Exhausted, Parcival stopped, then moved off to the side of the road, to lean against a large tree stump

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Exhausted, Parcival stopped, then moved off to the side of the road, to lean against a large tree stump. It sure was a long way to the next town. His armor dripped with sweat.

The midday sun was unrelenting. He plopped down on the stump, and then pulled off a boot to rub his aching blister covered feet. It was bad, awful, black luck is what it was. That beastie chomping in the help like that, Father couldn't afford anymore, since they were stretched lean already. It hurt to pay in food instead of coin.

He arched his back and stretched. Two more leagues to go. Perhaps could find a job here and buy a horse?

A woman screamed; echoed far off ahead shattered the quiet of the forest; a second one came-it was closer now-rang in his ears. Then the pounding of hoofs neared. He stood up. Over there?

Half a breath later, a twig snapped. A tall young elfin woman stepped out of the forest on the side of the path, breathing hard. Her eyes wide and face far too pale for her kind. Her leather armor pierced throughout and apt to fall apart at any moment. She held her left side with a hand; blood trickled over her thin fingers.

Her streamlined hair lashed around her face, like a pale blue floating spirit; she looked at him her long ears twitched while she scanned the area.

The seconds that passed dragged on. She tried to run past him, almost in a blur. He caught her wrist, and she stumbled and fell. Reaching out he caught her. She squirmed and kicked just missing his stomach.

"Let me pass!" Her breath quickened while she pulled back and twisted her arm in his grip and gave him a look that would put the undergods to shame.

"You're injured! Come with me. I—" 

"Be quiet, human; they'll hear you," she said. Her tone low and deep.

There was shouting of men on horseback in the woods on both sides. She thrashed under his hold and pushed him off. Not as weakened as she looked.

"They'll kill me if they catch me. Let me pass now."

He stepped away.

She ran leaping away and streaked down the path. Admiring her slender shape for a moment as she melted away into the forest like a wisp of smoke. Who or what would want to harm such a creature? The Elven were rarely seen these days.

Behind, two soldiers thrashed through the underbrush on horseback at the edge of the path. Had they heard that last shout of the woman?

A guard pointed at him. "Has a vulgar Elven woman ran by here?"

He took a moment to scan the guard's features. "Whom do think you are ordering?"

He adjusted his emblem on his shoulder with slow and exaggerated movements.

"You will address me with respect or not at all, how dare they treat me like a commoner!" His eyelid twitched.

The guard's lids become slits. "You honestly think that anyone will care if a third rank goes missing?"

(On Hold)❧ Soul Tear ❧ Book One: The Last Spirit AdaptRead this story for FREE!