Black Moon Draw (Chapter Six, page 1 of 2)

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If she is a witch, she is not a very good one. The Shadow Knight caught his newfound prize with one arm as she sagged. He secured the axe at his back and took her arm again, watching in satisfaction as the wound healed. Skin grew over the stump of her wrist and, within two breaths, a new hand began to grow. She healed quickly - a sign of good fortune and great power.

Of course, the battle-witch who was supposed to be learning this lesson was not conscious to see it.

Were all witches newly come from the edge of the world like this? Hysterical, rambling about nonexistent places, and talking to people he was not able to see? Was this her magic or madness?

The Shadow Knight had never met a new witch. His were looted from neighboring kingdoms, and all of them had been stately, calm, and commanding the respect of his men the way he did. In fact, he quarreled with many of the battle-hardened women when he was a young knight about the best way to win a battle.

They were always right. It was a lesson he reluctantly accepted after two key defeats.

But this one . . . She was unlike the others. He doubted he would be taking advice from her anytime soon. Maybe this was the way of the battle-witches; they had to be trained, similar to how a frightened boy one day grew into a brave knight.

If so, she was indeed in the right kingdom. He had been at war since he was old enough to hold a sword and could share with her the winning strategies he intended to use in the arid, treeless expanse of Brown Sun Lake. His only real concern was how he was going to train her when he needed her magic now.

He shifted her in his arms. She was delicate and unusually pretty with long, dark hair and large, expressive green-blue eyes. Her golden skin was so much softer than that of any woman he had ever had in his bed, even the pampered daughters of other Knights. He found himself petting her arm, intrigued by the silky sensation.

The cloak clearly belonged to a battle-witch, along with the medallion his scout had been given to mark his claim on the newest member of Black Moon Draw. The clothing beneath was unlike anything he had seen. Thinner than silk, smoother than polished marble, it left most of her limbs exposed, as if the material was too expensive for her to have a full gown made.

The faint rattle of something in her pocket drew his attention. He dug a hand into it and withdrew the familiar coinage of Brown Sun Lake. The wooden coins were to the desert dwellers what gold was to the forest dwellers. With no trees in the kingdom, Brown Sun Lake reserved wood for royalty and coins of great value.

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