5. Gypsies

I’d once thought that Lady Electron had been the easiest prey to track and now that I was in earnest tracking her, I stand by that statement. Her patterns of travel were so predictable; she rode hard during the day, stopping occasionally to check her location on her map before starting up again. She did not ride past the sunset, and she never bothered to hide her camping grounds. She either knew I’d follow her and was being overly careless or she’d really thought she’d lost me and was truly this careless.  Either way, her traveling was sloppy, even a bumbling blind man would be able to track her. I was able to hide both our tracks and still be to find her after a nights distance.

Most dangerous of all her offenses was her ignorance. She did not know enough to respect the earth and fear those places that are best to be feared. Even as her horse shiver in fear as it passed over haunted ground, she kept on indifferently. I could hardly bear to travel some parts with her and would take the longer, safer path around the area and continue my hunt when she crossed the offending territory.  Even though we were separate, for all intents and purposes, she still annoyed the daylights out of me, with the things she did or the signs she didn’t notice. She just trotted around with her arrogant princess nose in the air, as if inviting fate to come kick the horse out from under her and leave her stranded in the Westway Tombs.

After she moseyed through the burnt forest of lost warriors, a dark sinister patch of earth marked by scorch marks that not even the falling snow could tame. The trees were burnt and dead, broken branches jutted up from the ground, frozen in their mournful stance. The ground was stained with the blood of the soldiers that had died in the battle between Russia and Romania. It was obvious to me that she just had no care for her well being. I knew even she could feel the presence of the spirits and hear the distant battle wails. She seemed to think she was invincible or that her life had no worth to be protected from the haunted grounds.

I was puzzled.

She reminded me of a wolf I’d hunted once for the Emperor. She’d been a white wolf; of course, I had yet to chase a black or brown wolf since I’d met the Emperor. I’d liked this wolf; she was fun, a real challenge to hunt. Her footsteps seemed to disappear in the snow, and her scent got carried away on the soft midnight breezes. I’d chased her for a week, night and day. Neither of us had eaten or slept during that week, I was ready to die in pursuit of her for I couldn’t kill her now. She’d bested me, if anything she’d be the one to end my life.

Then I found her lying, by a slowly trickling stream, resting by the edge collapsed exhaustedly.

I saluted her. She was the only one to out run me, to beat me.

I stooped to drink and then I’d leave. But as I caught the wolf’s eye she looked dolefully at me. It was not the defiant gaze I remembered as I’d hunted her; that fierce valiant gaze. We stared at each other for a long moment before she closed her eyes and breathed tiredly into the snow. I realized then, I’d won, just when I was about to give in she did. I was disappointed, saddened that so divine a beast should resign so easily. I’d given her back her life only for her to abandon it by the stream. She’d been broken, and it was that same shattered soul I saw in Electron now.

For some odd reason or another, Lady Electron had quit the game of her life before her close, and now she simply waited for the end. She did not care what form her end took and therefore paid no heed to the warnings of the world. I could hardly stand her insolence; I was close to breaching the tracking distance between us just to slap some sense into that woman. But I didn’t, I was not yet ready to face her again. I don’t know if I would ever be able to now that she knew my shame.

Two weeks into the journey she reached a marsh that signaled the last divider between Russia and Ukraine. It was late afternoon; the sun was faint, and the sky a milky gray. Lady Electron knew enough to trend carefully here. She climbed off her horse and began to lead him over the sleek, frosted surface. But she wasn’t careful enough. She stopped her journey shortly after entering the marsh and made camp. She started a small fire but it was big enough to attract unwanted company. She sat silently with her bag in her lap. I watched her curiously as she gazed at something hidden in her bag. At this distance I could hear a faint crackle; it was much like the noise I’d heard back at the inn. I watched her closely squinting to get a better look as she raised the object in her hand. It was a locket, a small bulbous look that seemed to glow blue from an inner light. She looked intently in to the look as if scrutinizing her reflection or the face the locket contained.

Oh how I ached to see what she kept in there. She snapped the locket shut and little crackling stopped. Had that noise come from the locket? Curious. I attention was ripped from Electron and her doings as a sudden a movement in my peripheral vision brought me back to my surroundings. In my curiosity, I’d forgotten to stay alert. This had never happened to me before. I turned quickly to look, hoping there was still time to rectify the mistake.

            A group of five men, one on a horse the others rode ponies, all bundled in ratty cloaks and layered scarves. Their hair was long and scraggly and their dark copper skin was indistinguishable from their dirty cloaks.Gypsies! They’d come out of nowhere, as gypsies are prone to do.

I looked over to Electron had she seen them. Over at her campfire Lady Electron was as lady like as ever. She sat like a swan on a lake gracefully roasting her small meal, the only sign she made of having noticed them was she now sat on top of her pack hiding it under her wide dress. I smiled, she was so cute, as if that would stop them, she should’ve run, she had a stallion that might’ve worked. But then again this was frozen marsh she was on, marshes were difficult enough to maneuver on their own but when they were frozen you didn’t want to travel faster than a slow walk or travel heavier than a starving fox. I knew I’d have to aid her, but I didn’t immediately move I knew better than that. Your prey’s defense is weakest when they are hunting and they see not you. I pulled my box over my shoulder grabbed an arrow and loaded the bow slowly, biding my time. The gypsies had reached Electron now and gathered menacingly around her. They dismounted and ambled about her campsite surveying the area. Electron said something with the darling-ist face and in the sweetest of manners but the gypsies grew angry at it and kicked snow on to her little roast. Electron remained cool. I was not so the gypsies behind her had drawn their weapons. The man in front of her grabbed hold of her arm and yanked her to her feet. Electron hissed at him. This I did hear as it range through the little valley and seemed to crackle eerily warning what was to come. The gypsies’ ponies and horse neighed fearfully before scampering off. Electron’s stallion would’ve done the same but its reigns were caught. The gypsies watched Electron closely and hesitated to grab her bag until their leader still holding Electrons arm yelled them into grabbing it.

Electron whispered something to the leader and he laughed before raising his hand to slap Electron. He nearly managed it too.

The End

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