Opening by @brisby
Midnight barbs hooked Sedra’s duster as she sped through the bramble underbrush atop Nox. Errant envy for her psi-meleon’s iridescent scales fluttered within her mind. Perfect. I'm going to look like a bedraggled porcupine.
Beneath her legs, Nox’s sides twitched in time to the clicks his tongue made. His right eye rolled back to meet her gray gaze, mirth shining within the amber orb.
“Har-Har, my impudent beastie.” Sedra flushed, blonde brows furrowing with disdain while kicking a thrasher vine from her boot.
“I couldn’t give a trotter’s tail if Blayne has a thing for quills. He better have a damned good reason for trespassing into our Catacombs.” It didn’t take a psionic bond to interpret Nox’s responding chortle of clicks. She snapped back with a huff, “Who taught you about that? See if I rustle up eels for you anytime soon.”
Rumbling deep within his throat, Nox tensed and sprang to the left. Claws dug into the thick ochra bark of the tree before scrambling up to the outspread branches. His tail waved, readying for a leap before easing down to lie along its length. The frustration radiating from his rider ignored to admire the back of his eyelids.
Sedra clung to her mount, her excitement to be taking the treeline route thwarted by the lizard’s love for his favorite treat. “Nox! This is NOT the time for a tantrum!” Snaking out, the psi-meleon’s tongue hung limp from its mouth, letting her know that he could do this all day.
Bristling, she channeled a fine line of energy to the tuned topaz on her wrist. A bit of rezzing would get his stubborn ass up. Threading the loop with her mind, the aquamarine gem began to spark. Before she could release the resonation to zap Nox’s toe, he slid from his perch to hang upside down from the branch. His smug clicking dared her to go ahead and try it while they were dangling a hundred feet above the forest floor.
The soft light dimmed within her topaz. Like hers, his was an empty bluff. Keeping her grip tight, her thumb rubbed Nox’s hide in capitulation. “Alright!" she growled. "Three eels before bed if you can get us to The Well and back before they notice we’re missing.”
Triumphant pride purred within the air. Nox swung around to the branch’s top, tensed and leaped the expanse to the neighboring tree. Thrilling from the feel of the wind in their faces, the two raced towards the forest's edge. Both girl and beast let the rush of the journey override their unspoken dread.
Beyond the green was a showdown with a man who had been their friend. Within moments, they'd be facing their betrayer. One who had abandoned them to fend for themselves so that he could take possession of The Well.
Sedra’s concrete gaze, hidden behind the summer foliage, fixed on The Well. It’s warm glow spilt down the path, boozy laughter trickled out the doorway, whispering into the forest; an invitation she wouldn’t be accepting.
It was late, the second moon crept over the trees, it’s crescent smile outshone by a waxing gibbous sister.
Nox lurched, readjusting his barbed grip on the oranged bark.
In the grove beyond The Well, psi-meleons milled, glinting scaled pearlescence as they waited for their riders to emerge. Sensing new arrivals, a wave of psionic greetings crashed through the trees.
“Is he in there Nox?”
Soft clicks answered; unleashing a wrecking ball into her gut, hot anger prickled up her cheeks, curdling with betrayal. How could he do this? Her life-match was an old friend.
Energy throbbed through the gem on her wrist, Nox was attempting to soothe her. The assault of psi-meleon comfort; the shared sensation of juicy fruit, of cool mud and eels wriggling down the throat didn’t really help, but she appreciated his efforts.
Both moons hung high. Sneaking back in would be harder the later they left it. She may as well turn back.
With a slow breathe, she asked the only question left.
Even a psi-less baby could sense the disgust in Nox’s clicks.
Part of Sendra wanted to storm into the woodland watering hole, burst into the belly of the boozy beast, scream out her rage in a primal showdown. That’s what everyone expected, her fend for herself, assert her dominance over beautiful Kaelia.
Every wave Nox washed over her held the same current.
It bristled through them both.
If he’d rather take possession of The Well, sit on a wobbly bar stool and have the rope grip of his shoes stick to the dirty floor, just to spend time with Kaelia, Sedra had no intention of trying to convince him to change his mind.
The village elders could hold weeks of starlit divination for all she cared.
They'd still be wrong.
She gripped Nox, expecting him to turn, dash back towards their treetop hut, and his promised eels. Despite the strength of intention throbbing through her bracelet, he didn’t move.
Sedra wasn’t in the mood for this - her gem sparking. No bluffing.
Neither was Nox.
Before she could release the rez, he dropped, free falling through the foliage towards the ground.
As if on purpose, the sly lizard twisted, sliding her from his back into a brambled Alttra bush.
Fine, striped quills torn through her clothes, ripping the layers of swaddled fabric. Barbed tips grazed her skin, goosebumping as it met the cool night air.
“Still working on that psi-bond?”
Her cheeks tinged frustration. Nox really had a talent for his timings.
“I tried to come see you last week, they caught me in the tunnels, Sedra, you can’t go through with this. Ackron’s a royal trotter!”
Blayne's warm hands brushed between torn layers of clothing, lifting her free of the spiny tangle.
“He doesn’t deserve you Seddie.”
His calloused palm caught her cheek, freeing a striped quill from her hair.
“Oh? And you do?”
Unshaven kisses breathed down her neck.
The main idea I had for this didn't feel right smushed into 500 words (although probably got it closer to 500 than this one lol) so this is my alternate ending, I liked the idea of The Well as a pub deep in the forest.
This prompt comes from @bananafish's #finishthestory contest which is out every week! Our fantastical @brisby is running the show this week! Check out the latest round for all the details on how to join in and to see all the spectacular entries we have had in!