Afien’s Howl Extra – Kateti & Her Rangers
- Shotput of Power - final edits in progress.
- Antis - final edits in progress.
- The Mist Thief - plotting.
- Forged in Magic - structural edits
- Wandless - plotting.
- Forbs - taking a backseat to the others.
- The Stars of the North - that's a secret...
This is a free bonus for fans of the Sizael game and book imprint I founded in 2008. In Afien’s Howl, Season One of Sizael, I introduce a few new characters Sizael’s older fans won’t recognise. Two of these are Kateti and Roberyt. As part of my writing process, I paused in writing Afien’s Howl to explore these two characters, and their backstory before Knight Warden Mairi Scott and Reputable Assassin Dimitri Bale meet them. This is the first part of the resulting story.
(Also shared on Google Plus as part of the #saturdayscenes event on 28th February 2015. This is a rough version, and may be edited in the final ebook and paperback.)
Swallowing a green grape, a woman sat with her back to the warmed stone walls of a ruined house. Or she assumed it had once been a house; it was situated within the Arlenien Ruins, an old favourite haunt of Queen Havazeti, a druid whom some claimed had been a ranger in her heart. Kateti Ventyr wasn’t convinced of either side of the argument. The druid that had taken control of Sizael Kingdom seemed to love being queen and the power that had given her over others. Her focus had been on opposing the Resistance, however, so what she might have spent time worrying over instead was not something a ranger could speculate, even if Kateti had belonged to the same home clan.
“May Citersa follow your walk in Rodaki’s Plane,” she prayed, before opening her eyes and pressing the edge of her forefinger to her lips. The same finger was then rested for a moment against the centre of her forehead, the ranger looking skywards. She popped another of the grapes at her side into her mouth, her pointed ears listening intently to her surroundings. The spot where she had chosen to wait was warmed by the morning sun, but also gave her more than enough chance to hear any that were coming to the ruins. If she wasn’t careful, one of the druid clans could come, and she was recognised throughout all of the druid clans as a ranger – an outcast – a druid that had turned her back on their way of life. No longer did she partake in the kidnappings that led to the Wednesday Sacrifices to the Goddess Hirra. She even refused to transform into other creatures, except when it was the last resort. And Hirra, the Goddess of Animals (and as far as the druids were concerned, their personal God), had been forsaken for the children of Aredun and Narad.
The human tied back her brown, almost red hair, as a low whistle came from the north of the ruins. “Over here, Roberyt.” She turned to her left, resting a shoulder against the wall, arms and ankles crossed. Slowly, she smiled at the sight of an anubian padding towards her on his two canine-like feet. His nose was twitching as he approached her, his long snout aimed in her direction. “I’m alone, I promise.” The grey-haired anubian said nothing, tail wrapped round his right thigh as many chose to do when in public. He was short for an anubian, barely reaching seven foot with the tip of his triangular ears, but that didn’t stop him from being taller than the ranger. He stopped a foot from her, canine jaw opening to grin. As usual, he wore no clothes like jateri and humans, and walked naked – his boyish parts were hidden by the additional fur that grew over them.
“It’s been a while, Kateti. How are you faring?” he asked, ignoring where the ranger’s eyes were focused.
“Haven’t been killed by druids yet, or druid-haters, so I’m good,” she said with a smile, meeting the anubian’s eyes with her own.
“I hear some rangers choose to cut off the tips of their ears to hide their origins. Why don’t you do it?” he asked curiously, his black eyebrow whiskers twitching.
“Because that would require nasty scars, and I already have one on my stomach from when you nearly gutted me.”
“You must understand, I just wanted to escape being a sacrifice. The Goddess Aredun was good to me that day. You said you needed help? I do not have much time – I have a meeting with Hanjour Rouche regarding an assassination my guild needs carried out.” Kateti stood and gave the sorcerer a smile.
“Can you give me safe passage into Swelithi? Your guild is based there – can you help me?”
“Once you’re in, you will be on your own. Do you understand, Kateti? The city isn’t any safer than the others around Seno for rangers. What Alfendyr and Olkatyr did upset pretty much everybody important.”
“I can manage once I’m there. It’s the travel that’s too dangerous. The trade routes between here and there are patrolled by so-called druid hunters. They’re just bandits, but they’re effective. I would go to Rajva City, but I hear the mountain paths are just as covered in the bandits as anywhere else.”
“That’s odd, considering Scott’s reputation. What about the Sizaeling-Lemorien border gate? How are you planning on getting through that? Wouldn’t it just be easier to fly? I thought you could turn into a variety of birds?”
“I can’t right now,” lied Kateti. “Will you help me? I’ll consider your debt paid.” The anubian said nothing straight away, though an ear twitched at a sound further away than the ranger could hear. Finally, he gave a snort and a nod of his head.
“Wait for me here. I will collect you in a small while. I don’t normally deal with Unreputable Assassins, but none of those registered as Reputable Assassins will go near this contract. Unless you want to take it for me? I’ll pay.”
“I’m not into killing anymore. Not in the name of Hirra, not for anyone.” Roberyt shrugged.
“Fine. I will grab you in a bit. Be careful.”
“No, I’ll come with you,” offered Kateti, falling into step with the anubian sorcerer as he turned away from her, moving towards the exit. His shoulders hiked up as he inhaled heavily.
“Fine,” he uttered, giving the ranger an annoyed look. “But only because I don’t like dealing with Unreputable Assassins.”
“If they try anything, I’ll stab one in the leg and run away, and meet up with you later here, ok?”
“Assassins are not stupid. They know the Arlenien Ruins make for a perfect meeting place outside of Caften. There’s even rumours that The Whispers Guild has extended a sewer tunnel to give them direct access to here without being spotted.”
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