I wanted him from the start. From the very first time I laid eyes on him. Everyone kept talking about him in the days prior to his arrival to the camp, curious about this half-breed born to an influential Elven clan, but brought up by humans. A hybrid. A mutt.
I was curious as well. Maternal half-breeds such as him were a rarity. They retained all physical qualities of a pureblood and enjoyed, at least in theory, equal social status. Not that discrimination didn’t occur. The real losers in the biracial game were the paternal ones. Considered downright human and non-citizen, they constituted the lowest caste in society.
I wasn’t sure what to expect, but he exceeded my expectations. Later I discovered he had a knack for doing just that.
If I hadn’t known human blood flowed in his veins, I wouldn’t have been able to spot it. The tips of his ears were perhaps less pointy, and his eyes—not as distinctly angular as those of an average Elf.
Even back then, at seventeen, he proved every bit a killer. He made that obvious during the first training session. He was deadly. Calm. Steady. Cold. Disinterested. So self-assured that he seemed arrogant. I wanted to bring him down a peg. Teach him a lesson. Break him. Taste him. Make him beg me to kiss him.
I wanted his attention, but he refused to give it to me.
So I had to find a way to claim it.
His eyes were blue—so intensely the colour almost appeared offensive. Fuck, it offended me. I was just an unworldly Dark Elf at the time, unaccustomed to irises that weren’t obsidian. The azure hue of his gaze reminded me of the glass crystals that grew in caves in the highlands of the Black Mountain. I used to collect them as a child.
I wanted those eyes on me.
He struck me as all attitude and stark contrast, emphasised by the juxtaposition of his glossy black hair and milky, luminous skin. A combination of sharp angles and sinewy planes of hard muscle.
I craved the feel of his body under my fingers.
If I had to describe him in one word—apart from infuriating—I’d choose refined. Everything about him, from the aristocratic bone structure to the posh lowland accent, screamed polished. One thing in particular dripped effortless elegance and insisted on notice: the way he fought.
The first time I watched him fight, I got hard. My heart pounded in my chest, and I chewed on my lip until it bled. I vowed then I would make him mine.
His technique wasn’t flashy. On the contrary, it looked austere—the moves small and graceful, but also fast, powerful and precise. Even when he sparred against multiple opponents at the same time, it much resembled a choreographed dance routine. He always remained in control of the fight.
While unmatched at hand-to-hand combat, he later showed real artistry with a blade. He was lethal and alluring. The knives—and he carried several on his person at all times—performed simply as natural extensions of his hands. His knife-disarming and throwing skills became a favourite topic amongst both the other trainees and the hyoshies in charge of our training.
I spent a few weeks observing him. To start with, I tried to dissuade myself from this weird obsession. I wanted to convince myself that, apart from being a half-breed and thus a novelty, he had to be ordinary. Not worth the entire maelstrom I awarded him in my mind. Nevertheless, he quickly became a compulsion of mine.
We never spoke. I tried to engage him, but he shot me down by looking straight through me. He walked away every time and, for the time being, I permitted that.
He kept to himself, though many pursued him—both male and female. After all, our military society admired nothing more than a remarkable warrior. Bets circulated as to whether and when he would take on a lover and who that lover would be. Rumour had it he favoured archers. Although utterly unfounded, it made me feel sanguine. Perhaps it held some truth, judging by the fact he often watched us at archery drills, despite never participating himself.
I’d already been made the leader of my archery squad, having completed the mandatory two-year service back in Black Mountain. Every Dark Elf had an obligation to serve in regional forces before enlisting in the Queen’s National Army. At the time, there were no doubts in my mind that I’d become the best archer amongst the recruits in the camp. So if he wanted one, it didn’t get better than me.
I caught him looking at me once. That dawn, I practised shooting without aiming—the instinctive style my clan excelled at. My chest tightened as his eyes lanced through me. I all but dropped my bow when I read appreciation in his gaze, right before he turned away. It made me foolish to pin all my hopes on one look, no doubt. But then again, my family motto proclaimed, ‘Aim big, miss small’.
After a few months, his aloof and haughty demeanour had me torn between fascinated and vexed. I went from wanting to punch him to needing to fuck him. Frankly, it was draining, and it put me in one hell of a persistent bad mood.
Then came the day when my frustration reached its zenith.