The full moon was rising, golden in the graying sky, casting its eerie light over the crowd. The chosen had been whisked away to their tent beyond the hill where the priestesses still asked their questions. Those who had not been chosen were eating their suppers around the cook fires that lit the gloom.
Alise could always see better in the dusk. She steered clear of the lines, in favor of wandering between them. To her left, up on the hill, she could make out the billowing white wool of the womenâ€™s gowns. In the cool moonlight, textures became more pronounced, and her eyes could feel as well as see.
She came to a parting in the crowd, suddenly finding herself out in the open. Her heart jumped as she saw Mikelo ahead of her. She stood still and fixed him in her glowing gaze. He noticed. Others usually did. He strode to her, a faint smile on his face â€“ more of a smirk, Alise thought.
â€œYou have beautiful eyes,â€ Mikelo spoke. She didnâ€™t answer.
â€œTell me, what are you called?â€
He looked intently into her eyes. â€œAnd Alise, why do you follow me?â€ He seemed to already know the answer.
Mikeloâ€™s face was dark and angular, and angry. He liked to have his way. Alise knew how the other woman eluded him. She could see the lines of frustration on his face.
â€œYouâ€™re not here for them,â€ Mikelo nodded toward the priestesses. â€œI can see that. You are following me,â€ he took a step closer, towering over her. â€œIf youâ€™re going to lurk after me, you should know that Iâ€™m looking for a woman.â€
â€œI know,â€ she said.
â€œThen help me find her,â€ Mikelo demanded. The shadows of his face should have scared her; they did scare her, but she felt something new twisting inside her at the sound of his voice, at the way he spoke to her. He left her no choice.
He grabbed her shoulders and spun her around so that she was facing away from him. Alise saw that they had attracted quite an audience as the creatures turned in their lines to face the commotion. They looked vaguely concerned. â€œGo. Bring her to me,â€ Mikelo spoke into her ear. â€œWeâ€™ll meet at the treeline,â€ he commanded.
His voice sent a rush of electricity through her body and she tensed. â€œYes,â€ she answered, and took off running.
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