As the bald man hissed into Rhyli's ear, both girls seemed to freeze.
"Wait," Caelia responded anxiously, "what do you want…coins, jewels? There is no need to do anything rash."
"Yeah, I can get you anything you could possibly want," Rhyli croaked.
She was furious with herself for being caught unawares like this, but there was very little she could do about it now until she knew what this man wanted. If there was a chance she could bargain her way out, that would be best; but at the very least, during the bargaining process, she would have a chance at learning her captor's objective—financial gain, physical pleasure, her death…
"Now, now," the bald man continued to hiss, "you is a smart girl, is you not? What could I possibly want that I not already got hold of?"
"I will give you everything I earn from the market people." Rhyli assumed that since the man knew her name, he must know what she does.
"Money? What is that?" The bald man spit and squeezed her arms tighter. "I got you."
Rhyli was confused at this answer. "You don't want money?"
"No," Caelia joined in, "you mean she is the same as money?"
"Smart girl." The bald man winked at Caelia.
So, there was a price on Rhyliel's head. This changed the picture. Rhyli was sure she hadn't done anything to anyone that warranted a `dead or alive' bounty, so she was going to bet on the fact that whoever wanted her, wanted her alive. This gave her the upper hand in bargaining.
"Okay," Rhyli said with much more confidence and renewed vigor, preparing for her opportunity. "However many coins you have been promised we will double."
Unchanged in his stance, the bald man guffawed. "I is promised more than just coins."
"Oh?" Caelia replied again. "Then how about a prostitute?"
He just shook his head, smiled, and said, "I got her."
As he said this, he relaxed his grip on Rhyli's arms, bent down a little, and moved his hand over to her breasts. However, the instant Rhyli felt her arms slightly free up, she shifted her shoulders and body weight upwards, away from the blade and in one fluid motion smashed the back of her head into the man's nose. She then quickly slid her hand up to where the man gripped the ukani knife and twisted it down and away, causing him to drop it.
At this point, Caelia joined the fray with a resounding crash. She had grabbed a small wooden crated from a nearby alleyway and smashed it down on top of the man's bald crown. As he dropped to his knees, blood running down from his nose, the man once again winked at Caelia.
He passed out cold, falling flat on his face, half into the alleyway. Rhyli looked up and down the street. Thankfully, no guards had been summoned by the sound, but she didn't want to risk anything being so close to the guardhouse.
"Quick, help me drag him down here, deeper into this alley."
The girls each grabbed an arm and eventually moved the hulking mass out of view of the main street.
"Okay, thanks for your help, but you really should get out of here,now. I don't plan on sticking around in this city with a price on my head."
"What did you do?"
"I haven't a clue, really. I guess I must have picked the wrong pocket and not known."
"Rhyliel, I said that you were under my protection and I meant it."
"Caelia, you cannot protect me from this." Rhyli bent down and picked up the ornately curved blade from where it had been dropped. "Do you know what this is? It is an ukani knife, the symbol of a professional bounty hunter."
"What does that mean?"
"That somebody means business."