Druids of a Feather

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  1. Creatures of the night chirped and screeched in the night. The murmurs of laughter and casual conversations hung softly in the night air on this clear moon lit night. The stars of the night sky filled in almost every possible dark spot. A woman walked softly bare footed in the sand as she eyed her druid village. A soft smile playing on her full lips as she walked to a bon fire watching the children play. The fire giving her already tan skin a soft glow. Darker tan stripes graced her arms and legs and her orange eyes seemed to blaze the same color as the fire.

    Her sandy blonde short cut hair was wild and seemed to have a mind of it’s own. Even as she ran her fingers though it to get it out of her eyes. She was shorter than her kin, her body more compact and strong with a full figure. But to judge this druidess by her size alone would have been a mistake. She bore the scars to prove she was one of their top warriors and hunters. She proudly wore scars on her belly, arms, legs and even a pair across her nose. Though there was one scar she did her best to hide with her fur and leather clothing. The one on her left shoulder that looked to be a bite from another feline druid. Young male warriors much taller and bulkier than her bowed their heads submissively to her as they tried to make eye contact with a potential mate. But Eshasugra was not interested in men tonight.

    A chubby panther cub bounced and batted his huge paws at another child not yet changed into their feline form. The cub looked more like a saber tooth cat, with thick powerful forepaws and small fangs protruding from his muzzle. His ears where long like a lynx, his tail think like a puma and his tawny fur like a lions. Feline druids were more like a mix of all the great cats. The other child turned and instantly changed, pouncing on the chubbier cub with a high pitched growl. Forcing the other cub to roll over.

    A maternal laugh lifted from Esha as she watched her brother play. Her laugh brought his curious orange eyes to look up at her. “Esha!” He chirped as he bounded to her. In mid leap he changed into a young boy, though still a bit chubby. She wrapped her arms around the small boy and lifted him in the air and onto her hip. “You’re not supposed to roll over Keno!” She laughed as she pulled him into a warm hug. He just laughed boyishly and snuggled his head into her shoulder.

    Esha nuzzled her head in an animalistic way against the boys before she began to walk away to her mother’s hut. “C’mon. It’s bed time. Mom asked me to fetch you.” The boy groaned and protested but he didn’t put up much more of a fight. A few steps away she looked down at him. “So… Your birthday is in just a few days. What would my baby brother like for me to get him for his birthday diner?” Her round face holding a warm smile. Keno bounced on her hip with excitement, so much so Esha had to put him down.

    “Oh! Oh! What can I have?” He jumped up and down holding her hand. Esha laughed again and looked to face her brother. “Your sister is the best hunter in the tribe. You can anything your heart desires. I’ll even catch you a drake.” A bold statement, drakes were smaller dragons but just as deadly. But Esha was confident in her abilities to bring one down. Keno jumped up and down with excitement. “A drake! You’d catch a drake for me?” He sounded humbled and wrapped his thick arms around his sister in a tight hug. “You the best Esha! But… Nah…” He said pulling away to walk beside her again. “I don’t wanna drake… Can I have a boar? Not as big as the one that did that to you.” He points to a gore scar on her belly. “But maybe a medium one?”

    Esha couldn’t help but laugh as she paused a moment to take her brother’s round chucky cheeks in her hands. “I’ll bring you a fat tasty boar.” She replied softly as she kissed his forehead. Keno bounced with excitement as she led him home. “I’ll be away the next couple of days looking for one for you. You’ll be sure to forget to mention that to mom alright?” Big round eyed scolded Esha as Keno looked up at her. “Not s’posed to hunt alone Esha. The Chief says so.” A playful smile tugged at Esha’s lips as she stood at her mothers hut. She knelt before her little brother, taking both his hands as she pulled him closer. “Well that’s when being the chief’s friend comes in handy.” She said with a mischievous smile.

    Keno pouted a moment, just looking at her before he whispered a reply. “Mom says your more than friends… What’s that mean?” Esha scoffed and rolled her eyes, standing to her feet. “Good night Keno.” She replied pushing in through the leather flap of the door. She turned to leave but the boy darted out wrapping his tiny arms around her. “Don’t stay away too long. I’ll miss you!” He whimpered as she simply smiled. Reaching her hand back to give him a gentle pat on his back. “Back before you know it.” She said with a reassuring smile before the boy darted in the hut.

    Friend or not the chief would be furious if he knew she’d gone out alone. Esha’s Rockridge Clan was not at war with the other clans but trespassing was never tolerated, from any clan. She’d even killed a few trespassers of her own. Top huntress and formidable warrior gave her a big head and she was sure that she’d be able to handle anything that crossed her path. She fully planned on sharing the kill with the tribe but that meant her brother would not get choice cuts of the meat. Once Keno picked the meat he wanted she’d share the food with the other tribe members.

    Esha leaned down and tawny fur erupted all over her body, darker reddish brown stripes traveled up her legs. Creamy fur covered her muzzle down to her belly. Her wild sandy blonde hair formed a wild thick strip of mane on the back of her neck. Formidable fangs grew from her muzzle and her ears grew long. Her padded paws quickened her pace out of the village. She turned a moment looking back at her home, twitching her thick tail once before she turned a final time and left her home. If only she knew this would be the last time in a long time that she’d lay her eyes upon her home.

    The great cat wasted no time slinking her way through the brush in the forest. Making a bee line for the river below. She followed the cool mountain water for a little bit before she caught scent of a wild boar. “This one smells about right… Oh this one smells better…” She said as she focused on a set of tracks. Silently she waded through the bush to follow the scent and tracks. Coming ever closer to a rival territory. She tried to be aware but the boar was so close. So close to her prey she was hesitant to drop the chase.
  2. [​IMG]

    Long blonde shoulder-length hair could be seen momentarily. Moving beyond the short woodland covering near the river. The moon sat high in the otherwise naked sky providing the visible light to shine down upon the land. He was most alive when alone. Left to handle his own affairs whether they be solely to reside on his shoulders or to be for the tribe.

    He needed time away.

    To think.

    And hunt....

    Cloaked in partial darkness, the hunter moved swiftly. Listening to the minimal wind or perhaps a step to which wasn't his own that would cause not hesitation but the need to defend his home as it wasn't a great distance away.

    He stopped.

    His bare back pressed up against an old tree. For a short while he remained like this merely listening and observing his surroundings with seemingly emotionless green eyes. The river wasn't long now.

    He could view the moon's shimmering reflection where he stood. He'd stop a moment. The time wasn't late, animals still roamed.

    They would be unlucky should they run into him. Lately the game trail had grown quite scarce when hunting, they'd been forced to veer outside their normal area both a good thing and bad should Foreign territory be entered.

    Some might consider it suicide but Arkadi only thought about the welfare to those in the tribe needing to eat. The women and children. Those older. If things continued how they were then the entire tribe would have to seek out a location elsewhere....

    He stayed pressed to the tree.

    He was the only son of the tribe leader. A respected man whom placed the needs to others before his own.This included Arkadi as well at times...

    He wore only loose black baggy pants nearly covering shoes with a sturdy footing underneath made to travel at good distances. Attached to the belt around his muscular waist was a pair of short daggers.

    Arkadi listened carefully.

    He heard something moving at a west distance. Crouching down, he studied the ground cautiously. Tracks. He'd seen such before. Boar tracks. Lady Fate smiled down on him. His hands reached to pry those daggers out his belt clutching them tightly.


    In his crouched position he thought he saw something moving within the bushes. He might've been mistaken. Like a predator on the hunt, the man, with a long scar down the right side of his face, moved once more. His blonde hair whipped along his back in the process. He'd unwillingly went on the trail to Esha as she pursued the boar closing in on his tribe's land.
  3. Meanwhile in not far from the converging druids...

    "Eh dey call meh daft. BAH! Dere be druids in dese woods. Ol'Ironbeard show em... Daft drunk wut dey call me... When aye catch a druid... Aye show em Mogrum Ironbeard not be a daft drunk..." A gruff dwarf grumbled as he tugged on a lead rope of an ox hauling a cart. He stroked the reddish brown braided mess on his face as beady black eyes looked into the impenetrable black forest. Held aloft from his walking stick was a tiny forest fairy. The frightened creature fluttered about, giving enough light for the man to see just in front of him.

    "More ya flutter 'round, more aye know we be close." He replied to the creature with a disconcerting chuckle. Killing the gypsy woman who owned the fairy was well worth his time, or so he told himself. Learned about the forest creature he did before he committed the deed. He knew the closer he got to an ancient forest, the wilder the fairy would flutter about in it's tiny prison.

    Ancient forests were said to be the home of druids. Ancient wilder folk who as lore said held the power of the beasts. Able to take on an animal form. This was accepted as lore and legend, not fact and history. He also knew that men who traveled into such ancient and wild lands never returned. His thought, the druids killed them. But he'd been ridiculed beyond reason for this.

    The rest of his party refused to enter the woods, even though he offered to pay more if they did. Beady black eyes lifted to the fairy as it violently shook the staff. "Aye... we be in the lands of the druid." He smirked as he took the fairy off the staff and hung it on the cart with the ox. He traveled a little more before he found a suitable clearing.

    "Looks good 'nuff." He growled as he tied his ox to a tree. Then the short stout man climbed the back of the cart, throwing back a cloth to reveal a cage big enough to hold a person or large animal. He fished a moment behind the cage to find a satchel, which he promptly threw over his shoulder. "Keep flutterin' like that. You be me way back." He said as he tapped the tiny prison just to make the fairy even more frantic.

    Gear in hand the expert hunter set out, using the bright moon for light as he followed the sloping hill down in hopes of finding a river or stream. From there he'd follow it. Anything alive stayed near water, he figured druids would do the same. He walked for a while before coming to a river. Stroking his beard he took a moment to pick a direction before heading out along the river banks.


    Body low to the ground, her padded paws were deathly silent in the darkness. The only thing giving away her position was the bright moon on her tawny pelt. For the moment, the boar was so close it held her attention. She was unaware she'd been spotted. She curled her lips in frustration as she heard the boar on the other side of the river. The boundary between her clan and the rivals. It grunted and rustled the bushes in it's search for food.

    So close... Maybe... I know I can... I can bring it down before anyone is the wiser... She thought to herself. She paused a moment, orange eyes gleaming in the darkness looking for danger before she crawled along the ground. Making her as small and silent as possible. She waded into the water and silently swam across into enemy territory. She was a trespasser now. But her baby brother was worth it.

    She didn't shake off, instead quickly slinking into the brush after the boar. Taking only a moment to aim before she left atop the wild hog. The beast let out a frightened high pitched squeal as it wheeled around to face it's attacker. Esha fought with the animal for a moment, as boar never went down easy. No matter the size. Finally her powerful jaws clamped down on it's neck and she was able to silence her prey.

    Moments later the boar gave it's last breath and she released her grip. Shifting back into her human form as she wiped the blood from her mouth. "You are a meal worthy of my brother's birthday meal." She said as she laid her hand on the animal.

    Wild orange eyes bolted upwards as the wind changed. A horrible smell stung her nose. It was a smell she'd smelt only once before in her life. A hunter. She knew the smell of beer and manufactured cloth was not of the forest. Somehow a hunter had made his way into the ancient forest. She stared off in the distance, her attention focused in one direction and leaving her completely open for attack.
  4. Arkadi had not been mistaken.

    There was something else moving. The moonlight allowed him to see something making way through the bushes. A small moment which others without a trained eye might not have seen. His green eyes narrowed more.

    He maintained his crouched position pressed against that tree, those twin daggers were clutched tightly in his hands. Foreign entry advancing to his land. This would not do.

    He put one dagger away keeping his right hand occupied with the steel.

    Arkadi touched the ground with his hand crouch walking set to follow Esha's route, to see where the nearly hidden one went. They were dangerously close to his tribe and the acting law being anything to tresspass would be considered deemable in death. It could very well be something to which may cause harm to those little ones roaming about.

    Arkadi wouldn't take the chance. First he needed to see where it went and the intentions though he assumed as much the one may have been in hunt to the boar having seen the tracks.

    He was a bit sore about it but maybe there was time to still claim victory.

    He glanced up to catch the tree leaves rustling some as he hid himself between the trees. There was something about tonight....the young man had a strange Feeling. Arkadi could very well circle back to the tribe in warning to his Father though it would leave his authority to be questioned, even worse, something to be allowed to happen. He did not Fear anything. He'd looked death in the eye and came back a survivor with a permanent scar to remind him what may have ended long ago.

    He came to another tree. Back to it. Dagger aimed on the ground. The noises heard were from that boar. Slight squealing. Poor animal probably was seeking food too unaware to Arkadi's intentions nor those to Esha.

    The green-eyed man looked out. To the glistening water, movement. Coming. He waited, merely hearing the boar's squeals in the hunt to seek out food but after what had to be minutes, those normal noises turned high-pitched then there was nothing.

    He smelled blood.

    A clean kill....

    The predator would not be as lucky.

    Blonde hair was a blur as he moved trailing the scent traveling into the bush.

    No questions asked.

    No words spoken.
    All he saw was blonde hair, that dagger in his hand came to be twisted around, the actual blade slid into his palm while the hilt aimed forward. Arkadi slammed it down to Esha's head, his weight came to her. One arm wrapped around her neck while he twisted the dagger back around pointing the blade to her neck.

    A woman...? His initial thoughts.

    It made not a single difference. She had a particular scent, nothing bad, which he was not familiar with in his tribe and that to blood was evident.

    He could see the hung uneven hump to the dead boar lying nearby.

    His kill already taken down.
    By her.

    "You have no business here hunting. I will not send you back where you came from." Whispered words into her ears.

    Arkadi threw her out the bush. He wanted to have a better look at her in the moonlight. Before he killed her....

    With aggression, the younger tribesman lunged after her knocking her back against a tree. He held one hand to her shoulder aiming that dagger once more. About to strike her, his head turned slightly. His eyebrow raised.

  5. There was silence now, a silence that made the hair on the back of Esha's neck stand on end. It was a feeling she knew but sadly was too late to do something about. Someone was behind her but all she managed was to dart her eyes to the side before a wicked blow slammed into the back of her head.

    A sharp holler of pain escaped her lips as everything became fuzzy. Her vision blurred and all she could hear was the ringing in her ears. In that split second when she felt attacker wrap their arm around her neck, she felt she was done for.

    How horrible was it that the Rockridge Clan's top huntress and best female warrior was to die not with honor in the fires of combat, but a stealthy assassination. In that split second it as was her chubby freckle faced brother that came to mind. A sorrowful look in his eyes.

    She raised her hands instinctively grabbing the arm with the dagger. She let out a painful angry groan as she bared her teeth. Her eyes squinting trying to get her vision back. A male voice whispered in her ear though though the echo in her ears made it hard to understand.

    A deep guttural growl came from her as she struggled to get her footing and pull the dagger from her neck. But to her surprise he tossed her away, out of the bushes. Is he trying to let me die with honor? She thought curiously as her vision came back to her, her ears sharpened on the soundless motion of the man rushing her.

    She slammed into a tree as he aggressively pinned her with one arm, but the knock jolted Esha to her senses. Orange eyes burned with determination as she slammed her hand out and caught his arm wielding the dagger. Her other arm gripped his arm holding her, shifted just enough to change her eyes and give her sharp claws. The stench of the hunter drifted though the air once more but Esha took the man's distraction as a blessing.

    "You should be worrying about the warrior in front of you." She said coldly as her knee flew up and cracked into the man's stomach. She then let out a boisterous battle cry as she used her weight to throw the man off her.

    Meanwhile the dwarven hunter quietly made his way along the bank. He paused a moment and grumbled as the wind shifted. This was bad news and he knew it. Any animal along the bank now knew of his presence. He took this moment to smear mud on his skin to try and mask the smell, though he was sure the damage had already been done.

    As he walked he heard a loud squeal of a boar. The short stout man dropped tot he ground as he listened, backing away into a bush to watch and listen. "Hrm... Sounds like a big cat after that boar..." He said commenting on the growls that emanated from the tussle. Silently he walked along the back, making a quick series of jumps over some boulders protruding out of the surface of the water.

    Crouched low he came to a stop as he heard nothing but heavy breathing in the shadows. But it wasn't a cat, he heard murmurs of words. Could he have just found a druid? A flash of blonde made him completely freeze in his tracks as what appeared to be a man leap from the bushes and attack the other. He stared in wide eyed astonishment as not one, but two druids stood before him. Both poised for battle. He crouch low in the bushes watching the fight unfold, almost disbelieving his beady black eyes.
  6. A stranger. One unknown to these lands but at the same time one not allowed to be. What had they been doing here?

    What did they aim to do besides hunt a boar?

    These were the thoughts running through Arkadi's mind and in his nostrils did he smell the heavy blood scent lingering within the trees. This creature had been hunting. On the land to which belonged to his tribe.

    Without so much a hesitation would this invading one be killed had he traveled with his kin but he was here alone and thus the task resided in his hands alone.

    Arkadi came to the other tree with his back to it. He aimed his dagger on the ground.

    Squealing noises he heard emerged out the bush were From the animal, attacked.

    A clean kill. He moved swiftly, dagger in hand with the hilt ahead. He slipped in the bush to strike to Esha's head. The hit had rewarded him with a pained hollar out his adversary.

    Arkadi Frowned.

    He reverted his dagger back around again pointing it against....her? neck.

    A woman?

    He almost came distracted by her sweet scent to where he Faltered in the dagger being drawn down. His arm was seized and he heard that angry groan associated with a venomous hiss to one preparing to counterattack. Arkadi growled with equal intensity.

    "What are you doing here?! You have no business on this land! I will not send you back where you came from." He slung her out the bush. He was aggressive enough to slam her to a tree where the moonlight granted him a better view.

    Orange eyes...and she wasn't giving up so easily. Her hand caught his dagger arm and the other wrapped around her. Arkadi could Feel his skin tear some as those claws dug deep. He grimaced on the verge to headbutting her but a rather Foul odor gathered his attention.

    His mistake.

    She was right about one thing....he would not allow his attention to be distracted once more. A knee came to his exposed stomach.

    He let out a momentary grunt. His own knee came to repay what was due to her stomach hearing her cry which was enough to wake the dead at this time.

    Throwing him back, Arkadi slid in the dirt never taking his eyes off her.

    No. This one wasn't going quietly....


    This was the real challenge here. Arkadi knelt placing one hand to the ground with the other wrapped around his dagger's hilt. He could see the orange eyes staring back at him with not an ounce to warmth in them.

    It reminded him to.....that time....the scar riddled over his Face. He let out a cry to his own charging at the other, his body dove against hers knocking them both to the ground in a tumble.

    Arkadi gutted her chest with his dagger's hilt to which would knock the wind out Esha's body. He remained on her attempting to strategically wear her down.

    His own teeth beared.

    Something he usually did when prompted in anger. The young hunter bit down on her shoulder while trying to push down his dagger in the other.

    She was strong. He would give her that. He'd bitten down hard trying to make sense to what he was smelling besides the boar's blood.

    Was there someone else here besides them?

    He'd not recalled such a stench before. Noticeable then not. It bothered him.

    He threw himself back reaching a leg out to kick her backside hard.

    Above them, the tree leaves rustled. He would come back at her at any time she may have lunged at him, his hands knocking away her own. Dagger tip running along that smooth skin scraping to draw blood.

    "Who are you?!" Demanded the blonde hunter when lunging once more at her. His body pinned hers down. "Where do you come from?"
  7. Fierce orange eyes burned into the would be assassin as he had her pinned against the tree. She kneed him hard but he was just as quick to deliver a return blow. His own knee slamming into her stomach, forcing a sharp cry of pain to rip from her throat. He was though. She had to give him that. After all he did sneak up on her.

    She tossed him and he skidded across the ground, never loosing his footing. She sneered at him as he knelt on the ground. Taking this moment to gain her bearings, slowing she began to circle around him. Her vivid orange eyes burning with ferocity and even a cold edge. A look completely different than the warm maternal look she had be giving her little brother not hours before.

    In combat she was a different woman all together. She had started to admire him for a fleeting moment before he bellowed and raced towards her. She bellowed back and charged forth, catching his arms and tried to again throw him off balance. But he was stronger and they both tumbled to the ground.

    Her fist flew back and cracked he man across his jaw once, but he was a warrior to as the attack didn't seem to phase him. He slammed the hilt into her chest, knocking the wind from her. She gave a short growl of pain.

    While momentarily stunned the knelt down and sank his teeth into her shoulder, incidentally the shoulder with the only scar she tried to hide. Though the scar was old, the traumatic experience left a scar too deep to heal in her mind.

    A horrible memory flashed in her mind.

    The feeling of discomfort and pain. Claws dug into her skin and a deep threatening voice in her ear. "Don't you dare tell me no..." Just like then, now Esha erupted out of sheer fear, panic and anger.

    She howled in panicked rage, fear dilating her pupils as she slammed her fist out catching the dagger. She slid her feet under him, and threw him off her. She rolled upright, skittering to her feet. His foot slammed into her back side but she rolled with it. Ducking and rolling on the ground before she landed and whirled around to face him.

    This fight now held more meaning then it did before to her. He'd bitten her only weakness and like the man before, he'd pay with blood. She rush before him again, her claws trying to rake his face off but he was quicker then she gave him credit for.

    His strong hand took the brunt of her attacks, receiving minimal scrapes and cuts compared to what she was trying to do to him. His own dagger flew out at her, giving her more cuts and slices. She was quick to duck, dodge, and bend away from any lethal blow.

    Arkadi took advantage of her momentum and twisted her off her feet. Wasting no time to pin her to the ground. He took this spare moment to ask her name. Where her clan hailed from. She sneered at him. Normally she's not opt to tell such information but he had a right to know who was about to kill him. "Eshasugra from the Rockridge Clan." She wasn't one to normally get chatty in the middle of combat but she was generally curious. He did after all sneak up on her. "You are?" She growled as she

    The smell was close now. The foreign hunter so close she could almost choke on his scent. But he was the least of her worries now. Like a deadly dance, the two warriors continued to lunge at one another. Their blood permeated the air and dust hung around their feet as they moved.

    The dwarven hunter wanted both alive but he was waiting for the right moment. He pulled out a glass bottle wrapped in animal skin to keep it from breaking. He held it in his hand ready to throw, waiting for the right moment to toss it.

    Suddenly Esha caught her assailant by the hand that held the dagger. She backed him into a tree and lunged her bared teeth to his throat. The dwarf was quick to toss the bottle right above Arkadi and Esha's heads. The sound halted Esha in her tracks and she looked away to shield her eyes from the strange dust that fell gently upon them.

    "Sleeping dust!" She coughed as the smell lulled it's way into her nose. The tribal shaman made it a point to get her warriors aware of the smell just to keep them safe. But this was far too close to keep safe. No to mention both were covered from the stuff. She shoved away from the male druid trying to shake the powder from her hair and skin but her body was quickly weakening.

    The dwarf walked from the bushes, chuckling triumphantly as he watched the two succumb to the potion. Esha growled once more lunging for the dwarf but she stumbled to her knees. Her arms shivered as it felt like boulders weighed her body down. Her body ached and it felt as though she'd not slept in weeks. Digging her claws into the ground as she tried to make it to the dwarven hunter. Her eye lids growing severely heavy. Until she could move no longer.

    Once both druids fell asleep the dwarf did a strange stiff dance of joy. "Dey neva gonna believe me! Daft drunk Ironbeard dun caught himself TWO druids! Aye dis be a damn fine day! Ooh how dems gonna fetch me some fiiiine coin!" He exclaimed with glee. He promptly walked to the two, tying their hands and feet together. He quickly built a fire to lead him back to the two of them. Seeing as there was no way he could drag both back. Returning promptly with his oxen and the cage. Lucky for him the cage was big enough for both.

    On the road to damnation...

    The sleeping powder was far more potent than the dwarf thought, keeping both druids asleep for the next two days. Much to his annoyance as he had to keep stopping to give them water should they die of thirst in their sleep. In the mean time he place steel collars on them so he could easily attach a chain to them to move them, when they woke.

    The bump and jolting roused Esha awake. Her eyes wearily looked around to see a strange site. The was a strange cloth that covered cold metal bars. Under the bars she could see a dirt path and horses hooves trotted along side the cage. She tried to move her hand only to find them bound to the metal bars. Her back pressed against something warm, much to her comfort.

    But curiosity got the better of her and she turned her head to see the very same druid who tried to claim her life. She shuddered and pulled away from him, hatred burning in her eyes as she tugged harder on the ropes that held her hands.
  8. Fierce orange eyes. Dangerous and unique at the same time. Arkadi would never erase them out his memory. Never had he glimpsed upon one such as she before. Sure, he had seen women, in his village.


    None to his liking in a way other than Friendship or comradeship but none like the one he pinned against the lone tree to destroy as she invaded upon territory belonging not to her rather his tribe.

    By authority, she was sentenced to death. Arkadi's Father wouldn't be easy to dismiss this nor the other elders. They'd wish to toss her to their canine seekers to have her Flesh devored or worse....

    He would not be so violent yet the young hunter shouldn't hold compassion either...
    Or could he...?

    The blonde turned his head some disgusted by a rather impure odor. What was it? Where did it derive of...? He immediately knew, when distracting himself with these thoughts it left room to be attacked by the woman and sure enought, she took the opportunity.

    Her knee came to his stomach causing him to let out a grunt. He lifted his own in counterattack having not the chance to do anything else when tossed back sliding in the dirt.

    Their eyes were evenly matched. Watchful to one another. Green eyes continued to burn into the woman's orange ones when she circled around him. Ready to attack at any moment. His hand tightened around his dagger. What was she thinking? He had to wonder. As to why he cared it would never be known but he let out a battlecry to his own with hers occuring minutely.

    Once more did they come together.

    The woman's hands catching his arms to attempt to throw him back but Arkadi pushed to her hard and they both were riddled to the ground.

    He moved his head at an angle only to have a Fist catch his jaw. No doubt it would leave a bruise but nothing which wouldn't heal in a day or so. He concentrated on slamming his dagger's hilt to her chest.

    The result ended up being another pained growl out her mouth. In anger, he bit down into her shoulder not knowing the area held a scar which was somewhat symbolic in a painful time to the other warrior. He wanted to best her. Eradicate her in some small sense though this was not without hesitation.

    Some part....wanted to know where she came From...a name...

    Her pained cries echoed in Arkad's ears. Pulling the dagger down, he looked to her Face when Esha caught it avoiding her own wounding.

    The woman's Feet slid out under him and he was thrown again. Not so Fast. He sent his leg out to kick her backside. No, she did not intend to go quietly. She wasn't backing down. He twisted around in a spin all while still grounded.

    Those tree leaves rustled in a manner unsettling. Foreboding. Neither knew to the impending danger awaiting them. Arkadi stopped his spin jumping to his Feet coming at her. His hand knocked away her own surely to have the skin scraped by her claws.

    Bleeding even.

    Arkadi went on the attack to bring his dagger across her smooth ivory skin lunging at her again to pin her body underneath his.

    Yes. Who was she?

    He held back in case she got the urge to bite him in her sneer to his question, no demand, in wanting to know her name.

    Where she came From.

    "Eshasugra...." Looking down into her orange eyes, the young man repeated her name. Her clan. "Rockridge..." On the other side to his own tribe. Rivals.

    "You know the pact...and yet here you are....Eshasugra. At this time. One would suspect you to be up to no good. Foolish. I will not hold back." She asked him his name. He turned away a moment. His eyes rather. They returned to her quickly.

    "Arkadi...Arkadious to the Tomineete Clan beyond these woodlands." He answered her truthfully.

    "....Someone is here..." Replied the Tomineete Warrior. He, too, was drenched by the wretched smell though taking his attention away From the woman would be deadly. It may end up costing him greatly.

    He took to jumping back in a low crouch then rising up reaching to strike the Fatal blow clear across her neck but to his surprise that orange-eyed woman caught his dagger-wielding hand backing him to a tree in similar position he had her. He was going to kick her. His First thought.

    It never happened...

    "Ugh...." His eyes winced closed when his neck erupted under Fire. Blood gurshed out his neck when bitten by Esha. His dagger dropped heavily, he pressed his hands to her chest pushing her back. Above their heads came the smashing to a bottle, the warrior opened his eyes while shoving his adversary back.

    What the hell happened...?

    His hand went to his neck growling, eying her.

    "Sleeping dust....? You..." He was covered. Arkadi staggered back when pushed by his battle opponent.

    "Father...." His vision slurred.

    "No...." He turned trying to look to the woman when hearing her growl. She knew something or rather saw something he could not. The source behind the terrible smell and what they were experiencing now....

    He wanted to Fight more. To not give in to what was overtaking his body. No. Arkadi wanted to Fight...but...soon he dropped to the ground with that dagger sliding a distance away.

    He had not a clue...

    Unknowing to what had been taking place around him.

    The hell he was to endure.

    Not alone though....

    "What is it Father?" Asked a seventeen year old Arkadi while sitting with his legs crossed on a small pallet. He stared down at the white box slid before him, concealed underneath a lid.

    "Open it." The slightly gray-haired man urged. A smile tugged to his usually scowling Face.

    The teen leaned down with his blonde hair touching against his shoulders. His hands pressed to the lid pulling it up to reveal two daggers. Twins. Both shimmering brightly with sturdy hilts. The boy is beyond shocked especially to see in the lower bottom on both has his name engraved to them.

    "For me?" He turned to look at the smiling other.

    "Of course. Yours. Use them only when the time is deemed necessary. Guard them well."

    "I will. I promise. Thank you. Thank you so much."


    The blonde-haired warrior's head moved some. His hair touched against his Face nearing shielding it unbeknownst to the captivity taking place to his wrists bound to metal bars to the prison. He groaned some. When Esha pressed to him, Arkadi's head turned in the direction to her. The warmth. Involuntarily, he brushed his head to the back of her own showing signs in waking. Warmth...? A bump in the road caused those green eyes to open.

    Where was he...?
    That warmth...where had it gone? Arkadi wanted it back oddly enough.

    He searched his surroundings only to discover the same as to what Esha had. A large cloth covered over metal bars preventing anything from getting out or in. What the hell was this? The Tomineete warrior attempted to stretch out to lay like a predator in observation but yanked his head around seeing his wrists bound to the bars tightly enough to cut into his Flesh. Arkadi's eyebrow raised. He pulled hard on the rope to no avail. Most importantly....

    His green eyes narrowed.


    The druid woman Esha...

    She was here too.

    Looking at him.


    He glared to her attempting to kick her though now was not the time to engage in their previous battle. Somehow they had stumbled into what could only be trouble. She was trying to get loose to the rope bound to her hands.

    Arkadi looked away down to the moving ground outside their cage. They were traveling somewhere, no where he knew as the distinctive pine smell to Tomineete could not be detected.

    Who had them?

    It was most likely early morning by the light sunrise pitted against the ground. So many questions rose in his mind.

    Being trapped like this....

    His neck, wounded through the woman's bite, was lodged to some collar. It did not Feel good.

    He cursed.

    "Damn it...stop looking at me like that." He hissed at Esha lowering his mouth to the rope to try to work a loose point in it using his teeth. He eyed her once more. Another bump knocked him aside the task causing the druid to curse again annoyed.

    "What madness is this? My daggers...I cannot..." Could not Feel their presence within the makeshift belt attached around his waist. He planned on escaping when the opportunity presented itself through attacking whom ever had captured them. Green eyes glared at Esha.

    "You have one vicious bite....have you an idea to what this tide turner is?" Whether or not she answered, he would continue. "You want your Freedom as do I. When we better understand what is going on we should seek to obtain it. To cooperate with one another."

    Could they? The two had Fought dangerously and now came to be thrust in a situartion neither knew about. Neither would want to remain as such therefore perhaps they could work together.

    "We are moving somewhere...." He looked at the ground outside their cage.

    "Eventually we must come to a stop...attack when they come." Arkadi wanted his weapons back. They held special meaning to him.
  9. A male voice called out 'father' and it made her think a moment of her own. Lowest on the social order, her father was a fisherman. Not a ruthless warrior or avid hunter. She was content to lay next to him until she saw who it was.

    Her eyes flared when he kicked her back side. She bared her teeth and kicked him back. but that was the extent of her retaliation. She's not be fighting properly bound to the bars. In typical cat like fashion she gave a deep threatening hiss.

    She tried biting and chewing through the rope, though the taste was something foul. She laid her head against the bars a moment taking deep breaths trying to calm her self. The wild cat in her hated to be caged. It wanted to be free but she had to calm the beast within. Panicking would get her nowhere fast.

    She tried to remember. How this happened.

    She remembered the boar. The clean kill. Then the dagger at her throat. Him. She remembered the fight. Her shoulder still ached from his bite. How yes. She remembered the fight. She didn't remember past that. It got fuzzy. But she was sure this was his fault.

    Curled against the bars as far from him as she could get. Esha shot him another glare. He hissed back and wanted him to stop looking at her. "I can look at you however I like. It's your fault were in this mess." She retorted. Though she knew well and good this wasn't true. She'd trespassed. He had every right to protect his territory. But she also felt her brother had every right to a tasty boar for his birthday meal.

    She shuddered and her angry expression softened for the first time. A glimpse of a kind and caring woman graced her face. "Oh Keno..." She whispered though it was loud enough for Arkadi to hear. "Damnit! ... I'm so sorry Keno..." Her voice threatened to turn watery but she quickly retook the fierce look again.

    Her mind tried to panic again. Had she missed his birthday? How long had she been gone? Did they think she was dead? The man spoke again as another bump jolted them in the cage. She could hear his frustration. "I don't know what this is or where your daggers are. I'm just as confused as you!" She snapped back.

    There was silence between the two a moment. Esha glared from the corner of her eye as she took in all the sounds and smells that surrounded them. His voice broke the silence. He admitted she had a powerful bite. The strange compliment made her chuckle slightly. "And your the only man to have ever snuck up behind me." She licked her lips trying to chase away her thirst.

    He asked what was going on, more of less. "Well... I remember... The hunt... then fighting with you... And it get's fuzzy from there... Wait... I remember a smell... A foreign hunter... And becoming sleepy..." Her hands wriggled trying to slip free of their confines. But the only thing she succeeded in was causing sore burns in her warm bronze colored skin.

    Then he proposed something that sounded absolutely mad. Work together? She could hear the alpha warrior's grizzly words in her ear. Work with the enemy? Bah! Rip his throat our and smear his blood upon your body as proof you are the better warrior. But Alpha, as he was called may have been the strongest warrior, stronger than the chief but he was just that. Not the chief.

    Esha looked to him, her fierce expression ebbing away. Esha's own thoughts where why the chief fancied her. She was not only a warrior but wise. "Mortal enemies form a coalition?" She chuckled at the thought, a laugh that didn't belong to a ruthless warrior. But the warm tender laugh of a mother or sister. But her face grew serious. "Would you stab me in the back when we got free?" She said seriously, looking into his green eyes.

    She was sure she couldn't trust him. But they needed to at least form a coalition just to get out of this. They had to accept one another's help at least to get out. But could she? She had to. If she ever wanted to see her family again. Most of all her little brother.

    She nodded to him. "It would appear we have been moving somewhere..." She sighed before reaching up to bite once again at the ropes. She nodded again silently agreeing with his plan, though there would be no blood shed if she couldn't get free.

    It wasn't much longer before the stench of fabricated cloth and booze attacked Esha's senses. It was him. The hunter. He had assumed they were both still out as he had a look of shock when he pulled back the flap. His beady black eyes met hers and in his hand he held a canteen of water. Esha took this moment of shock to her advantage and rolled on her back shifting her body so that she lay part way on Arkadi. Her leg shot out and kicked the dwarf in the face.

    He hollered in shock and pain as he stumbled to the ground, spatting angrily as the men around him stood in shock before bursting into laughter. "Oi she kicks like a mule!" He said rubbing his face as he stood up. Now wet from the water that spilled from the canteen. Esha pulled her leg back inside and sat up best she could.

    "What do you want with us!" She demanded. Her orange eyes glaring at the short man. He just grumbled a moment, eye his men. "Quit yer cacklin or yer goin in wit her first." He threatened. "Ye belong t'me now. Dems sayin Ol' Ironbeard be daft. BAH! Two druids! Aye caught dem. And aye gonna make a lotta coin off ya. Dey wey ye be fightin'. Be perfect fer dey ring." He said in a dark tone as he walked to the back of the cart to get more water.

    Knowing she couldn't kick from the other side, another man, a human stupidly looked in from Arkadi's side.
  10. Father...ugh.

    "....Father...." His sire's name. Summoned by all logical sense due to the stress brought on by the situation. A circumstance unknown at the moment though when warmth pressed against him, the blonde warrior turned his head in the direction seeking out more. Needing such. He groaned. His hair touched against his Face shielding it some. He involuntarily brushed his head against Esha's, however, the touching stopped when their transportation method snagged a bump in the road and his green eyes opened. His warmth, what happened? Where was he? Many questions ran through his mind but the damndest one being where that warmth was and how he could get it back. He searched around the surroundings only Finding captivity in a large cage covered by a cloth and rope bound to his wrists against this metal cage.

    He pulled hard on the rope to no avail. Someone bound him tightly and looking to the side, he wasn't alone.

    The druid woman Esha had been confined much like him.

    She stared at him hatefully.

    Arkadi kicked her backside. Hard. He'd lowered his guard around her and thus became driven deeper into something beyond his control. The woman's counterattack drove a kick to his leg Followed by a deep threatening hiss. His own teeth beared. Arkadi let out a growl wanting to wrap the same rope binding his wrists around her throat to choke out every hiss she could make.....

    But these thoughts quickly subsided. Freedom and understanding were more important. Understanding what brought them in this situation and how to get the hell out it. He looked down to the moving ground outside their cage. They were traveling somewhere, no where he knew. Tomineete's pine smell could not be detected at this point. Who had them? The woman was actively moving. His hair whipped over his shoulders turning to look at her biting and chewing at the rope. After a while, she stopped to rest against the metal bars to their prison. At least she was trying. He had to give her that. His wounded neck rubbed to the collar encasing it. The open Flesh pressed to the leather was quite uncomfortable.

    "Damn it..." She was glaring at him. Moving to increase a gap between them. "Stop looking at me like that." He lowered his mouth to the rope to try to work a loose point in it using his teeth. He eyed her once more. It was when another bump knocked him aside causing another curse to leave his mouth.

    "Damn it...you better get a real good look...when I Find my daggers I'm going to gouge out those pretty eyes....what? My Fault? That is laughable. You were on my land...hunting no less..." He rubbed his Face against his arms.

    "...." He had enough to talk to her. His daggers were no where to be seen and the woman reached some breakdown her on her own. She was talking outloud. Said a name apologetically...Keno. A child? He wouldn't ask. He concentrated elsewhere.

    "Where are my daggers...?" Someone would rue the day should they attempt to sell them. Once again he laid his eyes on his companion, her snap.

    "I should...." Snap her neck like a twig. He didn't like being caged. Course, he was never in a situation like this before but the simple notion to being imprisoned against one's will drove him mad. Arkadi wanted nothing more than to break loose. Return home where he could entertain his kin with stories about this incident, not all the details, but of course about the beautiful blonde woman...

    He began to waste away the anger. It would not Free them nor help the situation.

    "You have one vicious bite...." Arkadi chuckled some, his neck would be irritated as long as he did not get it treated. "Have you an idea what has happened?" Reasoning came within his words. "I know you want Freedom as do I, when we better understand what is going on we should seek to obtain it. To cooperate with one another."

    With his head still leaned against his arms, the smile coating Arkadi's lips to Esha's own compliment. She was a warrior in her own kind. One not easily matched. He could tell that. Not just now but when they Fought during the night. Yes...they Fought one another viciously then.....

    The nasty smell.

    A Hunter.

    "Yes." Arkadi nodded. "We were ambushed...but I didn't see who..." Green eyes lifted seeing the woman wiggle her hands around with the rope still attached. She would injure herself that way.

    "We are moving somewhere...." Had she considered his proposal? To work together. At this point they had no one other than themselves and though enemies it would be a wise choice to work together. Strike together than simply alone.

    "Yes." He nodded his head turning slightly to listen to her laugh...something changed in her...whether it be this moment, he did not know. Would he stab her in the back once they were Free....

    "No." His own Face retained a seriousness. "Tomineete's word is our law. Our vows. You will have no trouble From me. That I promise you on my Father's head." He stared into her eyes somewhat captured by the allure. This woman was beautiful. In her own unique way. Much more than those in his tribe. He couldn't help but notice. Admire.

    "It is most likely somewhere we should not go." She agreed with his plan. To escape when the opportunity presented itself. No matter what happened, he would not leave her behind. Enemy or not. "Eventually we must come to a stop...attack when they come." He continued to wrestle with his own restraints as she did. He shook his head.

    "That smell. It is like last night. Esha..." Arkadi called out her name noticing the Flap being pulled back and the beady eyed hunter revealed himself. Arkadi growled lowly ready to attack but his companion beat him to it. She laid out partially on him, he looked down at her surprised and then again having the stirring within linger in his thoughts. Success nearly made him praise her when she kicked the vagrant square in the Face. Indeed, the sight was humerous to say the least, defiance.

    Arkadi moved closer to her, he was yanking at his rope while Esha distracted the short man with questions. He was going to act First then think about questions later. The druid couldn't understand what their captor was saying. Those words went in one ear and out the next. He made out what sounded like being sold.....into slavery?

    The rope cut into his wrist causing it to bleed heavily but Arkadi had worked one hand out right at the precise moment eyes resided on him. The human man.

    Did he like what he saw? Two beings caged up?

    The warrior pried loose his other hand cutting into that Flesh throwing his body against the cage reaching Forward with those hands to ensnare the man's neck. He dragged him to the cage bars slamming him to them.

    "Release us!!!" He bellowed angrily, he drew the man to the bars again possibly knocking him out by the pressure. After a while he moved to Esha, working on untying her hands as quickly as possible while staring ahead. His green eyes lifted a moment to stare into her orange ones. His blood tainted her own skin as he tried as best as possible not to injure her wrists.

    "You will run should they open the cage....I'll distract them." He worked one hand out the rope then went For the other.
  11. Esha scoffed, a mocking laugh came from her full lips. Sliding her eyes to glare at him once more. "You can't cut my eyes out if I bite all your fingers off." She retorted with a growl. But he had caught her. It was her trespassing that landed them in this hot water in the first place. "Besides what's one missed boar, huh? And I was barely on your land." She said glaring at him again.

    She was trying to make it sound not so bad. But if the roles had been reversed she'd be just as angry and violent. Silence fell between them. The sound of hooves treading on the dusty dirt road was all that was heard for a moment.

    She had a plan when she got out of this mess. Not the best but a plan never the less. The plan would be to maul the fair blonde haired Arkadi to death. She'd change into her cat form and show the man the damage she could really do. She'd return home and regale her triumph over the handsome Tomineete warrior. Handsome? Where did that thought come from? Bah true or no he was still the enemy.

    But now was not the time for such vengeful thoughts. Such thoughts weren't getting her out of here. She laid back, her wild sandy blonde hair draping away from her orange eyes.

    She complimented him, but only because he did so first. His smile, it only made him more handsome. She slid her face away from him. Handsome or no she'd still wanted see his blood pooling on the ground. But he asked for an alliance. Was that possible? If she agreed then she'd have to forgo thoughts of killing him. Unless he betrayed her trust first. But there it was. Should she even trust this man?

    He asked if she remembered what happened and Esha did her best to remember. He added to the puzzle. He said they were ambushed. She showed no signs of pain though her bronze skin started to speckle with blood as she tried to wriggle them free. She paused a moment sighing. "Ambush..." She repeated. The the vague image came to her. A short man standing before them. "Yes... I remember the ambush... I think I remember a man... Urgh I can't remember it all." She huffed in annoyance as she tugged at her wrists and chewed on the ropes.

    She stopped chewing the ropes, spatting out the nasty taste before she leaned back to mill over his words. Trust him. That was the huge question. She questioned if he could be trusted. If he'd just kill her when they got free. His captivating green eyes looked deep into hers. Esha could see the honesty and truth pouring out.

    Damnit he had to promise his word. On his tribes name and his father's head. This meant he was keeping his word. And meant she'd not get to kill the handsome warrior. She held fast to the stoic serious expression as she slowly nodded. "Then I give you the same. I swear on my tribe and my families honor... I'll not trouble you either..."

    The man's lingering gazed didn't escape the huntress. It was a look she'd seen before. She simply narrowed her eyes at him curiously. But she didn't have much time to dwell on her thoughts before the smell of beer and fabricated cloth hit her nose. Bringing her eyes to try and look out side the cage.

    He smelled it too. The bastard hunter that captured them. He was right, that was the smell from last night. She stayed silent, waiting for her prey to come to her. Once the stupid dwarf showed his face Esha wasted no time laying back on Arkadi and kicking the dwarf. "What do you want with us!" She demanded as she felt the warrior druid behind her shift closer. The dwarf ramble in a strange way in words Esha could hardly understand. "What ring? What are you talking about!?" She snarled.

    He just waved dismissively at her, looking up too late to see the human coming behind to eye Arkadi. Her enemy now companion had finally tore loose one hand. But the smell of his blood sifted through the air and she understood he took the same risk she was trying to take. His wrist cut, bleeding now so that he would have a hand loose. "Oi! Eddy! Git away from dey cage ye bloody git!" The dwarf bellowed.

    But it was too late. Esha only had time to whip her head around, a devious grin slipping across her lips. She wanted to goad him on but she needed to watch his back. A primal growl ripped from her throat as men tried to rush to his aid. All frozen in their tracks from her vicious snarl. Slowly the men edged around to the other side of the cart, trying to tug their friend away.

    Once the man had been knocked out Arkadi dropped him. Esha prayed he was dead. To her surprise the handsome warrior rushed to her side. Working quickly to untie her wrists. His blood dripping from his arms onto her bronze skin. "Yes yes. Hurry. Thank you!" She said as one wrist came free, her own a little bloody but not as bad as the warrior before her. His eyes lifted just a fleeting moment to look into hers.

    He gave her direction but she just smiled dangerously. "I'll run out. But I'm turning right around to rip their throats out." She replied with a dangerous eye trying to look out. Arkadi managed to get her other wrist free, she wiped away her own blood on her wrists as she sat up in a crouch position.

    Fully aware of the one druid being free, the men backed away. Giving the cage and cart a wide birth. The dwarf however, just laughed. The sound scratched away at Esha's ears and she wanted so much to rip away at his flesh. "Now wut? Huh? Whacha gonna do now eh?" He said kneeling just out of reach, looking at the druids from under the cover over the cage. Esha snarled viciously and reached out her hand to snatch at the man. "I swear to the god's I'll kill you!" Esha bellowed at the dwarf.

    He backed away but came back as he eyed them. "Donchu go killin' each other now. Aye make better coin iffen ye both alive." He laughed loudly as he turned his heel and walked to the back of the cart where the beaten man was being tended to. He gave the man a brief once over before turning back to the cart. He tossed the full canteen of water on top of the cage. Though on to of the cover, he knew the druids could still get to the water.

    Esha rushed to the back of the cage where the men stood, lifting the cover to eye them dangerously. "Who ever lets us out, I promise you get to live." She snarled dangerously but she was largely ignored. They loaded the injured human onto another cart. Once again the cart started to move again. The lady warrior frenzied looking for a door and looking for a way out.

    "Here... I think this is the door." She said motioning to the back. But she spent a large chuck of the day trying to shake the door open with out making any head way. Her mouth parched and her stomach grumbling audibly she sighed in defeat as she coiled her self into a corner of the cage. Her orange eyes looked up to the depression in the top of the cage where the canteen sat.

    "I think were stuck in here for a while... Until we get a chance to attack..." She huffed deeply and coiled her knees close to her. Her short messy sandy blonde falling around her face to cover her pained and fearful expression. She ran her fingers through her hair and she blew out another sigh. The cage felt far too small for two souls to be stuck in.

    "So..." She said breaking the silence. "What do you think he meant by the ring? Damnit I don't understand any of this..." She said, her eyes avoiding his green eyed gaze. She could tell the light was fading and the caravan slowed and came to a stop. She perked her head up, sitting still a moment. "Quiet... I think we've stopped..."

    She silently slid from her tiny corner to crouch down. Looking about trying to spy movement. Something else fell on top of the cage next to the canteen of water. She jerked away from the movement for a moment before smelling that fabricated Smell of the hunter. "Eat and drink ye damn beasts. Ye no good to me iffen ye die o'huger or thirst! And git cozy fer dey night." His feet shuffled away.

    Esha listened again in silence as sparks of a fire started not far from the cart. She coiled back in her corner, curling her knees close and letting her arms coil around her as she tried to ignore the cold. "I don't know about you but... I'm not to keen of eating or drinking what he's given us..." She said as her stomach growled loudly again.

    He licked her lips. "But... if we don't eat... We'll be nothing in a fight..." She sighed again as she gave in to hunger and thirst. She sat up on her knees, gently pushing the canteen and parcel of food to where the cage met the back of the cart. If fell with a plop and she slowly grabbed the canteen. "Don't drink this if I fall over dead." She said with half a chuckle, her natural cheery nature trying to lighten the mood. Reluctantly she opened it and took a much needed drink.

    She gave a satisfied sigh when she pulled the bottle away, wiping the water from her lips as she handed the canteen to Arkadi. "Here... Doesn't appear to be bad." She then pulled the wrapped cloth into the cage. Upon opening it they found a loaf of bread. A meager meal for two warriors. Esha frowned as she eyed the bread. It was old and hard, hardly fit for a snack. "This is as good as we're going to get I guess..." She sighed again, opting not to take the bread for now.

    Instead she moved a few inches away to coil herself back into her corner. Wrapping her arms around her knees once more. She rubbed her round face, trying not to let despair set in. All she could think about was her brother. Her mother. And her father. Would they survive with out her hunting skills? Would the tribe pick up the missing slack? Would they even fair well with out her in the coming winter months?

    The chill in the air reminded her of the coming winter months. It was cold, biting away at the skin not covered by her leather top and shorts. She eyed her wrists a moment before looking to the handsome warrior in the cage with her. "What do you make of all this?" She asked.
  12. "You will have no trouble From me. I promise you on my Father's head. Tomineete's word is our law. Our vows." Arkadi promised the woman. He would not leave her behind no matter the circumstances. From here on out Esha would have him as an ally until they reached the Freedom they sought. What happened after then remained to be seen and she gave her own word. Allies....


    What was this stirring inside him when he looked at the woman he wanted to choke out before? The warrior did not understand. He slipped a hand across his Face immediately smelling that terrible scent hit him once more. It belonged to the one having placed them in this situation to begin with. The dwarf. The stirring inside Arkadi increased when Esha laid back against him in a surprise attack to kick Ironbeard. When she sat up, he moved closer to her, yanking on his own rope. This action cut into his wrist Further. The spilling blood made not a difference to him. Arkadi worked one hand out then the other. Free....at least as Far as the rope was concerned. Turning to look over his shoulder, he saw a human man looking at him. He bellowed angrily throwing his body to the cage reaching to grab that man's neck pulling him to the bars.

    "Let us go!" He continued slamming the man's head to the bars then let him go certain the attack would render him unconscious.


    Moving back toward her, the green-eyed man worked Furiously to release the rope around her wrists. "I won't leave you behind." He looked at her as well as their watchers. "You should run when they open the cage. I wil distract them." One hand was Freed then the other. Arkadi examined her Flesh a moment. It was bleeding. Not much however. "Rip their throats out..." He let out a chuckle. "I don't know but I knew you would say something like that. Dangerous woman." He was looking out as she. Now, those imbecilles were smart to distance themselves away From the cage and the dwarf goaded them, it infuriated Arkadi to no end.

    "You son of a bitch!" Snarled the blonde. He was holding the bars attempting to somehow scar the addicted to beer man. "I'm going to rip those dirty eyes right out the sockets! Come here! Your tongue will hang on a mantel! Release us you bastard! What are you talking about? Damn you to hell!" His teeth beared. He wanting nothing more than to bite into the taunting one hearing him hollar as the red liquid smeared on them both. "You're dead! You! Every single one of you.." He would not barter with these people. They needed to be killed swiftly especially the beady-eyed man. Arkadi was brought to silence when their taunting dwarf threw a canteen on the cage's top. What was inside? He winced, growling underneath his breath. It was not working to attempt to get the others to Free them. They ignored Esha. Hope diminished when the cart moved again.

    [ "Here...I think this the door." ]

    He Followed the woman to the back after her motion crouching beside her with his hands attached the metal bars signifying a door. He pulled with her. Pushed. Shook the door and no success came other than tire. They weren't getting out this way. Probably no way until their captors opened the cage....when ever that was.

    Arkadi turned around with his back pressed to the metal eying his companion moving to a corner. Her eyes went to the canteen sitting on top of the cage. For a moment, he had Forgotten about it until his mouth reminded him how dry it could be without water and substance For that matter.

    ".....That may be a while...." He answered turning over to look at her. His head shook.

    "It sounds like-" Her outburst halted his thoughts. Arkadi's eyes narrowed. She was avoiding his eyes. Why? "....Look at me...." The light of day was Fading bringing about nightfall. A day away From home into some unknown land. "I..." He scowled slightly when she told him more or less to be quiet. Would she make up her mind? She asked him a question and as he went to answer....

    He no longer Felt movement. Esha had been right. They stopped, For the night. Where? The hard plop on the cage top made him look up.

    The voice to come angered him. That hunter. Words would not harm that one...only violence which could not be done at the pressing time. He grumbled underneath his breath lying down on his back.

    "The weather is changing. The night air brings with it cold and they plan to keep us like this while they most likely will build a Fire." His ears perked up some to sparks too.

    "He can keep his trash....I would like nothing more than to shove my Fist down his throat...wait..." He looked on as she gave in to her thirst and hunger pushing the canteen and whatever else item the dwarf threw up on the cage's top.

    The woman retrieved both giving warning to him. Arkadi rolled to his knees staring at her seriously even when she let out her chuckle. To hear it was interesting enough. It brought on the stirring inside him which the warrior hadn't quite understood yet.

    "Let me..." He volunteered but she already was drinking, stubborn woman, his head turned some, eyes narrowing in the approaching darkness watching her closely. Nothing appeared wrong, time would tell. "You are alright?" His eyes Flickered to the canteen handed his way. He accepted it, drinking, the water sated his insides and before his thirst overwhelmed him to drink more than he should, the Tomineete warrior stopped. This may be the only water they received in a while. Best to conserve it.

    Now the Food...

    Oh how he wanted to piss in the empty eye sockets to that wretched beady-eyed hunter.

    A bread loaf. For two people but not only that...a hardened old one.


    Arkadi's hand lifted. "I will pass on this at the moment...." He returned the canteen to her. "Sleep will take away the hunger. Temporarily." As she went to her corner, he lied back down.

    He had not stopped staring at her. The entire time. It was proper manners to look upon the one speaking, this was customary in his tribe. Respectful and considered equal to both males as well as Females.

    Arkadi kept looking at Esha merely For the reason she was the better one to look at rather than the cage surrounding them or those having imprisoned them and though it was nearly hours since they were enemies with the sole goal in destroying one another, right now, all they had was one another. United in their wanting to Freedom. To return home. Home...


    His Father would be worried. A search should ensue. Resources better spent hunting due to the upcoming winter. He was reminded about these months much like the woman held up in her own corner in this cage. Arkadi could see her holding her knees. The chill in the air was rather unpleasant considering the clothing they wore. His green eyes trailed up her bare legs and arms then reverted to his own naked upper body.

    His tribe did not usually wear shirts, at least the younger males, he wore them only on special occasions, but when hunting, no. Never. The only thing he wore now were his pants and those shoes wrapped around his Feet. There was a wrapping used as a belt. Big enough to shelter the shoulders should the need arise. Again, he eyed Esha. A most vicious beauty. Now, she seemed calm. He brought his eyes on hers when asked the question. What did he make of all this?

    It was hard to say...

    "We are slaves From what I gather by that bastard." He meant the dwarf. "I am going to rip his eyes out....carve that tongue a permanent Fixture...then let the wild animals near Tomineete devour what remains...." Arkadi had been lying on his back with his head pulled back looking to Esha. Growing tired to the position, he rolled over on his stomach, still looking at her.

    "Had it been a simple kill we would not be here now as we are. He wants us well. Not dead. For this so called ring....I can only Fathom a guess at Fighting..."

    His head shook slightly. The air chilled him but he wasn't really bothered by it. Outside their prison, he could smell the ashing wood and view the orange Flames belonging to a Fire set by their captives. Setting up camp. They would be kept warm during the night while he and Esha Froze....

    The belt...

    By now the blood had dried on his wrists though were he'd been cut little scabs appeared to show the level where the rope brandished against his skin, his arms disappeared underneath his stomach.

    "....Keno...you said that name earlier. You were apologetic. Is that your child?" Arkadi sat on his knees to remove the belt garment. He didn't have any. The warrior hadn't really put much thought into such though it was a requirement to keep their tribe going. He did not Find someone to make a committement to. Perhaps he hadn't tried hard enough. Crouching to walk to her, in his hands is the belt garment that could be used in covering her shoulders.

    "Here. You can have this...unless you still plan on biting my Fingers off." He handed her the belt then promptly went to the door keeping their Freedom in check. His eyes are drawn to the Fire and those nearby to it. It is to the hunter that had captured them Arkadi voiced his words again.

    "You better stay where you are....I plan on ripping your eyes out...remember this...there will be no where you can hide to which we won't Find you and destroy you! Bastard! Choke on your own Fluids...." He wanted out the cage. Arkadi slipped onto his back with one leg propped up at the knee.

    "Damn them to hell." He was tired. Hungry too but the old bread didn't sound appetizing unless it could maybe heated some then again that might not work.
  13. His words seemed to echo in her mind. Won't leave her behind. His green eyes only solidifying the words. Esha had learned to read the truth in people's eyes. It made her a good warrior. And the truth was in his eyes. He really meant to not leave her. I threw her off and perhaps he was wiser then she originally thought.

    He'd told her to run if they go free. Suddenly he was a gentlemen but he seemed to have forgotten the battle they'd been in. Esha would not run. He laughed, surprisingly enough it was a pleasant sound. Not rough or callous like the other warriors in her tribe.

    Esha pulled her full lips into a dangerous smile for a fleeting moment as he called her a dangerous woman. More flattery even it wasn't supposed to be. "That I am. And don't forget it." She replied in a playful tone. Though there was a warning laced in. She prayed he'd not double cross her. She hated breaking her word.

    Her eyes looked to the deep cut in his wrist and she was almost humbled when he seemed more worried about her own wounds. Bleak in comparison to his own. Her eyes traveled to the angry wound on his neck. That metal collar couldn't have felt good. But he shouldn't have bit her on her first battle wound. She tentatively pulled her hands away from him. What was his interest now? "I'm fine. Thank you." She said in a flat tone looking away from his handsome face.

    Arkadi grew just as angry as she when the dwarf ignored their threats. He only taunted them back. "Oh rip my tongue out eh? Wut mantel ye gonna put it on eh? Ye got none cause y'belong to me! Keep feelin dat rage. Ye gonna need et in dey ring." He said in a prideful manner. A vicious snarl tore from Esha's throat. "You're only going to make you're death that much sweeter. Let us out now and I'll make it swift."

    But he shuffled back away from them, tossing the canteen on the top of the cage. She tried not to let her spirits drop when the cart moved on. Instead she focused on rattling the door but to no avail. Even with the Tomineete warrior giving the door all he had. They still seemed doomed to what ever fate the gods had in store for them.

    She finally slipped away from the cage door, curling into a corner. Her companion sat in his own space. Which to Esha was too close to her. The cage was far too small in her eyes for two warriors. Her feelings skewed by the way he'd been looking at her and the way he threatened her life when they first met. He'd given his word but she still didn't trust him.

    "So..." She said breaking the silence. "What do you think he meant by the ring? Damnit I don't understand any of this..." She grumbled after a while of silence. He started to speak but then stopped. He demanded she look at him. Her orange eyes met his green in a scowl. Perhaps if she was hateful to him he'd stop with the lingering gazing.

    But being hateful was completely against Esha's true nature. Though it didn't stop her from trying. "You said earlier if I kept looking at you that you'd cut my eyes out." She said in a matter of fact tone. "I'm just saving you from you fingers being bitten off." She continued coyly. But she quickly told him to hush when the stench of beer stung her senses.

    A cold chill bit at her skin from under the cover. Enough so Arkadi felt it too. She laid her head on her arms, facing the warrior as her eyes looked at him. He was scared, battle tales she liked to call them. The one that brought her eye the most was the one across his face.

    She nodded to his comment. Was unfair for them to sit in the cold while they stayed nice and cozy by the fire. But the chill only made her worry further for her brother and mother. She sneered at the sound of the inviting crackling fire, looking away a moment from the Tomineete warrior. "Could be worse I suppose." She said giving an optimistic shrug as she looked back. "At least we have the cover to somewhat protect us..."

    Esha didn't want to take the rations given to them from the dwarf, but her need for water trumped the desire to be defiant. He offered to take the first drink but she'd not shy away from danger. Besides logic said he needed them alive. Why would he poison them if he needed them alive? It was a gamble.

    A gamble worth taking. It was water. Good refreshing even a bit cool water. She resisted the urge to splash it over her wounds and instead gave it to Arkadi. He asked if she was alright and she sat a moment judging the way she felt. "I feel fine I suppose." She replied with a shrug.

    She watched him take the much needed drink, taking the moment for her eyes to take in his features. He must have been her age if not a bit older. He had a quality, a look that Rockridge warriors his age lacked. He'd managed to sneak up on her and actually stood up to her in battle. For that she was impressed. A woman not easily impressed.

    He handed the canteen back and furrowed her brows lightly, trying to look as though she'd been scowling at him to whole time. Placing the lid tightly on the canteen before she placed it in the middle between them. Curling back to her corner, leaving the bread to sit with the canteen. He laid down, though he kept looking to her.

    Rubbing her face as he spoke. She gave a sigh as she nodded. "Hm sleep... Maybe tomorrow we can rip his face off." She almost said cheerily. His eyes never leaving her figure, she wondered if this was a custom or he just his lingering gaze. Perhaps he was testing her. If she looked away then she allowed him to dominate her mentally. She'd never let a man dominate her again. She stared back.

    The painful memories brought the reality of the night and the current pain on the same wound Arkadi had bitten. She leaned back, allowing her right arm to slide into her lap. Letting the bite on her should sit in an awkward position was a bit painful. Now she did look away. Orange eyes glancing over her wound.

    Though it was nice to look at, the Tomineete warrior was dressed just as her own males in the Rockridge tribe. Save for the Chief who wore a long necklace made from bones and precious stones that hung from his neck down past his chest. Though during tribal ceremonies and winter months the other males would wear more garments. Her clothing was standard for the females in her tribe as well. More clothing only meant more to grab onto in combat if not in feline form.

    She stopped looking at her wound to look to him again. "What do you make of all this?" Wishing to hear his voice over the cackling of the dwarf and his men. She gave that warm chuckle not fitting for a deadly warrior. "Surely the animals on Tomineete territory deserve better food then that." She replied as he rolled over on his stomach. She bit away a shiver that tried to roll over her body. Damn cold weather.

    Orange eyes slid to him once more. Perhaps. He could have killed them as they fought one another. Obviously well matched in combat neither would have dropped combat to chase this new foe. "Ohh..." She said in realization. "Like... A fighting ring... Mm..." She said with a soft frown. Slaves. She didn't like that thought what so ever.

    She needed this warrior more then the wanted to admit. Two minds thinking and working together to free themselves from slavery was far better then one. "Working together just became more important I suppose if he means us to fight..." She said softly.

    Esha lifted her head to watch Arkadi as he sat up. What was he doing? She prayed it wasn't the need to relieve himself. But the name from his mouth brought a visible frown and worry to her face. Keno. Her baby brother. She was the world to him. He was always getting lost or getting into trouble. He needed her guidance.

    "No..." She said softly, unable to keep despair from her voice. "He's my little brother..." She looked away from his eyes, trying to hide her pain of thinking about him. But out of respect she looked back to his eyes. "When we fought... That boar... It was meant to be his birthday meal... He's six now... Since I believe his birthday is past." She said curling her arm around her knees more.

    But his later comment pulled a soft chuckle from her. She very much wanted children of her own but her mother, though she loved her husband very deeply, told Esha not to fall in love. But to find a formidable warrior that could proper feed her family. This had become severely important to Esha seeing as Keno was meant to be her second brother. "But no he's not my child. Ha! No man has been able to prove himself worthy of fathering any children. Let alone be called my husband." She said with a soft smirk.

    But her eyes dropped. Keno. Her mother. With out her, her mother would have to look after Keno. He'd be so lost with out her. "I miss my little brother... What are you doing?" She said quickly sitting up to eye him.

    Arkadi was being kind, a gentlemen almost. Offering his belt to cover her shoulders. She eyed him, albeit with a coy smile. "I might bite your fingers off. I am hungry." She said playfully. But her expression softened as she looked at the deep wound on his neck. It had to be painful. Rubbing against the metal collar couldn't feel nice. She took the belt but the blonde warrior started yelling at the dwarf.

    "Go te sleep kitty." He shot back with a devious cackle. Esha snarled back. "Enjoy the day while you're still alive! We'll end you!" She shot back. She sighed as she leaned her head back.

    The blonde Tomineete warrior slid back to lay on his back. Esha held the belt and eyed him. She could be cold, and make it through the night. The wound on his neck was vicious. She was proud of her work but she couldn't let him sit with an open wound. It could get infected and he could die.

    She looked away a moment sighing in defeat. "I can be cold. You have a wound needing tending to." She grabbed the canteen and crawled on her hands and knees to him. "Stay still." She said looking down at him.

    Esha's true nature came out of her. The mothering, caring nature. She wet the tip of the belt with the canteen of water. She sat over him as she slid the metal collar up, gently cleaning the bite wound. "So..." She said breaking the silence. "What of you? Any children? Family?" She went on as she wiped away the blood.

    Her orange eyes glanced between his captivating green eyes and the bite wound. The deep scar on his face made him interesting. He had a story to tell and for some reason, she wanted to know.

    She focused on the wound as she listened to him. Once clean she gently wrapped the cloth belt around the now clean bite. Though he still had the collar, it was no longer rubbing the raw wound. Instead the the cloth belt saved it.

    An awkward feeling fluttered it's way into her stomach. The way he looked at her. She stayed quiet a moment before trying to furrow her brows at him as she curled back into her corner. "You're welcome." She said softly. Seeing the enemy as not an enemy was dangerous. Once they got out of this mess their tribes would still be at war.

    She slid her body down and curled into a ball, trying to keep as much warmth as possible. "We should get some sleep..." She said softly before she closed her eyes. She laid facing him on her left side, leaving her wounded right shoulder to be as comfortable as possible.

    Sleep didn't come easy to her. She could have changed into her feline form but that meant less space in the cage, less space meant being closer to Arkadi. He was starting to give her cloudy vision. Being close to him couldn't be good. She needed to focus.

    Sleep didn't come easily. Her dreams were filed with grief and worry for her brother. She came back to her own, in ruins. Fire was everywhere. There had been a battle. A bloody battle. She screamed for her brother as she looked down, seeing dead Tomineete warriors along side Rockridge warriors.

    In the distance she could see her chief and the Tomineete chief in the heat of combat. No doubt looking for their lost members. She screamed for them to stop but they seemed blind in their rage. Suddenly a soft hand touched her shoulder.

    She wheeled around to see the Rochridge Shaman. She was old, nearly withered with age. Her blind blue eyes seemingly looking right into her eyes. "You must stop this from happening."

    A jolt of the cart shocked Esha awake. She shuddered and looked wildly around. Orange eyes searching for her baby brother. But no. No Keno. No dead bodies. No warring cheif's. Just Arkadi.

    She gave a sigh and wiped the worry from her face. They were on the move again. "Urgh... Can't believe reality is better then my dream..." But was it a dream? Her shaman had spoken to her. Touched her. Gave her a warning. But that didn't make sense. The Chief had a wife and would not pursue her. Would he?

    She looked to Arkadi, eager to move her mind away from the dream. "How is your wound?" She said looking over at his neck.
  14. [ "I feel fine I suppose." ]
    Arkadi, with the canteen in his hand, passed the woman a look when she answered his question. His eyes traveled over her a spare until he sated his insides with the pure liquid out the canteen. He would not drink it all, some had to be saved in the event they did not get anymore. He returned the canteen back to her observing her looking at him. Scowling? Or had she made it seem that way...? He didn't know. He looked down then back up at her as she went in her own corner.

    "I welcome the time to rip not only his Face but innards as well...it is hard to say what this may be...we are being kept like slaves by this bastard. Had it been a simple kill we would not be here now. He wants us well. For this ring he has mentioned. Working together is the only solution. Two is much better than one." He noticed that she had grown chilled. The weather had changed the more they traveled.

    "Keno...you said that name earlier. You were apologetic. Is that your child?" He wanted to know. Curious green eyes Followed the woman as she looked away then back to his own. No. Not a child. A brother. Arkadi had no blood relatives aside his Father and some kin he considered brothers but none as close as Esha's words could be spoken on how much she cared about that one. Keno.

    "The boar was to have been his birthday meal...." That is why she came upon Tomineete territory, For her brother. The young one did not have to hear a declaration on how much she cared about that one, her willingness to invade enemy lands proved it all. Six years old. "You will see him again. You must think and know that. We will...." He was on his stomach now removing the belt. Her latter comment...

    "........This man...the one who must prove his worth to you...he has a trial to endure though..." No. Arkadi became silent. She'd gotten him to think. Think about things other than their captivity. No. He quickly removed the belt to move towards her.

    "Here." His words instead. "You can have this unless you plan on biting my Fingers off." He smiled some in her response. "Well, it would be change rather than old bread but you'd have to catch me First...." The garment is handed over to the woman and arguing with the dwarf did nothing to get them closer to their Freedom. Damn them all to hell...those ones enjoying the nice resonating heat provided by a Fire. Bastards. Arkadi cursed the beady-eyed dwarf and all the others servicing him.

    This was inwardly though. At the moment he lie on his back with one leg propped up at the knee.

    His arms stretched back providing support underneath his head. At the moment, the only thing he could see above were the metal bars and the tarp draped over them, nothing like what he could see when in his village. The stars nestled within the darkened night sky.

    Each telling a story. Some his Father could decipher, others to be left to his own imagination.

    Granted, this was when he had been a child, he'd give anything to be back home now. Looking up at the stars. Freedom....how he'd taken it For granted.

    One never knew what they had until it was taken. As though looked upon, his head lifted slightly, sure enough, he caught Esha's orange eyes on him. The movement caused him some discomfort by that collar rubbing against his wound. A reminder to how dangerous the woman really was...and all the same some Fascinating to him. Arkadi lowered his head.

    Did she plan on attacking him? Or was the belt not suitable? He knew not what women wanted but it seemed like the right thing to do. Give her something she could cover up with. Arkadi had wanted to do so.

    He turned his head up again. "....? My wound...it is nothing." He downplayed her sincere concern. "What doesn't kill you makes you stronger...I am Fine." It hurt like hell.

    At least having to rub up against the collar. About to sit up, the woman beat him to his side sitting over him. His eyes rested on her own. Her Face. The beauty clearly he'd missed when Fighting with her. To the stars...at this range...she was a rare jewel. His before enemy. Green eyes continued to look at her Face, her eyes, the most stunning Feature to make him swallow. She would use the belt.

    Stubborn woman....

    He was silent when the collar slid up scraping his wound more. She...tended to him. As she told him to stay still, Arkadi did exactly that.

    "Esha. Thank you." No more words until she asked him questions. "I have no children." Arkadi answered. "But in order to have children one must First have a mate. That is something else I do not have. There is only my Father..." His lips curve upward at the mention to the man.

    "My daggers. He is the one who gave them to me....I must get them back." A small wince came to him when the cloth pressed into his skin. As soon as he could tell that she looked at him, Arkadi made sure to look at her. A chance to look at those orange eyes.

    "I must clear something up. When I told you not to look at me, I meant in that glaring way...when we both were angry with one another. As you talked to me...I wanted you to look at me because it had been calm....I will always look at you..." She was looking at him now and he at her.

    The nuturing maternal side to her, taking care of him, he remembered having bit her. Arkadi almost went to check it but now she wrapped cloth around his own sliding the collar back into place. The warrior sat up on his elbows eying her.

    Again he thanked her. His tribe would likely throw accusations against his character For allowing the enemy in...to have a woman no less render a weakness in him. One which not have him harm her in any way. He swore on his own Father's head and that to Tomineete.

    What was she thinking? Arkadi would have liked to known seeing her orange eyes in the ever present darkness. Her trademark. His hair moved over his bare shoulders when she slid down. "Sleep sounds ideal..." He commented laying back down on his back knowing that she was close to him and looking. He looked back at her. The way she was positioned. Curled up. The woman was cold...

    He almost....moved closer...the thought was there but he did not act on it. Sleep tugged at his eyes dragging them down. Arkadi reached up touching the scar on his Face. In the next moment, his hand dropped. His bare chest rose up and down, nothing mattered other than the darkness having overtaken him.

    A piece of clothing had been laid down on the table where the man with the long graying blonde hair sat. Pain riddled his Features. Silently, he looked up to the one having placed the weapons down on the table.

    "Is he alive? My Arkadi?"

    "This was the only thing we discovered in the woodlands along with a dead boar."

    "Where is my child?" The man thundered. "Where is Arkadi?"

    "Sir...we have scowered the area. There is no sign."

    "Then we keep looking Tolm."

    "Understood." The white-haired warrior nodded simply however he remained emotionless where the tribe leader's son came concerned.

    Esha reminded Arkadi of Fruit.
    He loved Fruit. All kinds. She had such a particular scent of it to draw him in and awake to the once more moving cart. For they all knew, those vermin were sending them to hell in a hand basket woven...

    His eyes opened slowly, still somewhat closed until hearing the comment.

    "We've survived the night...it Feels better...thanks to your treatment." His hand only reached up to touch the collar only slightly.

    "I will live." She smelled really good. He was sitting up now turning his head to the side to yawn, his hair was a damn mess but only Esha would notice. He turned back to her sitting up on his elbows merely looking her over.

    "Are you rested? As much as can be. We have no idea where this day will bring us but as long as we remain united they will not win. Not even in this so called ring. What they throw at us, we will overcome. You must go home as I must as well. Drink some water." The Tomineete warrior reached to take the canteen handing it to her. Now about the bread...hard as a rock...a not so delighted breakfast.

    "You need to eat something." He said. Sincere concern toward the woman. He really wasn't concerned about his own health....damn...had she placed a spell on him? He crouched to move around their cage to those bars. His hands sliding on them.

    "The bread is old. Give us something Fresh, how can you expect us to do what you want with bellies Filled with old bread. I don't know whose out there....you can spare something and more water."

    Had he been on the other side, he would've snapped necks, taken what he thought she needed without a second thought. He did not hear a response so his lips lowered. He shook his head. The man returned a look to her.

    "Let me see your shoulder. It hurts does it not?" He crept back to her tired to wait on the miserable captors to answer. "I bit you." He is close to her. Those green eyes locked onto orange.
  15. Esha was surprised by Arkadi's kind hopeful words. Yes. She would see her brother again. She had to think of it like that. She couldn't allow herself to be thinking such dark thoughts. But Keno would be so lost with out her guidance.

    Orange eyes sparkled with a hint of danger as she spoke. "No man has proven himself worthy to be at my side." She smirked. And it was true. No male. But his words after brought a curious look from the huntress. It was as if he was speaking about a particular person, and not in general. But he seemed to drop the subject just as quickly as he spoke.

    He offered his belt. Joked about her biting his fingers off. "I might bite your fingers off. I am hungry." She said in a playful tone. Her expression softened as she spied the angry bite on his neck. He joked again. The warming laugh escaped her again. "Catch you? Not much room in this cage. That wouldn't be hard." She retorted playfully.

    After yelling at the dwarf he returned once again to his corner, laying down on his back. He was looking at the bars, enough so Esha looked too. She tried to think of the sky. She tried to think of her self on the grassy ridge over looking the village. Telling Keno about the stars. And making wishes on the ones that shot across the sky.

    But no. There was no grass, only hard wood and cold metal bars. Not even a sky to loo out at. Only dusty tan canvas. And the male next to her was not her little brother. She toyed with the cloth belt, thinking of the wound on his neck. She was cold but she'd survive. Should his would get infected, he could die.

    Her mind was made up when he looked to her. His body showed only the act of a warrior. No pain. But his eyes. They betrayed him. "I can be cold. You have a wound needing tending to." She grabbed the canteen and crawled on her hands and knees to him. "Stay still." She sat beside him, on her knees looking over him.

    What doesn't kill you makes you stronger he replied. "Mmhm. Words of a true warrior. Lay down and don't argue with me." She said with a knowing smile ghosting her face as gently laid her hands on his shoulder. Stopping him from sitting up.

    She tended to his wound, her true nature coming out in her. She was a natural born hunter and nurturer. Being a warrior was learned. Learned from the anger, shame and complete feeling of no control. After that night she swore she'd learn to fight. To never let a man take control of her again.

    But the way Arkadi's green eyes looked into hers those thoughts seemed to be in the back of her mind. This was completely out of place for a woman who never let her guard down around men. Could he be... No. She wouldn't allow it. She made excuses in her mind as she stammered for a change of subject. He thanked her but she merely looked at him and nodded. "So..." She said breaking the silence. "What of you? Any children? Family?"

    So he was not taken by a mate. Why was she making a mental note of this? She kicked herself inwardly as she listened to him. A smile graced his face when he spoke of his father. He was quiet handsome when he wasn't trying to stab her.

    On that thought was his daggers. Sharpe as her own claws when in feline form. And just as deadly. It was then she glanced down at the various cuts he'd given her with these daggers.

    But it all made sense now. His daggers, the onse he was so distressed about being stolen. They were a gift. From his father no doubt. He highly looked to his father, more so then she probably did of her mother. But he was his only family. She met his eyes with reassurance. "Then that will have to be the first thing we do. Find your daggers and slice those beady eyes from that dwarfs head." She cooed as if speaking about a summer time picnic.

    She got that awkward feeling again as silence fell between them again. He was lingering his gaze into her eyes. Seemed like he was doing that more. He winced when she gently started to clean the wound with the wet cloth. She wanted to tease him but at the moment she wanted to avoid his lingering green captivating eyes.

    He spoke again, and she lifted her orange eyes to him. He told her that he didn't mean for her to never look at him. Admitting he did want her to look. Her words tripped over one another, not quiet sure of what to say. His eyes. His gaze. She understood it now. Almost like a young warrior trying to make sense of his feelings. But he was not the inexperienced young men she was used to shooing away dismissively.

    No he was an experienced warrior with confidence in his voice and posture. Though he seemed to be confused or trying to... She wasn't even sure what to say. She audibly tried to find words before something finally came. "Fair enough. Don't try to stab me anymore and I won't glare at you." She replied flatly, making damn sure to focus on his wound.

    She finished tending to the wound, wrapping it up gently so as not to choke him but keep it from rubbing on the metal collar. She could hear the alpha warrior bellowing at her. Telling her she was betraying the tribe and should have taken his life when he was culled. But the alpha warrior was a bit blood thirsty as it was. It's no wonder the chief had to always keep him in line. "You're welcome." She replied briefly lifting her eyes to his before she retreated back to her corner to lay down.

    But his green eyes wouldn't stop looking at her. In turn it was like they were calling to her to look into them. So she looked back at him, trying to scowl. Didn't matter how she started to see him. Their tribes were still enemies. She curled into a tighter ball, trying to hide from the cold biting at her bronze skin. Unconsciously she laid her hand over the bite would he'd given her. Over the previous bite that held such bad memories.

    Her dream or vision didn't let her sleep much. Tomineete and Rockridge in fierce battle. Her village on fire, her friends killed. Mother and Keno missing. "You must stop this from happening."

    The cart jolted her awake, causing her to sit up abruptly. Her orange eyes looked around wildly. Strangely a sigh of relief escaped her. no bodies, no waring chiefs, only this cold cage and the Tomineete warrior. He was a welcome sight compared to her dream.

    "Urgh... Can't believe reality is better then my dream..." She said leaning back on her elbows. Her eyes looked to him, the handsome enemy. She was glad his bite felt better. "I'm glad it feels better." She groaned some, sitting up proper to ease the pain in her shoulder. She was starting to think she should have cleaned it too while tending to his wound.

    He leaned up and she looked to him again, a snort of amusement escaped her. His hair was a right mess. Not that she had any room to talk. Her hair always looked wild and messy. But she was sure it looked better then his hair. "Yes. Survived the night. But what are we headed into..." She mumbled more to herself as she slid her back against the bars.

    He asked if she was rested. Even giving her the canteen of water. The way he spoke. It reminded her of her own chief. Words of valor and wisdom. He had spoken highly of his father... Could he be the chief's son? It would explain her vision. "Together... You sound so confident." She said with a smile, her own voice was agreeing with him. Not condescending at all. "We have to get out of this together."

    She took the canteen and took a drink, the water cool and refreshing. Leaving enough for the Tomineete warrior enough to drink as she handed it back. She gave a soft sigh. Home. "You have to get back to your tribe... And I... Need to bring home a boar for my brother... Maybe bring down a snow bison to make it up to him."

    Talking about food made her stomach grumble. A noise that didn't seem to escape Arkadi. Curious orange eyes looked to him a moment. She needed something? Had her kindness brought out chivalry in the man? "We both need food." She kindly corrected him.

    She listened to him spat at the men she could not see. Out side their tiny prison. She could hear them. Talking amongst themselves. But no reply came to Arkadi. In true warrior fashion he was agitated and restless when no reply came.

    "We cant fight if we are weak." She added with his words. As much as she wanted to take the warrior's approach and growl, snarl and scream at her captors. But that didn't seem like it was working. She heaved a sigh and ran her fingers through her hair. She needed to be a patient hunter, waiting for the right time and opportunity to strike.

    Damn that bite of his hurt like hell. She moved her left arm down to rest in her lap. "We'll have to wait for them to make a mistake. We'll not be getting any revenge in this cage." She growled at the idea.

    His words and his movement drew her attention this time. Her bite? And he was moving towards her. That bite. Not only the deep physical scar but the mental one. "It's fine." She said in a tone hinted in threat. No he wasn't talking about that one. But the one he'd given her.

    But it was too close to the old one. She didn't let anyone touch her shoulder. But... Could he be trusted? To tend to her wound? She needed to bite down her fear and let it be taken care of. It could get infected. "Okay so it doesn't look fine but... I don't like people touching my shoulder. That shoulder."

    His green eyes looking into hers. Something made her trust him. Strange. "Fine... Just... Don't touch it so much..." She said tentatively. Letting him tend to it should he decide to.

    While they were talking the noise level rose. Esha's ears seemed to hurt from the strange noise. Animals barking, clucking, mooing, and people talking. Many people. The rolling sounds of many carts rolling by. What was this insane place? "What is all that noise?" She said trying to peer through the bottom of the curtain with out grabbing the cloth.

    "Didja get those wilder folk you wee after old man?" A man said as a crown laughed. The dwarf grumbled but laughed back at them. "Ye think me daft huh?" Esha narrowed her eyes as she listened.

    "What's going on?" She said loud enough for Arkadi's ears. She bit her lip and looked at the Tomineete warrior. "If he comes close enough, grab him." She whispered to him.

    "Aye giv' ye a sneak peek. But to see them fight. You have to come to dey ring." The men scoffed and cackled at the dwarf. "Ye call me daft but no more! Aye caught not one... but two!"

    With that he grabbed the edge of the cloth and ripped it off. But not before Esha let out a animalistic snarl as she lashed out at the movement. She hissed deeply as the crowd screamed and darted away from the cart. They seemed to be in a strange village or sorts.

    Buildings made of stone with stone pathways. Strange see through glass of some kind on the strange square buildings. The people were even dressed strangely. Even smelled like the dwarf. Fabricated cloth, nothing seemed to be fresh from nature. All the animals she was hearing were in cages. Like them. Or harnessed like slaves. It made her sick.

    "Aye. Two druids." He said in a mystical voice. The crowd stared in awe but a few looked skeptical. "You're living on borrowed time dwarf." She snarled as the dwarf paced the cage as he obviously reveled in his glory. Proud of his catch. Esha felt disgusted, angry. She was seething, pacing the cage in a crouched position.
  16. He wanted to tell her smelled like Fruit. A good thing to him but then how would she take it? Besides did they not loathe one another but held a pact For the sake to escaping? Yes but the young warrior held an inkling to thinking deeper into Esha. She was very beautiful as he had come to realize. Her eyes drew him in. Captured him in a spell....

    And he hadn't even realized it.

    So when he was awakened by that scent, his eyes opened slowly, he almost thought maybe they were still in that Forest. Together...having worked through some agreement on the issue....wait...he was thinking things he shouldn't. For this woman. Argh. "It...Feels better. Thanks to your treatment." His hair was a mess. Utterly divide and conquer. "??" Her snort. And she was looking at him when she did it. Something amusing? On his Face? His hands slapped to that skin to mentally wake up but also to clear away something should it have been the result to her..warming..snort. He completely missed messing around with his hair to get it straightened. Ah well. "Somewhere with this ring that bastard talked about I am assuming. Should we be made to Fight, we will slaughter whom ever is in our way to Freedom. Leave the blood trailing in our wake." Every movement she made, Arkadi's eyes went. They resided on her when she slid to the bars.

    She looked tired.

    "Are you rested? As much as can be. We have no idea where this day will bring us but as long as we remain united, they will not win. Not even in this so called ring. What they throw at us we will overcome. You must go home as I must too...." Arkadi reached For the canteen handing it to her. "Drink some water."

    He nodded. "I am..." he moved some hair out his Face to stare at her, the smile. His heart skipped a beat and he did not know why. Together....but...he would gladly let her go on ahead. "Together...thank you...the words about my daggers. It meant a lot." She took a drink and as he suspected, handed the canteen back. His own drink took a quick second. The day had only begun. He didn't know whether there would be anything other than what the damned beady eyed bastard gave them. He laughed only after swallowing the liquid. "I am certain your brother will like anything you bring to him so as long as 'you' are the one bringing it. First and Foremost you need something to eat other than yesteryear bread...." She corrected him. They both needed Food. "This is true...." But something in him would rather she have it more....

    And it did him no good to lash out to their captors. Not a single one responded to him. He was hoping the dwarf would take a chance to come closer so he could squeeze his eyes out. Much more satisfying than breakfast.....

    Having no answer, Arkadi turned back to Esha. She moved her left arm down into her lap.

    "Your shoulder...let me see it." He knew it hurt. He'd bitten her harshly and she returned the Favor. Now the only difference was, his was treated under the collar, hers no so much. He moved near him sitting on his knees with a slight scowl expression that countered her 'It's Fine.' hinted threatening tone.

    [ "Okay so it doesn't look fine but I don't like people touching my shoulder. That shoulder." ]

    He spoke in a whisper. "I didn't like people touching this." He pointed to the scar down the right side of his Face where enough damage might've taken out his eye.

    "It...is not bad anymore." He'd not pry into her hesitation to be touched there. Maybe some trauma occured, Arkadi wanted to know, more about her to be honest yet there wasn't anything he could do unless she wanted to talk about it. He was the type to not speak on things, personal, unless asked...by those close. This woman had him in knots. Pretty soon, he wouldn't know which way was up. "I promise." He smiled at her.

    "I want to keep my Fingers." A joke. His belt was used For anything other than being wrapped up in the cold. He tore a piece to wet using some water. He eyed her some as she most likely stared at him. The young man carefully pulled down her blouse shoulder seeing that ivory skin exposed to him and not only his marking but another one drawn into a scar. An attack. He complied with her wishes not to touch it so much but he made sure to clean out the dried blood stopping when he heard noises too.

    He listened to the cautiously outside their prison cage. Somewhere they had come. A new location where there lied many odors he could not deem as anything remotely related to the nature he grew up in.

    He turned his head slightly, never drawing away From Esha and tending her wound however, he tried to Follow the multiple conversations. To whom the voices belonged to but it was a lost cause. He didn't like this place. Not in the least. He wrapped a lasting portion to the belt over the wound pulling her sleeve up. "Better?"

    He turned at Esha's question.

    "I am uncertain. It is a rather noisy place. Too many conversations. Too many smells." His answer to her and a look with his emerald eyes. The way the cart bumped, the tarp moved a bit but not enough to give them a decent view outside. Arkadi crouched move to one side listening to the dialect spoken by the one day dead dwarf and others. It had to be about them. He and Esha. Their Fate.

    "He must be discussing us...not only will I grab him...I'm going to gouge out his blackened eyes with a Finger. Send him straight to the depths below." Vowed the Tomineete warrior.

    This included everyone else involved in their capture. His emerald eyes caught sight to something moving close to the cart. Close enough to yank but his head turned to one side glimpsing....shoes. A golden color with small bell bangles at the tip. Sensing eyes on them, the wearer moved away leaving him only with the image to the gold-colored shoes.

    They belonged to a woman...

    "Oh...old man...what did you bring back?" Asked the one whom owned the shoes. She was a lithe woman with chestnut-colored hair drawn back in a bun. A natural beauty came to her Face with little makeup potions to have been used. Her crystal blue eyes looked to Ironbeard, a smile touched her lips. "I want to see." She stood near the men though no laughter came out her mouth. The woman was elegant or tried to appear that way wearing animal skins over her light blue satin attire. From the concealed cage came a most animalistic sound she had ever heard. What could possibly be inside?

    Arkadi growled deeply but he winced when the cloth was ripped away and daylight shown upon them.

    "Oh my..." The woman ignored her counterparts screaming and running away From the cart. She remained where she was at. Looking. Interested. At Arkadi that is. "You brought back a man...handsome he is...ooh."

    The Tomineete warrior looked around, trying to get to know the surroundings better. A village, but not like any he had every seen before. The smell was drenched in a Foulness which made him more determined to think on ways to escape with Esha. He hissed at the dwarf and those watching them. He turned when seeing bright blue eyes on him. A woman was staring. Why?

    "Hi..." She waved.

    He Frowned deeply. She was in no way as beautiful as Esha, not even close. He was against her staring at him in such a manner. He turned, his eyes on the blonde druid in this mess with him.

    "Ohhh. He's shy." Kee's head turned to the side. "Ironbeard...let me have him...For one night please. I will pay. He has the most incredible green eyes I've ever seen...how did you catch them anyway....?" She approached the cart slowly. "I don't care about what ring you are talking about, I only want him." She regarded Esha as though she wasn't even there. "You don't want to talk to me darling?"

    Arkadi's Face darkened. Something about this woman. She had a scent. Like a snake. He could tell by her Face she was not one to be trusted. He was still looking at Esha, plotting.


    "I'm really nice." Kee urged. "I think I am in love." She pushed in between some people to get a better look at Arkadi. "Come on handsome. Say something, you don't want to make me mad now do you?"

    A little closer...

    "You run when they open the cage...." His green eyes burned into orange dangerously. His words are whispered. Don't look back, he'd thought to say. Keep running. He would catch up eventually. The woman was coming closer. Calling him names he knew nothing about. It was very odd.

    "Sweetheart..." Kee made the mistake in coming to the cage. "The things I would do to you...." She reached her hand out.

    "Hey you stupid whore...." Someone called out. "You're going to be sorry getting that close."

    The woman did not listen.

    Arkadi moved like lightning, he snatched her hand pulling it in the cage. She let out a startled scream trying to pull back but he pushed her hand back twisting her around to where her back pressed against the metal bars. He held her tightly.

    "Open the cage!" He shouted. "I will snap her neck like a twig! Open the cage!" His scream was like thunder as he kept his hold on the woman hearing her cries.
  17. Orange eyes tried to stare dangerously in to green. Her wound. Of course he wanted to clean it, maybe returning the favor. But she’d given younger warriors lasting scars when they tried to playfully grab her shoulder. But his eyes, his captivating green eyes held no malice. Only a strange kindness that surprised her. She felt he could be trusted, why she couldn’t explain why. She pulled her hands away from her wound, letting him look after it.

    He motioned to his handsome face, pointing out the deep scar on his face. She could tell if it had been just a few inches to the left he would have lost his eye. He admitted to not letting people not let touch it. She furrowed her brows as she looked away. “I’m sure that scar holds a different meaning then this one.” She said in a neutral voice, her body was tense as he came even closer.

    But his joke, her body relax some and a smile tugged at her lips. A soft gentle laugh brought her eyes up to his. His well timed joke breaking a bit of the tension in her. She might as well been insane letting the man that tried to kill her just the other day tend to her wound but, she strangely trusted him. Her face winced ever so slightly as he pulled away the sleeve hiding the wound. Both new and old. Her eyed lifted to him, her body tensed.

    The scared girl in her was ready to lash out, and tear this man apart should he make it seem like he had other malice thoughts in mind. But he didn’t. She looked into his eyes, watching for a sign but only that fluttery feeling in her stomach came. She forgot to breathe a moment before she cleared her throat. She could see his reaction, seeing the other scar. Her body tensed more expecting him to ask about it. But he didn’t. It made her thankful.

    The raucous noises outside brought her attention away, looking over her shoulder at the horrible irritating noises. He asked if it felt better as he finished wrapping it, and she couldn’t lie. It felt much better. She was even surprised a warrior could be so tender. Her cheeked flushed from his gentle comment and captivating eyes. She looked away pulling the sleeve up and using the new smells and sounds as an excuse to look away. “Yes… Thank you.” She spared a glance and smile before turning back to the dangers outside their tiny prison.

    Foreign smells and sounds invaded her senses as she paced the cage. “What’s going on?” She said in a whisper loud enough for him to hear. He agreed with her thoughts. This place was noisy. There was too many people and too many alien smells. He crouched like her, listening to the growing voices out side. It seemed their agitation grew together as they heard the dwarf. His growing agitation was clear by the vicious threat he promised. A dangerous smile slipped on the huntress’ face as her orange eyes glinted to the Tomineete warrior. “While your busy gouging his eyes out, I’ll bite his fingers off… One by one.” She said dangerously.

    Esha lunged at the moving cloth, a cougar like screech erupting from her throat. The crowd screamed and backed away in awe. “"Aye giv' ye a sneak peek. But to see them fight. You have to come to dey ring." The men scoffed and cackled at the dwarf. "Ye call me daft but no more! Aye caught not one... but two! Aye. Two druids!” He said in a mystical voice. Esha hissed and snarled dangerously as she eyed the man.

    Her deadly gaze was directed to the lone female that stupidly stayed standing near the cart. She was eyeing Arkadi. A strange ping hit Esha, something that she’d not really felt before. Jealousy. She was obviously eyeing the man like a piece of meat. Like a toy of some sort. Never mind she did the same thing to the young warriors in her tribe, giving them false hopes of bedding with her. Arkadi was not some young dumb boy to be played with. “You’re living on borrowed time dwarf!” She said dangerously.

    “Hims a wild one. He tear yer throat out jes’ t’watch ye bleed woman.” He said before turning about to the crowd. “Aye came about these two, doing a rare courtship battle… Bloodiest ting ye ever seen.” Red invaded Esha’s cheeks. Courtship battle? She was enraged now as well as blushing. He was speaking to the crowd but she didn’t care. “Came t’fine the male must- Wut? Are you daft woman? Y’can sleep wit et. Him rip yer throat out!” He snapped at the woman as Esha snarled again.

    The dwarf nodded proudly as she asked how he caught them. “Iffen ye listen aye tell ya… Anyways dere I was, watchin’ them do their courtship battle. Been trackin dem fer days. Till aye found them. Caught em single handed aye did. Netted the female first. Since she dey less dangerous of the two. Wit him mate caught and him weakened from the fight I lashed a rope round hims and wrestled him to the cage.”

    “Lies! Less dangerous one? Let me out! I’ll show you less dangerous!” Enraged by his scandalous over the top lies Esha couldn’t hold back anymore. Tawny fur erupted from her body saber fangs jutted out from her feline face. A thick ridge of sandy blonde mane spayed from her neck. The crowd jerked away screaming more. But the huntresses act only made the dwarf smile more. “Dems for the ring.”

    Deep growls continued to rumble from the panther Esha as she lashed her tail from side to side. Her focus on the dwarf, not the woman edging closer. The dwarf did a double take. “Wut? Ye… Ah… Wut no? Ye cant have hims!? Dey hells wrong wit you?” Orange cat eyes looked to Arkadi, then she noticed the woman edging closer, to him. Her Tomineete warrior. His green eyes plotting. She’d follow his lead, what ever he chose to do. Her pointed ears lay against her head as she realized what he meant to do. She didn’t like the idea but it was the only way. Use the stupid human as leverage.

    “Oi wut you doin’ woman! Aye watch dat one rip a man’s throat out when hims come to close! Git away from hims!” The dwarf cautioned but he was smarter then Esha would have liked. Not coming close enough to grab. He saw the look being given and he bolted to grab the woman but it was too late.

    The words the woman was using itched at Esha. Calling him sweet heart, and telling him that she’d do things to him. She resisted the urge to lash her vicious claws at her for her words. She needed to allow the woman to get close. As expected, the warrior snatched the woman’s hand and yanked her against the cage. The woman screamed and rightfully so looked terrified. Esha saw more then a warrior using a woman to get out of his prison. She coiled away from him, orange eyes taking every bit of the aggressive nature he used on the woman.

    The dwarf skidded to a halt in front of the woman. Staring at the blonde warrior as he demanded the cage be opened or he’d kill her. His men surrounded the cage, whips and spears in hand. All trying to shout at Arkadi to let the woman go. “Aye outta let you die ya dumb bitch.” The dwarf snarled, but he could only guess what would happen if he left her to her fate. He nodded to his men.

    Esha was focused on the dwarf, eyeing him dangerously but movement brought her feline head to follow. A man with a rod of sorts came behind her, a rod with a strange clasp at the end. It wasn’t a spear and she didn’t understand its purpose. But they were eyeing her. She snarled dangerously as they took aim and jabbed rod at her neck.

    This was the downside of being in feline form, no hands to grab things. Gutteral growls reverberated from her as she tried to back away, bumping into Arkadi, her dangerous jaws snapping and biting the rod. But it was all useless when the rod clicked into place on her metal collar. Several men grabbed hold of it and slammed her into the wall of the cage. A painful yowl lept from her throat from the impact, unable to speak either the only protest she made was cougar like screams.

    For a small woman she was powerful. Her tiny body was coiled with hidden power. She trashed trying to break free. Making a total three men to hold her against the cage all while she caused the cart to rock. More men stood trying to calm the frightened ox that pulled the cart. “Let her go an’ we let her go. Don’t… an’ we start wit dey whips.” With that a whip cracked close to Esha.

    Cougar screams gave way to humanoid screams as Esha shifted back into her human form. She gripped her hands around the pole trying to grab it away from them, her fingers gripping the clasp. She screamed angrily as she propped her feet against the bars, giving her the leverage to actually start to pull the men towards her. Fearful two more men grabbed a hold of the pole and yanked hard, slamming her face first into the bars.

    She let out a painful muffled sound before another angry growl came from her. “I’ll kill you… All of you.” She said between gritted teeth, blood dripping from her cut lip. She still tried to fight but the sheer power of five men kept her pinned against the cage wall. “Don’t you let her go. I can endure.” She said between gritted teeth.

    The men lashed their whips at Arkadi from the side, trying to scare him into letting the frightened human go. Another man came up along side the cage with a pole. The same pole that held Esha to the cage wall. They where looking to aim it at the Tomineete warrior.
  18. Her shoulder. Arkadi wanted to see it. The one he bit in his rage to best her in a time when neither knew anything other than wanting to be victorious. Gradually, whether either wanted to admit it or not, it was changing. The once pure hatred. Malice.

    The young Tomineete warrior Found his being captured in her orange eyes, words, in a way he had not experienced. Sure he had small outings with women in Tomineete but none managed to gain his attention like Esha. Gain and hold in a degree where nothing, besides their Freedom, seemed relatively important. She made him...place her wellbeing over his own...and why?

    What was this grabbing within him? The yearn to know more about her and despite the hellish situation Fate thrust them in, he still discovered a tranquility when looking into her eyes. Surely his tribe would disapprove. To develop Feelings towards the enemy.

    It could never be. Them....as one. His name would be shamed. That belonging to his Father but did Arkadi really care? Did anyone when it came to strong matters?

    "I don't like people touching this." Arkadi pointed to the scar down the right side to his Face where more severe damage might've taken his eye out. He could understand how she Felt but hearing her tone, the look evident, Esha's wound held a deeper meaning. Something much more than his own.

    "....It was inflicted at a time when I was weakened. I had vowed to never reach such a situation again..." His green eyes caught to hers. Yes. How did she get that scar? Regardless to this pondering question, he realized, she had him in knots. Plainly to see. He'd not know which side was up soon...how strange Fate was. To place enemies together...and make them comrades.

    "I promise...besides...I wish to keep my Fingers." He smiled as she did and it made a jolt rise through his stomach when she laughed, his eyes caught hers once more.

    "Be still." He tore a piece to his belt wetting it using some water. He eyed her again with a soothing note in his voice...as much as he could be.

    "It will be alright." Cautiously and careful did he pull down the sleeve to her blouse catching wind to her ivory skin exposed to him and not only his marking but another one drawn into a scar. An attack. He did not touch it but made sure to clean out the dried blood, his eyes turned up again, Focused on her.

    She was a rare sight to look at even when silent, it brought on thoughts again and had his hands not been occupied, Arkadi would've slapped himself, to knock some sense into his mind. His attention was grabbed like her own when unfamiliar noises came to them. A new location. So many odors wicked to their noses by a sense to the pure scent nature provided. It disgusted him.

    The warrior turned back to Esha tending to her wound in between trying to Follow the multiple conversations, none made any sense. He wrapped the lasting belt portion over the wound pulling up her sleeve. "Better?" A sly smile Forced it's way on his lips at her answer.

    "No need to thank me. It is Fine. That damnable dwarf....*growling* I wish to gouge his eyes out...send him straight to hell with anyone else stupid to partake in keeping us here." He could see Esha out the corner of his eye, her dangerous smile meaning the statement he had just spoken, she agreed with him. "I will be holding him down while you do so."

    It was after viewing someone moving closer to the cart and a stop that the dwarf removed the tarp.

    Arkadi growled deeply looking around to the surroundings before them. Some village with people all standing around and Foul smells lingering in the air, the dwarf presented them like some trophies and a woman with bright blue eyes looking upon him. Odd. When she waved at him, he Frowned.

    "Druids...." Kee approached the cart. "He is so handsome. He has eyes green like emerald....one night with him shall give me what I seek...." She completely ignored Esha only wanting Arkadi to warm her bed and body with the only result to such a escapade through a child. The warrior wasn't having it. He regarded her coldly. Something very tainted. He could hear her trying to talk with the dwarf Arkadi now knew as Ironbeard, trying to propose a meeting while approaching.

    "Courtship battle...." Arkadi stole eavesdropped on Ironbeard's lies to the crowd. He looked at Esha curious about the red brightening her Face. "I would've given you my daggers to propose marriage." Truth. In his tribe, men would present the woman they hoped to marry with artifacts obtained throughout their life. Meaningful objects.

    He'd explain to her more about it when the time proved necessary. Of all the things that bastard dwarf to lie about....it served to make him think more about.....no...no....

    [ "Netted the female first. Since she dey less dangerous of the two." ]

    "You resorted to a sneak attack you lying bastard!" Esha...Arkadi's mate? He didn't bother to correct anything the beady-eyed man said as it would not be any use, he seemed proud in spewing lies out his mouth about what really happened and looking to Esha, hearing her growling, no doubt by what was being said. "Open the cage..." Arkadi's Face darkened. "We will show you who is less dangerous." His head snapped at the woman insisting on having her way with him through the etching closer and the names she called him. It was a rather disturbing public display. She should've known better. Should have listened to the words the dwarf spoke. Something happened out the corner of his eyes. Turning his head, with that messy hair moving along his bare shoulders, the warrior noticed the Fur erupting from Esha's body, Fangs emerged out her Face. She was taking her true Form. The Tomineete one thought it to be strange, to view this, though it still made him contain his care towards her....should that be the proper word to describe it. He called her name. "Esha..." She did not want to be caged, nor did he. It was against everything they were. For a split second, he imagined them running together in Tomineete Fields.....together. Free.

    And it all came disturbed...

    The woman Kee gave a slight surprised cry at Esha's transformation but her mind was on Arkadi. Sleeping with him. She continued to walk to the cage despite the warnings, her attention on the green-eyed man. "You don't want to talk to me darling?"

    Arkadi's eyes were on Esha only. Plotting came to mind.

    "Come on honey, say something. It will be better that you do. Oh hush," She waved her hand at Ironbeard ignoring his warnings and those others whom called her a whore.

    "You run when they open the cage...." Arkadi's eyes burned into orange dangerously. His words are whispered.

    "Sweetheart...." Kee had now reached the cage. "The things I would do to you....no other woman you would remember or want to."

    He turned the most acid expression on the woman. Arkadi moved like lightning. He snatched Kee's hand pulling it in the cage where her startled scream did nothing to stop his assault. He would've used anyone by this point. She tried to pull back but he pushed that hand back twisting her around to where her back pressed against the metal bars. He held her tightly.

    "Open the cage! I will snap her neck like a twig! Open this cage!"
    He did not notice the other looking at him. His methods. They may have been heavily Frowned upon but when having little other choice, the warrior would take the opportunity to not only save Esha's life but his own in a smaller way. Freedom. It was all he wanted.....

    "Ironbeard!" Kee whimpered closing her bright blue eyes pained.

    Arkadi looked down at her. Could smell something strong in her hair. He didn't know what though. His ears trained to the shouting around. Those others surrounded the cage arming themselves with weapons, prepared to attack. How many did he count? Ten? More? The dwarf stopped near them and had he not been at a distance, surely Arkadi would've substituted the woman to grab at the beady-eyed bastard. Certainly so.

    She whimpered to the dwarf's words. Kee. "Help me please...."

    "Be silent..." Arkadi shook her. He eyed Ironbeard murderously. His attention taken away From the one he vowed to...protect...and those men lurking about with weapons. Everything seemed to happen in moments which would be a lasting eternity to him, his head turned, the woman on his mind. Esha. The only one he truly cared about now. His body propelled to the metal bars when she bumped into him trying to back away From a rod. His eyes widened when seeing the rod, with the strange clasp, hook to her collar. Madness. What would happen next sent chills up his spine....

    Into the cage wall was she slammed when more than one human took hold to the rod pulling.


    Those screams...

    A scuffle occured with the cart rocking back and Forth jolting them.

    [ "Let her go an' we let her go. Don't an' we start wit dey whips." ]


    His mind paused.

    Oh how she was Fighting. That woman he had entered into a battle with the other night. She turned back into her human Form, hands grabbing at the rod being held by those combined men and their mistake was to yank her against the bars again.

    It made him downright angry.
    Beyond it.
    Hearing her scream. The one he'd thought to make his own....someday. Oh there would be hell to pay. Pay in having blood be drawn, he could see the cut on her lip as well as hear her tell him not to let the woman go. Green eyes saw everything. All around. What was to happen.

    That may be so...
    But he'd not let them harm her.

    Damn them all to hell...

    He heard a male voice quite different than the others, not close. It sounded surprised. Looking behind the dirty dwarf, Arkadi saw one man, proposed to being a gentlemen, coming down the path in a quick stride. His hair was long.

    Pushed back From his hairless Face into a ponytail and dark as night. His eyes were amber, thin, narrowed with anger to see Kee in the situation, she caused on her own. The man shouted vulgar words in a language unknown to Arkadi. He'd have to act quickly. The Tomineete warrior.

    A whip cracked at his back harshly then another surely to open up a wound but he did not care. He held Kee until the the man with the pole appeared, Arkadi saw him. One. Two. Three....when the man would attempt to hook him to the pole, his powerful hands shoved Kee so hard she stumbled over her own Feet tripping and landing on the black haired man approaching the scene.


    "I want him hung!" She sobbed. "After I have him though..."

    Arkadi's hands gripped the pole, his teeth clenched down, a growl thundered out his throat as he pulled it back in a secure obtain only to thrust it directly in the man's throat then eye. The other end is drenched in the red liquid. The warrior quickly pulled his weapon through the bars to slid it on the even Flooring, straight.

    "Get away From her!" His hands once again grip the pole carefully sliding it at an angle where Esha would not be touched, he came up behind her with his body pressed to her own, he moved the weapon to one man's Face, he whipped it through the bars not giving them time to grab it nor suspect him in not attacking Freqently.

    It shot Forward striking another and in between his other hand went to Free her.....to unlatch the hook From her collar. He would take on the remaining men. Fight until there lied not a breath in his body....the thought to her escaping suited him.

    He thrust the pole at another man's shoulder, the weight pulling on Esha seemed to diminish in only a moment or two, enough time to throw out his own weapon and bring her sliding back though he couldn't quite get the pole attached to her collar off. At least she wasn't being pulled to the bars. His arms held her. Thoughts clouded on what to do. Arkadi held Esha moving with her back and into a whip's grasp.

    He sneered. The pain etched into his memory. Stinging. Along the lines to a snake bite. He held the woman closer to shield her From more attacks. He covered her against a whip slash taking it to his shoulder. No one would hurt her. No one.

    "Kill that son of a whore." Kee's black-haired comrade spoke with a deep accent. He knew not the circumstances behind what was going on but he looked to the two druids huddled together. The woman was behind him, angry. Her hand wiped against her eyes.

    "I won't let them hurt you Esha..." Arkadi whispered.

    "When the cage is opened. Run. Keep running. Never look back...go home to your brother. Your Family. Agh..." A slight cry escaped him when his blind side had his own collar hooked to a pole by unsuspecting men. They pulled hard in dragging him to the cage, his head hit it and sanctuary to the woman lessened. They pulled.

    His Fists tightened.

    Growling, he crouched in a Forward movement to pull the three up against the cage.

    The black-haired man cursed again. His hands pushed Kee back some as he now came to the cage. He reached down swiftly into his leather pants to take out something shimmering. A medium-sized dagger. He twisted it around in his hand shoving those men aside.

    He went to stab Arkadi but the keen warrior, detecting movement different than what he heard, stretched his hands backwards, through the bars, wrapping around the man's waist.

    "The hell..." Caso cried. "Let go you damn animal!" He lurched the weapon into Arkadi's side hearing the blonde one's teeth clench down at the erupting pain but he would not let go.

    "Open the cage Ironbeard!" Kee demanded. "I'm going to have him beaten....he tried to kill me! What did you bring here?! He has Caso!"

    Caso stabbed the druid again. Blood squirted on the cage Floor. It drizzled down Arkadi's smooth skin. His side exploded but as it would be a third time to be impaled, one arm lowered around Caso's waist, the right, to reach down at a precise time grabbing the dagger, wrestling it loose and turning it around directly in the man's privates.

    Caso screamed out. Eyes were wide. Understandably so. He hollared as the dagger dragged low cutting him open like a can, his pants became stained with blood and torn to have the severed pieces drop around the cart. He too dropped curling up in a wounded ball while Arkadi still had the dagger. He threw it backwards hoping to strike Ironbeard but it was Kee whom, in effort to reach her mortally wounded comrade, got struck in the shoulder. Her screaming sounded once more. Arkadi moved back to shield Esha.
  19. “Aye… two druids!” He said in a low mystical voice motioning to the two in the cage. Moss green eyes lifted from the fruit stand, her hands held a thick gnarled wooden stave. She’d not been paying much mind to the crowd before then. Slaves came and went, her old weary eyes growing indifferent to the scenes. But the sound that followed brought her to shove the braided mess of graying blonde hair from her face. Not actually as old as she acted, she pushed the crowd aside. The lines in her thin, once beautiful face creasing further. “Druids…” She said in a weary whisper.

    She was dressed a bit differently than the rest, an eccentric gypsy of sorts. Gems, charms and barbules dangled from her hand made clothing. The band that held most of her hair back had a pair of bison horns attached just for looks. Her skin was lighter then Esha’s, pale in comparison to Esha warm bronze tan skin. No this woman was paler, but not terribly so. Yet taller and more well built than the tiny bite sized huntress, but not taller than the Tomineete warrior. She played the old card well though she was actually young enough to be a mother to Esha or even Arkadi. Yes she’d seen many slaves come and go. All destined for the horrible ring. But it had been years since she’d seen a druid. One of her own.

    “Lies! You cowardly lying bastard!” Esha bellowed at the dwarf. Oh how she’d make him feel pain. She’d enjoy every minute of it. Her face blushed partly from rage, partly from her strange feelings for the Tomineete warrior stopping her from correcting him on what they were doing. Her face reddened a bit more as Arkadi admitted he would have given his daggers as a marriage proposal. Why was he even thinking about that? That comment didn’t slip by her ears. She made it a point to ask him about it later. Or not. Pretending he didn’t say it and going their separate ways once free. But she almost didn’t plan on leaving his side till she returned home.

    The dwarf rattled on, spewing forth more lies. “Iffen ye listen aye tell ya… Anyways dere I was, watchin’ them do their courtship battle. Been trackin dem fer days. Till aye found them. Caught em single handed aye did. Netted the female first. Since she dey less dangerous of the two. Wit him mate caught and him weakened from the fight I lashed a rope round hims and wrestled him to the cage.” Esha could take no more of his lies. Within seconds she changed into a compact but powerful panther druid. Her cougar like screams sending the remaining people down the streets.

    There was no getting around that as the huntress changed before her eyes. A beautiful panther replaced the woman. The woman bit away tears as her heart ached for the two. They were caged, like animals and it tore at a usually uncaring selfish heart. Her own placement into the modern civilization was by choice but these two. No they had no choice. “Oh… this is none of my business…” She said to herself trying to look away. But she couldn’t. She didn’t even run when she changed. “Warriors… there warriors…” Her voice dropped with sadness. No warriors were like unicorns, never meant to be caged.

    Rumbling growls and throaty hisses resonated from Esha as her orange cat eyes did bloody horrible things to the dwarf in her mind. She bared her fangs and gave a barking growl at the woman advancing towards her Tomineete warrior. Hers? In this moment yes. He belonged to her as he was to help her escape. Her comrade and companion. The warrior with a tender voice and strong but surprising gentle hands. But Arkadi gave her a look, she’d follow him in what ever he planned to do. But no she didn’t like the plan. Using the woman as leverage but they had to take the opportunity given.

    Unable to speak in this form, Esha’s growls continued to rumble from her throat as she looked to Arkadi. With lightening fast movements he grabbed the woman and bent her arm back, a dangerous forceful hold on her. Esha saw more than a warrior trying to escape. The aggressive way he held her. It reminded her of… She shied away from him, slinking her body against the side of the cage. She perked up as the dwarf ran to save the woman but skidded to a halt just out of reach. Even though all the noise Esha remained calm. A warrior, she waited for her time to strike.

    “Aye outta let you die ya dumb bitch.” He said taking a step back. Esha snarled dangerously but movement stole her attention. Her pointed ears perked and her whiskers twitched as angry orange eyes spied men coming beside her. Whips and a strange pointless spear. A pole of sorts with a strange clasp at the end. She didn’t understand it’s purpose but they were eyeing her. She hissed dangerously at them and they jabbed the rod at her neck. The next moments happened in a flurry. Bumping into the Tomineete warrior, smashing him into the cage wall. The clicking sound and her own body being slammed against the cage. But how she didn’t go quietly.

    The woman turned way, forcing the tears away as the tiny panther thrashed noisily in the cage. Baying for blood and freedom. Her hands brought to her face trying to wipe the worry away. “This is none of you’re business… Just stay out of it.” She kept saying over and over. She winced as the woman’s cougar like screams gave way to human like screams. Her eyes jerked back as five men took hold of the pole slamming the huntress against the bars again.

    Blood dripped from her cut lip, orange eyes painfully looking to the Tomineete warrior. “Don’t you let her go. I can endure.” She said between gritted teeth. Esha groaned angrily as men rounded on Arkadi with whips and a pole like the one that held her. She caught a glimpse of something in his captivating green eyes. Rage. In this short time together, despite the aggressive start between them. It was clear, what was happening to her enraged him. But her ears could hear another, a man. Shouting angrily at her Tomineete warrior. No. She couldn’t let them hurt him. She screamed a war cry and tried to fight against the men holding her. She winced at the cracks of whips even though none of them touched her. Him. “I’ll kill you all!” she vowed dangerously.

    From the corner of her eye she could see then try to aim the pole for her warrior’s neck. Stupid fools. But it was the mistake she was hoping for. She silently admired how quickly the warrior turned the tides for the battle. Slamming the rod into one of them. “Hit one for me Arkadi.” She said still trying to fight off the men holding her. But no… he let her go. But at least he had a weapon now. But he was… What was he doing? Saving her? She was torn between being annoyed that he’d let their leverage go and humbled by his rescue. The later the more prominent feeling.

    She could hear his rage as he bellowed at the men holding her. They eyed him warily, not quite sure what to do. “Ya bloody aim was off ya dumb git!” He kicked the lifeless body of the first sap to be on the receiving end of Arkadi’s vengeance. He jumped back and circle the cage pointing at the men holding Esha. “You useless gits betta not let go! Oi! You grab dey pole when hims attack! Lash hims wit dey whips! Ya dumb bastards aye don’t want no more deaths. Oi! Aye said grabed dey- Oh bloody hell…” He shuffled about on his short legs, trying to gain control of the situation.

    Esha inhaled sharply as time seemed to slow down. His strong arm wrapped around her. The same arm that once wielded daggers aimed to end her life short, now held a strange comfort. Holding her to him as he repeatedly slammed the pole into the men holding her. His repeated blows claiming another victim. The first shot hitting the man’s shoulder and then his face. The satisfying bone crack sent a devious smile on Esha’s face. “Take out as many as you can.” She said lowly. But by now the men panicked, he was down right dangerous with the pole. They dropped it and ran some distance away, two of them wounded.

    The huntress didn’t fight the warrior’s pull when he moved to the center of the cage. His fingers working furiously to take the clasp off. Her eyes silently pleading him to hurry. But men moved behind Arkadi with whips. “Arkadi! Behind you!” She gasped as she hid her face from the horrible lashing crack. But he didn’t wince in pain but sneered in anger. A true warrior. But he surprised her, coiling her close and shielding her from the dangerous whips. Her Did he not care about himself and only of her well being? But… why? But her thoughts clouded in the middle of battle. She could never recall a more comforting embrace before in her life. What was he doing to her? Thoughts wondering in battle. Was just unnatural.

    Silence. She could only hear his words. Vowed not to allow harm to come to her. Told her to run. Run home to her family and little brother. Her breath left her for a moment and her expression pained. He’d stay and fight just so she could be free. He’d risk death for her. A click assaulted her thoughts as his comforting embrace was torn away. “No! Arkadi! I meant what I said. I will not leave you!” A vicious snarl erupted from her throat as she directed her angry gaze at the men holding Arkadi. Again admiration, he easily pulled the men against the cage. And oh how she took this opportunity.

    In a flash once again she changed into a panther. A cougar scream leapt from her throat as she lashed out a padded paw full of razor sharp fish hook like claws. Slamming her paw through the bars and down on one of the men’s back. Her claws easily sinking in as he man screamed in pain. “Git a hold of her rod! Bloody hell!” But once in the cat’s grasp there was no getting away. Her thin muzzle fit just enough through the bars. She jerked her paw back and fed the man into her long razor like saber canines. The cracking of his bone could barely be heard over his screams and her raucous roars. The smell of blood permeated the air around them. She jerked her head tearing chucks of the man away.

    The original four men rushed and grabbed her pole, yanking hard to get her off their already silent comrade. But in true animal fashion, she was not letting him go. Her other paw lashed out and gripped the body, the opposing forces leaving her pinned for the moment. She roared dangerously as men lashed both her and her Tomineete warrior with whips. Her orange eyes lifted to the dark haired man storming their way, something glinting in his hands. She made a grumbling yowl trying to gain Arkadi to look. But her warrior was on the ball, grabbing the man before he could stab him.

    A deep cougar roar bellowed from her directed at the man now in Arkadi’s grasp. She jerked to lash a claw deep into this man but her grip started to falter from her dead victim. The force with which then men pulled started to tear his flesh, pulling her away from her warrior. But her feline face dropped in horror as the dagger met it’s mark. His painful groans setting Esha’s confused emotions on fire. She roared in anger and horror.

    “Aye open dat cage dey kill us all! Yer dey one who got too close! Dis be all yer fault ya dumb bitch! Aye told ye dey be dangerous, bucha denne listen!” The dwarf bounced with rage. The death toll kept going up and the damn druids were still caged. “Think o’only sleepin’ wit hims! Told’ja dems animals! Look what you did!” He screamed back at Kee.

    Another roar of rage and horror as the man stabbed her warrior again. She let her lifeless prey drop and lashed her claws at the man but her grip on the outside world gone she nearly jerked all the way back. She dug her claws deep into the wooden floor of the cage, desperate to gain a firm footing. No she couldn’t allow him to die. She promised him they’d get out together, she couldn’t let him die. She let out a wailing cry as her claws drug away from him. The lashing whips on her back side only made her rage more. But suddenly the warrior turned the tables, stabbing his prey in a vital area. And the bystander could take no more. She jerked forward to the men hauling the huntress back, using her stave like a bat. An uppercut knocking one man away, twirling it once more to knock away another.

    With a new adversary in their face then men let go and backed away drawing their weapons.”Enough!” She bellowed in a commanding tone. No this one was not as old and feeble as she led people to think. Silence felt on the crowd as the eccentric old crone held her stave normal again, her moss green eyes glaring at anyone daring to look upon her thin face. Esha glanced back, labored panting gave way to shuddering breaths as she took her human form again. A gentle hand holding his side to stop the bleeding. His comforting arms around her once again. “Arkadi…” Her voice said softly.

    Orange eyes darted to the one that stopped everyone. She not only looked different and wild but smelled as such too. No this woman was wild, the smell of savanna grasses surrounded her. Was she a wilder folk? “Oi! Bloody hell ye think ye doin’ Lady Ox!? Already know ya off yer rocker but t’attack my men? Aye outta-“ But she rounded on the dwarf, closing the distance between them in a split second. No, Esha saw more than a wilder folk but a trained warrior. “You finish that sentence and they’ll be able to follow your blood trail even in the light of the moon.”

    Her voice was soft and gentle, even in the harsh tone she used. And like that the dwarf silenced himself. His beady black eyes scowling at the woman. She rounded her angry gaze at the woman screaming with the dagger in her shoulder. “And you. This wouldn’t have happened if you thought about keeping you’re legs closed.” She said in a wise voice. She walked calmly to the side where Arkadi’s pole hung out of the cage. “Be still a moment. I’ll get this off you.” She said softly as he picked up the rod, clicking a lever at the bottom and unhooking him. She tossed the rod at the dwarf and circled the cage to do the same to Esha. The huntress snarled dangerously at the woman but she reacted unphased. Unhooking her rod too and tossing it aside.

    Esha watched the strangely familiar woman as she freed them from at least the rods. Her hand clutched to Arkadi’s side, blood dripping from her mouth and between her fingers. Then it hit her. This woman wasn’t a wilder folk. She was a druid. Like her and her Tomineete warrior. But she was not caged and living among people. Willingly.

    “Stop tormenting them in the streets and place no blame upon them.” She said walking away. Ironbeard was confused as hell. The eccentric old bat never made an appearance in crowds, nor did she speak to anyone. To the town she was a gypsy witch with an affinity for animals. Only contacted when live stock needed curing. They didn’t know a druid lived among them. “Err… Clean dis mess up damnit. Can’t have dead bodies in dey streets…” The rest of Ironbeards men hurried to clean the streets while two others led the ox and cart into a sleazier part of town.

    “Tell me you’re okay? That this wound is not fatal.” Esha said to the blonde warrior. Her eyes briefly darting to look for the woman but she was gone. “That woman… The one that helped… She’s a druid… I… I don’t understand…” She gave a deep sigh as she looked down and the blood that stained her hand. His wound. They were brought to a strange huge building of sorts, wooden and dark. Foreboding. Due to recent events they didn’t even unload them off the cart. Instead pushing the cart into a corner between other cages. Esha looked around taking notice of dire wolfs, wild cats, and drakes that also called these cages home. All baying, yowling and screeching at the dwarf. All holding the same hatred she held for the beady eyed bastard as she did.

    A satchel landed near her, close enough to reach. She whipped her head around to face the man. A threatening hiss came from her lips. “Heal him good… Bloody hell he betta be worth a fight tonight. Kenne be backin’ out now damnit…” He grumbled as he walked off. Esha snarled as she jerked towards him. “I’ll kill you! You're living on borrowed time! I swear on my family’s name you’re already dead!” Her voice threatened to break as she bit away her tears of rage. “Be still…” she said as she crawled to the satchel. She didn’t want the bastards help but she couldn’t let Arkadi die. She promised they’d escape together. She wiped blood from her face, bleeding from the lashing whips that tried to get her to let her prey go.

    Hastily she worked to stop the bleeding, finding a plant salve that aided healing and a thick cloth to wrap his wounds in. “Tonight…” She said as she poured a generous amount on her fingers before tenderly applying it to his stab wounds. “He said tonight… That’s when we escape.” She said, orange eyes lifting to his captivating green with determination and confidence. She gently wrapped the cloth around his waist, glancing up at the relative calm the animals now exhibited. “When we go in the ring they’ll have to let us out of this cage… when they do… There’ll be hell to pay.” She said looking up at him.
  20. Arkadi's mind paused.
    Esha was Fighting. The same woman he entered into battle with the other night. They had her rod yanking her into the bars which made up their cage.

    It was a brutal blow.

    It made the Tomineete Warrior angry. Very. Beyond it. He heard her scream. The one he thought to make his own someday.
    There would be hell to pay. Pay in having blood drawn, he could see the cut on her lips as well as hear those screams in between her telling him not to let Kee go. Arkadi saw everything. All around. What was to happen.

    Damn them all to hell...

    He heard a male voice different than the others, not close. It sounded surprised. Looking behind the bastard dwarf, he saw one man, proposed to being a gentlemen, coming down the path in a quick stride. His hair was long.

    Pushed back From his hairless Face into a ponytail and dark
    as night. His eyes were amber, thin, narrowed with anger to see Kee in the
    situation, she caused on her own. The man shouted vulgar words in a language
    unknown to Arkadi. He'd have to act quickly. The Tomineete warrior.
    whip cracked at his back harshly then another surely to open up a wound but he
    did not care. He held Kee until the the man with the pole appeared, Arkadi saw
    him. One. Two. Three....when the man would attempt to hook him to the pole, his
    powerful hands shoved Kee so hard she stumbled over her own Feet tripping and
    landing on the black haired man approaching the scene.

    "I want him hung!" She sobbed. "After I have him though..."Arkadi's hands
    gripped the pole, his teeth clenched down, a growl thundered out his throat as
    he pulled it back in a secure obtain only to thrust it directly in the man's
    throat then eye. The other end is drenched in the red liquid. The warrior
    quickly pulled his weapon through the bars to slid it on the even Flooring,

    "Get away From her!" His hands once again grip the pole
    carefully sliding it at an angle where Esha would not be touched, he came up
    behind her with his body pressed to her own, he moved the weapon to one man's
    Face, he whipped it through the bars not giving them time to grab it nor suspect
    him in not attacking Freqently.

    It shot Forward striking another and in
    between his other hand went to Free her.....to unlatch the hook From her collar.
    He would take on the remaining men. Fight until there lied not a breath in his
    body....the thought to her escaping suited him.

    He thrust the pole at another man's shoulder, the weight pulling on Esha seemed to diminish in only a moment or two, enough time to throw out his own weapon and bring her sliding
    back though he couldn't quite get the pole attached to her collar off. At least
    she wasn't being pulled to the bars. His arms held her. Thoughts clouded on what
    to do. Arkadi held Esha moving with her back and into a whip's grasp.

    | "Akadi! Behind you!" |

    It was too late to avoid being hit.

    He sneered only. He would not let these people get the satisfaction of hearing him grunt. The pain etched into his memory. Stinging. Along the lines to a snake
    bite. He held the woman closer to shield her From more attacks. He covered her
    against a whip slash taking it to his shoulder. No one would hurt her. No
    one. He'd take the pain so as long as nothing came to her. His...Esha....

    "Kill that son of a whore's whore." Kee's black-haired comrade spoke with a
    deep accent. He knew not the circumstances behind what was going on but he
    looked to the two druids huddled together. The woman was behind him, angry. Her
    hand wiped against her eyes.

    "I won't let them hurt you Esha..." Arkadi
    whispered. "When the cage is opened. Run. Keep running. Never look
    back...go home to your brother. Your Family. Agh..." A slight cry escaped him
    when his blind side had his own collar hooked to a pole by unsuspecting men.

    They pulled hard in dragging him to the cage, his head hit it and sanctuary to
    the woman lessened. They pulled. His Fists tightened. Growling, he
    crouched in a Forward movement to pull the three up against the cage.

    She wouldn't leave....
    No matter what he said.

    "You...have to!" He continued to crouch ahead pulling those men against the cage. They shout angrily.

    "Oh shit...." One of the three looked on wide-eyed as Esha changed back into her panther Form. At them she was coming striking one upon his back. Arkadi couldn't help but grin, at the orange-eyed woman. A Force to be reckoned with. He would have to ask her. About this Form she changed into sometime. Not now.

    Esha bit into another man, he heard the bones breaking, somehow wishing once more that the beady-eyed bastard to be the one. The heavy blood scent Filled the air. Anger Filled the male druid to see those disgusting men take hold to Esha's pole again yanking on it. His eyes met orange. The overwhelming Feeling to protect her came across him. Not to see her in this state.

    The black-haired man cursed again. His hands pushed Kee back some as he now came to
    the cage. He reached down swiftly into his leather pants to take out something
    shimmering. A medium-sized dagger. He twisted it around in his hand shoving
    those men aside.

    He went to stab Arkadi but the keen warrior, detecting
    movement different than what he heard and Esha's warning yowl, stretched his hands backwards, through
    the bars, wrapping around the man's waist.

    "The hell..." Caso cried.
    "Let go you damn animal!" He lurched the weapon into Arkadi's side hearing the
    blonde one's teeth clench down at the erupting pain but he would not let go. His eyes went on the panther, the deep roar catching his attention. He snarled. "I'll get you next!"

    "You won't touch her!" Arkadi screamed.

    "Open the cage Ironbeard!" Kee demanded. "I'm going to have him
    beaten....he tried to kill me! What did you bring here?! He has Caso! My Fault? You brought them here. How the hell was I suppose to know he doesn't like a woman's company?!"

    Caso stabbed the druid again. Blood squirted on the cage Floor. It
    drizzled down Arkadi's smooth skin. His side exploded. He could hear Esha's growling. His eyes met hers. "I'm okay....I'm okay...I'm coming..." He couldn't stand to see her trying to come to him. Her claws dug in the wood and the whips lashing to her body. They were being tormented. This was deplorable. Arkadi vowed not to be stabbed a third time. When Kee's partner went to impale him again, one arm lowered around Caso's waist, the right, to reach
    down at a precise time grabbing the dagger, wrestling it loose and turning it
    around directly in the man's privates.

    Caso screamed out. Eyes were wide.
    Understandably so. He hollared as the dagger dragged low cutting him open like a
    can, his pants became stained with blood and torn to have the severed pieces
    drop around the cart. He too dropped curling up in a wounded ball while Arkadi
    still had the dagger. He threw it backwards hoping to strike Ironbeard but it
    was Kee whom, in effort to reach her mortally wounded comrade, got struck in the
    shoulder. Her screaming sounded once more. Arkadi didn't give a damn about anything else. Not his wound. Nothing. Only her. He had to get to her. His emerald eyes narrowed seeing a woman behind the men dragging his one back mercilessly like her to be some object. He growled with those teeth clenched.

    "Don't you touch her! LET HER GO!" He moved as much as he could in the confining cage Feeling his blood course down his side. He noticed those men let the rod go, they were distracted by something. That woman. With moss-green eyes. Where had she come From? He moved to embrace Esha pulling her into his arms.

    | "Arkadi..." |

    The Tomineete Warrior had been Faintly aware to something else happening outside their prison but his main concern was Esha. The tides turned in his beginning hatred to warrant wanting to claim her existence. He didn't know how long they'd been imprisoned together. It could've been hours or days really but in such the short time, crimson red circulating in his heart changed to blue. Warm. Affectionate. Protective.

    Never would another take him as much as she had and he had yet to understand how. Why. Arkadi didn't want to question it. All he knew was that anyone laying harm to her would die. He'd not hesitate to kill them. With his bare hands. He heard her voice. It sounded sweet and gentle. Concerned.

    He would not let her go. Never. He let out a low groan when her hand touched his stabbed side, she covered it with her own warm hand to keep the bleeding at bay. Rather his side than to have his privates shredded like the unfortunate man lying somewhere around the cart. Arkadi grinned. Satisfaction. His bigger hand came down over Esha's, his blood seeping between their joined Fingers. His burden her own. Green eyes looked into orange.

    "No need to worry. My hide is tough..." He did not like seeing her bruised as she was. His mind kept going back to seeing those men handle her in such a way.

    "No one will hurt you. I'll kill them. Every single last one." His threatening vow edging closer, his Forehead touched against hers only a short while. She'd been looking at something, the occurance outside their captivity. Arkadi's head turned as well. He still heard Kee's screaming wishing it had been Ironbeard instead. Bastard. Emerald eyes reverted to the strange woman Esha looked upon.

    Why had she stopped their abuse when all the others chose to stand by to watch, linger and be Feed with the beady-eyed bastard's lies?

    Not her...strangely...when looking at her he was reminded about someone nearly gone in his mind. His mother. He was told, he had her eyes....

    It seemed the dwarf held some agitation toward this woman with a determined look in her eye. He wasn't none too pleased she intervened through his choice words.

    Lady Ox? Surely that wasn't her name.
    She exchanged words with Ironbeard and when the shorter man became more annoying the woman closed the distance between them with her own threat.

    | "You finish that sentence and they'll be able to follow your blood trail even in the light of the moon." |

    She'd secured silence in the dwarf. Arkadi held admiration towards her but he also wanted to know who she was. Who indeed. No ordinary woman. Her stance was warrior like. One skilled in battle. She carried herself differently than the people in this area. He held Esha still looking to the woman only.

    Kee's hand latched over the dagger's hilt. Her eyes shut tightly, mouth emitted more screams to the blade damage in her shoulder. She pulled it out crying out. A sharp look came Ironbeard's way then to the woman succeeded in stopping the druids' public tormenting. Kee glared at Arkadi with Esha still in his arms. She vowed to make him pay.

    "Keeping my legs closed?" She let out a pained scoff. "Who are you to judge me Lady Ox? I do what I need to do...." Her bottom lip quivered. "Where are you going?" She held Caso's blood-drenched dagger in her shaking hand.

    "You're not going to let them go? Ironbeard," Kee hissed. "Are you going to let her do that?" Her eyes darted to Caso's spasming body. Most likely he would not be able to have such a wound repaired. His privates wouldn't be any good, what remained left that is. His eyes were shut, unknown words came out his mouth due to the shock. He made not a single movement to stop the woman as she neared the cage.

    A co-hort to Ironbeard knelt nearby with a disgusted look on his Face at the laying pieces, he gasped a little to the woman's approach quickly darting away. Emerald eyes kept onto the woman rounding the cage. Arkadi went to push Esha behind him some narrowing his eyes. No one was going to hurt her. He'd send them straight to hell...

    Her soothing words told him to be still while she got the rod off.

    "Why....?" Why was she helping them? "Who are you?" Arkadi asked suddenly. He was in her debt though. The rod was removed making it easy to move in the cage. His side lit up like Fire. It hurt but he didn't allow it to cross his Face nor give any signs. The rod went to the dwarf whom Arkadi saw over and over in his mind suffering immense pain at his and Esha's hands.

    The woman went around the other side of the cage to do to Esha what she did to him. Remove her rod. Arkadi heard the warrioress snarl in obvious distrust. He couldn't blame her. Nothing was as it seemed. That woman held some pull. His mind tried to wrap around who she may be but nothing came and why help them? Unless....

    Her scent reminded him to nature in general. One he longed to smell once more. A cleansing unlike the Filth they endured coming to this Foreign place.

    | "Stop tormenting them in the streets and place no blame upon them." |

    "Wait..." Arkadi called out but no sooner that he had, she was walking away. His eyes did meet another pair. Kee's own. The injured woman did not look pleased in the least. Arkadi gave her a glare turning to something else less disgusting. Esha. Her still keeping that tender hand on his wound.

    "What about him?" The nosy co-hort pointed to Caso. "Man will never be the same again..."

    "Take him back to my house." Kee said.

    He scowled. "You walking mattress...I don't work For ya. He's your responsibility."

    "Fine! I swear all the men here are useless including those at the height to my knees." Her snide remark was aimed at Ironbeard. "Don't know why he would bring animals like that here..." She held her wound quivering. Some men were moving through the crowd obviously belonging to her. She shot them glares stopping one as he was on his way to tend to Caso.

    "You've been injured."

    "Nevermind that." Her bottom lip still quivered. She pulled him to the side where only they could hear the words they were about to speak. "Do you see that cage? The one being lead away? It has a man and some other thing inside there with red eyes."

    "Red? They appear orange."

    "I don't care dammit. Ironbeard says they're druids he captured."

    "Druids?" His eyebrows raised. He wiped some hair away From his cheeks.

    "I believe he is putting them in the ring. They're strong." Kee's eyes narrowed. "The man. I want him harmed before he even enters any ring. That stupid dwarf has bragged about many things...it will be good to shut him up. Follow that cart to see where it is going then tell me."

    "Very well."

    "Also...take Caso to the doctor."

    "What happened to him?"

    "You don't want to know..."

    Arkadi's eyes closed as the cart began to move once more. The town had changed around them. Darker. The smell dank. His nature completely obliterated.

    "I am okay." He opened his eyes to Esha's concern. "It is not Fatal. I have been stabbed before." He took their bloody hands From his wound passing to his thigh to hold over the spot. "Here. By a kin. He'd stolen more than his Food share, winter had approached harshly, I had caught him. He attacked me without warning.

    His hand, the one used to clutch his weapon, was maimed and he sent into exile. A punishment less severe than death. In Tomineete there lies no reason to steal more than your share. Everyone is equal including the tribe leader. His son. We are all the same." He eyed her. Their joined hands on his thigh.

    "You don't have to worry. His aim was poor. When you wield a dagger, you must apply pressure. Be skilled with the weapon as though it is one part to you. Strike in a spot where your enemy will least expect it but can never Forget. Make the attack count." He wanted her not to worry. About him. His head turned some curious at the mention to their rescuer. The woman. "A druid? Living amongst these people? Willingly?"

    He looked around to seek out that one but only Found closed in spaces the more the cart went down the dank new area and sounds echoed in his ears. They were brought to some building, huge, wooden. To him, it appeared peculiar. The cart was pushed to some corner between other cages. Filled cages at that. Other animals captured. Imprisoned by the damn beady-eyed bastard. Their screeching igniting a Fire in his heart. The yearn to be Free.


    "Esha...I want you to..."

    Arkadi never Finished his sentence. The satchel landing inside the cage stopped him. Not only that but From a distance someone watched them. A man with amber eyes. It wasn't a dangerous look. One more along the curious lines. The Tomineete warrior looked down then back up only to see the man had gone. Like the druid woman. Odd.

    | "Heal him good...Bloody hell he betta be worth a fight tonight. Kenne be backin' out now dammit." |

    The tired warrior sighed. "You better not come near this Fight. I will shove my Fist down your dirty throat. I promise you. As she says, you're living on borrowed time. Those beady eyes are going to ripped out their sockets and crushed better yet...I will do to you what I did to that other." He didn't want to argue anymore, it didn't soothe his hatred to destroy the dwarf. The time would come soon. Very soon. He watched her move telling him to be still.

    "Esha..." Arkadi wanted to stop her. Have her rest some but she was on the move to healing his wound like the previous night. He winced at the touch to the broken Flesh though his eyes never left hers.

    "When we escape. Tonight...." They were coated in dry blood, a mess by all standards, still trapped in the cage. She vowed to not leave him but should the matter come down to her escaping, he would ensure she did. He reached to stop her hands wrapping the cloth around his waist. He held them in his bigger ones.

    "You were hurt too...." Green eyes examined her hands. The blonde hair against her Face. Very gently, he reached up to push it back in order to see her eyes. The wound was still tender but within time it would heal...like the others.

    "Seeing them hurt you like that....I cannot seem to escape the image. I wanted to kill them all. Make them hurt as they were hurting you." His Fingers trailed down to her lips where the cut was. The bruising to her Face when slammed into the bars. "They'll pay when we are let out of the cage." He agreed.

    "Anyone in our way will be cut down as we run. Everyone trying to stop us will suffer." He brought his hands to her chin.

    "So...what happens when we are to return home?" His head leaned down some. Stomach let out the most unsettled growl indicating he needed Food as did she. Arkadi ignored it.

    "We go about our lives as though this never happened? Forget one another...?" He didn't want that. The druid just didn't know how to tell her what he meant. What did he mean? His words and Feelings were going all over the place. He did not want to see her harmed by anyone nor could the thought settle, once they reached Freedom, she would be sought out by someone. Argh.

    Did he like her? Yes....Arkadi wrestled in silent turmoil. The looks she gave him. Determination. She wanted to escape as he did, her admired her a great deal and how she tended to him like no other. A strong woman Esha was yet at the same time vunerable too.

    He drew her into his arms.

    "Thank you...there is something I want to give you...later." Once he Found them. His daggers. What it meant only time would tell. There was still some more cloth From the satchel which he retrieved to wipe Esha of any blood lingering.

    "We must be on guard." He commented looking around at the animals. "Someone was watching us. I promise to protect you Esha. You have my word. Nothing will happen to you. I meant what I said. I will kill anyone laying harm to you." Arkadi let out another sigh. He'd not Forgotten Ironbeard's co-horts. Their lives were ended the moment they attacked Esha.

    "The druid woman...how can she live here in this place? It holds not a nature scent to the First....it is corrupt. The people are corrupt. They take pleasure to seeing the pain in others. These creatures caged....they come From a home as we do....stolen. Their Freedom snatched. What drove her to come here? Surely not captured in the same manner...."
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