The odd-shaped bird-woman dove through trees of Warwood, rattling the tops in a spray of green leaves and tree needles. Staying low to escape her pursuer. Weaving through the shadows of thick tree trunks and splashes of blinding gold light which shimmered between.
It was cool and dark this low. Smelling of wet dirt. Concealing her movements better than the cresting dawn above which threatened to reveal her altogether. Manipulating through trunks by twisting and arcing, she was careful of her dark, bony wings. Likely to snap if she crashed into a tree.
Already breathing heavily, she struggled to keep moving. Clearly unaccustomed to fleeing.
She won't escape today. Not from me.
Sebastian's eyes focused on the strange look of her. Like nothing I've witnessed before.
A distance above, and behind her, tree trunks snapped like kindling. An immense black shadow spread its silhouette over the tree canopy. Darkening the trunks below. And casting over her.
She sped up. Wings pumping in a determined escape. Black hair trailing behind buzzed with lightening currents stemming from her scalp. Each tress frosting into a silvery mane.
Declaring her presence like a beacon in the dim light. He smiled a toothy grin. Looking particularly ominous on his gold scaled snout.
She heard the whoosh of giant wings. A look above revealed the gold hunter's outline as it stalked her.
Deeming her worthy prey.
Come here, My Sweet. He thought. Waiting for her to slide into reach.
Her blood red eyes seeped to startling blue.
She's tiring. Her guise diminishing with her magic.
She's running out of time. Having flown long past even her impressive endurance.
Good. Soon she'll be mine. Turnabout is fair play. The gaze of the gold eyes zeroed in on the bird-woman.
You'll have to fly a hell of a lot faster than this if you hope to escape me, Little Bird.
He heard her thoughts. Intending to identify his whereabouts then dive into dark underbrush and let him pass over.
Oh, I'm not so fool as that!
She shot into the sky. Twisting in flight with the efficiency of a hummingbird.
Fast. But I'm faster. He watched her intensely. Tracing her movements with lethal precision. The monstrosity of shimmering scales nearly blinded her as he appeared from nowhere, stretching razored talons.
Escaping the sting of a claw by microseconds, she unfortunately caught the giant edge of a feathered wing in the face.
He'd pivoted to pursue her, not expecting her to suddenly fly into his trajectory. His wing hit her with the force of a runaway horse.
Ouch. His gold eyes narrowed, drawing scaled brows low as he bared teeth in a wince.
She screeched. Unprepared for the stinging blow, she was knocked from flight. Dropping in a deadfall.
The gold beast tried to catch her once more, barely missing. One black claw slicing a thin line along her side as she slipped through his grip.
She quieted, too weak to do anything but drop. A few drops of blood showering from the wound as she fell.
That was how Serenade the valkyrie, plummeted into the warm embrace of Lily Lake. Shimmering on the fringe of Phalanx Forest's dark treeline. The water swayed into a grasping hand as she hit. Drawing her under.
Once she was beneath, the surface stilled as if it'd never consumed her. Even the flowers trimming it stood fast, despite the breeze stirring them further into the woods.
Eerily motionless here, if one didn't know what magic cradled this land.
But he did. He knew what emanated magic all over the valley and into this brushing of trees. WaterRose.
He glanced in the distance and saw the watery river walls of the Forever Knight stronghold. Light teased over the grassy meadow between the trees and the structure. Home.
His alert gold gaze returned to the water, waiting. She moved precisely as I maneuvered her. He thought, self-satisfied.
Like herding a falcon.
Now she's in my dominion...My prey...The giant winged dragon was complete with a ridge along his spine and twining serpentine tail. Rumbling in his throat caused a billow of sulfury smoke to waft between sharp teeth. Leaving the acrid stench floating over the trees. His bat like wings were trimmed with feathers along the bone, making them silent as they coasted the air. His elongated snout and flared nostrils traced the exact location where she fell. Stalking her singular scent.
Unlike anything else.
This winged female was far from the angel that'd fallen for his kind centuries ago. She's something else...
Something darker. Something more like...Me.
No sooner had she hit the water then a square shouldered man, emerged from the woods dressed in immaculate white. Shirt laced at the collar with frilled sleeves. Black breeches accompanying boots which had, earlier in the night, been polished but were now mucked from crunching foliage.
His whistle elicited the creak of WaterRose's drawbridge and summoned thudding hooves. Sivikon loping to me.
The silver stallion stopped behind him. Dragging its lead. Tossing his head, he stared at the water through silver flecked blue eyes.
Sebastian stopped at the edge of the clearing. Watching the water's still surface. Blue-green eyes flicking over the banks. Until he spotted a distance away the glint of his amulet shining from the naked branch of a tree. He collected it and stuck it in his pocket. Rounding to assess the lake.
Chin lifting, he eyed the water haughtily. Sleek movements revealing his animalistic nature.
Come up, Lovely. You can't hide down there forever.
Seconds passed agonizingly slow. He didn't move. Waiting.
The horse next to him gave a shrill neigh.
"Shh, Sivikon." He put a calming hand to its muzzle. "All things in time, My Friend..."
She ruptured the water. Bursting in a rush of bared flesh shivering from ragged breaths.
His eyes hungrily roved her beautiful form.
Surely her skin can't be as smooth as it looks. His eyes grew hooded as he watched.
Waist deep in water, she tossed pale blonde hair back. Limbs shaky, she calmed enough to rise. Floating across the surface with only toes cutting a swath. Water slipped over her skin like a falling silk sheet. Tiny droplets clinging to the gold circlets vining her arms. All she wore, save a bit of flimsy garb which drew lazily over her shoulders and wrapped her waist.