*Due to the constant persuasion and/or health threats from a certain person...not to say any names...LINDSAY!... I am writing the 2nd part to this story. Happy now?? Can my red head lay on the pillow and sleep in PEACE now? Good. Later peeps!*
The shiny blade of the sword gleamed in the moonlight.
Despite Zac's attempts to not be noticeable in his movements, the large cat noticed.
A sound resembling a roar came from his throat and Tasha watched in horror as the animal ran forward and Zac jumped in front of her, plunging the sharp metal deep into the head of the wild creature.
A whimper was heard and then it fell to the ground, dead. Blood streamed down it's face and into its still open eyes.
"Yuck." Tasha was disgusted. She made a run for the edge of the clearing and started throwing up.
Zac followed soon behind her and held her long hair back.
"Your weak stomache better slow down on getting rid of its contents or you will be mighty hungry come daybreak. I don't have time to eat every couple of hours." Zac's teasing was overlayed with roughness which Tasha some how managed to see right through.
"Aye." She laughed, despite her ill feeling stomache.
The music of her laughter filled Zac's ears, causing him to smile without realization.
"Tis good to see you smile." Tasha smiled at him.
Zac quickly wiped his smile off.
"Now, why did you do that? There is no need to be rough with me. I care not how
I get to your camp, for you and I both know that I will surely die before I see my family. You can give me my death wish by at least being kind and showing human emotions." Tasha urged. Her voice was cracking with her tears, but she held them in. She had already cried once in front of this man. It would not happen again.
"Are you accusing my clan of being murderers?" Zac defended his clan, despite the truth of her words.
"No. I am sorry I mentioned it. Let's just get there and get it over with." Tasha straightened up and headed towards the trail.
"But it is barely dawn." Zac objected.
"Exactly, and if my father should send a search party, they would surely cover this ground by mid day. If you do not get going by now, you will surely be killed." Tash knew her father well. And she knew the clans procedures. Her memory was exceedingly good and she recalled the ransom of young Kitty McCleoud several years prior. The area was combed in a 3 mile radius for signs of travel.
"But first, we must get rid of the beast. It will show signs of travel and you will be caught for sure. Come, you take the front legs and I will take the back. We must throw it in the river." She walked to the beast and picked up the back legs, waiting for Zac to follow her instructions.
"Why are you helping me? I am taking you away from your family and yet your concern is for my health instead of yours. I do not understand." Zac picked up the front legs of the animal.
"Because I know that you will be banned from your clan if you do not do as you were instructed and bring me there to ransom. It is horrible not to have a family. I can't let that happen to two people. I would feel horrible." She strained with the weight of the panther.
"TWO? Has this happened to you before?" Zac's curiousity out did his roughness. "We are not here to question my past. Just get the damn cat in the water and lets be on with it." Tasha snapped. Bad memories swarmed her brain as she watched the cat float down the river into rapids.
She walked briskly to the trail and waited impatiently for Zac to follow.
He walked ahead of her and she followed behind him, thinking back to years before.
Zac's head was swimming with thoughts. He was confused and focusing mostly on
Tasha's ubrupt change in attitude and personality. At first she feared for her
life, then became obnoxious and uncooperative and now she was HELPING him??
"ugh. women." He thought to himself.
By noon they had reached a village teeming with the hustle and bustle of a busy
They weaved through the crowd and headed towards a small shady pub, advertising its liquor freely with the drunks on the graveled and mussy road in front of the small bar.
Zac stepped in, followed by Tasha.
He turned to her and stated, " There will be no talking, communicating, or eye contact, if anyone was to recognize you..."
"SHUT the hell up! I am so sick of this! I know the damn rules. Will you just get out of the way already?" Her attitude had worsened. Bad memories and constant pestering in an already bad sitch can do that to you.
He grabbed her elbow as she walked past and whirled her around.
"I think you have forgotten who is in charge. Now, you will do as I say, or you will get a far less welcoming to my clan's camp." Zac threatened.
Tasha rolled her eyes and snatched her arm away before making her way towards the bar.
A young male waiter was standing there, wiping out the glasses with a small ratty cloth rag.
Tasha plopped herself down on one of the crudely made stools.
"Excuse me?" She brought his attention.
He turned to face her.
She had to gasp at the similarities between the waitor and Zac.
"Um, is there a problem?" The young man blushed slightly form her gasp.
"N..None. Um, I need you to do two things."
"Okay. The first one?"
"Give me the strongest liquor you have in the house." Tasha commanded.
"No buts. Give it to me."
"Alright." He handed her a small glass of the stuff he had just poured.
"And second?" he asked.
" Do you know that man?" She gestured towards her captor.
The waitor gasped and walked around the bar to stand by the her.
"I should say so. He's my brother." The man managed to get out.
Tasha fell off the stool onto the hard wood floor of the dirty building. If health inspectors had seen the place, it would have been shut down long ago. But somehow, the inspectors had been bribed off for years, as had been the police and doctors.
"Here. Let me help you up." The man took her hand and pulled her to her feet.
"What's your name?" She asked.
"Jordan Taylor Hanson, of the clan Hanson. But you can call me Taylor. What is yours?"
"Tasha Reese McCleoud. I would say nice to meet you but under the circumstances I don't think its too nice." she shook his outstretched hand.
"And how is that, may I ask?" Taylor took a seat on the stool next to the one that Tasha had resat herself upon.
" I cannot tell you." She hung her head and stared at the floor.
Soon she saw two shoes in front of her, covered in mud and blood.
She looked up quickly, knowing exactly who it was.
"I thought I told you not to talk to anyone!" Zac was angry. He raised his arm up to strike her and was inches from doing so when he felt a strong grip on his arm, prohibiting him from a swing.
He looked up to see a man that looked similar to his older brother, long ago banned from the clan.
"Hello again, Zac. Glad to see you are back to doing dad's dirty work." Taylor sneered.
Tasha quickly stepped back from the two brothers and accidentally bumped into a girl who appeared to be about her age, with fiery red hair and pale skin. She averted her attention from the soon to occur fight and immediatly apologized.
"Ohmigosh! I am SO sorry. Are you okay?" She asked.
"I'm fine. I was about to come over here and see what my fiance was arguing with someone about when...." she gestured to Taylor.
"He's your fiance?" Tasha managed to ask, even though she felt her stomache dropping to the floor.
" Yes. But what is going on here?" She took a moment to survey the scene.
Taylor's face was red with anger and Zac's was fixed into a sneer.
" Zac and his brother are fighting." Tasha explained tactfully, trying not to bring herself into the conversation.
"They are brothers??" The young woman was confused.
"Well I just found that out but then again, I just met Zac late last night so I would not have known anyhow." Tasha explained.
Heat seemed to be seeping in through every crack in the wood paneling of the floor and doors and hanging in the thick, smokey air.
"I am Tasha McCleoud. What is your name?" Tasha stuck her hand out to shake.
"Lindsay. Lindsay McReynolds." Lindsay shook Tasha's hand.
"So how did you meet Zac so late last night?" Lindsay did not think that Tasha appeared to be the type of girl to have a late working job in a bar.
Tasha avoided her eyes as she said," I was just out in the woods looking for something and we bumped into each other."
Lindsay seemed to accept that answer and went back to watching the arguement. Taylor was about to swing her fist when Tasha suddenly stepped in front of Zac.
"You will not fight in here. Lets take this outside. There is obviously something that needs to be discussed and I am going to hear about it whether you like it or not." Tasha took control of the situation.
Lindsay grabbed Taylor by the elbow and followed Tasha and Zac out of the door. The 4 people made their way out to an empty field just a couple of yards down the road out of town.
"Now, what is going on? Are you two brothers? Start at the beginning. Fighting will not get us anywhere but in deeper trouble." Lindsay asked as she sat down in the sweet smelling grass and looked up at the other 3, gesturing for them to sit down.
They all sat down and Taylor started his speech on the past.