Intro by @Brisby
Midnight barbs hooked Sedra’s duster as she sped through the bramble underbrush atop Nox. Errant envy for her psi-meleon’s iridescent scales fluttered within her mind. Perfect. I'm going to look like a bedraggled porcupine.
Beneath her legs, Nox’s sides twitched in time to the clicks his tongue made. His right eye rolled back to meet her gray gaze, mirth shining within the amber orb.
“Har-Har, my impudent beastie.” Sedra flushed, blonde brows furrowing with disdain while kicking a thrasher vine from her boot.
“I couldn’t give a trotter’s tail if Blayne has a thing for quills. He better have a damned good reason for trespassing into our Catacombs.” It didn’t take a psionic bond to interpret Nox’s responding chortle of clicks. She snapped back with a huff, “Who taught you about that? See if I rustle up eels for you anytime soon.”
Rumbling deep within his throat, Nox tensed and sprang to the left. Claws dug into the thick ochra bark of the tree before scrambling up to the outspread branches. His tail waved, readying for a leap before easing down to lie along its length. The frustration radiating from his rider ignored to admire the back of his eyelids.
Sedra clung to her mount, her excitement to be taking the treeline route thwarted by the lizard’s love for his favorite treat. “Nox! This is NOT the time for a tantrum!” Snaking out, the psi-meleon’s tongue hung limp from its mouth, letting her know that he could do this all day.
Bristling, she channeled a fine line of energy to the tuned topaz on her wrist. A bit of rezzing would get his stubborn ass up. Threading the loop with her mind, the aquamarine gem began to spark. Before she could release the resonation to zap Nox’s toe, he slid from his perch to hang upside down from the branch. His smug clicking dared her to go ahead and try it while they were dangling a hundred feet above the forest floor.
The soft light dimmed within her topaz. Like hers, his was an empty bluff. Keeping her grip tight, her thumb rubbed Nox’s hide in capitulation. “Alright!" she growled. "Three eels before bed if you can get us to The Well and back before they notice we’re missing.”
Triumphant pride purred within the air. Nox swung around to the branch’s top, tensed and leaped the expanse to the neighboring tree. Thrilling from the feel of the wind in their faces, the two raced towards the forest's edge. Both girl and beast let the rush of the journey override their unspoken dread.
Beyond the green was a showdown with a man who had been their friend. Within moments, they'd be facing their betrayer. One who had abandoned them to fend for themselves so that he could take possession of The Well.
From their concealed position in the trees, Sedra could see the gentle glow of The Well. In front of it stood a hooded figure.
“Blayne.” His name tasted like vinegar as she whispered to Nox. All those years with him had been wasted. Now, he not only betrayed her, but he was willing to betray the order.
She unhooked herself from Nox and climbed down the tree, commanding him to stay put as she silently walked away. Moonlight reflected up from the water at the bottom of The Well. It reminded her of the day she was bound to Nox.
“You’re out late, won’t the Matrons miss you?” His voice was cold, devoid of emotion.
Her fingers curled around the knife strapped to her belt. This won’t be easy.
“I don’t think they will mind, not when I take them the head of the person trespassing in our most sacred chambers. Did you think I wouldn’t know it was you?”
Blayne threw back his head and laughed. “I see your training hasn’t improved your skill set, even after two years without me.” He turned around to face her. His voice softened. “I made sure you knew it was me.”
Sedra gasped as she studied the deep scar across his left cheek. It’s brutality didn’t detract from from his natural beauty. She remembered caressing the soft skin that was now disfigured. She blushed despite the anger bubbling in her stomach. He still looked handsome.
She thought about her own bedraggled appearance, barbs clinging to her windswept hair.
A series of clicks surrounded them. Sedra grinned. “You shouldn’t have left us Blayne. Do you know what a psi-meleon does to its prey?”
Blayne shakes his head. “You never did learn, did you? Your pathetic pet cannot hurt me, because you cannot… because you won’t hurt me, Sedra.”
She shivered as he said her name. She closed her eyes, maintaining the link with Nox, telling him to stay put a little longer. In the darkness she heard Blayne step closer, his breathing slow. She opened her eyes to see him crowding her sight.
“You haven’t grown up much in two years.” He traced a finger tenderly along her lips.
“Why are you here Blayne?” Her lip trembled as she whispered.
“Because I want what is rightfully mine, I want my psi-meleon.” He paused, his fingers twisting in her hair. “And I want you to come with me.”
The breath hitched in her throat. It’s now or never. The hidden dagger plunged into his heart. A look of shock reached his eyes before he turned towards The Well and fell down dead.
Nox shrieked in the night air, bounding down the tree to sniff at the body now soaked in blood. Tears fell from Sedra’s eyes. She climbed onto Nox. The Matrons would forgive her breaking curfew, once they have the dead trespasser.
Image from Pixabay.