Search Party

Shiv grunted as he fell on the ground. His body felt cold and numb, his blood circulated slowly returning the movement of his limbs.

“Are you okay?” Zakhira asked as she got up on one knee.

Shiv nodded, he retracted the blades of his gauntlet and stared at the crooked path left by the monster. “What was that?” He asked.

“It’s a trapper.” She looked over at her gagaroth and it was shivering in fear. She turned back to Shiv. “It hunts by luring unsuspecting animals with its color and scent.” She thought for a moment about Anastasia. “She will be eaten by the end of the day.”

He stared at the sun, the sky was still pinkish-purple, and the bright rays told him that he had time to search for Anastasia and maybe even save her. “We have to go after her.” Shiv held on the horn of his gagaroth and beckoned him to come close.

“We can’t” Zakhira said forcefully jumping on the saddle of her gagaroth. “We don’t have time.” She pointed up at the clouds. “The seer is on the move, if we miss this opportunity we may never find her again for a long time.”

“We can’t just leave her to die!”

“We have no choice.”

“I’m going after her whether you want to or not!”

Zakhira yelled and followed Shiv with her gagaroth. His beast ran quickly following the broken path of trees and foliage. Zakhira reached beside Shiv and held his arm. “Are you going to disobey the queen?”

“No, but we have to do something.”

“She means that much to you?” Zakhira paused waiting for an answer, she knew by the look on his face that he would do anything to save Anastasia, it was the same look Ryuu had whenever she was in trouble. “Fine, but you have to listen to me. We are not in the protection of Esen anymore, we are on our own. Do you understand?”

Shiv smiled at her and told his gagaroth to run faster.

Zakhira followed suit and led the both of them through the make-shift path. The main road started disappearing and the foliage grew thick. There were large insects flying around and unusual lizards with large tongues hanging from tree branches. Zakhira’s nose picked up a sweet scent, it was the smell of overly ripe fruit. She thought that they were close. Her father had told her of the trappers. These monstrous plants, would gather their prey and take them to their lair. A lair that looks like a beautiful garden on the outside but once inside all anyone could see was blood. The smell of the trappers, the sweet scent of ripe fruit covered the stench of death and she thought that they were riding on to their death. She hoped that Nigel had thought Shiv enough about combat to get them in and out quickly.

“What is that?” Shiv pointed to a group of men in white robes and forked staffs.

Zakhira looked over to the direction Shiv pointed to. A group of men sat down hunched over a patch of grass and mumbled to themselves. She stopped and looked at them. “What is going on here?” She said with an authoritative voice telling the men that she was someone important.

One of the men who wore a red bandanna over his shaved head looked up at Zakhira. He tapped on his staff and wondered who they were. No one rode on beasts unless they were combatants, he deduced that they must either be mercenaries or members of the royal army. His gaze drifted to the gold bracelets on her wrist. “You come from the Tower of Esen?”

Zakhira nodded. She wondered who this people were, realizing that she came from Esen without so much as a hesitation on their faces. “Answer my question?”

“No need to be rude Zakhira.”

Zakhira flashed Shiv a look of contempt. “Hmph!”

The young man stood up and bowed. “No disrespect.” He said and then approached the pair. “One of our friends screamed and we came over here to look for him.”

“But he disappeared.” Said an older man. He sported a shaved head like his friend but he had a solemn look on his face, like someone who was at peace with himself and everything around him.

“The trapper.” Shiv mumbled.

“Yes, our friend was taken.” The young man said. He turned to Zakhira. “What brings you here my lady?”

Zakhira smiled at the politeness of the young man. “One of our friends were taken by the trapper as well. We are searching for it before it reaches its hive.”

“I see.” The old man played with his graying beard. “Perhaps you can help us?”

“Help you?” Zakhira asked furrowing her brow.

“You see, we have chosen not to fight, no acts of violence since the war.”

“If you can’t fight, what use are you to us?”

The old man chuckled. “You don’t expect to fight of a hive of trappers with just the two of you? One human soldier and one half-blood.” He paused and then continued. “A half-blood that can change to any beast is no use to a hive of trappers my lady.”

Shiv leaned close to Zakhira and whispered. She didn’t hear anything, all the voices around her drowned out as she sat there shocked at what the old man said. “How do you know all of this?”

The old man smiled. “Why don’t you follow us my lady. We may be of more use than you think.”

“We have to go Zakhira, we are wasting time here.”

Zakhira raised her hand. “We have to follow them Shiv.”

“Why?”

She looked at Shiv and pierced him with a penetrating stare. “They know something we don’t”

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