story by Jenna Pitman - September 2008
It was said that anything could be found in the grand bazaar of Killekos. To Siemain's delight the sentiment was proving to be more than accurate. There were hybrids here. All were completely ignorant of their heritage and of each other. The very nature of the bazaar dictated that they would have to move soon. Their absences could go essentially unremarked.
Far more exciting, however, was the insidious plot that had taken root as she'd made her way through the vendors.
Trosel had made their journey miserable. It wasn't out of character for her but things had grown worse. Even Vascin lost all semblance of patience with her. Somehow the older Shifter had managed to blame both of her companions for anything that went wrong. Then there were the invasions. She'd always pried too hard into the sanctuary of their minds but twice this week alone Siemain had awoken to sharp pains as Trosel tried to pry open the door to her innermost secrets and functions. She'd come so far into the younger female's mind that the ensuing struggle for control lasted far longer than it should have and left both parties drained.
Siemain had left her companions on the outskirts of the town, hidden in a canyon so as not to draw attention. She was much too tall and dark for a human. In a place like Killekos she could almost blend in, there were so many cultures and people that anyone could go unnoticed to some extent. But if she were to lead a horse and dog of their proportions through the heart of the stalls...
The horse dealer had agreed to meet her later. She'd purchased all the necessary components. Now she needed Mana and she needed time. The later was easy enough and luckily for her she now knew exactly where to find the former.
"Here she is," her voice was husky and brittle, as though she rarely used it.
He eyed her carefully and then turned to the horse. "Thought you said she was a Barzool? Doesn't look like one to me."
The famous barbarians of the Red Desert were renowned for their horses. Short, lithe, quick and full of endurance. He'd been in this line of work his entire life and only ever seen a handful. This creature, on the other hand, was built like a monstrous destrider, he was shocked that she wasn't blowing flames from her nostrils or shooting lighting from her hooves. She was docile too; the woman had made her out to be a war mount. He saw none of the spirit he had been anticipating.
"I asked if you had heard of them," she replied, "And she is an exceptional animal. You will never find her equal no matter how hard you search. She is one of a kind."
He sighed and decided she was right. He began running his hands over her coat, checking for wounds or any other abnormalities. Up and down her legs, along her crest, up under her mane... His hand caught on a bag tied there, braided into the hair. He felt a sharp pain and jerked away.
The woman was beside him in an instant. "If you take her that cannot be removed. Not by anyone. Not ever."
"What is it, some kind of pagan talisman or something?"
"Something like that," she responded, her grey eyes daring him to complain.
"I'm not so sure that I want to take on..." he stopped mid-protest because she leaned forward and grabbed his face with one hand. Her palm cupped his chin and her fingers squeezed his cheeks slightly between her thumb and forefinger. She bent slightly and kissed him. Long, too long. She was inhaling, sucking the breath from his lungs. It wasn't painful, not like it should have been, though it filled him with a dizzyingly explosive sensation. Then she blew out, thundering something, not oxygen, into his body. He felt like ice, he felt disconnected, as though his brain was no longer a part of him.
"You will take her then? For 15 gold?"
Why would he? Of course. "Yes. 15 gold is fair. I will take her."
The woman hesitated and looked back at the animal, "Do not sell her to anyone from the north or from the east. And let no one, no one, remove that marker."
He nodded absently, though he heard his voice agreeing passionately. Reasonable. Seems reasonable.
"Move her quickly, I want her out of Killekos within a day."
You're a fool of a child! You sold your own flesh!
She is not of mine!
We are the last of our kind and you sold her like a beast of burden! Do you know what you have done?
You saw what she was doing to me. How much longer do you think it would have been before she had overpowered me?
You've doomed us, Siemain.
I have done us a favor, old man. Without her we are much safer!
You're wrong. Vascin almost sounded sad. We had enemies before, we have more now.Previous Chapter