Chapter 11.1Mature

Beth had finished washing Thail and was now brushing out her mane back in the stables. Storm had followed her.

“Can I help you?” she asked, raising an eyebrow at him.

He smiled his lopsided grin that she noticed was a trait of his.

“No,” he said, shaking his head, still grinning.

“Then why are you following me?”

“You're a very interesting woman,” he replied.

She held up her left hand. “Taken,” was all she said.

He rolled his eyes. “I know.”


He said nothing else, simply watching her with the Sarmiine.

“That creature,” she said, “the one who brought you that--” She nodded at the package still in his hand. “--what is it?”

“It has no name. It's older than this city, and that's saying something. They live their lives alone in the forest beyond the walls. I don't trust the Sarmiine much.” He eyed Thail suspiciously. “He is my friend and mount.”

Beth thought about this as she kept to the rhythm of brushing Thail's mane.

“Are you going to that ball tonight?” she asked, looking over at him.

“I must: occupational obligation.”

“Are you Evil's only guard or something?”

He nodded. “Yes. There are guards of the city, obviously, but they do not enter the walls. Then again, I don't much either.”

“What do you mean?”

“I come in when we have new visitors, or accompany Evil to meetings beyond the city, or to those with the gentry or the aristocracy, which often take place here.”

“Where are you the rest of the time then?”


“I might need to know where you are one day,” she shrugged, smiling cheekily.

“Oh yes?” he laughed. “And whatever would that be for?”

“We'll find out, won't we?”

“I suppose we will. You would like to know where I live then?” She nodded. “I'll show you. It's outside the walls; you will need to ride.”

“And you?”

He grinned again. “I take to the skies, not the back of a land creature. Come.”

Storm turned and left. Beth turned to Thail.

“I suppose we'd best follow him.”

Thail whinnied in response. She followed Beth without even a command. Storm was waiting in the courtyard, looking around the skies. The leather-skinned creature returned. As it landed, it squawked something at him that made him grin. He replied to it in that softly spoken language. It crowed at him before lowering itself so he could climb on. Even as he sat awkwardly on the beast, his grace was boundless.

As Beth was about to clamber up on the back of Thail, the Sarmiine knelt down on all knees before her, meaning she could sit more comfortably on her back, though still side-saddle. Thail stood carefully.

The End

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