Born for This
Saria had never once thought that she might be grateful to the chimera for something. It was on this day that she realized a measure of gratitude for the monstrous beasts. It was a small skirmish not far from the ominous seal wall of Viros that had heralded her freedom form what had become a dreadfully boring affair in the city. Day after day the woman waited for the slow turning cogs that were the bureaucracy of the Vermillion Council to make progress and offer her some directive. Saria had been promised a pivotal role in the coming war against the chimera but so far her days were filled with finding means to entertain herself while others plotted and schemed. She had begun to wonder if the veteran holy men and scholars that wore the red robes had any real plan for combating the horde of creatures that lay waste to Argaia. The only thing that had kept Saria from withering in boredom within the cage of Viros was the sudden and inexplicable attention of Noah Redmoon. If she were to be completely honest with herself, the hours she spent contemplating the mystery that was the youngest of the three favored children of Viros also gave her some worthwhile measure of reprieve from the oppressive nothing and empty that were abundant within the city.
The news that chimera had stuck at a small surveying expedition outside the wall had filled Saia with shock and a twinge of fear at first. After the initial sensations had passed the woman came to realize the feelings that lingered were excitement and anticipation. She had to rest of years of etiquette and social conditioning in order to conceal her excitement form those around her. Saria did not want word getting around that she was some kind of perverted sadist or lover of carnage. Upon hearing the news of the ambush Saria Guideman was nothing but the picture of compassion and empathy. She silently rejoiced when she received the order to accompany a contingent of Amurai to quell the assault.
As the horses continued to thunder down the travelers path Saria kept her eyes fixed forward. She knew nothing of war save for what she had read in history texts or heard from intoxicated fighting men regaling past exploits. Saria had a morbid curiosity to see what kind of destruction the chimera had wrought on the Viros countryside. The ward of Lighthouse Bay’s Marquee felt electricity in her blood as her mount drew her closer to the sound of conflict. She longed to shatter the venire of protective innocence that her adopted father had worked so had to instill in her. Saria felt a huge portion of the real world had been sheltered away from her and hidden. While she appreciated the protective love shown by her guardian, Saria felt it was well past time to remove the final trappings of youth’s naivety. Saria knew that if she was to adequately play her role in the Great Cleansing of Argaia she was going to have to become intimately acquainted with every conceivable harsh reality of bloody conflict.
Saria’s heart beat like a full orchestral percussion section when she laid her eyes on the site of the chimera attack. Fire burned hungrily on the hillcrest wherever it could find sustenance to fuel itself. Many men and women lay dead on scorched earth and many more cried out in pain form horrid wounds that the chimera had inflicted upon them. Saria could make out the shape of several fallen chimera with various broken spear hafts and arrow shafts protruding from their lifeless bodies. The creatures looked as though they had been bread of serpents and other reptiles. The display on the top of the hill was a gory affair and unlike anything that Saria had ever seen before. What caused her the most curiosity was her seemingly innate comfort with the brutal lethality of what was transpiring.
“Hold here milady,” came the gravely sound of the Amurai captain’s voice. The man gestured to three of the armor clad warriors in the formation, commanding them to stay close to Saria.
Saria looked disapprovingly at the ranking Amurai officer as she protested. “I believe I was sent here to assist with the efforts to repel the chimera. I should do so, not sit back far from the conflict.”
“Apologies, milady but. My orders are to keep you safe at all costs before anything else. I need you someplace that I know you will be not be in harm’s way,” responded the captain with an empathetic hint of conflict in his words.
As the sound of battle wafted down from the hilltop Saria felt something totally new wash over her. She felt the years of pressure being a pretty thing among a collection of pretty things pressing down on her spirit until she swore she could hear the cracking of glass in her ears. “I am quite capable of looking after my own safety, captain. You need not worry,” Saria said with a violet fire flickering in her eyes. “You and your soldiers only need to keep up,” she called back as she heeled her mount to gallop up the hill and crash into the fray.
The pent up anger Saria harbored form a lifetime placed on a perilously high pedestal came to a brilliant culmination of purple flame and blinding light. It felt good for Saria to lose the heaps of restraint and propriety that had been ladled on her shoulders for years. Upon cresting the hill she pointed and glared at anything that was not human. Bolts of violet heat shot from her fingertips and engulfed any of the chimera that still continued to fight. She was reckless and oblivious to all save the twisted beasts that lay before her. Saria unleashed a wave of magnificent rage and felt sweetly euphoric as she sent orbs of fire to consume the beasts that attacked the people of Viros.
By the time the rest of the Amurai guard reached the hill top, Saria single-handedly had routed what remained of the chimera. The captain commanded a few of the awestruck Amurai to give pursuit to the fleeing monsters. The rest of the Amurai sat on their mounts and drank in the violet violent scene. To a one, all who witness Saria’s magic realized that event their best combined effort could not have dispatched the chimera with such outstanding efficacy.
“I think that there are wounded who could use your help captain.” came the darky soothing voice of Noah Redmoon. While his words were calm and gentle they brought with them a power that broke through the dumbfounded stupor that Saria’s might had cast over the congregation of armored warriors.
Saria turned in her saddle to see the man emerge from one of the long black shadows cast from the one of the writhing purple flames she had just conjured. She felt the heat of rage fade form her ears and cheeks but the intensity remained ever as hot. Now it was a more pleasant emotion that was the source of Saria’s elevated pulse and temperature. She turned away form the enchanting man and distracted herself with the sight of the Amurai captain coordinating the rescue and treatment of the wounded men and women that littered the hilltop. Shortly thereafter Saria found herself alone one the edge of the skirmish with Noah.
“You came to keep me out of harm’s way as well, master Redmoon?” inquired Saria with a gentle silken voice.
“I did not expect you to be so eager to jump into battle, having never experienced combat before. I thought that this would be a more educational opportunity than a practical one. I simply wanted to observe while you observed,” said Noah as he walked up beside Saria’s horse and ran a dark leather gloved hand down the creature long flowing mane.
“So my…” Saria paused as she searched for words to describe her unapologetic headlong dive into battle. She was also trying to make sense of the seductive energy that was passing between her and Noah. “…exuberance was a disappointment to you?”
Noah met Saria’s eyes as he spoke with strength and clarity. “Your exuberance, as you say, was a surprise, yes. It was most certainly not disappointment however. I rather enjoyed watching your handiwork. I wonder what other talents you have to show.”
Saria wildly wanted to issue a clever retort to Noah’s bold innuendo but at this moment she could only blush and smile.