They rode long days in the sweltering, muggy summer weather, though of late, cool nights tattled on the fall days soon to come. They forged rivers and marched through hill and dale. A couple weeks since leaving the compound, and as exhaustion overcame them both, Marshall and Jerrett rode into the City of Light, anxiously seeking a place to clean up and to rest.
Jerrett turned his mount toward a side street, his biceps bulging. His tattoos appeared to come to life, creating the impression that snakes crawled on his arms. Several passers-by who neared him, turned away upon the sight of him, frightened by his mass and evident power. He continued on as though unaware of their reactions.
“You sure this is the way?” Marshall asked him.
“Certain. Lilith took me here herself.”
Marshall winced. He always did when someone mentioned the woman’s name.
“Sorry,” Jerrett quipped.
“Yes. Even after all these years, the very name—”
“Makes me cringe? Yes . . . she was something else.”
“How long did you serve as her Oathtaker anyway?"
“Oh, Great Ehyeh! I like to forget the details.”
His friend laughed. “I understand. Like you said, she was ‘something else.’”
“You know though, somehow this journey seems to have made me forget her.”
Jerrett’s head jerked his fellow traveler’s way. “Her memory is still that strong? After all these years?”
“She . . .” Marshall swallowed hard. “Lilith was my first and only charge. She was an amazing woman, beautiful and—”
“Wait a minute,” Jerrett interrupted, pulling lightly on his horse’s reins. “Was there something more to your connection to her than—”
“Oh no, not at all. I’m just stating the facts. She was stunning to look at, and when she chose to be, she was brilliant. But she was also incredibly self-centered. Eventually that spirit crowded out her ability to think clearly. She made my duties as her Oathtaker nearly impossible. She was willful and contrary.” Marshall paused, in thought. “And in the end, she was evil, as well,” he finally said in a whisper.
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