MARDICHI - Hunting My Raven
Netherland, Battling Border
After the Forever Knight Ball, Mardichi left Liasa with Sebastian. Heading down the mountain. Step determined. Rage apparent. And set on a goal. She’s coming back with me.
He headed toward the Netherland Battling Border. Where Brotus’ gang lurks. In the Netherwood. That wide expanse of trees that separated Battling from the desolation of the Netherlands.
He arrived there two nights later. Carefully strolling the treeline. His hooves clopping as he wandered slowly. Until spotting deep boot prints in the bushes.
Bandits. And there were enough sets to be them.
He heard faint voices nearby.
“Look at him.” A man murmured.
“I’ve never seen a steed so big.”
“A great red beast.”
“Do you suppose he’s tamed? He looks well-tended.”
Far from tame. Mardichi noted. Slamming his hooves down over broken twigs. Cracking rocks.
Come near me. Mardichi willed. Hoping to put a hoof through Brotus’ forehead.
Even as he thought of the man, he heard his thick accent. “Wha’ you fools doing?” There was a scoff. “Watchin’ a bloody horse? To wha’ end! Go find Raven. Make sure she has her arrows sharpened. King comin’ through.”
Mardichi heard them scuffling from the shrubbery. He followed distantly behind as they headed back to camp.
As he caught scent of her he let his body change. Back straightening, forcing him to move upright as his spine and hips realigned. As a hoof lifted over the muddy leaves it lowered as a huge filthy human foot. Sloshing into the muck. Heedless he was unclothed he focused on her scent. Drawing close enough to see her.
There was a tiny opening in the grove, in which they had cleared the brush to coddle a tiny fire to life. They sat on piles of wood as seats. Conversing comfortably.
Beautiful and willowy. Dark hair with a burnished red tint moving around her shoulders. Huge thick-lashed green eyes indescribably vibrant.
Mardichi instantly saw a flash of what those gorgeous eyes looked like from below him. Blinking up at him as his body was warmed by her skin as they joined. The soft sounds parting her soft lips.
It had him growling in his throat. His body hungering for the warmth of his wife.
She tipped her head back. Nostrils flaring as she caught scent of something. He was certain instantly that she recognized his scent just as he had hers. Her eyes flared and scanned the trees in his direction.
Mardichi ducked her gaze and crouched behind the small trees. He slowly backed up. Feeling twigs biting into the bottoms of his feet he glanced down. Dropping to one knee he let fluid heat move through him. Filling his leg under his knee and drying the ground around his calf. Until everything shriveled and began to crackle.
He put a hand down. Wiggling it deep into the leaves as quietly as he could manage. His hair began flickering at the ends and waving back from his shoulders to move in a ghost current. When the strands started sparking at the ends in whispered popping, he heard Zuriena gasp recognizing the sound. Hearing her feet hit the ground. He felt the energy of her fear emerging from the tiny encampment.
Too late. His lips curved. He slid back as the fire bit to life. Eating the twigs and leaves into a fire that climbed high.
He heard boots smashing through the grove as they saw the emerging smoke.
“No! Don’t go that way!” She shouted in panic. He heard her boots turn as she began to retreat in the opposite direction.
Smart chit. But he’d already known that.
Turning into the stallion as he stepped into a gallop he rounded the Netherwood trees to get a distance ahead of her.
Returning to human form he dropped into the tall weeds outside the trees. The meadow heading for Dread Country. He posed leisurely. Willing on a tunic which he tugged open the laces of at the collar. Fitted brown breeches and dark boots. He leaned back on his elbows and crossed his ankles.
He heard her step rushing through the grass. At the last minute he plucked a strand and shoved it between his lips to appear leisurely chewing it. Waiting. Posed.
When she came into view over him she was running. Looking over her shoulder in terror. She looked back at the last minute. Spotting him on the ground as she nearly tripped over him. She squealed in horror. Hands waving near her face.
“No!” She fell backward. Crawling backward from him as he hopped to his feet to tower over her. Darkening her in deep shadow. “No. No!” She shouted. “Stay away.”
“Never.” He hissed. Strolling to step over her. Dropping to a crouch over her waist. Head tilting as he looked down at her.
“Don’t touch me.”
“Good luck with that.” He rolled the grass between his teeth.
“Mardichi!” She lifted a staying hand.
“Not the name you whispered so many times.” He eyed her body molded by the fitted riding corset underneath the oversized black cloak she wore. Impulsively his hand stretched out to mold the rounded curve of her waist, tracing down over her hip.
She swatted his hand away. Working her way back on her elbows. Unable to move her legs since he nearly sat on her thighs.
“Where are you going?” He quirked a haughty red brow.
“Away from you!” She rolled to her stomach to get out from under him to get to her feet again.
He dropped a hand to the ground and sighed as his body eased. Dumping the heated energy into the ground. The hiss of his hair sparking. Brightening in microscopic flames at the tips.
“What are you doing?” She tossed her head to look back at him.
He rolled the grass between his lips. And gave a lopsided grin.
“No! Don’t do that.” She waved a finger back at him. Knowing that look boded ill.