The source, p.1
Dale Broda Jr
This is a work of fiction. All characters, names, places and events are from the author’s mind. Any resemblance to any actual person, location or event is coincidental.
Copyright © 2011, Dale Broda Jr
This eBook is licensed for your enjoyment. This eBook may not be re-sold. If you would like to share this book with another person, please do so while pointing them to the author. Thank you.
About this Edition.
This was supposed to be a short story in the 10k word range but as you can see, it went a bit beyond that. I also had trouble finishing it. My dearest friend in the world, who was reading it for me as a first reader and life long bud, took his own life one night a few hours after I left. Always cherish your loved ones. You never know when they will be gone.
He watched the small figure running across the plains. His own aches and pains forgotten. Where had it come from and where was it going? There was nothing for miles around. No trees. No roads. Only grass. Grass and little hills like the one he had claimed. As the figure bounced ever closer, seeming to nearly fly, he saw it more clearly.
I don’t think she’ll make it, being on foot.
The girl was small, maybe she could have hid in the grass? Maybe. It was too late at this point. Her fiery red hair streamed out behind her as she ran. She was far enough away that he could not hit her with an arrow, but he could see her well enough.
Strawberry. For some reason she reminded him of a strawberry.
A strawberry tart.
Her red hair was long. Very long. Her dress was a copper color, ripped mostly from her, exposing pale skin. She was covered in patches of dark. No telling what it was. A good guess would be mud.
From that direction, she must have crossed the Tharin. How far had she run? How long could she keep running?
Look at her go.
She ran on two legs, leaping and bounding with her head slightly forward. He was actually waiting to watch her drop to all fours for some reason. No way to tell how long she had been running.
At that pace…surely not all morning.
Yet here she was, running still. As fast as she was…and was she ever… it wouldn’t matter. Not with those he saw in pursuit. Antia hunters. A nasty bunch.
And she’s coming right for me.
Was it intentional? Could she see him? He sighed, adjusting himself to draw the small bow into position. Just in case.
Antia hunters. What are they after one small child for?
What have you done, child?
If she was a child. It was still hard to tell from here.
Damn. She does see me. The little tart is heading right at me.
It wasn’t coincidence. He could see her better now. Her eyes seemed overly bright from here and they were locked on him. He knew it. She even changed her run from the bit of a random pattern to charge directly at him.
Maybe she’s just coming for the hill?
Not that it would help her.
He watched one of the winged Antia hunters lift high into the clear sky and dart forward. Lifting his bow, grabbing a small yellow arrow, he waited. What could he do at this point? What was the best course?
As the hunter dropped down towards the girl she must have seen its shadow. Spinning on her heel, she screamed out in shock before dropping into the grass.
Well. So much for–
A red flash erupted from the winged hunter. The beast screamed as it swerved away, crashing down into the grass and tumbling for a good hundred paces. Amongst all the thrashing, another red flare bloomed around it.
Stillness. He didn’t see the rider appear.
Had she just killed them both? It looked that way. Neither mount nor hunter moved. Scanning the grass, he finally caught sight of her. The grass was parting. She was coming for him.
Still… maybe she just wants this hilltop? A last stand? One can hope.
The hunters had slowed only for a few beats, true to their nature they were soon on the hunt again. Only death would stop them and nothing would slow them for long.
And I’m right here in their path. A witness. Damn it.
Sighing, he knocked his arrow. The bow warmed in his hand. The arrow began to shimmer. He didn’t want to fight an entire hecter of hunters but he would if they gave him no choice.
Maybe if I kill the girl?
As if hearing the thought, the fiery little red headed thing sprang up and bolted for him. Somehow adding more speed. That was impressive.
Maybe she’s just–
He saw her eyes. Bright eyes locked on his own. Glaring. No doubts about it.
–damn you girl. You do see me. Do you think I’ll help?
She didn’t answer. Of course she didn’t. Her continued running was straight as any arrow he could shoot. She was not veering. Was not even looking away from him. She saw him and in him she saw a savior.
So you think.
He stood. A bit of pain tightened the muscles of his leg, causing him to inhale slightly. He did not topple. That was good. Still, it was not as much as he had expected after sitting for so long. His bow was small but it was far deadlier than any normal bow and only he could draw it. A gift, from a fallen friend, so long ago.
So the real question is, do I shoot her and them, or just them.
A loud howl ripped through the morning air. The hunters had seen him at last. The girl continued to run towards him. The hunters slowed enough to allow them to spread out a bit.
They are going to–
She spun again, casting a red spear of energy at one of the mounted hunters. It was a wasted effort. A quick hand gesture from the Antia hunter caught her little spear of power and grounded it harmlessly.
While the hunter had only slowed his striped mount, she was thrown to the ground. From here, he could hear her breathing. Not as harsh as it should be for the running and magic she was casting about.
What had she used anyways?
By the Hells I saw his shield bracelet, they all have them, but what kind of weapon had she used?
As the other two mounted hunters closed on her, she cast a desperate, silent plea his way. Her eyes more than enough to call out, no words needed. He turned his eyes away.
Don’t look at me girl, I’m not part of this.
One of the winged hunters swept over him, banked, came around to hover behind him. Damn it all, he wasn’t a part of it.
“What be you?” The Antia asked.
At least, I think that’s what he said.
The hunter had a heavily accented voice. The strange, striped beast he flew on howled.
“I’m no one.”
He felt a tug on his arm. Looking down, he was surprised to see the girl. Her eyes were large aqua pools. Blue? Green? It was hard to tell really. And he didn’t have time to study her. Not with a hecter of hunters ringing him. Or what was left of them at any rate.
He felt the tug again but turned his eyes upward, watching the hunters. He didn’t bother to look at the little tart again.
“Sir.” Her voice was like an iron toothed brush, scraping down his back. “Will you please… just…please…” Annoying.
“Shut up.” He shoved her away. “I’m not anything, tart. I’ve nothing to do with her!” He shouted at the hunters. Would it help?
They shared a look amongst themselves. All wearing matching leathers of blue and black. The leader, a purple band on his head proclaiming him as such, stood in his saddle.
“We’n know that man. You see
He frowned at the leader before lifting his bow in the air. “This little thing? Please. Let me just go on my way and you can finish your work.”
“What!?” The girl snapped. “What kind of man–”
“Shut it tart. I’m no hero and I’m not dying just so I can sleep better thinking I helped.” Wait. If he died, he wouldn’t need sleep. He must be tired, to be speaking like that. He laughed without meaning to.
It was a mistake. The leader raised his spear and flung it with such swiftness there was little to be done.
He was trying to decide which way to duck when the choice was snatched away.
A red flare bloomed around the spear, making it vanish in mid-air. Another red flare wrapped around the leader and began to burn. “T’hn ach’brd!!” Whatever the Hells he shouted, judging by the actions of the others, part of it must have roughly translated to ‘Kill them!’ as all the remaining hunters began to move at once.
With no choice at this point, he spun around, loosing arrows at the flying hunters. He only had to draw the small bow back a finger length or so and let go. The string snapped yet the arrow remained in place. Instead, a dart of yellow shot towards the hunters. Phantom arrows made from pure fire.
It ripped through the mount’s head and popped out the hunter’s back, continuing on, vanishing into the sky. The other exploded through the winged mount but didn’t touch the hunter.
As the man fell, he drew and released. This arrow caught the hunter,
by Dale Broda, Jr have rating 2.8 out of 5 / Based on17 votes