|Posted by Sandi Bischoff on September 14, 2010 at 1:09 PM|
“Explain to me again why I have to do this?”
Zephyr rolled his eyes heavenward. “What part of protecting the heir to the throne didn’t you get the first time? There are many out there who want him dead. You, Gods forbid, are his first in command. It’s your job.”
Lance tested the weight of the blade in his hand and frowned. This was definitely not his choiceof weapon, never had been. He preferred to do things a little more hands on, fangs to throat to be exact. Ah, to feel the snapping of bone and cartilage while his victim’s blood floods his mouth. There’s nothing quite like it.
“I just don’t see the need for it. I’m a shifter. The wolf in me can handle anything. Swordplay is just not my style.” He stabbed the tip of his moonlit blade into the grassbefore him. He had his powers that should be enough. It was before.
Zephyr growled but didn’t lower his own blade. Instead he advanced slicing the air only a fraction of an inch from Lance’s nose. “There may be a time when the wolf fails to appear. What will you do? With no other skills Jared is left unprotected. Should he fend for himself then?”
Lance jumped back into a crouch, his lip curling into a snarl exposing a long set of fangs. “Jared has nothing to worry about.”
“Then put your money where your mouth is.” Zephyr pulled Lance’s blade free and tossed it to him. “Attack me.”
Catching the sword in one hand, Lance rose and began to circle around his opponent. He was never one to shy away from a challenge, especially when his ability to protect his charge was questioned. His eyes narrowed as he weighed Zephyr for a weakness. Unfortunately for him the man didn’t seem to have one. The power this vampire possessed was beyond his understanding. He never met another like him and that alone spoke volumes in their world.
“You’re not going to let this go are you?”
Zephyr chuckled. “Consider me like a dog with a bone. Now try and take it away, pup.”
“What is wrong with all of you? I’m a wolf not a dog!” A menacing growl rumbled in Lance’s throat and he advanced swinging. The clash and clang of steel rang in the darkness from the vigorous onslaught as he tried to drive Zephyr back. The only problem with that was while he put everything he had into each and every thrust, the vampire wasn’t even breaking a sweat. At one point he blinked because the bastard had the nerve to actually yawn!
“Boring you am I?”Lance huffed with his next swing and lost his balance. The momentum caused him to miss his target completely and stumble past him. If that wasn’t humiliating enough, Zephyr brought the broadside of his sword down across his backside smacking him just hard enough that he landed face first in the lawn. Spitting out his mouthful of grass he lay there for a few moments in disbelief that he couldn’t place one good strike, not one. What the hell was wrong with him?
“I can answer that for you, you know.” Zephyr placed his sword on his shoulder as he watched Lance collect himself.
“Would you quit reading my thoughts? It’s friggin irritating as hell!” He pushed himself up and grabbed his own blade before stomping off toward the patio. “Besides, you cheat.” He dropped onto a lounge chair and wiped the sweat from his brow with a towel before downing a whole bottle of water. When he was done he wiped his mouth with the back of his hand before sighing.
“I never cheat. It’s your skill that’s lacking. Your father must be turning in his grave.” He sat on the wall across from Lance and shook his head. “I can’t believe you are of his blood. Lancelot would be devastated.”
“Hey, leave the sperm donor out of this. It’s not like he was around to train me or anything.” Leaning back on the lounge he stared at the stars above them. “Just because he fathered me doesn’t mean I have his ability.”
“Well that’s obvious.” Zephyr scoffed at him. “But that’s why I’m here, Lance. I want to make you the same indestructible being he was. Jared deserves no less.”
Lance glared at him. “You don’t think I know that? Hell, why don’t you just do it then?”
Zephyr shook his head. “Because it’s not my destiny, it’s yours. I’m only here to make sure things fall as they were meant to be.”
“Well that just sucks!”
“You could say that.” Zephyr slapped his hands on his knees and grinned. “But not as much as the next few hours are going to suck for you. Get your hairy ass of that chair you have work to do.”
Lance stared at him for a few moments before croaking, “Hours?”
“Yes. Hours.” Zephyr stood picked up his blade and headed back out onto the lawn. When he turned to face Lance he wore an evil smile and crooked his finger. “Let’s go, I don’t have all night.”
Groaning he pushed himself up and trudged out to meet his torture. “With any luck the sun will come up over those trees and roast your pale ass.” He lifted his blade and readied himself for his next lesson.
“Ha! You couldn’t be so lucky!” With barely another warning Zephyr when on the attack and Lance did everything in his power to protect himself. After the first few seconds he knew… it was going to be a long night.
* * *
She sat on the edge of the open stone window, her feet curled underneath her, staring out past the great moat and green fields below. Her soft leather shoes had been discarded long ago and now sat forgotten on the cold stone floor beneath her.The window offered hardly any protection from the cold moist air that now blew through the portal whipping the strawberry blonde strands about her face that escaped her braid. Absently she brushed it back trying to tuck it behind her ear never looking away from the muted grey horizon before her, searching.
The early morning dew had begun to collect on the fields giving it an eerie glow, one that could only be described as of the Fae. It was that vision that had her coming here in the early hours before the rest of the castle awoke to be about their day. It was in these stolen minutes that she found her solace. At this hour there was no one questioning where she had been, no one berating her for her unladylike behaviors. Here she was totally alone.
Elizabeth hugged her knees and the hem of her sleeping tunic inched up baring her toes to the cool air. Gooseflesh erupted up the length of her arm and she pulled the blanket draped across her shoulders a little tighter in response still unwilling to leave her perch. Her emerald eyes sparkled as the moisture in the air collected on her lashes making them heavy. A yawn threatened but she fought it off not wanting to break the spell playing out before her. Only a few moments more…
Nay! Not yet! They can’t have found me. I only need another moment or two.
A soft knock onthe door caused her to stiffen. “M’lady please, the King found your solar empty and has his men scouring the castle for you.”
Lady Elizabeth blinked and the magic of the morn was lost. It didn’t surprise her. Every day she searched the horizon for something but it always seemed beyond her reach. Her shoulders sagged and a sigh escaped her lips before climbing down from the ledge. When her feet met the floor she shivered and quickly slipped them inside the cold leather of her shoes and made haste toward the door. Pulling it open she glanced in either direction before dragging her startled maid inside and closing it silently. She held her finger to her lips urging the girl into silence only moments before footsteps sounded in the passageway.
Elizabeth stood with her ear against the wooden surface listening to the deep voice on the other side. “She has to be here somewhere. Find her and return her to Arthur. I shall take to the allure whilst the rest of you search indoors.”
Sir Bors was the first to speak, “Aye Galahad we’ll have her safe and sound in no time.” The rest of the men chimed in with their approval and began to disassemble each going off to search their own area.
Leaning against the door she closed her eyes and let out the breath she was holding. Why did having a moment to oneself entail so much havoc? After a few seconds she lifted her gaze to meet that of her maid and cringed at the frown she received. Not only was she in trouble she had dragged the poor girl down with her. “Beatrix, I’m sorry. I never meant…” Her words died on her lips when she realized there was no way she could make this right. Their only option was to return to her solar and await her punishment for disobeying the order to stay within its walls.
“M’lady, if I may?” Bea’s frown softened and Elizabeth nodded slowly waiting for her friend to chastise her. “The King only looks out for your welfare. He wouldn’t want any harm to befall his foster child. Mayhap if you just explain…”
“NAY! I cannot tell him or anyone else why I sneak away. They would consider me mad.” She began nibbling her bottom lip and wringing her hands. Her green eyes plead for tolerance. “No one would understand. The Fae or something within the forest calls to me. I hear it in my dreams yet when I try to look from here, it eludes me.”
“I think you need more rest, M’lady.” Bea moved closer and lay a gentle hand on her arm. “Let us get you back to your chamber. It would be better if we arrived there first,don’t you think?”
Again she nodded and allowed her maid to lead her into the passageway. They hadn’t made it more than a few steps before they met Sir Galahad. He leaned casually against the wall arms folded across his chest. Elizabeth inclined her chin with a raised brow in silent challenge, waiting. His piercing blue eyes seemed to assess her in the dim light and just when she thought he would scold her for leading them on a wild goose chase he offered her his arm. “Lady Elizabeth, I do believe you are late for breaking your fast. Allow me to escort you back to your chamber so you may dress appropriately before we attend the King.”
He smiled gently as she took his arm. Then taken completely by surprise she felt him lean down to whisper in her ear, “I’ll not impart your secret. We all deserve a little adventure in our lives. No harm was done anyway.” He straightened and gifted her with a wink before leading their small party to her room allowing her maid to follow silently behind them, smiling.