Soft strains of Adele’s ‘Rollin’ in the Deep’ drifted out the open window. Settled behind an easel, the off key hum of a single female joined in, while a paintbrush moved over canvas in sure and steady strokes.
“Man, this is a fate worse than death. My cat meows with better pitch,” Dimitri Farwyn hissed under his breath, an elbow shooting up to jab his friend Nikolai D’inalia in the side.
“It is pretty bad, but we have to be sure she survives this night. Just one more year and she’ll be ready,” Nikolai explained for the nine millionth time in as many minutes. While he loved Dimitri like a brother, the man was becoming steadily more irksome as time passed watching over their target.
“So, there is absolutely, positively, no doubt that this is her.” Dimi released a soft sigh of discontent, flopping back on the branch he sat on to lean against the trunk of the tree.
“None. Her adoptive parents were living in the area about the same time our C’adine disappeared.” Nikolai was a patient man. After all, he had centuries to practice the art. Yet, here he sat, peering in to the window of a girl no more than seventeen and feeling as if he knew nothing of the world.
Black eyes peered out from the darkness, his gaze trained steadily on the small female aptly drawing a paint brush to and fro across the canvas. She was small, maybe only five foot two, with long cinnamon colored hair that fell in tangled ringlets about her face and bright blue eyes. Looking on her, made Nikolai’s heart constrict in his chest, the air in his lungs seizing in place as if it hurt just to peer at her.
“Then why send us now? I mean, seriously, she’s of no use to us now.” Dimi scrunched his nose, his own dark gaze peering in the window at the female and seemingly unimpressed by what he saw.
Irritation rode higher, making the hair on Nikolai’s neck stand on end as he fought the urge to punch Dimitri through the trunk of the tree and leave him to be found in the morning.
“They sent us now, because this is the last opening they have before she comes of age and goes through the awakening. After that, well, she’ll be a handful to even convince to come with us.”
“You really think she is the C’adine? The one who will bring all the fae back together?” Dimi asked the question softly his voice hitching like something was wrong.
“I don’t know, the prophecy says that she will be able to see the future. They say that her magic will rejuvenate the lands and our race. But, I honestly don’t know Dimitri.” Nikolai had his doubts. The small female within the house was mousy and shy. Nothing like the women of fae kind he knew who were blunt and outspoken on almost all matters.
Glass shattered at the window, and Nikolai was already moving, his body carrying him quickly across the grass and towards the house. The girl was gone, whether on the floor, or already whisked away, he was unsure. The sharp sting of a knife flashing across his shoulder brought Nikolai swinging around. The weapon’s master ignored the pain in his shoulder, eyes widening as he realized it was Dimitri attacking him. The shock was so acute that he barely side stepped the knife slashing down towards his torso.
“Not everyone wants things back the way they used to be, Niko. Just think about it, if she comes into power, we lose our business”
“Our world is dying, Dimitri. We need her.”
“No, we don’t. Just walk away Nikolai.”
“You know, I cannot.”
In a flash of motion, Nikolai spun, ducking low and pivoting on his left foot. His hand moved in a blur, retrieving two throwing daggers from his belt and releasing them with a sharp whisper of sound through the air and at his best friend. Part of him rebelled at this confrontation, unsure if he could end the life of the one man who had known him so well. The sound of metal clashing with metal reverberated in his ear, followed by the sharp whine of an alarm bell in the house.
The two fae continued their bladed dance across the open yard. The grass beneath their feet was heating and withering under foot with their heated blades casting off waves of magic and power around them. The corner of his eye caught a streak of cinnamon hair running through the bushes nearby, and it was enough to give Dimitri an opening. A sharp parry and thrust of Dimitri’s scimitar unarmed the weapon’s master in a moment of weakness.
“Please, Dimi, don’t do this.”
“I’m sorry, Nikolai.” Dimitri raised his blade, the moonlight reflecting off its surface as Nikolai closed his eyes to wait for death.
The sound of the blade hitting thick heavy canvas, brought Nikolai’s eyes up. The female, Raesa, stood in front of him, her newest painting frame having caught Dimi’s blade. Nikolai moved fast, turning to unsheathe his dagger and draw it across Dimitri’s calf. The howling shriek that Dimitri gave was followed by a by a wave of curses and a bright flash of smoke as his body disappeared into the aether. This fight would happen again. Nikolai moved, his hands resting on the girl’s shoulder’s to turn him towards him. Checking to be sure she had no wounds before he spoke softly.
“How did you know to be here?”
In answer, the girl tilted her head up, offering Nikolai a sweet smile as she handed him the canvas.
“See you in a year, Nikolai.”
As the female walked away, Nikolai turned the canvas around and choked. There he saw in dripping wet paint, him in her yard, with Dimitri about to execute him.
It was going to be a very long year.