The Messenger.

Theodoric paced once around Aurora watching her with his intense green eyes. He enjoyed the flash of her throat when her head turned at his surprise, yet honest question. Despite his own suspicions of the Romans this red head was peculiar and everything about her from her earthy scent of horse flesh and sage. Her loose tendrils drew him to extend his hand over the silken crimson locks. He breathed her scent once more as he finished his circular inspection. His nose most tantalized, her scent leaving his sword practiced hands itching.

“If we speak as friends my good lady, I’d like to here the truth of the matter, is your brother a suitable match for my sweet sister?” Theodoric watched her, his hands firmly rested against his back. His long green wool robes kept moving around him as he studied the Dux. There was a bated breath, so subtle that the common courtier would had missed it, but she too was well trained. Her face gave no look of surprise, shock or any admission to ideas, except that breath.

“You hesitate? What seizes your tongue?”

“My Apologies your Excellency, its difficult to speak of the subject I have little repute.” She stiffened at his poorly subdued laugh. His green eyes narrowing.

“I Only want to see her happy, but this, this is what we need.” He had stepped away far enough that any anger had flown from his sinew.

“My Lord, to say anything other than he would be a fine husband would dare say be treason. And I unlike you my lord do not share the same free spoken privileges.” clearly she was dancing, but her words so smooth, poised sounded as if she had just complemented his shoes, and not spoken of treason.

“But this is between friends? You agreed to be a companion.”

“My lord misconstrues a simple soldier’s role. You are the High king’s son, and I; an Praetorian in my cousins Army, by rule of land, we are not companions, nor are we friends.”

“You are avoiding the question good Domina.”

“For the purpose of state, and bringing strength to the great Empire of Rome, it is a fair and wisely chosen match.” She inclined her head. Theodoric balled his fist, bursting out in frustration finishing it in laughter.

“You won’t say other wise will you Aurora.”

“Again, you misjudge our familiarity.” Her teal eyes were on him like a hound watching a hare cleaning itself under a tree. She remained still as he began to circle her again, he strayed to his window, leaning against it, he pushed it open.

Aurora squared her shoulders but eased her stance. The dress tight against her, she felt bound, a lack of freedom in movement. Lifting her chin she raised a coy red brow, she took a few steps forward pausing to speak, her heart driven.

“I don’t believe she will be treated with malice.” Her hands clasped in front of her, Theodoric tilted his head back, she was suddenly very compassionate. “Your sister is sharp, and appealingly slow to rouse. For she does not seem to have a quarrelsome bone in her body, if yet sickly obedient.” Why had that slipped? She made no move to show any remorse for what she had said, driven he stood straight, resting his hand on hers.

“Yet you are deathly defiant.” Aurora stared up at the tall Prince, devilish eyes, green as the hills, his hand was firmly placed on hers. A warm welcome in the company of dreary damp castle.

“I do not mean to be so defiant, it seems to be a natural byproduct of being truthful. For I doubt I have lied in any age.”

“Now that is a tall tale,” Theodoric laughed again, “Are you compelled to say the answer to each question.” He teased her with fairy tales pulling the thread of the strange radiant beauty demanding his very soul, he burned with in feet of the dancing flame, his hand numb.

Aurora’s smile drummed out the searing heat while his stomach dropped from a cliff , his body peering over the fathomless seas churning against the shore of his soul.

“ I doubt they would have made me an Legate if I had too wild a tongue, it is honest my good Lord, not loose.”

“Now that is a shame.” Theodoric clucked, his tongue pressed against his teeth pulling her hand towards him he leaned in close. All the while Aurora remained still, her head unmoving, another firm warm hand rested against her bare neck.

“My Lord,…”
Thanks the Gods.

It was his seneschal, a stiff elder elf with keen blue eyes. He looked her over once, and than to his lord.

“You’re father has awoken.” He bowed his head quickly, and started to withdraw.

“Chief counselor, has my messenger returned?” Aurora freed her hand approaching the bent servant, he dipped his dark cowl covered head.

“Aye Legate Ferrum, they returned just with in the hour.” He had backed away from the door, Aurora following, she spun on her heel with a final curtsy to the Prince, hurrying down the hall at a quickened pace, her hand pressed to her stomach she darted through the archways weaving and navigating through the courtiers and their peering curious eyes she grabbed her cloak from its hook and slipped into the snowy night towards the castle stables.

Uther was asleep against the wall, his arms crossed beneath his heavy cloak. Aurora was slipping on Lolair’s bridle by the time Uther had sat up with a start stood and was tumbling towards Lolair. Uther stared in a stupor half confused, while she slammed her knee into Lolair’s flank,

“You’re too young to be so drunk.” She led her warhorse to the stable, mounting, she swung her leg around, holding back her skirts she put her spur to his sides. The pair where out in a clatter, the barn door swinging shut on Uther. He stumbled to the court yard, his hazel eyes squinting as his Mistress thundered off into the snow filled courtyard.

Aurora galloped through the still city, the streets stone and cold. Her heart thundered in her breast, she heard the clatter of hooves approaching from her east, and another from the west, and in front of her. Lolair felt her legs, and charged down the black street. One appeared from her left, a blade shy away, another galloped across their path, Lolair turned on a coin, moving east through narrow streets, his wide eyes darting left and right, two horseman followed, the clamorous thunder of shod horses on cobble stone ringing out in the night.

Lolair turned right, turning back full circle to the main street, the two horseman lost for a moment till a third appeared swinging a silver blade, he galloped full speed towards her, he stood in his saddle prepared to bring her down in the road.

Lolair bent swinging his head low bringing his massive weight around the corner, the riders in pursuit. Aurora was pressed to his body, leaning to his left, he bounded down the street in a terrifying gallop. The pursuit slipped beneath the portcullis and into the open valley. They made no secret of their chase, bound in gray and black robes, hidden under their own shadows they pressed their ponies in chase.

Lolair snorted shaking his head he lengthened his pace and a gap quickly grew between prey and hunter. Aurora couldn’t hear their whoops and their shouts to each other in Tishay, but she knew by their movements, the horses, the weapons swinging past her head.

These where Hassan in her shadow.

The walls of the army barracks sprouted over the horizon, it’s watch towers peering out over the night. Flames flickered on post as sleepy patrols yawned, stretching and then returning to a slack posture against their spear, until they saw the horses galloping towards the fort in the full moon’s light. They where still too far or an archer, much less assistance.

Roar pressed close to Lolair, her hunters hot on her trail.

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