A/N: I had a point. I know I did. I just forgot when Darius showed up and started bantering. Gah.
Thank you all or your kind reviews and for those who care, I've added another three or four stories-to-be to the Index. Have fun and leave me a line or two?
His stride is sure and quick as he moves through the camp, soldiers moving out of his way with averted eyes. He is their leader, the general, their god. He has brought them to the gates of this city, this filthy, uncivilized Paris all the way from their native lands. In their eyes, there is nothing he cannot do.
He bypasses the command tent for his own personal one, set slightly apart from the others and marked by the banner of the soaring eagle swaying softly in the late night breeze. The preparations for the attack on the city were exhausting, but now that they are done with, he can look over his army, over the campfires reaching far into the dark night, and know that they will win.
They are – he is – unstoppable. And after this town, the ocean is only weeks away. Gods know, he will bathe in it until his skin peels and he freezes.
Nodding to the guards on either side of the entrance, he steps inside his tent, tying the flaps down for the night. The leather ties will hold no-one off but they are a clear sign that he wants peace and his men know better than to go against his wishes.
Swinging his cloak off his shoulders and onto a chair, he walks to a small table and pours himself some of the wine waiting for him there. He drinks without hesitation, well beyond such mortal things as fearing poison. With a dagger he spears half an apple and is about to bite into it, when a cool breeze brushes along his spine, on and underneath his skin.
Putting goblet and apple down uncaringly, his hands wander to his sword without conscious thought as he spins slowly to take in the entirety of the tent. There is no-one there. Frowning in annoyance he turns again and…there.
Blonde hair and fair skin are the only things he sees in the semi dark for a long moment before she takes a step into the light. Small, even for a woman, she still carries herself with the air of a queen. Her dress is dark blue and simple but not of the coarse wool the people in these regions wear but the soft, fine cotton of his native Rome. Unbidden, a smile twitches on his lips. Her face is pretty enough, he decides, big green eyes focused on him, mouth set in a neutral but lush line.
If she is one of the whores accompanying the army, she has hidden well from him until now. But…no. This woman is no whore.
“My name is Darius,” he introduces himself, in Latin, just to see what happens, before drawing his sword.
She inclines her head minutely, a smile crossing her delicate features.
“Call me Summer,” she responds in kind but does not draw a weapon. In fact, he wonders where she would hide one. Her skirts seem hardly the place for a weapon of war.
“How may I serve you, my Lady?” His tone mocking, his eyes amused. Does she plan to talk his head off his shoulders?
“Tell me why you are here?”
With an exaggerated sigh he draws his sword, places it on the table and then falls bonelessly into the chair next to it, waving a negligent hand for her to join him. All she does is take another step closer to the center of the tent, leaning against a post, hands folded in front of her stomach. Such manners.
One hand still resting on the hilt of his weapon, he reclaims his discarded dinner.
“Well,” he offers between bites, “This is
She raises one eyebrow at him but doesn’t comment on his teasing. “You are far from home,” she informs him instead.
He nods and spears some cheese with his dagger. “I am aware of that.”
The roll of her eyes is so fast he almost doesn’t catch it but he does and oh, this one might be interesting. She is certainly old enough to have more to offer than this dreadful century. Really, he has been bored.
“I’ll be blunt then.”
He waves a hand for her to go ahead, almost dislodging the cheese.
“What in Hades’ name do you think you’re doing?”
The cheese drops forgotten back onto the silver tray as he crosses his legs at the ankles and leans farther back, inquiring, “I beg your pardon, my Lady?”
She does not move in any way but her eyes sparkle. “We are immortal. The affairs of mortals are not our concern. And yet here you are, leading an army across two continents, bringing death and destruction with you wherever you go.”
He shrugs. “I was bored.”
A part of him, he admits, is hoping to draw her out and make her mad. She seems the type to protect the poor mortals from evil like himself. There is supposed to be a holy man inside Paris, one of their kind, too. It is part of the reason he wants the city. Self righteous people do so amuse him.
But, to his disappointment, she refuses to be baited so easily. Instead she laughs.
“Bored,” she demands, “After barely half a millennium? My dear general, I do hope you find a quick end because if you are that easy to bore, forever seems to be the wrong place for you.”
It’s his turn to laugh at that as he finally takes his hand off his sword and offers, “Then you will just have to amuse me.”
Arms crossing in front of her in fake indignation she asks, “Why would I?”
“Why are you here?”
Shrugging, she lets her arms drop again. “I was curious about the immortal taking over the world. Although,” she decides, her tiny nose wrinkling, “You seems a bit too arrogant for my tastes.”
“Why,” he refills his goblet with wine and hands it to her with a flourish before continuing, “You shouldn’t believe first impressions, my Lady.”
With a wry nod she accepts the drink and seat he offers. Smirking, Darius slouches in his seat, all thoughts of battle forgotten for the moment. If she is willing to alleviate the boredom that made him start this campaign to the ocean, then he might just be willing to satisfy her curiosity.
Lifting the jug of wine in a toast, he says, “I think this may be the beginning of a beautiful friendship, Lady Summer.”