I woke the following morning with an overwhelming feeling of dread. I quickly made my way to the kitchen on the third floor and there I found my entire staff.
“My lady, what are you doing up so early? The sun has barely risen.” Delia frowned, halting the previous conversation.
“What is the schedule for today?” I asked, my gaze scanning each staff member, still trying to calm my mind.
“I’m goin hunting later, our meat supply is runnin low.” Greg leaned back against the counter.
“I’m doing the usual. Greg, get your rear off my counter.” Charlie whacked Greg’s arm with a wooden stirring spoon.
“Alice and I are dusting the libraries this morning, then I’m cleaning the artifacts and Alice is gathering eggs.” Mary glanced at Delia, who nodded in confirmation.
“I’m putting new blankets in bunk room one. What is wrong?” Delia insisted.
I sighed, trying to gather my thoughts. “A feeling of dread overcame me this morning. I would appreciate it if all of you could stay close to the mansion today.”
“Are you going out?” Alice asked hesitantly.
I hesitated before responding. “I believe so.”
Greg huffed. “It’s been years since ya left, Iddy. What brought this on?”
Delia gave a small gasp. “Greg! Show some respect!” She looked appalled at the nickname.
Greg rolled his eyes. “Give it a rest, Delia, she’s never insisted that we call her by her title.”
“Enough, you two. I have a bad feeling and I want to make sure the mansion defenses are holding.” I interrupted before the argument could escalate. “I’ll inform our guests about this.”
“I’ll pack you some food.” Charlie started bustling around the kitchen.
I nodded in thanks and made my way to the first floor. I walked to the bunk room, where I found all of the otherworlders in various conversations but they slowed to a stop when I appeared in the doorway.
“Lovely, you’re all here.” I took a single step into the room. “I would ask that none of you leave the mansion today.”
Anakin frowned. “Is something going on?”
I hesitate, not wanting to explain something I still didn’t fully understand. “Please adhere to my request.”
Anakin narrowed his eyes but Obi-Wan cut off what the young Knight was about to say. “Of course, my lady.”
I nodded and walked away quickly. I returned to my room and changed out of my dress. I donned a slim dark brown dress that ended at my knees, I pulled on a black vest that was slightly shorter than the dress and buttoned in the front. Black leggings covered my legs and black knee-high lace up boots covered my feet. I braided my hair into a high ponytail and put on fingerless leather gloves.
After I was redressed, I headed to the entryway of the mansion. Waiting for me there was my staff along with Master Kenobi, Knight Skywalker, Padawan Tano, Captain Rex and Commander Cody.
I nodded to the otherworlders and stood in the doorway outside. Mary handed me my sword and I strapped it to my waist. Charlie handed me a pack, I glanced inside before nodding to him. It held food and a couple potions.
I walked outside, where Greg was holding the bridle of my dark brown stallion, Meinus. I tied on the pack behind the saddle, then swung on.
“Do you know when you will return?” Kenobi asked, walking out of the house.
I gazed at him for a second. “Stay inside, Master Kenobi. Something or someone is coming.”
I nudge Meinus’ sides and he gallops north. We crossed the bridge over the river by the mansion, and entered the forest. The trees were a blur as Meinus continued to gallop.
After several miles, we came across a small lake. Meinus slowed to a stop and I gazed around the small clearing next to the lake. I slid to the ground and knelt next to the water as I let Meinus fill his thirst.
Nearby leaves rustled and I shot to my feet. I drew my sword and let it hang loosely in my hand. I narrowed my eyes and scanned the treeline, pretending not to notice the flash of dark blue in the leaves.
After moments of silence, I sighed and rolled my eyes. “Time for this game to end, dear cousin.”
A feminine voice, that was deeper than most, chuckled. “I guess I was incorrect to think that these past centuries living domestically have dulled your skills.”
Another dark elf dropped from the trees and sauntered towards me. Her skin was a few shades darker than my own sky blue flesh, and her eyes were more of a melted gold while my own were honey colored. Her storm grey hair was styled in a long mohawk, and swayed as she walked.
“It is good to see you again, Idraho.” she smirked.
I bowed my head slightly. “Always a pleasure, Hosasha.”
She chuckled. “Somehow you can always say my name in a way that makes me feel as though I have disappointed you.”
I raised an eyebrow but said nothing.
Hosasha spread her arms, the smirk still on her lips. “So what have I done this time, cousin dearest?”
I scoffed, turned and started leading Meinus back towards the trees. “You have no regard for life, Hosasha. That goes against everything I stand for.”
She groaned and followed. “Not all of us have a magic guarded mansion, Idraho. I’ve had to fight for everything I have, while you sit and have everything given to you on a golden platter.”
I clench my jaw and continue walking.
“Come on, ‘raho, I just need a place to lay low for a few days.” she whined.
I whipped around and snarled. “You hunt humans, Hosasha! You kill without thought and I cannot trust you with my staff!”
Hosasha sneered. “That’s your problem. If you had kept your parent’s staff, this wouldn’t be a problem.”
I narrowed my eyes. “My mother sent them away with the rest of the city, or have you forgotten how she saved you and your mother?”
Hosasha growled and slammed my back against a nearby tree, making me drop Meinus’ reins. “I owe you nothing! My father died fighting humans, just like yours! In fact, he died because of your father!”
I shoved her arms off my shoulders. “That was his choice. Just like it was yours to stay in the city, even though you have no magic.”
Hosasha bared her teeth. “I stayed to protect my mother! It was an idiotic choice to leave the safety of the city. We could have held off the army easily.”
I shook my head. “No, we couldn’t have. Father returned saying they had to attack at night in order to have a chance.”
She scoffed. “A cowards choice.”
I narrowed my eyes, thinking of the rumors. “You would know.”
Hosasha growled lowly. “You know nothing, Idraho.”
I pushed past her and picked up Meinus’ reins before turning to look back at her. “You are not welcome at the mansion, Hosasha. And if you attack my staff or guests, I will kill you myself.”
She met my gaze, her eyes burning. “You don’t have the skill to kill me, oh Mistress of the Mansion.” She taunted.
I swung onto Meinus’ back. “You no longer know my skill, Huntress.” I nudged his sides and Meinus cantered away. I could feel her eyes on my back, but I didn’t look back. I knew that she wouldn’t just leave, she was planning something.
My mind refocused, when we recrossed the bridge. I frowned, seeing Kenobi, Skywalker, Tano and Greg in the front yard.
I pulled Meinus to a stop next to where Greg and Kenobi were watching Skywalker and Tano spar. “Did I not tell you to stay in the mansion?” I stated heatedly.
Greg frowned. “What’s got you all tied up?”
I dismounted and scowled. “There is a dangerous individual nearby and you are in the open like a daft animal.”
Greg’s eyebrows raised. He had worked for me for years and never heard me almost insult someone so directly.
Kenobi glanced between Greg and I. “We meant no disrespect, my lady.”
I took a deep breath to try and calm myself. “Get any and all people outside back into the mansion as soon as you can. Then, gather Delia and whoever else needs to hear and bring them to my office. There is much to discuss.”
Greg took Meinus and took him back towards the pasture, while Kenobi nodded and walked towards Skywalker and Tano. I spun, strided into the house and down the hall towards my office.
Once there, I opened the ender chest next to my chair. I pulled out the notes my father had created detailing all of the warriors in the city. I flipped through them until I came to Hosasha’s paper. I put the rest back into the chest and closed it.
It was then that Delia, Kenobi, Skywalker, Tano, Commander Cody, Captain Rex and Greg entered the office, making it crowded.
“What did you find?” Delia immediately rushed to my side.
I leaned on the desk, my right hand on Hosasha’s paper. “Not what, but who. It is time you learn of my cousin, the Huntress Hosasha.”
Delia and Greg frowned. “You have never spoken of any family past your mother and father.” Delia stated, confused.
I glanced at her. “For good reason. Hosasha was not the best of us, nor the most moral. Father accepted her into his warriors due to her father being my mother’s brother.”
“Was she a good warrior?” Skywalker crossed his arms.
I gave a small smile. “One of the best, but her savagery kept her from my father’s guard, or any position other than reserves. She was angered by this, so when my father gathered all the warriors to go fight the human army, she refused and stayed behind.”
“Coward.” Greg muttered, but everyone could hear.
I nodded. “Agreed. The last I saw of her was when my mother sent the people of the city away, Hosasha was set on protecting her mother. Yet, years later, word came that her mother had died not long after that.”
“How?” Kenobi stroked his beard, standing in what I knew was his thinking position.
I shook my head. “I don’t know and haven’t had the chance to ask.”
Skywalker snorted but straightened his face and cleared his throat when Kenobi threw him a look.
“So she was who you met in the forest?” Commander Cody guessed.
“Correct. She wished to stay in the mansion.” I scowled.
Tano glanced at Skywalker and Kenobi. “What is so wrong with that?” she asked.
I gazed at the padawan. “Her current occupation is hunting humans.”
At this, everyone tensed.
“What?” Delia looked aghast.
I pinched the bridge of my nose. “She blames humans for the downfall of the dark elves, and rightfully so. But, she hunts the innocent and weak.” I gazed around the room. “She waits for soldiers to leave a village or town, then kills who is left behind and burns it to the ground.”
“How do you know this? I thought you hadn’t seen her in centuries.” Captain Rex pointed out.
I met his eyes. “Actions such as those do not go unnoticed. Word has even spread here of her actions. I have tried to follow her movements but I cannot leave the mansion, and thus I didn’t foresee her arrival.” I sighed and stared at the paper. “Hosasha is not a woman of honor, and she has no moral code. The most dangerous kind of warrior.”
There were a few moments of silence before Delia broke it. “So what do we do?” She looked at me.
I swallowed, apprehensive of any drastic measures. “We prepare. Keep anyone from leaving the mansion.” I looked at Greg. “I would ask that one of the soldiers accompany you during your duties.”
He nodded. “Aye, extra hands are always welcome in a fight.”
I returned the nod. “Good. Until we find something to do with the animals, you must continue your duties outside.” I paused and took a couple breathes to gather myself. “No one goes outside alone.” I gazed at the group, making eye contact with each person. “Hosasha is not to be underestimated. She will do what she must to get me to agree.”
I was about to speak again when I was interrupted by a scream. I straightened quickly, recognizing the voice of Alice. I pushed past the group and sprinted down the hall, knowing they would follow. I slowed to a stop after exiting the mansion, and clenched my jaw.
Hosasha was standing behind Alice and was also holding a sword to her neck. Alice was in tears and the basket for gathering eggs was at her feet. Next to the basket was an unconscious Fives.
I heard the group come to a stop at the doorway behind me, and Delia gasped at the sight.
Hosasha gave a sadistic grin. “Hello, cousin dearest. I do believe that it’s time for us to talk.”
My eyes moved between Alice and Hosasha. This was going to end badly.