KatieParticipantFebruary 1, 2019 at 9:24 amPost count: 4
“I’m just going to put it out there,” Bishop said, scrubbing a hand across his face, “that was painful.”
She had to agree. The “Prince of Song’s”, well, song, was indeed painful. Why she’d thought it a good idea, that was a mystery.
“He calls that singing?” he said, his voice betraying just how thoroughly annoyed he was. “Honestly! I could do better than that, and I’d probably sound like a dying horker.”
Karys smiled, shaking her head. Karnwyr let out a low whine and she bent down, giving him a scratch under his chin, one of his favorite places. “You’d probably do better,” she said to the wolf, ruffling his fur.
“I heard that!”
“Good,” she said, straightening. “You were meant to.”
“So, what now, ladyship? What new tortures have you devised?”
She smiled deviously. “How about some draugr-killing action?”
Bishop laughed. “Ah, one of the many reasons I -”
He cut himself off abruptly, turning away, and Karys wondered just what he was going to say – and knew that as tight-lipped as her ranger could be, she’d never find out.
Bishop liked to keep things close to the vest.
“Let’s go,” he said instead. “My ears are bleeding. I may never be the same.”
Smirking, she put her hand on her dagger, as if for comfort, and led the way out of Windhelm.
“These people are so incredibly weak,” she heard him say. “Oh, it’s so cold, I just may freeze to death! Please, you have houses to keep you warm and toasty, don’t give me that shit.”
“Is there anything else you’d like to add?” Karys asked, cocking a brow. “Maybe some more expletives? I know that’s kind of your thing.”
He glanced at her. “You do agree, though, don’t you, princess?”
“Agree with what?”
“How self-absorbed and pathetic these people are. They’ve never known tragedy or the struggle of survival, and yet they feel they have the right to complain, to feel bad for themselves.” A low growl. “Fuck them. Fuck all of them.”
There’s the expletives, she thought. Is he done now?
“Are you done now?” she asked. “Not that I don’t appreciate your rant, but I don’t think it’s going to change anything.”
He sighed. “Alright, I’m done. Can we just get to the killing already? There hasn’t been nearly enough blood today.”
Karys chuckled. “You’d have liked to spill Alec’s blood, wouldn’t you?”
He didn’t even hesitate. “Absolutely.”
“Well, too bad for you. Rotting corpses are just going to have to do.”
They trudged out of the city in comfortable silence, Bishop and Karnwyr traveling slightly behind, with a quiet bark every couple of minutes or so from the wolf, who was apparently the only one interested in conversation.
“Ooh! Crimson creeper!” she said, running to the orange-brown weeds and yanking them up.
Bishop sighed again. “Really? This again? Why can’t you just buy them from an apothecary like any normal person?”
“Because then I’d have to spend time around people,” she said, tucking the crimson creeper into her pack, “and that’s something I try to avoid if I can.”
“Well, you’re not doing a very good job of it with me,” he said.
She slid him a sideways glance. “You’re different,” she said finally. “Somehow, you manage not to annoy me as much as the rest of everyone else we’ve run into. Compared to them, on a scale of one to obnoxious, you’re like a seven-point-two. Close, but not awful.”
“Truly,” he said dryly, “I’m flattered.”
“As you should,” she said, adjusting the straps on her pack and getting to her feet. “Come on. Maybe we can shed some blood before nighttime.”
Indeed, the sun was sinking down the horizon, marking the end of the day, and something inside Karys loosened. For someone who’s sole purpose on this planet seemed to be serving everyone but herself, she had to admit that she did it to herself.
She could, as Bishop continually suggested, just leave them to die. Sit back and watch as the dragons, the supposed ‘end of the world’, consumed them all.
Yet she couldn’t. For whatever reason, she would not. She would fight to her very last breath, no matter if her death came from her continued protection of others.
“Lost in thought, eh, ladyship?” Bishop asked as they trekked farther out into the cold, farther away from civilization. “Too much thinking might break your brain.”
She rolled her eyes. “Maybe for you, it would. I happen to actually be intelligent.”
“Ouch,” he said sarcastically. “That hurt.”
She lifted a shoulder. “Hey, you started it.”
From just a few feet away a menacing growl came their way. Bishop reached behind him for his bow and shot off an arrow before she could even react. It zipped straight through the air, piercing cleanly through the side of the bear that had spotted them. The bear let out a low growl before falling to the ground.
Whatever else you might say about him – and there was more than a little – he was a very good shot.
But she was better.
“That wasn’t nearly enough blood for me,” he said, tucking his bow behind his back. “You’re right. I say we go back and show that bard just how awful his singing is. He deserves to die for that performance.”
Continuing on, Karys didn’t bother agreeing, though she did. Alec’s performance had been awful, and she’d allowed herself to be flaunted as some title for his ‘grand’ performance.
She hated herself a little.
“Listen, it’s getting pretty dark. How about we make camp?”
She nodded. She was getting tired, anyway. Even being a dragon in human skin, she didn’t have an unlimited pool of stamina.
Not to mention she was still recovering from getting shot in the side by that bastard bandit’s arrow earlier in the day, and a good night’s rest would help her heal.
She lay down her pack as Bishop helped her set up camp.
Karys laid down some firewood, then let the flames spark to life in her palm. She concentrated on the wood, then directed the flames at them. Immediately it burst to life, the campfire lighting up around them with a cozy glow of warmth.
“You hungry?” Bishop asked, coming to sit beside her.
She tucked her knees under her chest. “No. But your wolf probably is.”
Bishop glanced at Karnwyr, who had somehow managed to find a bone and was now vigorously gnawing on it. Maybe from the bear? Who knew.
“No, I think he’s fine.”
The flames were making her sleepy, but she forced herself to stay awake. “Bishop?” she asked quietly, into the darkness.
Beside her, Bishop’s face was illuminated, showcasing his rugged good looks. He turned to look at her. “Yeah, princess?”
“Do you…do you regret traveling with me?”
His eyebrows raised. “That’s an odd question. Might I ask where this is coming from?”
She sighed, tightening her arms around her body. “I just…I’m constantly getting you into danger, and for what? What are you getting out of this?”
“Besides the fact you’re nice to look at?”
She groaned. “Yes, besides that,” she said, staring into the flames.
“We’ve been traveling together for what, three months now?”
Slowly, she nodded. “Sounds about right.”
“Do you really think, sweetness, that I’m here just to be nice?”
Since nice wasn’t really in her traveling companion’s repertoire, she had to agree that was unlikely. “No,” she said at last.
“I’m here because I…I care about you. As hard as that is to believe. I’ve never, in my many years of being alive, cared about anyone but myself – with the exception of Karnwyr, of course. I’m selfish, by nature. Do you know how hard I fought not to care about you?”
She smiled. “I take it it’s a losing battle?”
“Yes,” he said at last. “Extremely so. Do you know when I finally decided to stop trying?”
“Today. After that…performance.”
Her brow crinkled. “Why then?”
His eyes smoldered as he turned to look at her. “Because today I realized the thought of you with anyone else is enough to make me want them dead. Am I possessive? Perhaps. But ladyship…you’re the only one I want. And I have the patience to wait for you as long as I have to.”
Quietly, she said, “And if I never want to be with you?”
He sighed deeply. “Well, then. I guess I’ll be waiting a very long time.”
“Why, though?” she persisted. “You’re…you. You could have anyone.”
His hand gently wrapped around her wrist, his thumb stroking her palm. “Yeah, I probably could. But as I said, I don’t want anyone else.”
“I…” she stopped, not exactly knowing what to say. “I…I’m scared.”
“Of me?” he asked, raising a dark brow.
“No. Of being hurt. I’ve been alone for so long, I’m not sure I know how to trust anyone. Kind of like you. But I do. Trust you, I mean. I just don’t know if I have enough trust to give you my heart.”
He sighed. “I don’t blame you, princess. I’m not exactly…relationship material. But I will never hurt you. As soon as I have your heart, you’ll have mine.”
She raised her eyes to his. “You won’t leave me?”
“I won’t. You want to get rid of me, you’re going to have to employ that sword of yours.”
“That’s a serious promise. You’d damn well better keep it.”
He smiled. It was a genuine one, not something she’d seen often, even in their many months of traveling together. “I’m going to kiss you now, sweetness. You trust me on that, I assume?”
She grinned. “Just shut up and kiss me already.”
Somewhere deep down, her heart was singing.
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