“Stalker?!” Mauorc cried incredulously, “I’m not a stalker! Don’t flatter yourself darling. You’re pretty, yes, but stalker-worthy? I think you overestimate yourself.” The Nymph looked taken aback with the sudden change in his appraisal of her.

She is very pretty, and smart, and funny. But she doesn’t need to know that, she might try use it against me… Would that be a bad thing?

“Besides, “Mauorc continued, “What makes you think I’d be all the way out here just to follow you? Are you worth following little Nymph?” he finished with a smirk. The Nymph flustered a bit in her indignation but Mauorc spoke again before she could form a coherent sentence.

“Now don’t hurt yourself. I’m sure you’re a hit with the male Nymphs.” Mauorc smirked, then furrowed his brow in thought. “There are male Nymphs, right?”. The Nymph was starting to look very angry.

Oh, did I strike a nerve little Nymph?

The Nymph just stared at Mauorc flatly, emotions once again under control. Mauorc tried to recall everything he knew about Nymphs, which was easy because he didn’t know much. Most that was said about Nymphs was pure speculation and stories told to children to keep them from wandering in the woods. He was pretty certain there had to be male Nymphs, how else would they have kids?

“So why did you come back? I don’t believe for a second that you thought I was a stalker, you’re far too smart for that Nymphy.”

So much for not letting her know I think she’s smart. Me and my stupid big mouth.

The Nymphs expression softened slightly and she tilted her head at Mauorc. Her hair falling over her shoulder and framing her face. Mauorc couldn’t help but straighten his posture and run a hand through his hair to make sure it wasn’t too dishevelled from their brief but frantic chase.

“I was genuinely curious about the bumbling idiot running through the forest when he clearly doesn’t belong here” the Nymph finally answered, smirking. Mauorc chuckled as stepped towards the Nymph with an outstretched hand.

“Well I suppose introductions are in order then. I’m a bumbling idiot, pleased to make your acquaintance Miss Nymph” Mauorc said, smiling as he bowed formally, taking her hand. As he straightened out of his bow Mauorc heard a thwack beside him. He spun to see an arrow sprouting from the tree beside him at chest height. He turned, shocked, towards the Nymph as she pushed him to the ground as another arrow slammed into the tree beside the first.

The Nymph already had her bow out and an arrow drawn and ready to loose. Mauorc scrambled for cover, feeling extremely exposed in the small clearing. He scanned the tree line trying to locate the shooter. Another arrow lodged itself in the tree Mauorc had taken cover behind but he had no idea where it had come from. The Nymph, however, had already loosed an arrow back the way it had come and it was greeted by a scream as an archer fell from a tree with an arrow through his shoulder. The ground ended the scream with a deafening silence.

The silence was short-lived, as soon, more arrows came pouring into the clearing. By then the Nymph had taken cover behind a tree near Mauorc. To his surprise she didn’t look the least bit scared.

Well, she did stare down a fully grown bear. What would she have to fear from bandits?

Suddenly the arrows ceased. The Nymph looked over to Mauorc, motioning him to stay put as she sprung up into the tree she had been hiding behind and notched another arrow and loosed it almost immediately. It too was met by a scream of pain as her arrow again found its mark.

“We just want the elf!” a voice called from the trees. The Nymph looked down at Mauorc before sending another arrow soaring through the trees in search of a target. This one was met by curses and the sound of men scrambling for cover.

Did she just look disapproving that they are looking for me?! How is that her first reaction? What have I gotten myself into with this Nymph?

Mauorc opened his mouth to call out to his attackers only to be met with a stick in the face. He looked up to see the Nymph put her finger over her lips before she turned back to scan the trees. He wasn’t sure, but Mauorc thought he saw her smiling as she turned away from him.

If we get out of this, you will pay for that little Nymph. Preferably when you don’t have a bow close to hand.

Arrows continued to fly both ways through the clearing as the Nymph returned fire on the attackers that Mauorc still hadn’t managed to exactly locate yet. An arrow struck the branch the Nymph was perched on and she wavered momentarily but recovered her balance and dropped from the tree gracefully to land behind it once more. She turned away from Mauorc as she searched for more targets and he eyed her lithe figure. She seemed so small and fragile, and yet she had saved his life and was now defending him from people she didn’t know. He couldn’t see her get hurt.

Mauorc stepped out into the clearing with his hands raised and called to his attackers, “I’m here, stop shooting. I’ll come quietly.” His surrender was answered by several arrows streaking through the air directly at him. He rolled out of the way and dived back behind the trees. The Nymph was crouched behind a tree looking dumbfounded at him.

“I guess they don’t mind if I’m filled with arrows when they get me” he joked, trying to put a brave face on his ridiculous attempt of self-sacrifice. The Nymph just shook her head in bewilderment and went back to scanning the forest.

Great first impression. Get chased by a bear, then get attacked and then try to be a hero and fail miserably. What is it about this Nymph that makes things go so wrong for me?

When Mauorc snapped out of his thoughts he realised the Nymph had vanished. How she had managed to disappear from so close to him was a mystery, but he didn’t have time to worry about that. He heard a twig snap to his left and knew it couldn’t be the Nymph. He launched a knife through the brush and heard the satisfying thud as a body dropped to the ground. He pulled out his daggers and moved further into the forest, hoping the Nymph would be okay on her own.


The End

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