1 0 0

Skye sizes up the woman standing before her. The long dark hair tied in a loose braid at the nape of her neck; the faint scar on her left cheek; the striking intelligence hidden within chestnut eyes. All set in a heart-shaped face. She knows the woman is as deadly as she is beautiful, as evidence by the new emerald armor of Commander replacing the pale green and brown pieces now tossed into a heap on the floor.

The forest green chain mail fits like a glove, hugging her curves and restraining the generous swell of her breasts. The mail is light and strong, the material able to deflect a blade from digging into the soft skin of the stomach and spilling out its contents. The armor is identical in most respects to what the men wear. Stylized leaves protect the shoulders and a belt crosses the midsection with the army's emblem engraved in its center.

The only difference is in the breast plate. It would be ridiculous if only half a woman's chest was covered for protection, so the breastplate crisscrosses over both breast, leather straps holding it firmly in place above and below her wings in the back. It covers the heart and presses those globes tight to the body.

Skye admires her backside in the mirror and beams over at the blacksmith who delivered the new armor. "Incredible job Krystan, it fits like a second skin!" Her double pair of blue wings vibrate with scarcely contained excitement.

"Was my honor to work with such a beautiful lady. Congratulations once more on your promotion to Commander, young Skye. You've certainly earned it!" Krystan has a deep, gravelly voice, evidence of the many years spent by a forge shouting at apprentices.

"Are you flirting? What would your mate say?" A hand rises to her chest, mock horror settling over her features.

His booming laugh fills the room to bursting "She'd probably tell you to take me out of her hair for a while and have fun!"

"Knowing Teana, she'd say exactly that!" Her comment elicits a rumbling laugh from Krystan.

"I've got to get back to the forge now. Can't leave those scamps alone for long or they'll mess something up. If you need anything else, don't hesitate to stop by!" Those "scamps" he worries over are some of the best apprentices he's ever taken on, Krystan having said so personally on many occasions, and probably aren't missing their imposing master's presence in the forge one bit.

Skye holds a fist against her chest in salute and watches as the big man leap from her balcony into the fresh morning air. A wide pair of brown wings carry his huge frame effortlessly into the sky. Krystan disappears into the trees in the same moment as a someone knocks at her door.

It opens from the other side before she manages more than a couple of steps. Only one person it can be. "Chancen, so nice of you to wait until I let you in." Her lips press in a tight line, Skye as unimpressed with his habit of inviting himself into rooms as she was when they were younger. Her brother almost manages an apologetic grin. Must not be the first time today someone admonishes him.

"Uh, the new armor suits you, sister dear."

Her expression deadens. "What do you want?"

Chancen rubs the back of his neck while scanning the room for something, anything, that isn't her. She obviously won't enjoy whatever brings him here. "Well, you know the General had a meeting this morning right?"

Skye levels a glare at him. She's the only person in the entire army able to make Chancen squirm. Well, almost. His mate, Tryssa, is a force of nature when the two of them argue. Skye hopes never to be on the receiving end of the tiny woman's ire.

"Everyone knows about the meeting this morning. So what?"

"It would seem she's staying, for now." He examines something in the corner of the ceiling.

This is bad. He's building up to whatever her orders are too gradually. Acid leaks into her voice. "Ok Chancen, would you spit out whatever it is you're here about?" She places a hand on her hip.

Chancen's words tumble out in a single breath. "General Fox would like you to escort our new guest around the grounds." His hands drop to his side, palms facing her in a gesture of surrender.

Skye blinks, processing his words. The mention of Fox, along with his title, states this isn't a request. Her hands ball into fists. Chancen steps back from the menacing scowl aimed his way. "You want to repeat yourself, Chancen?"

His Adam's apple bobs as he swallows. "Um... Well... She's new here and he's allowing her to stay. He needs someone to supervise her."

"So he wants a guide, someone to show her around." Skye's voice quiets. Her brother tenses further under the increasing fury in her gaze. "So my first order as Commander is to... is to babysit a bug?"

Her unfortunate choice of words makes him bristle. Those blue eyes darken and he converts from her brother to Senior Commander in the pause between breaths. "Commander Skye, a little respect will do you a world of good. Yes, he requests you escort our new guest around the training areas. But if you think it's a simple babysitting job, you haven't earned those colors you're now wearing." Chacen stares down his nose at her, an expression she witnessed too often growing up. Basically his way of saying shut up and listen for a second, idiot. Her mouth snaps shut on any comeback.

"This isn't a simple task. We don't know what she's capable of. She's to be under guard at all times, orders from the King himself. Think about it. You were present when she arrived, if I remember correctly. She's fast. Aside from Fox, who can't be trailing after the woman all day, you're the best choice. You can keep up with her if she loses control or, Gods forbid, attacks someone."

It's not often Chancen loses his temper and uses his authoritative voice on her these days, so when he does, Skye listens.

Damn him, he's right. We don't know the bug, don't know why she's here. And I am fast, one of the quickest in Greythorn.

The recognition of her skill appeases her freshly bruised ego. "I hate it when you're right Chancen. Alright, I'll watch the bug."

He crosses his arms as a satisfied smirk creeps across his stupid face. "Good, I'll inform the General. You never know Skye, you might like her."

A growl rumbles through her throat. "Don't push your luck. I'm not doing this to make friends, I have plenty of those already." He shrugs innocently, like he knows something she doesn't. Well, he's already met the woman, perhaps he does. She mimes a punch at his shoulder, which he dodges easily. "Alright brother dear, get lost already. Seems I have a job to do." Chancen doesn't need to be told twice, opening the door and disappearing behind it.

"Oh, and one more thing." He shouts from behind the half closed door. "You'll have to take the stairs until she receives flight training." The door slams shut and Chancen makes his getaway down the corridor.

Skye's eyebrows shoot up towards her hairline and her jaw drops open. "What? What do you mean the stairs? Chancen!" Too late, he's long gone and not likely to return. Her frustrated yelling echoes off the walls of her room. "Ugh, let's go get this over with."

Skye grabs her sword, the blade sitting prettily in its new emerald sheathe, and attaches it to her belt. She tucks a pair of chain mail gauntlets beside it and takes one last peek in the mirror.

The woman's chestnut eyes are now as dark as her hair. "Well, at least I look incredible in this new armor." Her mumbling serves as further balm to her ego.

She pauses at the door as a realization hits her. In Chacen's haste to escape, he forgot to inform her where they stashed the bug. "Seriously now!" Skye leaves her room, a growl ripping through the air, and stalks off in search of someone who knows where the bug has built her nest.

The Paths of GreythornWhere stories live. Discover now