It’s warm. The pain is gone, but I’m laying on something hard and there’s someone pressed against me. I can feel their warmth, and hear their light breathing. Her? I run my hands up over their spine and feel them stiffen.
“Dante?” It’s Chloe.
“Yeah?” Damn. I had hoped it was the Dӕmon.
“How are you feeling” Chloe shifts her body to lean over me and look at me. Her hand finds my hourglass, she traces the curves of it with her fingers. It must be dawn because I can make out her features in the low light from the windows.
“I feel great. I swear I feel better than I have in years, it’s like all the chronic aches and pains of my body are gone.” Her face lights up with the news.
“Wow” she breaths “That’s pretty amazing.” She slides her hand over my chest gently and looks at my lips.
“Chloe, No.” I state firmly but gently. “No. I love you like a friend, like a sister. But that’s it. I’m sorry.”
“I know, but I thought maybe since the moment felt right…” She trails off, looking disappointed.
“You’re awake.” It’s a statement, it comes off as a demand. I look past Chloe and see her standing in the doorway that leads into a second room. Her hair is flowing again, without wind. Her violet eyes piercing and her lips the same deep red color. I look her over, her clothing is repaired. I can’t see her wound through her pants, and her naval is covered.
“I am.” I gently move Chloe’s arm off of me and sit up, swinging my legs off the table. “Thank you for healing me.” She nods, looking pointedly at Chloe. “Where is Marcus?”
“He went out to hunt, I told him to stay within 120 meters of the Cabin to stay within the vision I created.”
I stand up from the table and stretch. I can feel something tickle my thigh. I notice my shorts are ripped, I had forgotten. My shirt is dirty. How does she, the Dӕmon, look so good? How many powers does she have? What is this magick?
“It won’t last forever, we’ve got about 5 more hours of protection and I have things I need to do so we have to get moving soon.”
“Nobody is stopping you from leaving.” Chloe states, her chin raised and a look of loathing on her face.
“She’s jealous and in heat, I can smell it” States XOTӔL.
“Liar!” Snarls Chloe
“BARK BARK!” Cerberus calls from outside the door.
“Marcus must be back” I head toward the door, welcoming the distraction from the impending cat fight. Cerberus greets me with a wag of his tail and a slobbery kiss when I open the door. About 200 feet away Marcus walks toward the Cabin with 3 rabbits slung over his shoulder, and a smile at seeing me up on my feet.
We cook the rabbits and plan. Chloe objects loudly to traveling with Xotӕl, but Marcus and I agree it’s safer, especially since we don’t know exactly what or who she is, or what is after her and now us.
I need to get to the garden. I need a map. “Do you have a map of the area?”
Dante and Marcus exchange looks before Marcus answers, “I do, but its pretty old and mostly terrain”
“Let me see it” I demand.
“Why are you such a bitch?” Chloe asks “Would it kill you to ask nicely or be polite?”
“It might and I’m not willing to take that chance” I reply snarkily.
“Ladies, please. Stop bickering and let’s make a plan to get out of here” Marcus pleads.
“Chloe, she is a literal Dӕmon” Dante adds. “What do you honestly expect?”
Marcus produces the map and I spread it out over the table that Dante and Chloe used as a bed. It’s old and worn. “We are here?” I ask for confirmation with my finger pointing to a spot toward the western coast in a forested area.
“About there, yeah” Says Marcus looking at the map.
“I need to get here” I slide my finger over a mountain range to an area in northern Edipsos.
“The middle of a dessert?” Chloe Scoffs
“Yes.” I reply. I will waste no more energy on her.
“What’s so important that you need to get there?” Dante’s curiosity is over riding his memory. I told him I hate questions.
“It’s personal.” I reply. “I need to get there as quickly as possible. And you need to come with me” I look at Dante, “it’s the only way to remove my scent from you and keep you safe. Luckily my scent didn’t rub off on her” I jerk my head toward Chloe “while you rubbed against each other.
Chloe blushed and Dante ignored my quip.
“Wouldn’t it wash off in a stream?” Asked Marcus
“No, only the waters of the spring can remove it, or a goddess. He reeks of my magick”
“I don’t smell anything” Marcus states “Except normal human odors”
“It transferred when I grabbed his hand to lead him away from the trackers, and using my magick on him made it more pronounced. As long as I don’t touch either of you two, you’re free to go on your way.
“Nope” States Marcus matter-of-fact
“No way” whines Chloe, “We are in this together.”
We plan our route to the mountain, avoiding sentry towers and hoping we don’t run into the trackers. We will need to cross Gilramore, but the Dwarves are pretty tolerant of Dӕmons. XOTӔL look’s worried but determined as she double checks her satchel. “How is your wound” I ask.
“It’s fine” she doesn’t sound convinced, and I don’t pry.
“Let’s go” I announce. Chloe and Marcus exchange a glance but follow me out the cabin door ahead of XOTӔL. We wait for a few moments outside the cabin until she emerges. Waving her hand and muttering words that I don’t recognize. The image of the cabin disappears and in place of it stands a pile of large rocks.
“This should fool the trackers from a distance but they will smell me and my magic in this place. We need to get far away as quickly as possible” She states.
We head north east through the wood, toward Gilramore. I can feel XOTӔL behind me a few paces, but I can’t hear her. Her foot steps are quiet compared to Chloe and Marcus. Cerberus is ahead of us, sniffing the path and marking tree’s periodically.
I am still stunned that I can’t feel the bandage on my thigh, nor the wound. We have healers in Edipsos but they’ve never done anything like this, and sometimes their magic leaves a scar. Chloe seems upset, maybe I should talk to her? She looks pretty content walking with Marcus, who has slowed his pace to match hers. As much as I try to distract myself I can’t stop thinking about XOTӔL’s lips on my neck, and how she would feel sandwiched between me and a tree.
My thigh hurts. These humans are annoying. I’m already behind, I’ve wasted so much time. I need to rescue her, my Amara. It’s my fault she’s imprisoned, I begged her to stay in Encantadia with me. How could a Goddess stay hidden in my world? I should have come here with her.
They are so slow, the humans. Especially the small one, with her short legs. She doesn’t smell full human however and she has Elvish eyes. Her hair isn’t white, its pale yellow and very curly. I wonder if the humans know.
“Can we move faster” I ask, sounding much harsher than I meant it to.
Chloe glares at me, Marcus gives me a look that could mean “We’re moving as fast we can” or “Shut up” I’m not too sure. Dante doesn’t even look at me, he is focused ahead of him where Cerberus is trotting along in front of the group. We are making good time but I’m anxious and we still aren’t moving fast enough.
The sun is shining, it must be mid-morning, the dew is all but gone. We should reach the edge of the wood by nightfall if we don’t stop for too long. The pain in my thigh is getting worse despite the constant stream of healing magic I’m aiming at the tissue around my wound, keeping it from spreading. We’ve been walking for hours, I can see the tree’s beginning to thin out and not too far off in the distance, the silhouette of a tower. The border between The Wood and Gilramore is at the tree line.
We stop to rest and hydrate from the waterskin. I sit down on a stump next to Dante to check his wound while Chloe relieves herself behind some bushes.
“Are these towers in use still?” I ask no one in particular as I examine Dante’s thigh under his shorts. The bandage is almost gone and there’s no sign of the wound even as I prod with magic.
“Not for 50 or so years, since the Great Battle” Replies Marcus looking at me.
“Before our time” adds Chloe, emerging from the bush and zipping her jeans up. “I’m hungry” She directs the statement at Marcus but it’s Dante who throws a granola bar to her.
“I know very little of the Great Battle” I admit. I am still satisfied from the rabbit earlier and the humans aren’t snacking either, but I know elves have a very busy metabolism,
“I never understand how you eat so much and stay so tiny” Marcus pokes at Chloe. She responds with a shrug, chewing busily on her granola bar and leaning against a tree.
Dante rubs the back of his neck and then looks at his watch “we gotta keep moving.”
I close my eyes and focus my energy on hearing and smell. Cerberus finished some business a couple yards off the path but I don’t smell the trackers, or dwarves.
The others have begun walking and I fall in step behind Chloe. Her movements are graceful despite her short stature. Her posture is near perfect and her curly hair falls effortlessly around her shoulders, it bounces as she walks. She is more athletic than any elves I have seen before, in the elf country she would be considered chubby, even so here in the south her curves are a work of art.
She looks nothing like my fire haired lover, except the curls. Amara’s curls aren’t as tight, and they cascade down her back. Amara is much taller as well, taller than me, around the same height as Marcus. She isn’t lean in any sense, nor willowy. Her curves are smooth as the sky, and as soft as a cloud. The way her tummy sways with her movement sets me ablaze. Her robust thighs are as sturdy as a tree and inviting as a pillow, the folds and gentle curvature of her entire being feels like home. While Goddess are naturally plump, they’re often worshipped with food and favors, they’re also very athletic. They’re strong, and agile, graceful and enduring.
Amara is all of these and more. As a spring goddess, she’s naturally prone to bringing life to those around her. Her bright green eyes are the exact shade of the leaves on a healthy pear tree in spring. Her hair like the interior of a blood orange, scented like a rose. I’m lost in thought as the smell hits me, trackers.
“Run” I shout as an arrow fly’s past me. The others seem startled but start running toward the tower nearest us. We’re almost there when I see the trackers behind us loading another arrow, I don’t recognize these Dӕmons.