Hidden Magic Ch. 01byEklectikChik©
In the pitch black darkness, only her eyes glowed, as if floating in the night. Her body shifted against the dark stallion, hooves beating against the soggy ground, still wet from the rains that had plagued her day. Kethry wrapped her cloak tightly against her body, her limbs aching from hours of riding, her stomach clenching painfully from lack of nourishment. Soon, they would reach a village where she could settle for the night and seek welcome warmth form the damp, night air, so chilled, it made her shiver and huddle against the saddle, seeking the warmth of the stallion. She yawned tiredly and let her mind wander back in time. It had been two years, years that had flown by without a hitch since fleeing her childhood home. It seemed only a distant memory now, but one that haunted her still. Anger clenched at her heart as she remembered painfully the lonely, frightful nights. She had never belonged there. After the unexpected death of her father, shortly after her birth, her mother had turned to her uncle for support. However, tragedy seemed to bind itself to her life and just as she was reaching her budding teenage years, her mother fell ill and passed away.
Her uncle, who had become rather fond of her mother, became a raging, abusive drunk, neglecting his family, while relentlessly terrorizing Kethry, who, it seemed had become a portrait of her dead mother. Day after day, night after night, she prayed for a means of escape. Then, finally, on her eighteenth birthday, opportunity came together with courage, opening the long awaited door to freedom. Not however, before seeking her revenge against this demon man. Her body shuddered at the dark memories that filled her mind.
Drunk again, he had stepped into her room, staggering as he stalked her, terrorizing her for what was to be, the very last time.
“Whore.” His screaming sound of blasphemy had seemingly nailing her to the wall. “Come serve me as your mother did so willingly before her death. Come, whore, give me what is mine”
His words bit into her heart, making her blood boil in anger. Her slender hand clenched tighter around the smooth dagger now hidden behind her small body. This was to be the night, the night that he would die, the night that he would pay so dearly for his grievous deeds.
She cried out as his grubby hands squeezed her small breasts painfully as he thrust his body against hers repeatedly, rubbing into her. The bulge between his legs was evident as he pushed against her thighs, held tightly together in a desperate attempt to deny him. His stank breath made her gag as his hand snuck between their bodies and pushed against the material of her dress to cup her sex. She let out a strangled cry and pushed against him, lashing out. Her hand moved swiftly to make contact with his belly. He let out a grunt, his eyes wide and confused, as he stumbled back. Blood seeped through his clothing, wetting his hands, as he gripped his stomach, glaring at her. Her eyes met his, locked together in a dark gaze. She smiled, her icy blue eyes hard, nearly crazed. Shivering, he dropped to his knees.
“You filthy slut,” he hissed, through clenched teeth. She laughed and pushed him over, straddling his thighs.
“Why my dear uncle, I thought you wanted me,” she taunted.
He tried struggling but his belly burned, blood gushing with each feeble movement. In horror, he watched as she undid his pants and grabbed the meat between his legs.
“Oh dear, I’m not doing a very good job, am I,” she sneered.
His once hard member, was now flaccid in her hands, but her eyes only gleamed with delight as her hard smile turned evil, maniacal. He blubbered and begged her not to harm him further, to spare his life, but Kethry only shook her head.
“You will never harm another,” she spat. With that, and one clean swipe of her blade, she slashed his member off, and in a last act of mercy, slit his throat for good measure. Hot blood spattered onto her hands and bodice, but she didn’t notice as she turned, and ran out silently, to begin her journey.
No one had caught her that night but she had been ill prepared for such travels. After hours of riding fast, worry began to set in. She had neither food nor water, only the small bloody dagger tucked into her skirts. The woods she had suddenly encountered seemed dark and hard, filled with unknown sounds that made her quiver in fear.
“Silly, silly girl,” she muttered to herself, keeping low in the saddle. The stallion snorted, his ears twitched, and perked with each unfamiliar sound. Fatigue was rapidly setting in, and somewhere along the way, she finally slumped down, wrapping her slender arms around the stallion’s neck, letting sleep take control of her body. Time eluded her, all sounds vanished. All she felt was the powerful shift of the stallion’s body. Then, just as it lulled her to sleep, it stopped, and powerful hands pulled her limp body free. The warmth was welcoming, but the fog of exhaustion refused to lift from her mind.
The crackle and warmth of a camp fire was the first conscious thing that registered in her mind as she slowly allowed her eyes to open. The welcome scent of the burning wood pulled her slowly away from her deep slumbers. She blinked, groggily, confused, wondering what on earth was going on, where she now found herself, and how in the world she got there. Struggling a moment with the heavy blanket that had been draped over her body, she slowly sat up, only to be startled by a deep, raspy voice.
"So you’ve finally decided to wake, have you?"
A shocked shriek passed by her lips as she swung her gaze across the fire to make eye contact with the source of the voice, the biggest man she had ever seen. Thick, burly, hairy, and obviously extremely tall, he looked as though he could crush her with one mighty swipe of those big hands. Only somehow, he didn’t appear to be thinking anything like that at all. Instead, he smiled slightly, or at least she thought he had smiled, but his lips were covered by a wealth of unkempt hair that made it rather hard to tell.
"Seems as though you’ve gotten yourself into a spot of trouble." His brown eyes dropped down to the small knife with which he was chiseling away at a piece of wood.
Swallowing hard, Kethry sat up a little straighter, pulling the heavy blanket closer to her body. "What makes you think that," she asked, her voice little more than a whisper.
His eyes shifted again to lock on hers, an amused look on his face. "Doesn’t take a wise man to know when you’ve found trouble lassie. A young woman, astride a fine stallion, traveling alone through these woods with blood on her clothing and herself, and a dagger hiding in her skirts? I’d say those are reasons to suspect the worst."
She winced as she glanced down at her still dirty hands, now flaked with her uncle’s blood and her stomach suddenly rolled. Scrambling to her feet, she stumbled clumsily to the nearest tree and wretched until her throat felt raw and even then had to fight off the desire to continue. Scrubbing away silent tears with dirty hands, she turned back to the small campsite. The stranger busy with his wood, not making any sort of moves to threaten or interfere. Neither of them spoke as she moved to sit by the fire. She watched, silently as he chiseled away at the wood held all to easily in his thick hands. Moments passed into minutes before he finally paused, let his hand fall to his knee and looked at her again.
"What’s your name, girl?"
She looked from his hands to his face warily, knowing that she was too drained to go anywhere. "Kethry."
He let out what could best be described as a grunt and returned to the task of carving the piece of wood, even as he spoke. "Whatever you did or didn’t do is none of my concern miss, but I don’t usually find myself stumbling on to young women, fast asleep astride big stallions. As I hope you already know, these are dangerous places. I’ve no need of a companion, but if you’ve a mind to, I’ve no problem with you traveling with me to the nearest village."
"Thank you," she murmured softly, grateful that she had at the very least, a fighting chance.
"My name is Kendrick. Now, we can’t have you staying all dirtied up as you are. Blood can attract many nasty creatures. There’s a stream near here, off to the left. I suggest that you use it as best you can until we can figure something else out."
She nodded and stood, happy to be able to wash away what remained of her bad experience. Taking her time, she strolled through the woods as he had directed and felt greatly relieved when she found the small stream, illuminated, she gratefully noticed, by a bright moon. Kneeling down, she washed hands, face and arms, leaving only her skirts and bodice unclean before returning to the fire. Kendrick looked up and nodded. "You look a mite better now. Sit and eat and tomorrow we will find you something else to wear, and perhaps some weaponry. That puny knife of yours isn’t going to save your arse a second time."
For the first time in a long time, she found herself smiling. Kendrick, although rough around the edges, seemed to carry a soft heart beneath all those burly, hairy layers and it suited her just fine. With his help, perhaps all was not lost after all.
Lights in the distance pulled her back to the present. She urged her stallion on until he established a comfortable gallop. Griping the reins, she focused on getting both of them some shelter from the miserable weather.
As she neared the village, she gave it a quick appraisal. It was quite possibly the smallest village she had come across in quite a while, reminding her of the village where Kendrick had first taken her, setting her up with new clothing and the two new weapons that she still carried to this day. A finely crafted sliver dagger that she kept discretely strapped to one thigh, and a short sword she kept on her back, hidden by her wealth of raven black hair.
Murmuring inaudible instructions under her breath, she slowed her companion to a lazy walk, and took stock of the surrounding areas. There were only about two dozen buildings, most of them homes and a few businesses. The inn that served this pitiful spot was centered in the center of the village, thankfully with a few noticeably empty stalls. "We’re in luck," she whispered to her stallion, who exhaled noisily and shook his head before coming to a complete stop in front of the inn.
Stiffly, she eased of the stallions great back and patted his dark mane of hair. "Good Beast, you’ve done well, now lets get you settled for the night." Alert to her surroundings, she made short work of relieving Beast of his saddle, brushing him down quickly before throwing a warm blanket over him for the night and locking him in one of the empty stalls. A young stable boy hovered nearby, eyeing her nervously before she threw him a small bag of coins. "Make sure he has food and water, and that he’s well taken care of. Perhaps there will be something more in it for you later."
"Yes miss." Though a mere lad, he knew and respected a rider who cared as deeply for their mount as this one and the way she threw the saddle and tack on the rail showed her strength and her willingness to do for herself. He said nothing as she watched her leave, pushing herself through the heavy inn doors.
Inside, the air smelled stale and smoky. Several locals turned and eyed her curiously, some leering, some disinterested, but most curious as to what there was to gain from this newcomer, and a woman at that.
Keeping her gaze steady, and her steps firm, she searched out the innkeeper at the bar and made the way toward the portly elf. Shaking off the hood of her cloak, she locked her gaze on his beady eyes and gave him a grim smile. "One room if you have any left."
A sly grin spread slowly across his wrinkled old face. "Aye we do, but are you good for it?" Retrieving another small pouch from her satchel, she flung it to the counter. "This should be more than enough for the room, a warm bath and some food, but nothing more, you understand?"
The hard edge of her voice was enough to convince him of her worth. With bushy eyebrows raised, he took the small, but heavy purse of money and hid it away, summoning a bar wench to take care of her needs. Kethry gave the small man a curt nod and followed the curvy wench, almost mesmerized by the way the woman’s hips swayed and how she managed to keep her generous breasts from jiggling right out of her top. Suppressing a wry smile, she walked up the narrow stairway, listening to the girl who called herself Violet as she showed her to the room.
"This be it miss. I’ll be bringing your food up and your bath soon." She announced and flounced off, her dark brown curls bobbing as she went. Kethry poised outside the doorway and watched a second before turning and shutting the door behind her.
(To be continued soon...)