The Price of Vengeance

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Pretty Ruby

“I haven’t forgotten a word.” Her voice was soft as she focused on her attack.

No. Just everything else.

“Then you’ve slowed down.” He snapped sidestepping a hit. Aware he was trying to make her as furious as he felt.

“I haven’t!” She shouted.

He eyed her askance.

“You’ve gotten faster.” She reluctantly admitted.

Grunting, he turned his back on her and headed back to Onyx.

Collecting a pebble, she hit him in the back of the head.

Again? His teeth gnashed.

Seeing his back stiffen, she frantically looked for a larger rock.

Spinning on his heel he stalked back toward her. You’re going to learn, you venomous wench!

“Why exactly are you so mad?” He stormed. Catching her forearm and yanking her against him.

“You never came!” She yelled, hands fisting.

Never came where? He blinked in bafflement.

To find her in the Demon King’s lair? His slashing brows drew together.

“You never asked.” He was much calmer than either of them had been moments before. Deadly calm now.

“And you were the one that ran from me.” He pointed out. Pain cutting through him at the memory.

Teeth gnashing, and eyes sparking she lifted her chin.

Locking up. Just like she always does.

Too coward to tell the truth.

“Tell me why?” His voice was barely audible, but it was an order just the same.

Say it out loud. To my face.

Turning from him, she collected her cloak. Lifting the hood, she walked back to the nag so quick to bite her.

Ready to face Bear than confront me about what she’s done.

“As I thought.” He shouted to her back. “You’re more cowardly now than before.”

When you fled me. Afraid of everything you were feeling. Like the spineless wretch you are.

Stiffening she nearly bit through her lip. She’d single-handedly held off entire armies. Been the only one in history to form a trap elaborate enough to hold the Demon King. A spell so powerful it had taken her own blood to lift it.

Only Lonnix calling him, drew Disseus’ attention from her.

“We best move. We’re on Battling Country war territory.”

Disseus hopped atop Onyx.Rustling in the trees behind them made him pause. A battle cry tore the silence as Battling Country warriors poured from the overgrowth. Drawing his sword Disseus spun it to assure his grip and readied his stance.

Despite her severely damaged pride, Nim slid off her horse, tossed her cloak to the side and drew her own to flank him.

A Battling Country mob completely encircled them.

“Who are you?” One monster of a man stepped forward. Black paint encircled both eyes and his lips were colored white.

“Passing through.” Disseus answered.

“Our country?” The giant’s eyes narrowed. “I think not. Only Battling Country citizens may pass.” His thundering voice vibrated over everything. “I’m afraid all you intruders Lonnix be killed for trespassing. We are at war.”

“No. No.” A hoarse voice murmured from a denser grove. “Not the pretty little ruby. King Lonnix pay you whole armies for the pretty.”

All eyes turned to Almora who stared around her in confusion.

Assuming he’s referring to her as a pretty ruby.

Why a ruby?

“Are you a Battling?” The Battling Commander shouted toward the trees. Forcing the intruder to identify himself.

“Yes.” Was the hissing response. But an authoritative note hit his voice, indicating he worked for the Demon King in some position of power. “Kill the others. But keep the pretty ruby. He has missed her.”

Disseus was still trying to determine what they were talking about. He was starting to get the sense that this wasn’t about Almora at all.

A ruby would have to be referring to Nim and her red hair. Disseus was silent as he attempted to catch up to what was being discussed.

Who wants her?

Looking to Almora again, the giant Battling chuckled as he shifted feet.

“I could see why. She is a jewel indeed.” The giant moved toward her.

Disseus and Lon tensed. Shuffling to block her but before they could fully move, Nim had.

Stepping forward, Nim tossed her hood back to shout at the Battling Commander as he reached for Almora. “Not her.”

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