“Good Goddess!” Akiya Paion exclaimed when August arrived.
Akiya, August and a few others had made a small base camp in the far north of the mountains. Two light brown tents that fit up to five people and one green tent that held eight dotted a mostly barren desert area. A few green bushes and trees surrounded the green tent. From the air, the tents would blend in.
Akiya tucked a stray locke of cotton candy colored hair behind one pointed ear and then stood there and wrung her caramel hands. “I told you this was a bad idea, Princess.” The laugh lines around her diamond like eyes turned into worry creases as she chewed her full lower lip.
Akiya was still the only one August allowed to call her Princess. To the rest she was simply August.
“I know.” August’s voice waivered as she dismounted.
Although Akiya had just a few years on August, her voice came from an ancient world. “Come here and let me see you better.” She opened her arms in her silvery tunic and took a step forward in her black boots.
August shuffled toward Akiya with her head lowered. I hate disappointing her.
The healer wrinkled her noise at the stench, but didn’t comment on it as she took August’s left arm in her deft hands and looked at the wound. She sucked air through her teeth a few times and August knew the damage was great. Akiya usually could keep comments to herself.
“That bad, huh?”
“Some of the worst you’ve had, Princess.”
Akiya squinted at August for a second before returning her attention to the wound.
August shut up.
“I need you to wash up to really assess the damage.” She poked at the gaping toward her wrist, eliciting a strangled cry from August. Blood welled up again. “Off you go, Princess.”
August covered her left forearm with her free hand and meandered along the path behind Akiya to the shallow stream behind the enormous granite boulder.
She passed Phelan with his wild buttercup yellow curls and one stormy gray eye (the other he lost in a fight and covered with a simple black patch) as he sharpened some arrows. His black tunics seams threatened to burst when he moved from all his muscle. He didn’t glance up from his work, but grunted an acknowledgment.
Across from him – working on some kind of stew—the portly Quinlin sat in a blue tunic. Upon seeing August, he rubbed his bald head, crinkled his jolly blue eyes into a smile, and waived.
August waived back.
As August walked away, Akiya tied up Thak next to her own blue Ombre colored horse named Thannos and ducked into the green tent.
August tried to keep from leaving droplets as she reached the stream. She kneeled down at the edge of the water and gingerly put her arm in. The cool water felt surprisingly refreshing. August grinned to herself and then noticed her face in the water. Black streaks and splatters crossed most of her pale face and ran down her arms. The cut across her cheek from the Kai demon tail was raw and inflamed. Her eyes looked back at her in a haunting stare. “No wonder Akiya looked worried.” She washed her face and then put her arm back in the water, Once the bleeding slowed, she stripped out of her sticky tunic and unzipped her boots.
A fresh olive green tunic had been laid out for her on a small part of the rock. Akiya, like most healers, could sense impending doom.
She set aside her weapons and glanced around. Coast clear.
August slipped into the cool water that went to her waist and started washing up. Her body, though long and lean with ample breasts and small hips, was littered with battle scars. They crisscrossed her back, her stomach, her shoulders and her chest. In the two years since she’d been on the run, August’s blemish free skin became the story of her journey.
She undid her braid and untangled her white lockes with her fingers the best she could after washing them.
August took a moment to revel in the warmth of the sun and just to be alive.
A snapping noise startled August and she turned to the shore.
She heard a muttered curse from a male voice and ducked into the water with just her head out. “Who’s there?” August braved calling out. My weapons are on shore, dammit.
Fineas stepped out from behind the boulder with his dark cheeks somehow enflamed and his hands held up. “Uh, just me, Princess…I mean August.” Fineas stood at 6’4 with hip length deep black hair he kept in a tight braid and tilted brown eyes that he lined with kohl like his Egyptian ancestors use to. A black tunic cinched at his small waist. “Uh, sorry.” He covered his eyes. Fineas was great with a broad sword or a plasma gun, a bow and arrow or an energy spell, great to keep your back in a fight, but not so great with the female species.
“What the hell do you think you’re doing, Fin?”
“N-nothing.” He winced. “I mean-um.” Fineas paused.
He cleared his throat and tried again. “Akiya was worried you were taking too long, so she sent me.”
“Tell her I’ll be out in a moment,” August yelled. “As soon as I get dressed.”
Fineas fell all over himself trying to back up and leave. “Yes, Princess… I mean August!”
August chuckled to herself and made her way to shore.
WORD COUNT GOAL