Here’s a little sneak peek at my work in progress:
Everything is still. I am unmoving on the Northshore, watching from the trees. Watching the sky and the sea and the land. The morning, the land, and even the sea is still today, though the wind blows. It’s like the coast is waiting, but for what I don’t know. And then I do.
A girl appears on the Northshore, and nothing inside of me is still, for I recognize her instantly, as anyone would.
Her face is known throughout this land. I’ve never seen it so close, though I’m hardly close to her at all. She is all red and white in the dawn, her hair like a muddy chestnut and her skin like tea that’s mostly cream. She is glued to the back of her horse, a mare, like the two of them have been a pair for years. Even from this distance, I can tell her mount is fine. Muscles bunch and stretch under her grey coat and her ears flick back and forth, listening to the girl on her back. Her mouth chews at a snaffle bit, and she is supple and round as she works. Her chest is barely lathered, though they must have run from the palace. She’s a strong mount for a seemingly delicate rider.
Aeryn’s hands let the reins go and her horse slows instantly. She dismounts after many steps, and they way she pats her mare tugs a smile from my mouth. Until I realize I’m smiling at the girl who would harm the flying horses. What is she doing so far from home without guards? I could kill her easily, I’m sure of it. Maybe even before she could scream if my aim was right. My hand reaches for my blade. Without her this ruling family would be half its size and without an heir.
My hand tightens on the hilt of the knife, and I aim for her throat. It’ll be a clean kill if I land my mark. Bloody, but clean. My hand doesn’t shake, for I love the flying horses more than I love my future queen. I take one step to align my target and Aeryn’s head pops up to search out the sound of my footfall. I freeze. Her eyes are so green they dance like clovers in the wind and I feel them on me even though she can’t see me. I’m pinned by those eyes for a second. She turns back to her horse, and I know if I don’t throw it now I never will. Eyes make life, and now I’ve seen hers. I try to find the anger I had a moment ago. I find it and I grab it and steady my arm. The blade will fly true.
I hear her gasp. The sound is one of pain or awe, and I haven’t thrown yet so it must be the latter. And then I feel it.
I see it dancing on the wind and I pray to God the princess doesn’t have a bow on her. The dark flying horse plays in the eddies of the air and I cannot breathe because he is gorgeous and she will kill him. Onyx. The black Sciathan is nothing but ink and velvet.
If I don’t kill her now, the best of the Sciathan will die by her hand or her will. The king of the flying horses cannot die.
My eyes leave Onyx and search out my target again. I pull my arm back as my eyes find her. The muscles in my forearm flex as I aim to throw. Onyx screams above us, and I check the motion at the last moment.
Her face. It’s all red and white and awe. Not anger or determination or hate. It’s an open mouthed grin and wide eyes. It’s caught breath and frozen muscles. She is awed by the best of the Sciathan, and as he disappears into Carraig’s mist I see her mouth move.
“Beautiful,” falls soft and perfect from her lips.
My blade falls at my feet.
Stay tuned for Anne’s No Rules Friday next week.