost souls—and they're smarter than the diablos, which are pack beasts and servant demons in the realms. But darklings are beneath the greater demons, the heavy devils that can devour you without a thought.

"It doesn't make them any less dangerous, though. Darklings may not be as powerful as greater demons, but they're slippery, tricky creatures, and if you aren't careful, they can seize your mind or body as their own, and make you their plaything."

He'd dealt out the card of hagalaz, the mother rune, symbol of hail, change, growth, elemental and karmic forces. While she watched him, he carefully rotated the card until it read upside-down. In runic language, reversing a sign—setting it in the position known as merkstavecalled upon its negative effects, the converse and darker side of the arcane coin. Clever weavers could use it to their advantage, but any weaver could find themselves overwhelmed by a sign in mean reverse. Hagalaz was an inherently powerful sign, one of almost cosmic relevance. In merkstave, it became the figure of nature's wrath, uncontrolled energies in weather and geography, and man's own mind.

"I've seen more than one rune-weaver lose himself to the madness of darklings," Jack warned her. "The balance in a weaver's mind might be uprooted and thrown into chaos, even for a moment, when a darkling steals a bit of him away. It takes a strong will, and an even stronger mind, to match wits with any demon, and darklings may not be as strong as their greater cousins, but they are the cleverest and most cunning of all otherworlders. That is exactly why rune-weavers contract with them. But throw runes with any darkling, Serenity, and you are tempting fate. Throw against one too powerful to contain, and you are offering yourself up as sacrifice."

"How do you know?" she'd asked, picking up the hagalaz card and studying it. "Which ones are too powerful, I mean."

He shook his head. "You can never really know. It's always the luck of the draw. But you can know when you are dealing with spells too big for you to handle, and it's most often then that you call on a demon too strong to conquer."

He put his hand over hers, the one holding the card, and with the other he tilted her chin up to look her in the eyes. "You have to be careful, Serenity. You have to be in control."

He had taken her out, into the wilderness and away from the people of the town, and shown her the real power of a darkling's curse. No simple trick, no magical sleight of hand or switch of the wrist.

Calling the spirits to him, he whipped his hands through a series of signs, weaving a trail of runes with his fingers. He held out his palm in the sign of kenaz—the torch rune, first and foremost the rune of primal fire and power—and with a flash, a quick blaze ignited the scree of the forest floor before them, whipping to life with puckish glee. Then, just as quickly, he ran through a second chain of signs, reversing the rune, and the blaze folded in on itself, suffocating and dying, leaving only a brief scatter of embers in its place.

"You see?' Jack asked as she watched, awestruck. "You will have the power to do the same. To do more, to do as much and as great as it pleases you. There are twenty-four runes and an infinite number of ways to connect them. The spells you cast can heal the wounded, can make fire or ice and lightning and rain, can fill a man with virility and strength, or reduce him to a withered husk. Do you understand what I'm telling you?"

She'd only nodded, inspecting the scorch marks his hex had left on the trees and stones.

"I think you could do great things, Serenity."

His hand on her shoulder. The first of many of this gesture, his proudly protective sign of affection. The memory of it brought a smile to her even now, gazing over her work at the camp, ready to ride on again at last.

Rune-weavers eventually took on a runic name, given to them by their teachers and their community, a name meant to herald their identity and potential as a true student of the arcane. They wore it in a tattoo to show others what they had accomplished. Jack wore the sign tiewaz, the rune for justice and victory. The sign of a hero. His own master once inked it on Jack's left shoulder, intertwined with arcane embellishments, a symbol of his power and purpose. Serenity quickly became eager for her own rune, inked on her to be her own secret name, her own deep and inner self. But Jack said it would have to wait until she'd learned more.

It seemed he was always saying that.

 

***

 

She was right—the next settlement lay right in the path of their long walk, a cluster of neat wooden buildings standing out against the bleached, barren landscape. They reached it in less than a day, and there'd be no more sleeping on the ground before they found themselves a decent bed to rest in. Easy enough, as Serenity expected. The road did provide.

She came into town shortly before sunset, riding with the red glow of the horizon at her back. Her duster trailed behind her, her cowboy hat tipped low over her eyes as she carefully assessed the streets around them. People took notice—they always did—but they looked away before she could meet their glances.

Serenity dropped her horse off at the stables and paid for the quartering. Before checking into the saloon and seeking a room for the night, though, she set out to get a lay of the land. She liked to know the ways in and out of a place right away, and how to get where she might need to go as quickly as she could. She'd learned the value of watchfulness. Part of the nature of a drifting weaver. The nature of a woman with a demon bound in her bones.

It wasn't a big city, like Aras or Tichurgas, dry and dusty mining cities on the western rim of this desert. The main road boasted all the mainstays: saloon, sundries, hardware store and steamworks, apothecary. No inventors' shops or engineering schools, and no train station in sight. The lanterns along the solid, wooden plankways appeared to be wired up electric, which was a nicety, but other than these, the town seemed not much bigger than Eclipse. Though there was one important difference. At the head of the main street, rising above the businesses surrounding it, stood a stone and stained-glass monument of a building. A church, and one well-loved by the look of it. Judging by the size, the people of this little place were almost all surely believers.

"Looks like you'll have to behave yourself here," she muttered to her darkling. He didn't need to be addressed out loud, of course, not when they shared both body and mind. It made it easier, though, to keep one's thoughts separate from one's demon by speaking.

I don't intend to play to the will of the devout unless it suits me, D'aej replied. There was a tinge of yellow annoyance to his words, a tremor across their link.

"So you want to get burned at the stake?"

Can't say it's on my list of priorities, no.

"Then I guess it suits you just fine."

Clusters of folk bustled about on the street, farmers and schoolmarm types, going about their business or lolling around chatting on the walkways. Serenity sensed them eyeing her, mentally sizing her up in her trail-beaten duster, fading denims, and the button-up man's work-shirt she wore. Their own clothing was modest but well-kept, clean and crisp. She chanced a glance up from beneath the wide rim of her hat and smiled at a handful here, a handful there, and watched them sniff with displeasure as she passed. Passersby might be welcome as long as they fit the status quo and didn't kick up any trouble. Heck, they probably gave the townsfolk a good chance for trade and evangelical huckstering. A young woman riding alone, however, wearing a man's clothing and a pistol on her hip...she was surely another story.

Cynicism prevented her from being surprised, but stale annoyance simmered under her collar.

The town square spread out in front of the church, a cobblestoned area with several market windows open and wares peppered out on tables and shelves. Hawkers and merchants already began to close up for the evening, though, and it didn't seem likely they'd reopen tomorrow. If she hadn't lost track of her days, it'd be Sunday, the Saventh, and in a town like this with a church so heavy and looming, the Saventh no doubt stood as a strict day of silent devotion. If she wanted to pick up any supplies, she'd have to do so now. She might as well devote the day of rest to study and meditation, like everyone else, even if she studied a very different kind of bible.

She perused her way around the square, searching for those small but essential items a weaver at lessons would require. A few ounces of dried beef and trail mix. Parchment, surely, and rough pencils to make her notes—those in her knapsack were practically worn away to nubs. Heavier charcoals for sketching graphs and figures. Black ink, for any important revelations the cards might have for her, and candles for marking a space of ritual, if she wound up needing one. Bandages, in case of any bloodletting.

Finally, she stopped by a shop window nearest the church's grand steps to look over a collection of sachets and herbal bouquets. Fresh sage and rosemary, lavender and sandalwood. All strange sights in the middle of this white-sand desert, probably grown in a garden behind the store for kitchen potpourri or sweet-smelling perfume. Frivolities, here. But for Serenity, herbs could be used in other ways. She didn't need them for her studies, but as she'd likely spend the majority of her day in careful contemplation, a fresh batch of incense wouldn't go amiss.

"These," she said, choosing a handful of the small flowers. The merchant scrutinized her as she handed them to him.

She rolled her eyes.

"Can't a girl want to get clean and fresh here? I'm covered in dust and sweat. I'd like to get a bath before the night is over and maybe something to wear that smells a little better than dirt. Is that a sin?"

Serenity...

The man's expression didn't change, but he took her coin for the herbs, and with a sigh, Serenity turned away.

Another man stood on the steps of the church now, not three yards away. He hadn't been there before; just suddenly appeared, as though his holy god sent him in a bolt of light. He wore the robes of a monk, keeping his hands folded into his sleeves, and glared at her down his pinched blade of a nose.

As she met his eyes, he looked her up and down. His gaze rested on her chest a moment, almost prescient, and Serenity felt a brief sting go through the skin beneath her blouse, a twinge of invasion. She brought her hand up to the spot, an almost instinctive gesture.

D'aej prowled, restless in her mind like an agitated feline, balking at the audacity of the man's stare.

And you were worried I'd be the one to draw attention, he murmured in annoyance. Serenity...be smart about this. Just walk away.

"Young lady," the monk began, his voice a low, heavy cadence, the sound of a tired but austere old church bell. Even as he spoke, she could see the calculation in his eyes, assessing her, processing her. What little good humor she'd yet maintained dried up like spit on hot stone.

"Welcome to Tyr Salem. I hope you will find our humble town a safe haven for you during your journey. I must ask though, as long as you are here, you seek something a little more...appropriate...to wear."

A flush of heat rose at the back of her neck, and she straightened, leaning into one hip and putting her hands on her waist. "There's nothing wrong with what I'm wearing, padre, besides that it's been too long without a proper laundering."

"Here in Tyr Salem, ladies like to keep a modest look about them. If you like, I can find a suitable blouse and skirt from the church's good will stores?"

"I don't need a blouse and skirt, thank you. I'm just fine with what I have. If your men are put off by a woman wearing riding denims and a farm shirt, I'd say that's a problem of yours, not mine."

His eyes slid over her again, and her jaw tightened. A feeling like dry, feverish fingers slithered over her with his gaze.

"Very well," he murmured. "I see you won't be convinced. Can I at least expect you with us in church tomorrow? Visitors to our town are always more than welcome at our services."

"Thanks for the offer, but no." Raising her voice, she felt compelled to add, "I think I'll just be heading on to the hotel up the street there and get me a room. Then I'm going to strip myself down good and naked, sink into a tub of warm water, and take a long, satisfying bath. Do you think any of the men here'd mind that, friend?"

Before he could reply, she turned her back on him and walked away. But she could still feel his eyes, like reptiles, crawling all over her.

Well, fleshling... so much for behaving ourselves, wouldn't you say?

She didn't reply.

Getting a room at the Tyr Salem Boarding House proved simple enough, at least. The bartender didn't waste time niggling over her appearance or what kind of shirt she wore or what knickknacks she carried with her. He seemed happy enough just to take her coin and hand her a key. He recited the times for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, as well as when she could get a bath and where she might pick up supplies after the Saventh passed. Thanks be for good, honest, tavern folk. She retired quickly, finally, to her room.

"Looks like there won't be any more trouble here, long as we don't go asking for any whiskey," she muttered, mostly to herself, as she undressed.

She left the clothes for laundering outside her door, ready to sink into the little basin of hot water the bartender's daughter brought up for her. Wrapping her arms around her bent knees, she rested her head on one shoulder, drawing a deep, calming breath. The velvety steam rolled gentle and lovely over her flesh, the warmth melting away the tension built up in her spine and shoulders. She'd grown used to the general aches and pain of long hours on the trail, but this time, the strain came just as much from her encounter with the Tyr Salem townsfolk—especially their holy man, that righteous son-of-a-bitch—as from her several days of hard riding. It made the soreness a little more bitter than usual.

Without hesitation, she sacrificed a handful of her new fresh incense to sweeten the scent of the water, just to coax a little extra calm from her body.

She sighed and sat up straight again, taking up the hand towel the girl brought with the tub, to start the business of washing.

"To hell with them, anyway."

During her time on the road, she'd discovered no greater luxury than a nice, hot bath. Even her darkling agreed with her on it. Smooth, blue notes dappled their psychic connection, a sign of his approval.

D'aej had said the man they were tailing might be weeks ahead of them. Weeks and distance, like faith and prejudice, meant nothing to her. She knew much about patience and dogged dedication, and she'd learned to track a mark. She could follow her quarry for as long as it took, and as far as he led her, even if he ranged all of Geiral to escape. Oh, yes, Serenity understood the ways of a weaver and a bounty hunter. She'd learned them both from the very best.

And then sought out an ally no mortal can beat, D'aej purred.

She and D'aej had joined forces only two years before, but the pact born between them quickly grew into a strong and steadfast alliance. Serenity, on the search for dangerous highwaymen and seedy criminals, needed a partner, and D'aej, talented and quick, fit the bill. They worked together well, for such a fledgling pair of allies. Serenity lived up to expectations, star student of the arcane, gifted and strong when it came to slinging curses and chaining the signs. The runes danced for her; they danced with power and flair, and she read their ins and outs, their muscle and subtlety, with natural instinct. Jack had been right about her. She knew how to do wonders.

And D'aej... D'aej was a damned artist.

There were men who trafficked with darklings only to cast a spell when the spell was required. There were men who consorted with them on a constant and even exclusive basis, choosing one darkling to wrestle and to connect with when the magic needed to be tamed. There were men who could lose their minds if a single spell ran afoul, and men whose demon consorts got the better of them and turned them into lost souls. There were men whose poor use of magic made them into twisted children of the arcane: vampires, spooks, ghosts, and boogiemen. And there were those who could cultivate the spirit, and work with it, equals and cohorts, to better their knowledge and understanding of the world.

And then there were those like Serenity. Weavers so in tandem with their darkling partners, so intertwined in body, mind, and will, that their essence—their power—became one and the same. Weavers whose names went down in the unseen pages of the whispering tomes hidden in arcane libraries.

The Sons of D'Shaye.

Her fingers played thoughtlessly over the spot where the monk's eyes stung her, right between her breasts. The raised flesh of the old scar felt smooth and cool, even in the warm, humid fog of steam. As she ran her hand over it, her thoughts as always turned to the words, the never-ending litany that had come along with the brand.

Thurisaz...

The hammer and thorn...

The giant one...

That monk had no idea what sort of darkness he'd tempted.

 

***

 

An hour later, long after the tub ran cold and Serenity abandoned it, a knock at her door told her the barkeep's daughter had returned with her laundered clothes. She answered in her towel, admitting the girl into the room and taking the folded pile with a nod of thanks. The girl bowed and retrieved the tub before leaving.

Serenity smiled, fondly put in mind of her own days of hauling laundry and wash basins, tending to the needs of Magda's tavern-goers and guests.

"Here," she offered, taking the girl's hand and pressing a coin into her palm.

The girl's eyes lit up with surprise and delight. Serenity ushered her out the door without another word and shut it. Then, she leaned against it, pressing her brow against the cool wood.

One hand began dancing in practiced signs.

"Fehu, the horns of the cattle, for wealth," she whispered. "Wunjo, a banner of joyfulness."

Casting runes at a child for running your errands? D'aej complained.

"And why not? She seems like a sweet girl, and she certainly didn't look at me cross-eyed or spit through her fingers when she saw me. Might as well wish her some luck."

My power is hardly well used for such a meaningless act.

Serenity furrowed her brow. "Your power is my power, D'aej, just as my body is yours. If I wish to call the runes to send blessings to that girl, I'll do it."

He gave a voiceless sigh.

The night fell, and Serenity kept her candle—the one the barkeep provided her, not the ones she'd bought for her rituals—burning long into the dark hours. She pulled two books from her traveling bag: Jack's beaten old journal, dog-eared and worn, filled with his notes and spells, and her own similar memoir. Her deck of rune cards—the birthday deck he'd given her when she turned sixteen, filled with masterfully illuminated scripts and symbols, a treasure trove of art and magic—lay spread out on the floor before her. She lit a second passel of the herbs she'd bought and blew out the flame, letting their incense fill the room.

Weavers played the cards to study the runes, to know the rhythm of their interplay. Cards were never necessary for casting spells, but rather for learning the different meanings and values of each symbol, their relationships and connections, their lines and patterns. Weavers built the spells from this knowledge and fluency, and a true weaver hungered for greater understanding the way an infant hungers for its mother's breast—with inborn, incontrovertible need. For Serenity, each new lesson formed another stepping-stone in her life's work: the quest to command the otherworld the way no other weaver had ever done before.

In the years since Jack died, Serenity had learned more enchantments than he might ever have hoped. She'd memorized the countless meanings and the twists and turns of the upright and merkstave positions for each rune, had toyed with their potential and learned the subtlest possibilities of runic relationships. And yet she still meditated over the runes each morning, and each night she still spread her cards out before her, to study again the same inscriptions, to run their intertwining shapes and messages through her brain, searching for something she hadn't seen before, searching for something new.

She'd long since gone from throwing practice and playing at silly divination for coin—the runes were speaking to her, inviting her to play, to chain them together and create new growth, new life, from their courtship. In her mind, as her hands swept over the deck, her voice folded into harmony with D'aej, reading and reciting, twisting and mixing the words, constantly testing and tempering the discipline built up over a decade of studying these same cards.

Fehu... Uruz... Thurisaz... Ansuz...

Learning the futhark—the runic alphabet—was one of the first things a student of the arcane must do. Twenty-four letters. Twenty-four symbols, and an infinite number of meanings. The runes were an alphabet, and like any language, each letter could be part of many words, carry many meanings, create many sounds. In magic, every part mattered, each syllable, each inflection. A different pronunciation could create a profoundly new spell.

She laid out the gebo card before her, admiring its familiar illustration. It was her favorite—a man and woman, locked in a rapturous embrace, their naked bodies joined in the most corporeal and elemental marriage. Gebo stood as the sign of the divine gift, of generosity, sacrifice, and of union. Seventh in the series, a number of power and grace. It intertwined with motion and symbiosis, the partnership rune and the runes for fruitfulness and harmony within families. It represented everything Serenity had hoped to surround herself with, long ago on those winter nights in Eclipse. Relationships, hope, and a dream for love. Still, always, the most beautiful card in the set.

She traced the lines of the card with one finger, closing her eyes and feeling the powerful aura through the pad of her flesh, exhaling a long, slow breath as images of young lovers played through her mind. She saw the mayday celebrations of the countryside, heard the hunting horns of the men in the woods, breathed in the delicate, dancing scent of flowers from the women's garlands and baskets. Children raced through the hills of her imagination, chasing one another and flying ribbons through the air like tiny kites in their fists. The crackling of roasting boar over an open fire made her mouth water for the sweet, honeyed taste of a good tavern-woman's cooking.

The intoxication faded as she drew her hand away from the card, opening her eyes again and smiling at the memories.

Success, came D'aej's sleepily murmured reply. Serenity nodded, saying nothing, knowing the words were unnecessary.

Success for the road. For the hunt. Success in putting to rest a years-old vendetta.

How she hoped for success.


© Copyright 2019 Brantwijn Serrah. All rights reserved.

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