#1

Year 501, 5 or 6 odd weeks since the accidental release of a wyvern from Castle Drekmerki

The gods hate us
because we killed them
She needed to get away, right now. As fast as she could, hunched over Velik's neck she galloped through the tangled mass of trees and brancehs. Foaming spittle flew back into her face and hair, tears pricked at her eyes. The wind lashing her face and skin, freezing the blood on her back. The memory of the whip ripping into her back had her flinching and almost falling from the saddle, coughing and fighting back her tears she urged the tiring horse on faster. It hadn't been long since she accidently let one of the dragons free, all if it lead to this now. Her being chased by the hunters through the snowy lands of Norderhalt, through the strands, it had been an accident not something done on purpose. Yet the escaping Wyvern had killed many trainers and injured others, so the blame had been placed on her for being in its cell. The captians fury when he learned of this had been brutal, the many tassled whip had done more damage than he hoped. Her back was beyond bloody and raw, she had fled with the help of the justicar and a fellow hunter. But because the wound was so fresh and she was straining herself it was now burning, gasping she tried to lift up. Blinding white hot pain raced through, like someone placing a smiths tongs fresh from the flames on her back. 

She hit the cold ground, a cry of pain loudly rising from her split and chapped lips. Laying on her stomach she cried, her back hurt too much for her to crawl. The whipping hadn't been the last of it, he knew she was proud of her rank and skills. Her weapons, the things she owned. To the captain the whippings weren't enough, he wanted her to suffer the same way the dying and injured trainers had when the wyvern escaped. So he had her beaten, hunters didn't let dragons get close to them. They didn't form unhealthy infatuations with them, they killed dragons. Or captured them for the kings' trainers, and one mistake was all it took for a hunter be removed from their order. So she lay on her stomach, back bleeding from reopened wounds, Veliks came over and lowered his head to nudge her. Raising her hand felt heavy like she was being weighed down in water wearing heavy armor. 

Fingers gripping the bridle she tried to get up, fresh blood spread under her woolen shirt staining it a dark brown and red. Cheeks and face red from the wind and tears, her fleeing hadn't gone the way the justicar wanted it too. Hunters and guards had been called when the captain learned of her escape, so he sent them after her. On his own orders, not letting the king know one of his prized hunters had released a wyvern. Adrenaline coursing through her body she had fought her way to the stables, headed for Veliks. Anyone who got in her way was attacked, she had killed brothers of her order and any guards who came close. All because she was desperate to escape, riding out of the capital had almost cost her too. Standing on the strands, bleeding too much. She leaned into the warmth of her horse, too weak to get up in the saddle. He stayed there, listening for others trying to keep her shielded. Distant shouts and whinnies reached them, weakly she pulled herself up. Slipping and feeling her teeth collide with the leather and her only sword, grunting she forced herself up and riding again. 

It was dark by the time the shouts grew softer until no longer being heard, he had carried her far. Farther than she had been on this side of the land, five weeks. It had taken her five weeks, delirious from fever and infection. She should have left as soon as the Wyvern escaped yet she hadn't and now she was paying for it, there was so much dried blood and puss on her back she couldn't clean it properly. She had fallen from the saddle several times, always reopening her whip lashes and infecting it more. Now it was so bad she was lucky to be alive, by now she was sure her father knew of what had happened. Leaning back she stared up at the sky, surely she could see the gods.

"Victoria...." Her head jerked to the left, her eyes searching. Squinting she could have sworn she saw her mother, frowning she clicked her tongue and urged Veliks on. A hand rested on her thigh, the presence of a male figure leaning into her back. She didn't feel pain, but only warmth. A familiar scent of honeysuckle and sandalwood filled her senses, a hand-pulled her hair from her face. "Avaris..." Adrian's voice sounded behind her, her head lolled back to rest on his shoulder and instead, she found air. Gasping she felt herself falling, her sound was so sudden it spooked Veliks and he kicked. A sharp pain struck her back and side, screaming from the kick she lay wailing from the abruptness of it. Not only the kick but the feel of her shoulder and arm breaking, her arm throbbed and stung. Fresh tears left tracks in the dirt and grime on her face, yet she didn't budge. Everything hurt too much, the sound of steps had her eyes flicking up. Her mother stood over her frowning, kneeling down her hand came out to stroke her face. She closed her eyes.

Her eyes opened, she was in their hut before she was taken away. Her golden orbs had lifted, her mother's kind face was swollen from crying. Large brown eyes stared down at her, a tanned hand stroked her waves of hair. Her mother held her close, the feel of her tears falling onto her hair had her eyes closing once more. It was the day before she was sent to the capital to be trained, it was the last time she saw her mother. Maybe this was how she'd get to see her again, by becoming a disgrace for the hunters.

"Sed arcu dui, dignissim ac pulvinar sit amet, feugiat vitae magna."

CREDITS Table by Avis