Outcast (Part 20)

August 23, 2011
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I gaped at Moonarcher. “Tomorrow?”

He nodded. Then as if realizing who I was, he bowed. “Princess.”

I nodded in his direction. The girl who sat on the floor stood. She bowed stiffly and said to Moonarcher. “I’m going out for a while. I’ll be back by the morning.”

Moonarcher nodded and the girl left.

“That was Moonsong.” Moonarcher said. “You must forgive her. She’s untrusting of all people, for reasons that I cannot say.”

I nodded. “How did you earn her trust? If you don’t mind my asking, of course.”

Moonrider handed me a cup of hot coffee. I sat down and motioned for the men to sit. Moonrider sat beside me and Moonarcher sat across from me and smiled.

“She was surrounded by several brigands. You can see that she is quite beautiful and you might know what those men had in mind. She had already dispatched of most of them, but the four biggest were still advancing. I scared them off. She travelled with me for a time and I saved her life two more times. Moonsong is reckless. I suppose that, by saving her life thrice, I earned her trust.”

I remained silent.

Moonarcher looked alarmed. “Have I offended you in some way, my lady?”

“Oh. No. I was thinking. I’m sorry. I should have said something.” I said.

“Princess.”

I turned. Dafar stood at the opening of the tent.

“Yes?”

“Lady Moonsong wishes to see you.”

I stood. Moonrider grabbed my arm. His beautiful, silver eyes were full of worry. Moonarcher also looked worried.

“Be careful, Princess. Moonsong is sly.” Moonarcher said.

I nodded and walked out of the tent. Moonsong sat mounted on a white horse. “You wished to speak with me?” I said.

She nodded. “But not here. Too many ears.”

I nodded and whistled to Nightflame, keeping my eyes on Moonsong. Nightflame whickered and came over. I mounted and together Moonsong and I rode into the dense forest on the far side of the valley. Several times, I glanced at her. She was scowling, and she never looked at me. We came to a clearing where she brought her horse to a stop. She leapt off her horse and I slid off Nightflame. She stood perfectly straight, with her arms crossed.

“Why are we here?” I asked.

“I don’t trust you. I don’t think that you are who you say you are.”

I chose my words carefully, noting that she was armed and I was not. “Who do you think I am?”

Moonsong didn’t respond.

“What color were the first Queen’s eyes?”

Moonsong snorted. “Moongazer’s eyes were golden. The whole World knows this.”

“Do you know what color my eyes are?”

“Does it matter?”

“Yes. Only the one destined to be the Moon Holder Queen has golden eyes.”

“And I suppose you believe this is you?”

I stared at her.

“Only a true Moon Holder Princess would know how to fight like Moongazer.”

It took me a moment to realize that she was challenging me to a fight. “You don’t want a fight, Moonsong.”

She hissed through her teeth and pulled a long dagger out of her belt.

“I’m serious.”

She threw herself at me and I barely had enough to jump back before the dagger impaled my throat. I vaguely remembered when, in Vlad’s castle, I pulled my dagger out of the air. If Moonsong noticed, she didn’t show it on her face. A look of surprise covered her face when I got my dagger into her arm. She clearly wasn’t expecting me to fight back. I had the offensive now. I’m not one to brag, but I’m a fierce fighter. But this fight was reminding me of two children squabbling over a toy. I was keeping Moonsong back. I saw the moonlight glint off a piece of metal and assumed it was Moonsong’s dagger. Then there was a searing pain in my right check and I felt blood run down it. Moonsong, panting, stared at me with wide eyes. I realized then that it could not have been Moonsong. I looked around the clearing. On the far side was an arrow. I picked it up. The arrowhead was made with the same metal that the knife that had killed Ixol had been. I threw it to the ground quickly, but not before the black flames crawled up my arm.





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