❧ Chapter Three: Crossroads ❧Updated

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Exhausted, Parcival stopped, shaking the dust off his cape. It sure was a long way to the next town. His body dripped with sweat making the padding in the chest piece itch. He set the heavy statue on the grass.

The midday sun was unrelenting. He plopped down on a stump, and then pulled off a boot to rub his aching blister covered feet. It was bad, awful, black luck is what it was. The goddess statue cracking like that! Picking it up again he frowned. It's once smooth surface wrecked by deep cracks. It was no wonder the crops were drying up. She didn't take well to her image marred, no, not at all.

A woman screamed; echoed far off ahead shattered the quiet of the forest; a second one came—it was closer now—ringing louder with each second.

Parcival stood and repressed a shout.

No, better wait and see.

A pounding of hoofs nearby.

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?"

"My father-"

He leaned forward. "You would do well to remember, young sir, that there are many violent bandits about, who care little about rank."

A lump stuck in his throat, but he ignored it and stood up straighter. "I saw no one." No one more vulgar than you, that is. He kept his hand on top of his scabbard. The woman appeared more frightened out of her wits than a troublemaker.

(On Hold)❧ Soul Tear ❧ Book One: The Last Spirit AdaptWhere stories live. Discover now