There's much to be said for having two feet planted firmly on the ground. I can't break a wing and fall three hundred feet, where I shatter all my bones and land as a big bloody stain to be spooned up later. Other dragons don't do that. They fight back. He had a point. Still, she wasn't willing to give it to him. Why not?
I'll go with it. I've seen much stranger things in my day — like a kikimora who gives up her immortality to be a dirt farmer in some backwoods village kingdom no one's ever heard of. She rolled her eyes at his sarcasm over their mother's decision that he still held against her. Meanwhile, the dreamer in Edilyn thought it was the most romantic thing she'd ever heard of.
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Sadly, she'd never met a man as honorable as her father. Nor as loving or fierce. If one existed, he definitely didn't live in Penllyn. It was little wonder that her mother had been so reluctant to let go of so rare an individual as her father. Such a unicorn needed to be cherished and kept. Edilyn cast a wistful smile at Virag. Like my father was. May you never live to regret the decisions you make. In a flash of white light, he vanished inside it. Edilyn carefully picked the bottle up and secured it to her neck by the thick black leather cord, then settled it in the pocket of her tunic.
Laughing at his dry tone, she obliged him and placed the bottle to hang outside her orange tunic so that he'd be able to see as it swung loose about her neck. Then, she grabbed the handcrafted bow her father had made for her so that she could leave for the Great Hall, where the day's celebration should be in full swing.
But as always, her heart wasn't in the coming festivities, and it definitely wasn't light. A sane woman would give it up and let go this useless pursuit of her heart. With a deep breath, she glanced about the sparse, unwelcoming room that had served as her dormer since the day her father had died in battle. How she prayed that after today she'd look at it no more. Nor would she be forced to work in the dreadful fields with the other impoverished orphans the church had taken in. That this year, she'd finally succeed in making Brenin Cynfryn realize that she could stand as a warrior without a dragon lord to partner with.
Determined to be steadfast in her goal, she took her weathered war bow into her gloved hand. Yet as she did so, an unbidden memory of the previous eight years of failure and heartache brought a most bitter lump to her throat. Don't think about it. The past didn't matter. Today would be different. She could feel it deep in her bones. Destiny would finally take note of her and reward her diligent persistence. Hoping desperately that she wasn't lying to herself — again — Edilyn lifted her chin.
She slung her brown leather quiver over her shoulder before making her way from the small hut toward the Great Hall where everyone in her village had gone for the day's celebration and test of arms. For the last eight years on this very day, she'd won every game she'd participated in. Everyone knew that, like her father before her, she was the best archer among them. Her sword skills were at the top of their clan — while she could be overpowered, she could never be out-skilled. She'd even won the obstacle footrace. She categorically refused to let her negative thoughts impugn her courage or undermine her confidence as she neared the massive building that dominated their small town.
Nothing and no one would get in her way. Not this time. One way or another, she was going to prove to them all that she was worthy of being one of the brenin's marchawgion. Concerned that angry shout might be directed at her, Edilyn slowed as she neared the oversized oak doors that were marked with ornate iron hinges.
Then she realized the two guards shoved at an old man who was dressed in dirty rags and matted furs. With an admirable obstinacy, the old man refused to budge.
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Is this not open to all? Oversized and in the shape of a wolf's head, the cowl revealed no trace of his features. This time, they shoved him so forcefully that the one would have fallen had Edilyn not caught him. But that charity cost her, as it was quite painful when his back slammed into her front, proving that he was much heavier and more hale than his shabby, hunched-over appearance gave him credit for.
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Stifling her cry of pain, Edilyn helped him regain his balance before she stepped away to address the guards. George's Day. Should we not all be on our best behavior? After all, that blessed saint gave away everything he had before he died to those who were less fortunate. Surely we can find a modicum of charity for those in need? The guard sneered at her. Instead, Edilyn cast a kind smile to the old man, who was strangely quiet now. Stenches can be washed off. But an ass today is an ass tomorrow. The guard curled his lip as Edilyn boldly took the old man's arm, and in direct defiance of their cruelty, led him inside.
However, her victory was short-lived as the guard's parting words struck her like a blow. Never mind with whom. The other guard laughed at his snide tone while she ground her teeth, refusing to give them the satisfaction of knowing that those cruel words had struck their mark, and left another bloody wound on her heart. She smiled at the old man's kindness and patted his arm. Poor thing must be blind as well as indigent.
But I'm no lady. Merely a simple archer's daughter. Worse, she's being hunted by one of the most lethal vampires out there.
And if Amanda Devereaux goes down, then he does too. But it's not just their lives that are hanging in the balance. Kyrian and Amanda are all that stands between humanity and oblivion. Let's hope they win.
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