Sunlight flittered through the canopy of leaves above. The smell of flowers and ripened fruit rode the small breeze like horsemen, ruffling the grass. Birds chirped as if celebrating the warm, spring day. An arrow whistled, cutting through the air as if it were nothing.
It stuck cleanly at the center of an assortment of red and white circles. Lucinda, a maiden of seventeen with night black hair and dark chocolate eyes notched another arrow into the taught string of her bow. The black and red arrow shot past fifty yards of trees and shrubbery to pierce the back of the previous arrow, splitting it in half.
Lucinda allowed her arms to fall. "What a waste," she murmured. "I'll have to make more, I suppose."
The girl crossed the expanse of forest quickly, long hair trailing behind her. Thin, graceful fingers plucked the still intact arrow from the target and placed it with many others in the leather quiver slung over her shoulder. She examined the broken one and deemed the obsidian arrow head good enough to reuse. It went into the hidden pocket sewn into her arrow bag.
Suddenly, the feeling of ice under her skin bloomed between her shoulder blades. She whirled fast enough to cause whiplash. A black and blue arrow whizzed by her head, similarly mannered to a killing shot.
Automatically, Lucinda had an arrow notched in her bow and was aiming it in which direction the arrow had come. "Only cowards fight while a back is turned. Show yourself so that I can see your face when I kill you."
A figure emerged from the cover of shadow. Almost subconsciously, Lucinda estimated his height and weapons, deciding on movements should he still be on the offensive. Though he must have been over six feet tall, Lucinda thought winning him in hand to hand combat would still be possible. A cloak and tunic suggested he was from the kingdom nearby. The man also sported a quiverthough on his beltand supported a bow much like her own but greater in size and weight.
After the warrior instincts had finished their estimation, her eyes started to take his looks in. Caramel colored hair was held back from his face in a stubby ponytail. Bright azure blue eyes glittered with amusement. Thick lips curled up in a knowing smile that said he didn't mind being checked over.
He made a submissive gesture with his left hand. "I have 'shown myself' as you have asked." The man's voice was too overconfident for his own good, like nothing and no one in the world could hurt him. "What do you plan on doing now?"
It simply annoyed her. "What is your reason for shooting me?" the archer demanded.
His eye raked over her positioned body with frightening care. The mysterious archer smiled a smile that lit up his already handsome face. Lucinda's aim did not waver, but she felt a blush creep up her cheeks. Traitorous body, she thought. He must have noticed because his smile grew.
His laughter was half amused, half satisfied, and all idiotic male.
"Did the king send you to kill me?" she prompted.
"Now why would the king want to kill you?"
"I have no pretenses against using violence against you so I suggest you answer my question," she said purposely avoiding the question.
"Well well, don't we have a feisty one here?"
With an exasperated sigh she released the arrow. It covered the twenty yards between them easily and landed in the trunk of a tree three inches away from the man's face. Bark shattered around, pieces landing in his hair. The would be murderer didn't flinch.
"Is that enough of a warning?" she asked. "Answer my question."
He thought for a moment. "No," he answered, brushing bark from his head. "The king didn't send me, but I also wasn't trying to kill you." She looked doubtful. "Take a look for yourself."
Warily, she turned her head. A man was slumped against the trunk of a tree not two feet from her. Scarlet liquid flowered across his chest right where the butt of an arrow protruded. A sword lay at his feet. The smell of spring now danced with the metallic tang of blood. The arrow was right where his heart would be. He bore the emblem of one of the king's high knights.
"I do believe a thank you is appropriate," he smirked in that damnably overconfident way of his.
Lucinda muttered a reluctant thank you. She decided then that she should leave in case more soldiers lurked by. The archer eyed the path that was now blocked by her apparent savior. She stalked past him, slightly off the path and in the dirt. Then she felt somethingor someonesnatch up her wrist.
"Leaving so soon?" he purred seductively into her ear, lips nearly touching it.