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   Chapter 6

The Woodlands By EJBowman Characters: 8600

Updated: 2017-12-22 12:02


Neem was a little glum as his adventure with Dacen reached its conclusion. The pair was now at the end of the Woodlands and beyond the dwindling trees was an open valley with mountains off in the distance. The Nacta River curved and flowed in a different direction to where Dacen was now travelling. Truly it was the end.

“Well, Neem,” the horned man began. “You’ve been the most amazing companion. And even though our time was brief, I will always cherish it.”

The nymph blushed. He loved getting such unabashed compliments.

“My warning still stands, Dacen,” he said on a darker note. “Do not trust the warlock.”

The foreigner’s face clouded.

“But I must.”

“Why? Why must you trust a man who owns a book filled with such cruel images?”

“Because if I don’t, then I have no purpose and nowhere else to go. I don’t want to spend my whole life drifting. If there is even the smallest chance that this warlock is well-natured and willing to take me in then I will not pass up this opportunity.”

The nymph’s brow furrowed, but he dared not say any more. The last thing he wanted was to end on a sour note with the foreigner.

“I don’t know how to thank you,” Dacen said with a smile, lightening the mood instantly.

“For what?” Neem asked, a little confused.

“Everything.”

The nymph giggled for the same reason Dacen always laughed.

“I mean it,” the foreigner said, also laughing slightly. “It’s rare to come across beings as kind as you, and even rarer for an outcast like me, but you’ve allowed me to feel… normal around you. And I’m… I’m thankful for that and…” Dacen’s words wafted off when the nymph took a step closer to him with a coy expression.

The foreigner choked on air—outright shocked—as Neem went onto the tip of his toes and reached up to grab his horns. Dacen allowed his head and neck to move leniently as the nymph pulled him down into a kiss. It was not a perfect display of affection. The horned man was awkward and stiff, having never kissed another being before. Neem, who participated in the free loving nature of the Woodlands, caught onto the horned man’s uncertainty and guided him through the movements.

“Well,” was all Dacen could say once their lips parted and Neem released his horns. “I… err.”

“You need practice,” Neem said in a joking manner, yet Dacen’s face drained of all colour.

The horned man shook his head from side to side to bring himself back into reality.

“Why did you do that?” he asked abruptly.

“Because you are my friend,” Neem replied simply. “You gave me a gift.” He gestured to

Dacen.

Hopefully their kingdom is in some other direction than I am heading, the horned man thought. He knew it would not matter. He was still at risk of being hunted by the blood-suckers even if he avoided their kingdom entirely. No, the hunters were already on his trail, and they would not stop chasing him.

He thought of the book in his pack. Dacen was more powerful than any vampire. He had the ability to kill them if he wanted to, and he had tried to convey that to Kroven when he hit the blood wolf with a ball of fire. A good spell from that book could annihilate Kroven and all of his companions.

No, the horned man shook his head to get the idea out of his head. Killing is not the first option. I cannot be a monster like them.

The golem horse slowed down to a trot as Dacen went through his pack in search of the book he had received from the warlock. While doing so, he inadvertently glanced at the bracelet his nymph friend had given him. He quickly pulled his eyes away from the accessory as it made his heart ache.

I will throw them off my trail instead, he thought when he found the spell he was looking for.

He soon found the simple cloaking spell that would mask his scent. It would probably fail to fool the vampires for very long, but any extra time he could buy was necessary.

There, he thought after he recited the spell. Green dust fell over him and his steed before dissipating. Now I smell like a not-so-magical wyvern. That should keep them away for a few days.

Once the book was back in his pack, he kicked the side of his horse to force it into a gallop again. He needed to be far ahead of the vampires before they realised that he was trying to disguise his scent.

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