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Dragon Heir [Book 1] [Watty Award Winner 2012]

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Chapter 2

Copyright © Gem Higa

I can’t let him find me, I have to move.

Gasping for air, Leiv ran to the nearest tree and flattened her back to it. Snap! She backed closer to the tree, warily listening for the source of the sound. The wind whistled gently through the trees, making her hair flutter through the breeze. The sun was high in the sky, with no cloud in sight. She closed her eyes, following instinct and pictured the path she came from; the road heading to the east and west. 



Discreetly checking her weapons and pack, she assured herself that it would be enough supplies to get through this chase. She reached her hand back to feel the wood of the bow her father had made: its maple edges smooth, and comfortingly warm to the touch. The string strung tight, her quiver filled with arrows that remained dormant—for now. A pack slung across her shoulder contained salves and bandages in case of injuries, and kept a dagger sheathed on a leather belt. Unlike other hunters, she had no sword; there was no need for it, since the weight would only slow her down. Due to her size, lugging a sword—much less swing it—would only hinder her. Gliding her hands down to her boots, she stored smaller daggers, one in each boot: perfect for throwing distances.

Snap! Another twig broke under the boots of the man chasing her.

Breathe Leiv, just breathe.

Eyes still closed, she recalled a burrow to the east. If she could make it to the burrow, it would make a great hiding place until her pursuer passed. Glimpsing him a few trees back searching for her, she took a deep breath and ran to the next tree. Pressing herself against the shielding bark, she tactfully glanced back once again to see if he noticed anything. He was oblivious to her movements, so she made a line for the burrow. She looked back and saw the man had disappeared, without a trace. Abruptly stopping, she let her eyes roam the forest, but saw nothing.

Where could he have gone?

Quietly, Leiv walked back to the path from earlier. She placed her steps gingerly, filled with caution as her fingers clasped the dagger sheathe, continuing forward. Carefully trudging through the forest without disturbing a twig or making a sound was the one of the most difficult challenges. Each fallen branch or piece of bark always taunted you by scattering across the forest, deceitfully camouflaging themselves with the dirt. She turned as she glanced from side to side, skeptical of her peripheral view. Either the man could fly, or was really as talented as they say he was.

Snap!

She jerked around and came face to face with the man that had been pursuing her for hours. Without hesitation, Leiv pulled the dagger from her sheath. She lunged and aimed for his chest, but fell forward and pierced into the tree behind him, as he quickly sidestepped her. Pushing off the trunk, she sheathed the dagger and charged forward towards the man. He held his arms out ready to grab her, but she abruptly dipped low to slide underneath his legs. Grabbing his back, she hoisted herself up onto it, and in one fluid motion, wrapped her legs around him as she brought her arm around his neck, attempting to cut off the circulation. It was no use; he was far stronger than she was.Gripping Leiv by the arms, he flung her forward, off of him and landing on her back. A lungful of air forced its escape from her chest, moaning as she clambered to her feet.

He’s too big for me. I can’t do hand-to-hand combat; I won’t win.

Distance. She needed distance between them, and could strike from afar. Her mind instantly envisions different scenarios where she could best him, and finally thought of a plan that might work. Feinting exhaustion, Leiv pushed herself up on the tree and took a few heavy breaths for effect. Fooled, the man momentarily dropped his arms, allowing her to dart to the left quickly and start running. She didn’t have to glance back to know the man was not far behind, following her. She put little lapse between them, knowing that agility was on her side. Pulling her dagger from its sheathe, she stabbed it into a nearby tree. His heavy steps grew closer, as Leiv quickened her pace.

Darting to the right, she taunted the man to follow her, and rounded the path leading her to the same spot she had jumped on his back. He stopped for a moment, and eyed her with confusion: why would she double back to the same spot? Leiv simply looked at him, smilds, and sprinted off in the same direction.

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