The Price of Vengeance

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Good Without

The group of guardians shouted their farewells.

They rode until the woods. Where his fury overcame him.

“You’re working for the guardians.” He spat.

A quick sideways glance showed he was back out of disguise.

“No. They’d like me to.” She countered. “Bernus would anyway.”

Her saying it that way made white hot rage shoot through him.

Why would Bernus assume she’d be doing him personal favors?

How close had they become?

“Bernus is a boy!”

Before he could retort she lifted a staying hand. “I know full well you could hear me. I told them nothing.”

His only response was the ticking of a muscle in his jaw.

“Let me see your hand.” Almora demanded.

Without question Lonnix obeyed. Scooting toward the end of the log where Almora sat primly he offered her his chubby palm.

Taking his wide fingers, she leaned forward to skim them. Tracing the deep creases with a fingertip.

“It says you hunger for coin but have a good heart despite it. This line.” She trailed one. “Indicates you are slow to warm up to someone but once you do, they’re graced with an unfailingly loyal companion.

“Like a hound.” Disseus chimed in from the other side of the fire where he was using his dagger to whittle a small piece of wood. “Always following me about. Nipping at my heels.”

“That’s because someone must look after your sorry arse. You’d get yourself in all manner of scraps were it not for me incessantly extracting us.”

Tipping his head back, Disseus roared with laughter. “That’s how it is, ’tis it?”

“Aye.” Lonnix twisted to nod solemnly toward his friend.

Rubbing his eyes with his thumbs, Disseus shook his head.

“Come.” Lonnix ordered. “Let her tell us your innermost depths. Though it may only reveal endless parades of lovely wenches dancing over piles of coin.”

“That, My Friend.” Disseus laughed as he pointed. “Would be you.”

“Oh.” Lonnix stroked his chin in an imitation of being deep in thought. “Aye. Perhaps that is so.”

But setting his splinter of wood aside and sheathing his dagger Disseus rounded the fire to crouch before Almora. Letting her take his big hand in hers his eyes watched her face patiently.

Nim suffered an unbearable tightness inside her chest at the sight.

Almora hummed thoughtfully. “Noble but distanced. Faithful but bitter. Gentle but ruthless. You’re contrived of endless contradictions, My Lord.”

Disseus’s smile began to fade and the light in his eyes dimmed as he retracted his hand.

“Sounded accurate to me!” Lonnix looked to Nim.

“Perfectly read.” Nim agreed.

“That so?”

She nodded.

“Then perhaps it is your turn.”

“No.” She sipped from a wooden cup of boiled herbs. “I am quite good without.”

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