[This has been in my head for days. I’m not sure if it belongs anywhere, or if it will become anything. It just needs to come out so I can write more Splicer or Tithe-Boy or whatever else I want to write.]
At first, I had thought the babbling of the brook was my imagination. I had coaxed the last drop from my waterskin hours ago. Stupid, to be so ill-equipped while on patrol, especially when the alternative was to waste away, so far from home, not even a death on the field of battle, just this slow, agonizing departure into the next life.
So, when I heard the sound, I discounted it as a mere trick of the mind, instincts that I did not trust, yet another mistake, and again, I knew better. On the field, a warrior only has her instincts.
I knelt as close to the water as I dared to, cupping my hands to bring some of the sweet water to my lips, cracked from the heat. My horse, who is called Thunder-Upon-the-Plains, also bent to drink. A beautiful animal, my Thunder, dark as a moonless night and fierce as a storm. Before I had taken my first steps, I had learned to ride astride her, to shoot a target from twenty paces, and to stab someone in the gut from ten paces or less.
And I still didn’t know enough to take enough water with me during the dry season.
My head snapped up at the sound of the voice, light and musical and somewhat amused, to behold something, or rather, someone, truly remarkable.
Her eyes were large, fish-like, and the most vivid shade of blue. Her skin was blue as well, though a paler shade, but her hair was the strangest of all. At first I mistook it for black, but I realized, as I recovered from the shock of seeing something so utterly strange and fascinating, that it was actually a deep green.
And only then did I draw my sword, because whatever she–she–was, she was not human.
But she did not shy from the blade, nor did she attempt to move closer, she merely gazed serenely back at me….
…..and then she laughed.
That, I can assure you, was a thousand times more infuriating than if she had attacked me. “What’s so funny?!” I demanded. .
She stopped laughing, but now she was smiling, the sort of smile a shark might give. “Why, you, of course, horsewoman. I had forgotten how…skittish….your kind can be at times.”
Recalling that I had brought a horse with me, my gaze flicked to Thunder, who had finished drinking and now lay on the grass not too far away from where I stood. Oddly enough, she did not seem at all agitated by the presence of the water-maid, if she noticed her at all.
The creature spared a glance at Thunder, but then she turned her full attention to me again. “Truly, I did not mean to scare you,” she said. “I was curious, that is all, but now I would like to give you a gift.”
“A..gift?” I admit, I was so puzzled by this turn of events that I lowered my sword a bit, though I still kept it at the ready. “Why?”
She shrugged. “Because you have a nice horse, because you are brave, or perhaps foolish, because you are the first human I have seen in a long time, because I like you, are those reasons enough?” She gave a flick of her wrist, and something golden flew through the air towards me. I did not even think, I snatched it from the air like a hawk snatching a mouse.
It was a necklace, wrought of gold, with a gem in the center, as blue as the ocean, as blue as her eyes. I ran a finger along the surface of the gem, and a tingling sensation raced up my arm. “What is this?” I asked.
“I was my Mother’s, but now it is mine,” she said. “But, I suppose it is yours now, horsewoman, because I like you. Please take care of it,” and, so saying, she disappeared under the water, so that all I saw was a flash of smooth foot before she was swallowed up.
And so I was left with a golden necklace, as strange and wonderful as its giver, and no idea what to do with it.
[There now, scene, you’re out, now don’t bother me anymore!]