“Blood tells and I pray for the day it tells on you!”
Blue eyes spilling tears over flushed cheeks, Habibi brushed at the dirt my boot had left on her bodice. It smeared. She raised an agonized gaze to me.
“Damn you, Thea! How can our a’Shara consider making you Venari? How can he tolerate you in his Crèche? Everything about you is dark! Your skin, your hair, your heart! Without that birthmark, no way Pell would have taken you in!”
Her venom made my jaw clench.
It had started simply enough, body and mind at ease, off to hunt before the storm broke. Riding my beloved mare Windsong, my hunting hound Selene at our side as we headed for the grasslands – that glorious, exuberant shout of green encircling the Sada’s movable city of felted tents.
The three of us coursing along the Way-- for Venari or Venari-to-be only. Not expecting a gaggle of girls to sashay onto the road. A bunch of silly near-women come to flaunt their finery, to flirt and force any warrior to rein in or mow them down.
Thankfully, we were trotting. Thankfully, I saw them in time.
Habibi, acclaimed as one of the Tribe’s great beauties, had smiled slyly at me, as if sharing some female secret. I knew her by name. I knew her ribs housed a stunningly shallow heart. In a gown giddy with color, she dismissed me in my fawn colored riding brecca and tall boots. "How did this Nomadi bitch get past our Venari?"