FOREVER KNIGHTS: #3 Forsaking the Vanquished

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TEVERIUS - A Huntress Hones Her Craft

Northern Netherwood, Netherlands


Teverius was crouched on a high branch watching the agile girl running the massive expanse of a fallen tree, crossing the NetherRunnel’s rushing currents. Her pack of demon dogs surging with her. No longer disguised as wolves they were free to tear through the Northern Netherwood. Their massive size crushing the underbrush. Breaking trunks with thick shoulders as they slammed through in a wild stampede parallel to her.

One behind, slow, fat Groomsman of course. Tev smiled fondly.

One ran ahead to cut the path. The most muscled, fiercest. Driver. And four running aside her. Two to the right, two to the left. Slate, Pitch, Gray, and Bleak.

I wasn’t creative with those names. He frowned at the memory.

The girl had somehow escaped the crone for the day. Immediately stripping the dress to run. Making him turn his back worriedly. But when he heard her begin to run, he found her thankfully, wearing the deer hide he’d stitched into a sort of loose breeches from her knees up. Dangling over her shoulders with laces at the front, to allow her to move but keep her covered. After glimpsing her shucking her muslin dresses to run in her undergarments a few times, he’d sent Groomsman to her with the scrap of leather in his mouth.

She’d laughingly taken it.

Now I don’t know if she takes it off to bathe. The scraggly knotted look of her purple hair and the mud smearing her cheeks made him doubtful.

He was pleased to see the dogs moved with her. She’s fast. He realized for the first time; they were hard pressed to keep up. Huffing at the exertion.

He reared back, surprised. When did she get so fast? He registered the idiocy of him wondering such a thing.

He returned to his hut to quietly read awhile. Emerging again to follow the scent of the demon dogs. It’s been a few hours.

Now it was dark and Serdephe was behaving differently. Movements slowed.

She looks exhausted.

From her run? No. This is too extreme.

Did she eat some Limilus? It grew in the Netherwood. Looking very much like a wild sweet onion but when one bit into it they became immediately lackadaisacal and without being treated they’d eventually die.

Worried, he drew closer. Watching her lagging step. She stumbled side to side. Head hanging. Purple hair dropped around her face.

Where are the dogs? Did something happen? His body was tense with concern. Wondering if she was hurt. Or if something had happened to the dogs.

I didn’t hear anything. He reassured himself.

He caught an odor. Cimmerii. But it was a stronger stink then his dogs emitted. Since their evil had been tamped down, their smell was milder.

This was raw. Like rotted meat that’d basked in the sun today.

And Serdephe’s in no condition…

Even as he thought it, he felt a nudge at his knee and glanced down. Driver stood next to him. Head lowered; light blue eyes focused on her wandering the road. There was slight shuffling in the distance which told him his dogs were spread out.

In position for an ambush.

She’s prey. He realized. Recalling one of the last times he’d walked with her, he’d talked about how to use the dogs. How to train them, command them.

He’d told her how he used to appear weak, drunk or tired, when he knew Cimmerii were near. And when they attacked, he was ready.

Tev’s eyes shot to Serdephe’s hand and he glimpsed the glint of steel. She had a dagger held upside down, so the blade pressed the inside of her forearm, hiding it from view.

She waited.

And when she’s attacked…She’ll be ready. He felt his chest swell with pride.

She was listening. All those times she’d seemed too energetic to focus on a thing he’d said, he’d worried she’d be killed.

I worried I failed her. That without me she’d be susceptible to attack.

Now she’s growing. Killing Cimmerii…Becoming a Huntress.

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