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Prey and Predator - Bishop Romance

Author: 
Sarah Carter
Old Vault Category: 
fanfiction
Old Vault ID: 
514

‘He’s not here, you know.’ I’d turned around, surprised to hear his voice in such a place, at such a time, ‘Tyr, he’s not watching this, but I am.’ That was the moment, right there, that I looked at him and realised that I didn’t want to die tomorrow because I wanted to see him waiting for me outside the Arena, cheering me on in his own special sardonic way. It was the moment I realised more than a debt to repay was keeping him there. The moment I saw that fire in his eyes and felt its answer in my stomach.



We went on from there, we took down almost an entire colony of fire giants with our ice bows all by ourselves, followed by a red dragon! I let him into my group, my mind, my heart. My bed. He was always by my side. Then he left, jammed the gate of my keep open and left me to die there. But he knew I wouldn’t. He knew I’d follow him.



We met again in the belly of the beast and he explained how he felt about… all of it. Including me. How I was just another obligation, another thing to tie him down, another weakness. Or rather, the way he felt about me was. What a bittersweet confession. To love me, and to hate loving me. I managed to talk him out of it, to leave Garius and the King of Shadows to me, to leave. They both died beneath the Sword of Gith.



******



A figure sat crouched on a bench outside where a party was going on, lights danced and people lifted their voices in jubilation. It was a celebration, dancing and drinking and laughing and making merry. A great shadow had left the land and all those who had a part in it revelled in the victory. The figure, the guest of honour, sat half in the shadows and watched the night instead, the distant treeline. She was a wood elf, dusky peach skin and auburn hair braided into a long ponytail. Startling green eyes perfected the picture and she wore Greenleaf armour, a bow and quiver strapped to her even then. The arrows were simple, ordinary. Her skills when using them anything but; she was an arcane archer. She was also the Shard-Bearer, the saviour of Neverwinter and the entire world from Shadow. She should have been celebrating along with the rest of the group, those who decided to stand with her against Black Garius. Those who hadn’t betrayed her.



Neeshka. Qara. Both had changed sides, both had raised their arms against her. Both had died along with the one who had offered them promises in exchange for their blood. The elf-girl’s head sank further as she stared mutely at the grass. It was not their betrayal which hurt the most however. How could it be?



Bishop.



How such a foul-mouthed, lecherous, unreliable conniving knave could have captured her heart… yet he had, and done so utterly. To the point she found herself leaning towards his natural inclinations more than her own. She had pulled back from that abyss at the last moment but they shared so much. Both were creatures of the land and both loathed the notion of being caged. She was no longer a Knight-Captain, she had requested the “honour” be removed once the King of Shadows was dead and Lord Nasher had regretfully acquiesced. She needed no sire nor liege lord, nor an estate of her own or any money any more. She had more than she could ever spend, more than she could ever need, even for a long-lived elf. Everything she wanted, almost.



The music became louder as the door opened and a figure slipped up behind her. She tensed, then relaxed, for who would attempt to kill her during the feast of her victory. Apart from Luskans of course. She moved to see who it was in the moonlight and saw the grizzled planes of her foster father’s face, even as he stepped forwards and took a seat on the bench beside her. Silence drew down between them as her eyes instead took themselves towards the silver moon, finding pictures in its radiance.



‘Sarellon, I understand how you feel.’ His voice, grave and gravelly, spoke out with an ancient grief still lingering there, ‘Georg told me about Bishop, he may not have been a particularly bright man but he was a keen observer of human and elven nature. It was obvious you two shared a bond. I heard from one of your companions, the paladin Casavir, about what transpired.’



Her eyes and face slid down again until they gazed steadfastly at her knees. It was some time before she spoke, but her father with typical elven patience waited regardless, ‘We loved each other, but he didn’t want to be tied down by that love. Yet, I cannot find it within myself to be angry at him or to do anything but worry about his welfare. He asked me so many times to run away with him to the forests and simply camp in the wilderness, together. I would have gone in a heartbeat, had I not known it would have simply led to the destruction of… everything.’ Her voice trailed off, then returned stronger, ‘But it seems that I saved everything for everyone else and lost everything for myself! West Harbour is gone, most of my companions are either going back to their old lives or new ones and Lord Nasher considers me both unreliable and dangerously independent.’



The vitriol seemed to pour from her in a stream, ‘Neeshka and Qara are dead, at my hands! Elanee abandoned me, Khelgar is off to become the new King of the Ironfists and Grobnar is off to find the Wendersnaven. Zhijvae is going home and Sand is returning to his shop and his secret services. I don’t know what Ammon Jerro is going to do, but he’s certainly not hanging around to keep me company. Casavir loathes me and my feelings for Bishop, his return to the ranks of Neverwinter is long overdue. The Keep is passing to another ennobled Knight and I… all because I do not want a title or a duty, I am alone apart from you.’ The quiet lingered in the wake of the outburst.



He cleared his throat, ‘I am sorry, Sarellon, for the way you were raised. In some ways I think I was not the best of fathers. But, I am not without a heart, so I have to ask, why do you not simply find him? You are by far the best I have trained and your skills now are among the best in the land. If you truly wish to be with the ranger, then I suggest you seek him out.’



‘Aye, lass.’ She had not noticed the door swing open and the noise, so engrossed in her father’s words. ‘You find that Bishop for me and give him a good ole ding aside the head. Why, it’s an outrage, turnin’ on you like that when it was obvious how you felt about him! He won’t do none better, that’s for sure! Why, you even let him slither away like the snake he is.’ Khelgar’s dulcet tones made the elf-girl lift a hand and cover her mouth with a sweet, sad smile at the images they conveyed.



‘Indeed.’ Sand’s cultured drawl was next, as she glanced up and saw that many of her companions were arrayed around her. Her cheeks flushed as she wondered if they had heard her rant, ‘While you would be welcome to join any of us on our jaunts or ventures, I’m sure, it is plainly obvious to even the most simple of minds like your dwarf friend here, that you would not be content with merely following another’s path, or indeed any path that does not lead you to your traitorous paramour.’



Zhijvae’s words were simple and to the point, ‘You have saved many, perhaps it is time you saved yourself and Bishop also.’



‘Save Bishop?’ Casavir, his tones angry, glared in equal measure at the githzerai and the wood elf he had sworn to follow, ‘He deserves every moment of pain he has brought upon himself and more, both for betraying us and siding with the King of Shadows, and for his previous crimes.’



‘And does she deserve such a penance? I know you dislike her, paladin, for her disregard of your rigid rules,’ Ammon Jerro, sneer in his voice as usual. She saw Casavir’s knuckles turn white in suppressed fury, ‘however she has saved us all from a most undesirable fate and it is perhaps time for you to let her do as she wishes.’



The words sparked an echo of Bishop’s frequent fights with Casavir, often about letting Sarellon call the shots in the group rather than the paladin talking for her. His habit of acting like he was some sort of intermediary or the de-facto leader had caused them to butt heads more than once. Her hatred of rules and laws and her willingness to bend them had driven the wedge deeper – for all that they shared a common interest in the welfare of those around them. Even Bishop, cruel and sadistic, had understood her better.



‘It would make quite the love-story, would it not? Hmm, perhaps I should put it to music, though it would be better if it was Bishop who went to rescue you, m’lady. Though this way round does put quite a twist on an old tale and make it new! Not to mention the matter of the, er, fact he doesn’t seem to want you around.’ Grobnar’s babble was unmistakable.



Sarellon opened her mouth but Zhijvae was already speaking, ‘I believe Bishop fears what he desires, and is more lost than he is found. If he can be persuaded to give his feelings a chance it is more than possible that he will understand himself more than he does now. And perhaps, even forgive himself.’



Casavir said, ‘I do not believe Bishop has ever felt guilt over any of his actions, and if he has he has certainly not shown it.’



Sarellon pressed her lips together, taking in a deep breath as she fought for calm.



‘Am I to assume you were not paying attention while he was standing at Garius’s soon-to-be-destroyed living corpse’s side? Why, when he talked to our little girl the cracks in his voice and manner were obvious beyond measure. He even left the battle in mid-taunt at her suggestion. Even if he did not feel guilt for the long list of his past endeavours, turning on the Captain here was obviously eating at him.’



‘That still does not mean that she should follow him, Sand. We know he has meant to do her harm before. I will not allow it. As much as she and I have rarely agreed, I will not allow her to be lured again into a trap and betrayed.’



Finally she spoke, emerald eyes opening as she got to her feet. Grobnar jumped back and even Casavir took half a step backwards as she approached him, ‘Not allow? You are not my master or my father! You are not my lover, nor my liege, nor anyone else who has any power over me whatsoever. Just because you had to decide to fall for me and you found that I was not the person you originally thought does not give you the right to order me around or to treat me like dirt because we disagree. I did a lot of good. Yes, I did it in an unconventional way, but guess what, it worked! Now most of these lands are alive and healthy and free because of me, but you still somehow think that I did the wrong thing somewhere along the line! Sure, I gave some people the verbal thrashing they so richly deserved, but it didn’t hurt them. It may even have made them grow up a little!’ Her tone shifted from a restrained yell to something quieter but no less venomous, ‘Casavir, perhaps I would have fallen for you if you hadn’t been so scared to show me how you felt, or if you’d been able to bend that armour of yours or your rigid rules for me once in a while, but I guess we will never know, will we.’



She stood, fists clenched, staring up at the paladin while her shoulders heaved with each drag for breath. His face was a picture that suddenly shut down into a stone mask, ‘You and Bishop truly deserve each other. You have done much good, that is true, but the ends do not justify the means. If you truly wish to follow Bishop and seek him out then I guess I cannot stop you, but your fate does not concern me any longer.’



He turned and stalked through the door, slamming it on the way in. She knew the only reason he had fought with her was because his hatred for her enemy had been greater than his dislike for her. She trembled in anger, even as the group glanced awkwardly between her and where the paladin had vanished off to.



Grobnar was the first to recover, nervousness obvious in his voice, ‘Heh, so, are you going to go and find him then? Or?’



Sarellon looked around at the group, her father first. His face was blank but his eyes were sad and understanding. The rest of them apart from Casavir would support her in her hunt for Bishop, understand her need even after his betrayal. But that didn’t mean it would work, that the ranger would…



But it didn’t matter in the end, did it. It was something she needed to do. Even if it only underscored the divide that had yawned wide between them, even if it only dashed her hopes once more and even if their meeting only ended in blood and treachery and death.



She lifted her head and a smile touched her features, ‘I think I have to, to live with myself. If I do not I will always wonder what would have happened. Even if I find him already dead I will avenge his death.’



‘And if he decides he’d much rather kill you than listen to you?’ Ammon Jerro questioned, an odd expression on his face.



‘Then he will die.’ There is no hesitation nor doubt in her words, even though beneath them lingers an uncertainty on who would leave the glade alive in that case. For all Bishop was not quite as skilled as she, especially in the art of the bow, he had taken with him some very powerful items, including a Ring of Nine Lives. Such a thing could easily tip the balance and she would be on her own with no-one to save her. She moistened suddenly dry lips, ‘But I pray it will not come to that.’



‘Then I suggest you leave as soon as you are prepared. His trail is still relatively fresh and the news you survived and the King of Shadows did not has not yet run before you.’ Her father put a hand on her shoulder, one of the few comforting gestures he had used in the century she had been under his wing. She knew how much it meant, and what it meant.



‘Thank you, all of you.’ Grobnar fidgeted, looking pleased, while Khelgar harrumphed and Sand merely smirked. She went on, ‘It is as much due to you as I that this land is safe again, you are all heroes, and all friends. Thank you for understanding,’ she realised even as she spoke the words that it was she abandoning them, not the other way around. It was that which she had felt guilty about, that longing to disappear. The desire that her father had put into words for her, to find the man she had fallen in love with. A faint tinge of pink decorated her cheeks and she looked helplessly at the group, unsure what to say.



‘Well, lass, what are you waitin’ around here for, go get ‘im!’ spoke the dwarf, hand on the haft of the fabled hammer.



She glanced towards the revelry, on this night of joy, and finally a portion of that emotion seemed to seep into her breast. She would be given a chance at least, to make it right. Only a chance. The group watched as she ran towards her quarters, gathering equipment for her journey, swiftly lost in the shadows.



Sand spoke, ‘I believe I speak for all of us when I say that I hope Bishop has learnt some sort of sense in the time between our last meeting and when the Knight-Captain catches up with him; for both their sakes.’



‘Do you have so little faith in her, wizard? That woman took down something that defeated both the Illefarn Empire and the greatest mage of this age.’



‘Of course not, Jerro, but she is not made of stone, nor is her heart as invulnerable as her hide. Or did you not notice that on the night of her victory when she should have been dancing with the knowledge that she had the gratitude of thousands, she was pining for the very man who turned his back on her? If he has not changed then while I do not believe he will come out alive, I fear she will also be wounded and in a far graver fashion.’



******



The moss moved slightly beneath her boot as she leant her weight slowly onto it, leaving a soft impression and the smell of plantlife rich on the air. Allephon, her wolf, eeled forwards on his belly beside her, the faintest of whines carrying to her ears over the sloughing of the wind in the trees. She crouched on a stone overlooking a ravine that twined through the hill, peppered with overhanging trees, dangling fronds of moss and bushes that clung to the silver granite and filled the area with life and emerald leaves. The air smelt fresh and clean, a brook running through the gravel at the bottom of the chasm flowed pure, glitters of the fitful sunlight shining back at her from the wavelets on its surface.



Bishop was good, very good. But even he could not move through the woods like a ghost, even he left some sort of trace and she knew him, perhaps too well. The methods he used to gather his food – from the knots he tied in the rabbit snare she found or the trees carefully carved in order to fletch more arrows – were better indicators of his identity and his presence in the area than any. After moving through the woods, this place was both the easiest to defend and the area with the best natural resources. It was a near-ideal campsite. She had found wolf tracks on the streambed further upstream where mud mixed with the gravel bank, and then a portion of a boot. She could practically feel him on the wind, each sign of his presence and his continued life a tingle within that grew stronger each day they moved through the forest. They were leaving marks of their own, she knew. It was possible that Bishop would determine her identity and leave. Or had already left.



She put a hand down, feeling the softness between her fingers as she leant forwards, supporting herself as her keen elven eyes peered into the shadows of the ravine. There, was that movement? Allephon flowed up and put his paws on the stone beside her, straining to see. A flash of grey and then… Her breath caught in her throat, while her wolf whined deep in his. It was Karnwyr, definitely. He padded along the gravel path as if unconcerned, before glancing back as if to see if someone was following. She held her breath completely, eyes searching for that first glimpse.



A noise drew her attention immediately from behind her, the slow wooden creak of a bow being drawn. A voice, so familiar as to make her dizzy with the emotions it evoked, spoke out behind her, ‘Now, don’t think of moving. I guess you’re a scout, right, or maybe you’re just an innocent woodsman like me. But either way, you’re not going to be telling anyone about me being here. The only reason you’re alive is because I’m going to make you tell me where the rest of your friends are before I kill you, and believe me, by that point you’ll want me to. So, I guess we had better begin.’



Allephon turned around first, his amber eyes fixed on the man behind her even as his lips drew up back over his teeth to reveal his fangs. She saw Karnwyr below, and smirked to herself at Bishop for his ingenuity at the trap and the distraction. He must have seen her at her vantage point and put all this on just for her. She had, once again, underestimated him.



She turned, slowly, keeping her hands away from her weapons as she faced him directly.



It was him. Brown, almost golden eyes, mixed with close-cropped brown hair and a face and physique that most would envy. He still wore the yellow enchanted armour she had gifted to him, and wielded the White Dragon Bow that they had won together. When drawn, an arrow of enchanted ice would form. One sat there now, glittering and steaming in the forest air, a diamond of death, aimed towards her heart. She saw the shock and recognition hit him, dodged to the side just in time as the arrow sped towards her. It shattered on the stone and Allephon streaked towards the other ranger with murder in his heart.



She was rolling, feeling the stones beneath the cover of grass as she bounced against them, leaving bruises. Stumbling to her feet, her bow slid into her hands and an arrow was nocked almost before she was aware of her actions. Allephon lay at bay just in front of Bishop, another ice arrow held close to his muzzle even as his growl continued to reverberate through the clearing. He glanced over, that ever-present smirk turned into a scowl, ‘So what, this is how you want it to go? I left, I left even though I knew I would probably die if I did, and for what?’



‘You left,’ she kept her tone as level as she could, even though her heart was racing and her emotions tangled, ‘because you didn’t want to take orders, even from Garius. And you abandoned me, betrayed me, because you didn’t want to feel chained by your own feelings. Your feelings.’



‘So you’re going to kill me, then? For that, for being a traitor, a liar? Go on, then, if you want to. It’d be fitting, don’t you think? Duncan saves me and then you kill me. We get to keep it all in the family.’



She swallowed, and then, even though parts of her were screaming at the insanity of it, lowered her bow. ‘Allephon.’ The wolf glared at Bishop but moved over towards his mistress, sitting by her feet as his gaze never strayed from the errant ranger. Keeping her movements slow and smooth, she drew the arrow out of the bow and slipped it back in her quiver, replacing the bow itself over her torso.



Bishop looked at her, almost seeming disappointed as he carefully removed the tension and the arrow disappeared into the ether. He kept it in his hand however as he looked around at the surrounding foliage, ‘You came alone? That isn’t like you, you usually like to have as many people following you as possible.’



A shiver along her jaw, as she matched his gaze with one of her own, some of her old fire returning to her at his tone, his mockery. Some of the old delight. ‘Well, I couldn’t have them bumbling around in the woods, giving off our position to you at every turn. Besides, they all went their own ways after we defeated Garius and the King of Shadows.’



‘Oh, so you managed that, did you?’ He took a step forwards, the mulch crackling with crisp leaves beneath his stride, ‘I did warn Garius. I can’t say I’m particularly surprised, what with you being so special and all. Why, I bet they even made you a noble.’



‘I got Nasher to remove my knighthood. I never wanted it anyway. He said if I didn’t take it that he would throw me in prison and make my acceptance a condition of my pardon. As much as I would have loved to have made him carry through his threat; Neverwinter did need me. Now, it doesn’t.’ The words seemed to come more easily now. She was aware that the wrong one would destroy everything, even this fragile truce.



He took another slow step, as if he was afraid she would bolt like a deer if he moved more quickly. She was not sure she would not. ‘So now you come here to me. Why, do you think I need you? Because if you do, you know you’re wrong. I don’t need anything that ties me down.’



‘You said once that you wanted to go with me to the wild places and simply live there. Neither of us are fond of cages, or of things that remind us of them. Bishop, Duncan never told me about what you did, or what the debt was. You did. And, it doesn’t matter how something began, but how it is now. Bishop…’ she cleared her throat, ‘you know how I feel about you. And part of that is wanting you to be free as much as I will not bear those chains on me.’



He was only a step away now, she could see the amber of his eyes, so uncannily like his wolf’s. Allephon’s growl rose slightly higher as if in warning. ‘So what exactly do you want from me?’



Her breath quickened slightly, ‘I want you, if you want me, until the day we don’t. To follow what you desire is not an obligation, Bishop.’ Her words turned into a hoarse breath on his name as he stepped in that last step. His hands wound around her wrists and Allephon snarled as he moved back, obviously wanting to spring but restrained by Sarellon’s last command. The grip seemed to sear her skin as he pulled her closer, far stronger. Her eyes widened.



‘What I desire?’ The look in his eyes was unsettling as the hold tightened, making her bones grind against them. ‘What do you know about what I desire?’



A flame seemed to flare in her eyes, ‘I don’t know anything, but I think you desire freedom, forgiveness… and me.’



‘Forgiveness? For what?’ He leant closer, turning the wolf’s growls into nervous whines.



‘For the things you did you feel sorry about, but wished you didn’t. Perhaps a better phrase would be being at peace. With yourself.’ She watched as he licked his lips, neither looking away. His grip softened slightly around her wrists, and then he let go, rubbing the flesh where it had blanched white and crimson. Allephon’s grumblings died down to a silence, broken only by the forest and the near-silent brush of his fingers against her hand.



‘Do you forgive me?’ It was no longer mocking, but serious and still. It deserved a serious answer.



He had killed his village – but only the buildings and the Luskans that had wished to force him to do so had been his intended target. The villagers had refused to leave, to fight, or to do anything to save themselves. They had not believed him. Would West Harbor have believed her if she had come bearing such ill news. They would have, in a heartbeat, for all that she was rarely seen about town and far more often trekking through the swamp and surrounding fields. Perhaps that was the difference between them. But she had seen West Harbor destroyed, its people turned to shadows and she had slain them. If she had been there, if she had known… And those who had come and killed them had been following the shards, her legacy, her fault. In some ways, she was equally at fault for the death of West Harbor as Bishop was for his village’s. Perhaps even more. At least he had been there, at least he had tried to save them, for all he brought their doom down upon them anyway.



Then his betrayal, rigging the gate at the Keep so it wouldn’t close, going to Garius – and leaving on the eve of the battle. In many ways it was a harder crime to forgive, the one perpetrated upon her, personally.



‘Yes, I do.’



‘Do you know how many times I thought about making you leave the battle, come out here, stop yourself from getting your fool self killed? Yet every time I didn’t, and every time you came back, and every time I was… glad. And then, I realised that it wasn’t just lust, that there was something else behind what I was doing. I think in some ways it was that idiot paladin lapdog of yours that gave me the clue. The idea of him with you – well, it doesn’t bear thinking about. Of course, then I realised that I could either stay with you and get myself killed and trapped by what I was feeling – or go and find my freedom in any way I could. You know what I chose.’ He was so close she could feel his breath on her cheek as he whispered into her ear. ‘And I guess when you turned up in Illefarn with everyone there, and I finally told you everything, and you finally revealed how you felt, it changed things. I wasn’t yours to order around anymore, but you forgave me for what I did, everything I did, and wanted me anyway. As soon as I turned on Garius, he threatened me with death. Can’t say I’m surprised about that, but I was surprised you didn’t. I was surprised when you put the bow down. I guess you really are still full of them.’



She tensed as he grasped her shoulders this time and rocked her back on her heels. Allephon jumped up immediately, as a vision of gold filled her eyes for a moment and then darkness as he pressed his lips against hers. She moved, as if invisible bonds had suddenly being cut, wrapping her arms around his neck and melting in the warmth of his kiss. After a few moments, Bishop leaned back, looking down at her with a slight smirk on his face. She breathed up, ‘You’re still full of surprises too. Does this mean you will think about my offer, or are you simply softening me up for a surprise attack.’



He leaned in again, pulling her against him, pressing his chin into her shoulder, ‘I know you can’t trust me, and I’m not asking you to. In some ways, I don’t know if I can even trust you. But you were right, earlier. I do want those things, peace of mind, freedom, and you. Who knows what’ll happen, but I’ll give it a chance anyway. After all, what do I have to lose I didn’t already throw away.



‘So’, he smiled, an evil smile ripe with dark promises, that reflected in her eyes, ‘seeing as you already found my camp, why don’t I go give you the tour. After all, I think you might be staying for a good, long while.’



******



After a few nervous nights where I wasn’t sure if I would wake with my throat slit or not, we seem to have settled into something not quite a routine but neither chaos. The forests are where we find ourselves most of the time and while we have more than we need in this area we are continually moving around, mostly for the change and the challenge.



I sent a missive to my companions, explaining that I was fine and things went alright. I didn’t put my location, or send one to Casavir. I told Bishop about me finally losing my patience with the paladin, I think he enjoyed the irony.



Bishop doesn’t talk about our arrangement, but I don’t need declarations of affection or tokens of the heart. He holds me close at night and when I look to see him staring back at me, he doesn’t need to say anything. That he lets me near is proof enough.



We found a Luskan scout a little while ago, someone looking through the woods for something or other. I let Bishop take the lead and he decided we should shoot him full of arrows and see what came running. A group of men soon came looking for our “friend”, and they too vanished into the woods. We found a writ on them that they were looking for me; something about slaughtering their ambassador. I guess they held a grudge. Bishop informed me that I’d done exactly what he would have, though I asked if the new danger meant he wanted me to leave. He didn’t say anything at the time, just shrugged it off with one of his sarcastic comments.



Later that night though, he told me he wanted me to stay, no matter the danger. Something about having a better chance facing it together. Facing anything together. It’s no happy ever after, but I think I’ve finally found something that was worth all the battles and the deaths and the betrayals, and everything I did.



And he’s right here.



Prey and Predator - Bishop Romance © Sarah Carter

Migrate Wizard: 
First Release: 
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