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The Promo Whore contest ends tomorrow!
Caleb rode, only part of his attention on the road and his surroundings. His focus was on the wisps of green light ahead of him. A horse. A rider. In the center of the road. Then suddenly, the pair veered off the path, toward the ridge above.
Not bothering to signal Fari, because she was right on his horse’s tail, Caleb reined right, leaned low over his mount’s neck and flew up the slope. Near the top were boulders and a stand of conifers. The ghostly green shadow weaved among the trees, although he appeared to be slowing down, because his outline was sharper, the green color more brilliant.
Caleb held up a fist to warn Fari, and slowed his roan.
The trees were thicker here, the darkness pressing around them. The rider ahead of them dismounted.
Caleb did the same. He listened for the sounds of Fari following, but kept his gaze ahead, peering into the darkness.
So many places to hide. His heart thudded. His breathing deepened as he focused. If the Centaurian knew he was being followed, he might strike out. The only way to keep Fari safe was to meet him first.
Caleb tied his horse to a branch, glanced around for Fari and motioned again for her to stay behind him. Then he took off through the trees.
His footsteps crunched on the pine needles, but there was no point in being quiet. They didn’t have time. If the Centaurian reached his headband, they would fail.
Ahead, he caught sight of another wisp, then a darker, blacker shadow. The figure bent near the base of a tall tree that leaned at a slant, half uprooted.
Caleb stalked closer, careful to muffle his footfalls now.
But the Centaurian stiffened, glancing over his shoulder.
Before he could reach the belt glinting beside him, Caleb leaped, taking the alien to the ground.
Immediately, Caleb knew he was in trouble. His opponent was preternaturally powerful, and without the impediment of a weakened shoulder.
Caleb plunged his fist into the alien’s side while wrapping his injured arm around the Centaurian’s body to hold him. “Fari,” he gasped. “Get the belt and jump!”
The Centaur roared, slammed his fist into Caleb’s shoulder and leaped off him to run after Fari.
Caleb saw stars for a moment, then shook his head and lunged to his feet.
He heard hoofbeats in the distance, knew Fari had gotten to her horse to lead the Centaurian away from him. “Dammit, this is no time to be a hero, woman!”
Caleb ran for his own mount and swung up, then kicked it into a gallop, following the traces of the two figures ahead of him. They were weaving through the trees toward a clearing that dropped away sharply to the sea.
In the moonlight now, he watched Fari zigzag left and right, then pull hard on her reins to head toward the cliff. The Centaurian was gaining on her.
Suddenly, the ground in front of both riders fell away, the cliff wall crumbling.
Caleb knew it was a flare. But so did the Centaurian. However, both horses balked, shying to the side, backs arching, bucking in revolt.
Fari held tight to her mount’s reins, her expression focused as she threw another flare.
Caleb’s heart stopped for a beat as he saw a huge, golden gryphon diving toward the Centaurian’s horse, wings extended and flapping. It dipped toward the animal, claws outstretched, then pulled up sharply, only to dive again.
The Centaurian’s horse bucked harder, twisting and jouncing the rider on its back. The alien roared again, his head thrown back in rage.