the blooded archer
The Blooded Archer is an on-going serialization I started for the weekly 100 word writing challenge The Prediction. Enjoy the evolving story here… 😉
Pressing fingertips to tattooed temples, Olivare glared at the broad-shouldered woman looking repentant on the other side of the bar. By Lara’s omission of a particular golden owl being sighted the evening before, Arshad had slipped quietly into the city without Olivare’s notice. Plans she’d made, with regard to the Fallen Rose Prince, were now completely useless.
Goosebumps prickled her arms a mere moment before the man himself slipped inside the tavern. His fierce gilt eyes found hers, burning hotter than the Hellborne Sun.
Olivare’s eyes narrowed. She had not outrun nine Tavashanar to be dragged back to court.
(Challenge words: owl, omission, rose)
Insult to Injury
Lara was immediately enthralled by Arshad’s heated gaze, her lids drooping drunkenly as he stalked towards the bar. Mouth thinning, Olivare made a terse sound in her throat, a multi-toned whinny, that snapped Lara upright. The woman blinked in confusion, hand reaching uncertainly for the Davorsha dagger on her hip, as Arshad seated himself.
“Don’t serve many of your kind at the Lady’s Thorn,” Olivare said, pouring a generous portion of dark Tandack wine into a clean glass.
“I’d expected to find my Blooded Archer in a brothel, not tending a bar.”
Lara’s dagger slammed between Arshad’s fingers. “Apologize!”
(Challenge words: archer, lid, whinny)
“Calm, She-wolf,” Arshad said, voice even despite the blade kissing his tattooed fingers. Though hemmed in by Lara, increasingly indignant, and Galarian, a stone-faced bouncer who always materialized when discord called, Arshad took the glass from Olivare and emptied it with a single swallow. Almost instantly the wakefulness in his eyes dimmed.
“Came all this way to serve insults, did you?”
“The Tavashanar want you back, damned fools,” Arshad slurred. He frowned, as the glass slipped from his hand.
“I learned one thing from the whores,” Olivare said, smiling.
Slumping sideways, Arshad was enveloped in Galarian’s enormous, muscled arms.
(Challenge words: wake, envelop, hem)
Waking with a cough more death rattle than mere clearing of sabulous throat, Arshad flexed his arms and discovered he was bound, quite tightly, to a rather uncomfortable chair. “Is this really necessary?” he said.
Olivare, sitting opposite him, looked up from dismantling one of his prized short bows. “I’ve had a most interesting chat with your amanuensis. It seems you have been remiss in advising the Tavashanar of your…expedition.”
Arshad shrugged, seemingly unconcerned. “Better to seize your quarry, than report mere discovery.”
She pursed her lips. “This isn’t about them. You. You need something. Why come for me?”
(Challenge words: amanuensis, bow, rattle)
Reigniting old memories, Arshad eyed Olivare with an unwelcome familiarity that brought both pleasant heat and an uncomfortable tightness to her chest. She bared her teeth, an alpha reminding dominance. When he smiled, lips twisting smugly, Olivare tightened her grip on the unstrung bow, and struck him, hard, across the face.
Blood sprayed as Arshad convulsed sideways, nearly toppling the chair. His anger flared visibly, but quickly vanished into the controlled refulgence of his gold eyes. “I would have left you alone.”
“The Tantaira have opened the Bore.”
Olivare hissed, fingers curling unbidden into a ward against evil.
(Challenge words: alpha, convulse, refulgent)
To Extend Sight
She’d left his hands bound, but merely to annoy him, and by the time they’d reached the top of the rocky hill, Arshad had dropped the rope somewhere along the trail. The hike had covered both of them in sweat, and Olivare scraped fingers through her damp, wind-tangled hair, as she surveyed the lights of Alatashara far below.
“I find it easier to channel up here, away from all the noise,” Olivare said.
Arshad nodded, watching as her eyes filmed to white. Energy thrummed around them, and the scent of burning cinnamon replaced the lingering petrichor from the morning’s storm.
(Challenge words: alpha, convulse, refulgent)
Despite his familiarity with Olivare’s power, Arshad’s muscles remained wound for flight, as elaborate, pulsing webs of gold energy flickered and died beneath her sweat-damp skin. She looked at him, eyes returning to emerald, and wiped a trickle of blood from her nose.
“It’s true,” she said, voice flat.
Arshad nodded. “Yes. Worse still, the Magus claims the dawn-web cannot be mended again.”
More blood trickled from Olivare’s nose and she swiped at it absently, leaving zebra-like stripes across her cheek and chin. It was dangerous to draw on the old magic, but damned lethal if the Bore remained open.
(Challenge words: elaborate, mend, zebra)
His tough skin resisted the blade Olivare reflexively slashed across his throat, releasing a thin line of watery, wine-dark blood instead of the expected surge. The Tantarian priest grinned, his single eye burning feverishly, as he summoned black fire into one scarred hand. He was tall and gaunt, his naked body baked to a dull umber from a lifetime exposed to the harsh sun. Somehow he’d dropped Arshad to the ground without touching him.
Olivare stepped defensively over Arshad’s motionless body and raised her feathered blade. “You shouldn’t have come,” she said. She summoned her own hell fire.
(Challenge words: bake, feather, tough)
After the Fact
Olivare was watching the sun melt into the distant mountains when Arshad regained consciousness. Curses filled his mouth, followed by dirt, as unbidden reflexes flipped him violently off the unfamiliar horse. Unfortunately his body did not manage a graceful maneuver, resulting in a split upper lip and an incensed expression.
“What happened?” he demanded.
“A Tantarian priest,” Olivare said, unable to resist a grin. “You went down like a lame horse.”
Arshad felt at his throat.
“Oh I took your amulet earlier. Very useful, negating thrown spells. Glare all you want, but if I’d dropped first, we’d both be dead.”
(Challenge words: lame, mouth, upper)