Need Only Ask
“As I thought.” He shouted to her back. “You’re more cowardly now than before!”
I wouldn't have thought that possible!
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 Firoque King, Creating a spell so powerful it'd taken her own blood to lift it. And this mercenary dared call her a coward.
Only Lonnix calling him, drew Disseus’ attention from her.
“We best move. We’re on the Battling border-war country.” Disseus said as he headed for Onyx.
Rustling in the trees behind them made him pause. A war cry tore the silence and Battling warriors poured from the overgrowth.
Drawing his sword, Disseus spun it to ensure his grip and readied his stance.
Despite her badly damaged pride, Nim slid off her horse, tossed her cloak to the side, and drew her own blade to flank him.
A Battling mob of ugly bandits had completely encircled them.
“Who are you?” A 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 Battlings may pass.” His thundering voice vibrated over everything. “I’m afraid all you intruders will be killed for trespassing. We are at war.”
“No. No.” A hoarse voice murmured from a denser grove. “Not the pretty little ruby. King will pay you whole army for the pretty.”
All eyes turned to Almora who stared around her in confusion.
“Are you Firoque?” The Battling shouted toward the trees.
“Yes.” Was the hissing response. “Kill the others but keep the pretty ruby. He has missed her.”
Looking to Almora again, the Battling giant chuckled as he shifted feet.
“I could see why. She is a jewel indeed.” The giant moved toward her.
Stepping forward Nim tossed her hood back.
“Not her.” She shouted as the Battling reached for Almora.
“Ah. The ruby.” The Battling giant rubbed his chin thoughtfully. His eyes brightening at the rare beauty.
With red hair.
Almora, the Dread woman, stared at her in shock.
“You’d rather die than go where they’d take you.” Nim told her.
Disseus was strangely still. Just watching.
Lonnix waited to follow whatever he would do.
He's wondering if I'll save her.
“If you don’t kill them, I’ll simply go with you and they’ll go back. No fight. Clean and easy.” She enunciated. Lifting her hands and letting her sword fall. All eyes turned to her. But she was focused on the leader.
She thinks she may be able to get away later?
The giant Battling laughed outright. “The vicious Firoque King offers a whole army for this one small woman?”
Shuffling closer in the trees told them there were many more Firoque.
Edging halfway into the light, one man with dark skin and hairy blotches scattered over his body, blinked at them through black eyes. It pointed a twisted finger at Nim.
“The ruby. For that one, yes. Give her to us.” A greedy light entered his dark eyes. He nodded vigorously. “He give you treasures.”
The Firoque King wants her returned that badly?
The massive Battling snatched her by the upper arm, nearly yanking her off her feet.
Terror shook her and made her breaths come in rasps.
She fears no Battling. Disseus knew. This one leader would be easy enough for her to dispatch if the need arose.
It's the ultimate destination, the Firoque King, which terrifies her. That made him feel ill as he watched the interchange avidly.
Disseus’ words came back to her. ‘You never asked me to’. Body trembling she lifted wide eyes, knowing she couldn’t take the King alone. She’d tried. Seeing Disseus, she was surprised to find him staring at her. Waiting.
She mouthed the words. ‘Come after me.’ And was horrified when he abruptly dropped his sword.
Battlings began dragging her to the Firoque but she couldn’t take her eyes off Disseus. Feeling impossibly hurt and hopeless.
Turning as he pulled off his cloak, he tossed it over Onyx’s back.
Whipping back around he slid his boot under the hilt of his sword. An abrupt kick sent it into the air. Twisting to catch it, he exploded into motion. Sinking his sword into the collar of the nearest Battling. He jerked the Battling’s axe from his waist as he fell. Wielding both weapons expertly.
Dismounting gracelessly, Lonnix pulled his sword and raised it high as he stumbled into battle.
Closing her eyes, Almora drew a deep breath. Hair lifting as she raised her hands.
From beneath her blue cloak, a face formed, pressing against the fabric resting over her back. Travelling downward headfirst, the shape slid from beneath it. Then down the side of her horse. Eventually, the blue blob straightened. His features becoming more pronounced. A blade materialized in his hand as he chased after another Battling.
Two more such creatures formed at her feet before she was fully exerted. Laying down to rest against the mount’s neck, her guards surrounded her and did a fair job keeping Battlings at bay.
Not an easy feat.
Nim was impressed.
Disseus fought as he always had, as he’d been trained to. Ruthless and impossibly fast, fighting him was like a bird trying to stop a battering ram. Cutting a swath to her side, forced the ones holding her to let go in order to defend themselves.
Spinning to the side of one, she slid his dagger from his waist and tore it through his throat. Moving to another she evaded his long sword, as she wielded her little dagger to perfection. In very little time their combined efforts had decimated the Battling troupe. With Disseus suffering the brunt of them.
Striding back to her he slammed his sword into its sheath. “You needed only to ask.”
Offering her a hand, he tossed her atop her horse.
Opening her mouth with a rebuttal she was too late.
He mounted Onyx without a word more.