by Alela Diane (note that all songs referred to are for a reader’s playlist and I do not own any rights to them)
My stallion, Midnight pushes forward into the forest, hooves beating against the snow. His black coat shines against the white blanket. He trudges through the deep drifts as I push him to continue. Ice begins to stick to my dark lashes and it’s difficult to see, still I run from my past. I run as fast as I can.
I’m a traitor and the Ice King wants my head. My sword clashes against my silver armor as the terrain gets unpredictable. We are almost to the cliff and Midnight is breathing erratically from the long sprint.
“C’mon boy, we can make it.” I stroke his fur and he speeds through the white abyss.
The Fae guards follow closely behind, shouting obscenities at me. I laugh maniacally at the fact I’ve flustered them so badly they’ve resorted to cursing. Naughty fae. The satchel clings tightly to my waist, the valuable secure.
I see the cliff ahead and push the steed forward. He trusts me and doesn’t hesitate to plow toward the cliffside. The men shout for me to stop but I just keep going, a wicked grin plastered on my face. My chestnut colored hair blows wildly around me as the wind from the sea below reaches us.
“Everyone stop! The horses won’t make the jump!” A guard shouts as I wave goodbye. They watch in awe as Midnight leaps into the air. We barely manage, but we land with a thud on the very edge of the other side.
The guards stare in dismay as Midnight trots triumphantly down the worn path. I can’t help the giggle festering inside. I let it out. I must look like a psychopath to those ice faeries. I had no idea if we could make the jump but I’m so glad we did.
We disappear into the trees and find a suitable spot to rest. We are in the Spring Court now. These faeries are rumored to be very peaceful suckers so I’m safe from harm here. The ice fae cannot come onto the territory without permission.
Midnight is feasting on the thick, lavender colored grass when a thud on the cliff surprises us. I peek out from behind a tree and see the lead guard had the audacity to jump. He followed me. This is not good. He must be crazier than I am.
There’s no way Midnight can continue after the long sprint so I tie him up and promise to come back for him. He chews lazily on the grass. He’s used to the chase, unfazed by the commotion around him.
I bound through the tall grass as fast as I can. My legs are short like any faeries, but I’m a fast runner. I hold my sword in place to prevent it from clanging against my armor. Birds scatter as I hop and leap through the terrain. The damp earth keeps my steps quiet enough but the birds are giving me away. I hear the horses hooves beating close behind.
The woods give way to a clearing and I push through the thickets. Briars cut at my exposed hands and neck. The cuts sting but I push through. I look behind me to see the ice guard searching for me. I creep into the clearing and watch, hidden by the berry bushes.
When he disappears down a path I continue my run into the clearing. I’m looking over my shoulder when I collide with something. I stumble and land on top of it. Not something, a someone. Our heads have bumped. Eyes the shade of the bark of the trees stare in shock at me. Black lashes blink in confusion.
Eyes that seem to search deep within my soul, pale cheeks and hair like black satin make the man before me, well, under me. He scowls up at me and I realize we are so close our lips could brush. I abruptly pull myself away and dust my armor.
“Uh, sorry about that.” I stumble over my words and attempt to apologize. He just blinks at me and straightens his collar.
“What are you running from?” He asks in a deep voice.
“Do me a favor, would ya?” His dark brows raise at my audacity to ask for a favor from a stranger.
“There’s a psycho ice faerie that’s about to try to kill me. Could you keep me alive?” He glances between me and the lush grass. He is looking at me like I’m a crazy woman when the guard finds us.
Startled, he leaps back and grabs me by the waist, in a protective stance. He draws a long, beaten sword from his cloak. It has strange writing on it that I can’t interpret. The guard already has his sword drawn as well. Sweat drips down his white brow. It’s creased in fury.
“Hand over the traitor and I will be on my way.”
“I am not aware of why you are on Spring Court, but for your life’s sake I suggest you leave.” The Raven haired man states in a stronger voice than he used with me. I grin at the guard, mocking him.
“That girl has something that belongs to the ice king and I am not leaving until I have it in hand.”
“I see nothing on her person. You have no proof and therefore I will tell you one last time, leave.” The man leaves with an icy stare. He turns to me before disappearing and a shiver runs down my spine.
“Next time we meet, I will finish this.” His glacier blue eyes will now haunt my dreams.
As he disappears into the grass I sigh in relief. My whole body relaxes underneath the hard armor. The man next to me looks as if he’s waiting for an explanation as he puts away the sword.
“Thank you for that.” I say and begin walking back toward Midnight.
“Oh, no you don’t. I saved your life and you’re just going to ride off into the sunset?” His strong hand on my shoulder stops me in my tracks.
“What kind of payment are you seeking? I have coins but not many and I’m not one to sell my body so—.” He cuts me off with an angry scoff.
“Woman, you are crazy!” He flails his arms in exasperation.
“Well then, what is it?” I wait for him to spit it out.
“It’s clear you are capable of taking care of yourself but I did save your life there. If that guard had no regard for Spring Court law, you’d be dead.” His mouth twitches. Is that his attempt at a smile?
“Thank goodness for all those petty laws.” I spit out.
“I have never met such a bitter fae.” He muses as he continues to follow me.
“And I have never met such a dense fae. Take a hint.”
“Maybe I should’ve given you to that awful ice faerie.” He muses. I roll my eyes. I don’t really care how he feels.
“Maybe, but you didn’t so now I am getting the heck out of here before he decides to bring a search party with him.” I grab Midnight and the guy still follows me.
I pause at the end of the dirt path. The wooden signs point four directions: Spring, Summer, Winter and Autumn Courts. My first instinct was to head toward Autumn, but there’s nothing left there for me and I’m sure not going back to Winter.
“Where will you go?” He asks curiously, staring at the paths ahead.
“I don’t know. Summer or spring, I suppose.”
“May I suggest summer? I have seen all there is to see here.” I scoff and so does Midnight.
“Whoa, whoa, whoa. You are not following me. Take your own path. I don’t even know your name. I’m certainly not running for my life with some fae I don’t know.”
“Bless you.” I say sarcastically and he rolls his eyes, a hint of a smile tracing his pink lips.
“My name is Takeo , and I don’t know your name either but I think we are both running from something so why not run together?”
“What are you running from?” I automatically think serial killer, gambler’s debt, etcetera. My mind races to the worst.
“An arranged marriage. I’m meant to marry tomorrow.” He says solemnly.
“Katana.” I stick out my hand. I guess we can run together. For now.
“Well, Katana, it’s a pleasure to meet you.” A hint of humor runs through those chestnut colored eyes.
“Let’s go.” I tug Midnight’s reigns as we head toward Summers path.
This should be interesting.
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