Azar paused, mid-chew, when Rayven set a glass of water on the table. Rayven bowed his head and backed away on silent bare feet, cursing himself for being noticed. Azar didn’t like interruptions of any sort, especially the kind that broke his train of thought. Usually Rayven was better about being even more inconspicuous than the shadows Azar could bend to his will. He gulped, stepping into his designated place against the stone wall, head down, braced for punishment.
Azar finished chewing and swallowed. “Thank you, Rayven,” he said softly, seizing the glass and taking a long drink.
Rayven blinked—the only physical response to his surprise. Thank you. It had been a long time since he’d heard those words.
Despite the rare kindness, he knew better than to say, “You’re welcome,” or even, “Yes, Master.” Silence was always the best answer. If Azar had wanted a response, his red eyes would have found Rayven, but they remained trained on his meal, so Rayven kept his trained on his dirty toes, ever conscious of his surroundings and his master’s movements in his peripheral.
Azar set the glass down and picked up his steak knife. As he sawed at the meat, he said, “I think I’ll be sending you back to Cröendor for reconnaissance on the fugitives.”
Although he hadn’t glanced at Rayven standing statuesque and obedient against the wall, Rayven replied, “Yes, Master.”
“You’ll leave before dark.”
Quiet chewing filling the void between them. Azar swallowed. “It’s a dangerous assignment. Are you afraid?”
His chilling red eyes locked onto Rayven, studying him carefully. Rayven glanced briefly up at his master, then down again. Yes, he was afraid. His spies were being knocked out of the skies and arranged, dead, on the ground in front of the Rip as a warning he could not ignore. “I will obey, Master.”
“That’s not what I asked.”
Rayven chewed on the inside of his cheek, head tilted so Azar couldn’t see his nervous tic. Lying was no worse than not answering a direct question. “Perhaps a little,” he admitted, curling his fingers into his moist palms behind his back.
Azar grunted in acknowledgment and took another sip. “I’m giving you a direct order. You will not allow yourself to die on this mission. Do you understand?”
Rayven nodded. He liked to pretend the order stemmed from compassion, although in all likelihood, it was exclusive to protecting a long-term investment and valuable asset. Compassion was not part of the equation, and Rayven was not foolish enough to believe otherwise. It was only an entertaining fancy.
“I understand, Master.”
Want more bonus content? Subscribe on Patreon!
I'm an award-winning fantasy author, artist, and photographer from La Porte, Indiana. My poetry, short fiction, and memoir works have been featured in various anthologies and journals since 2005, and several of my poems are available in the Indiana Poetry Archives. The first two novels in my Chronicles of Avilésor: War of the Realms series both received the Literary Titan Gold Book Award in 2020.
After working as a freelance writer for a time, I was shocked by how many website articles are actually written by paid "ghost writers" but credited to a different author. It was a jolt seeing my articles presented under the name of a high-profile CEO or an industry expert with decades of experience when in reality, I had none of those credentials. Just a talent for writing and the time to research topics. Ghost writing is perfectly legal and a VERY common practice.
You won't find that here on my website. I do not and never will pay a ghost writer, then slap my name on their work as if I'd written it. This website is 100% authentic. No outsourcing. No ghost writing. No AI-generated content. It's just me... as it should be.
If you would like to support my work, check out the Support The Creator page for more information. Thank you for finding my website! 🖤
Ahhhhh! Can you share more!
Also, your drawing of the rayven is gorgeous! I’m absolutely amazed with your talent! Keep up the great work!
Thank you so much!!