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The Hunters and the Prey

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They’d called him the Winter Knight.

It was as good a name as any, although he thought he might have had a different one long ago. 

He couldn’t recall it, however.

What he could remember was killing.  How to kill, with weapons and his body and the magical arm he’d been given so long ago he couldn’t think of a time when he hadn’t had it.  He was fairly certain he hadn’t been born with it, but he couldn’t bring to mind his birth, either.

He had no idea how many lives he’d taken, under the orders of his various masters.  There had been quite a few of them, and the ways he could kill were written into his muscles and sinews, but not his conscious memory. 

How he’d come to belong to the ones who’d held him in thrall this time was something else lost to the mist that seemed to hover over his mind, thick and viscous and impenetrable. All he could say was that he’d had no choice, their will had been his, until he’d broken free somehow and had run away into a strange world he had no idea of. 

The magic that had muffled his own inclinations was fading, however. 

He could date it to the moment the heavy magic stopped weighing on him.  That magic hadn’t had anything to do with his lost memories – not that he knew – but that power had made it easier for his current master to hold him under his control.  It had been like wet cotton, stuffing his head with darkness, until all he could do was blindly obey the orders he’d been given. 

Somehow, that magic had lifted, leaving him confused and needing to escape.  Without truly considering it, he’d broken out of the mansion his master had lived in, losing himself in the town outside its doors.  There was no way of telling where this place was, although the enormous bridge that crossed a narrow strait which opened up into a bay that was bustling with boats would have most likely been a landmark that would have given it away…if he’d understood what the bridge was even called. 

The house he’d been held in was high on a promontory looking down at the bay, but the bridge had been just out of view until he was far enough away to see it.  He stood there and simply stared at the impressive structure, until he shook himself out of his clearing thoughts and made his way into the crowds in the city, hoping no one would notice his arm. 

He did take the opportunity to pull a cloak from a washing line to use to cover himself up.  Later, there were different clothes to replace the leather he’d been wearing, because that had been as obvious as the arm.

Until he knew what had happened to him, he really needed to find a place to lie low.  He couldn’t let them take him again, to weigh him down with magic and the solidity of loss of self.  He had no hope; hope was for children, and he wasn’t a child any longer, even if he could even remember being that young

A vague memory of a boy with golden hair flashed before his inner eye, and he couldn’t take the time to dwell on it.  He had to get somewhere safe first.

Wherever that would be…