Authors: Eliza Tilton
The rogue priest moved to Lucy and cuffed her next. My pulse sped. What if her shapechanger ability stopped and they saw her true self? While I didn’t care what happened to her people, I didn’t want to see her tortured.
“Let her go,” I said. “I’m a master smith. I can forge weapons.”
Nomad glared at me. “You came together, you die together.” He lifted his hands and blasted Lucy into the air, enshrouded in wood. She grimaced as the roots tightened around her body.
The priest grabbed my arm, and we filed out of the tent.
Men watched as Nomad guided a floating Lucy through the camp. Whispers flew around us. Who was she? What did she do?
No one seemed interested in me.
I glanced back to Harold’s tent. The guard left on duty stood outside watching us, and didn’t see the tent flap open on its own.
e ended up in a dirt prison, a dark cave dug out of the side of the mountain range with a metal gate. They locked us in, and Nomad promised to return before the suns rose. He thought time would refresh our memory before he killed us.
Lucy lay on the ground, free from the roots at last.
“Are you all right?”
Moonlight shone inside the cell, illuminating the deep red bruising spotting her skin.
“I’ve had worse,” she groaned and pulled herself into a sitting position.
I took her arm and gently helped her to lean against the rock wall. “He’s not going to let us leave.”
She rolled out her shoulder, silent. “He’s powerful,” she said after a while. “He can command at least two elements.”
“What do you mean?”
“Terra and air—that’s how he was able to transport me. Most human mages I’ve seen only possess one magical ability. Three hundred years, and I’ve never seen his equal.”
“Three hundred years?” Had she been here that long?
She smiled. “We don’t age like humans. A Reptilian ages very slow. I’m twenty-one human years.”
I’m only eighteen …
“You look younger,” I grumbled.
“Not used to an older woman?”
Heat flushed my neck.
“Don’t worry. I won’t spoil you.” She laughed.
I looked away from her, and the way the moon sparkled her electric eyes.
“I need to rest, and think.” Her head slid to my shoulder, and I let it stay. She brushed a finger over my collarbone, then lower. “So that’s how.” She traced the lines of the tattoo, pulling back my shirt to inspect the design. “It must’ve hurt.”
“Like shoving a hot ember into my skin and letting it burrow.”
“But it doesn’t protect you from all magic.”
I sighed and leaned my head against the wall. “I didn’t think I needed to protect myself from The Order. They’re supposed to be the ones protecting us.”
She kept her hand on my chest, tapping against my shirt. “You’ll learn there’s good and bad on both sides.”
“And what side are you on?”
I rubbed my eyes. The moon still hung in the sky. Lucy had curled against me, sleeping soundly in my lap with my arm resting on her side.
I searched for the voice, but saw nothing. “Harold.” I moved Lucy aside, and went to the gate. “Harold?”
The air in front of the gate wavered slightly.
“I can’t pick the lock,” he whispered. “It’s fit for a specific key. I’ve tried. How did you find me?”
“Jeslyn had come searching for you. I was trying to find her, but the trail led us to you.”
“That stubborn girl. I feared she would do something foolish. Did she go alone?”
“A boy named Edward went with her.”
Harold grumbled. “I don’t trust that lad, but at least she’s not alone.”
Getting into how Lucino had shapeshifted into Edward would probably just confuse and frighten Harold. “You need to leave. If they find you, everything we did will be for nothing.”
“I won’t leave you two here. This bracelet keeps me hidden. I’ll see if I can find a key.”
The suns peeked over the horizon, warming the sky with orange hues. Nomad appeared beyond the gates.
“Go,” I hissed. “He’s coming.”
I slid back into the cell and closed my eyes, pretending sleep.
“Wake up,” Nomad said.
I nudged Lucy, and she sat up.
“Ready to die?” he asked coldly.
“How about we chat instead?” Lucy smiled as she smoothed out her long hair.
“I’d much rather kill you.”
“Ahh, but then you wouldn’t know all my secrets.”
He stood silent, assumingly contemplating her request. “All right. You’ll die anyway.” He pulled a key from inside his jacket and opened the gate before pointing at me. “Don’t move.”
Lucy brushed the dirt off her clothes and winked at me. “Be back soon.”
“What are you going to do?”
“Take a very big risk.”
Nomad locked the gate after her, and they walked off.
“Harold,” I whispered. No response.
I sighed. He was going for the key.
Don’t die on me, either of you.
Lucy didn’t return until night, and when she did, she was unbound and escorted by a giant of a man who opened the cell.
“Give us a minute, please.”
The giant nodded and walked off to the side.
“What’s going on?” I asked as I left the cell.
“I made a deal.” She held up a finger. “Don’t worry, you are free to go, and Harold is still safe.”
I heard a cough and looked to the side. “I’d like to be able to see my hands again.”
“What did you agree to?”
She placed her hand on my chest. “Are you worried about me?”
“I told him, well, showed him, who I am.”
“I offered our services in exchange for a mutual alliance. We’ll help him find his sister, whom The Order took, and he’ll assist us with reclaiming Daath from the rebels.”
I shook my head. “You did this for me?”
“Don’t be silly. I’m not my brother. This will benefit my people.”
“Thank you, milady.” Harold said. “I’m forever in your debt.”
I wished he hadn’t said that.
“You’re sweet,” she said before turning back to me. “What will you do now that you’ve rescued your beloved’s grandfather?”
“Jeslyn is still missing,” I said. “Harold has contacts within the shipmasters. We’ll find her. What about Lucino?”
“He’ll have to wait. An alliance with the mage army will strengthen our resources here. My father will be very pleased. I’ll need to inform him.” She trailed a finger across my chest, grazing the tattoo. “Try not to get yourself killed.” She leaned forward and kissed me. I all but gritted my teeth. How could I want to kiss and kill her within the same breath? She was my enemy, yet the more time I spent by her side, the more hate had shifted into acceptance.
“We will see each other again, and very soon.” She stepped back, and for the first time since we set off, she wore a genuine smile, something I didn’t think possible from a girl who wasn’t human.
graduated from Dowling College with a BS in Visual Communications. When she’s not arguing with excel at her day job, or playing Dragon Age 2, again, she’s writing.