tagSci-Fi & FantasyDragon (S)Layers Ch. 10: Running!

Dragon (S)Layers Ch. 10: Running!



City of Flames -- 3

[Author's Note: Month long break is over, I'm back. Expect to see updates every couple of days or so unless I get swamped with paying work. 'sorry' for the lack of smut in this installment, but we'll get back to the fun bits at the end of Volume 2. Don't you worry <3]

Sarah tried to wrench herself free from the tall paladin's iron grip while the scar faced man strolled towards her with a confident smile. His lips parted in a smug smile that revealed his crooked yellowing teeth. She shoved back against her captor all the harder while Keiter took a position to protect them with his little body and Tessarie pounded on the paladin's arm with all her feeble strength.

The guards and Scarface's friends effectively ensured that the only possible way out was through the alley behind them, but the longer Sarah stood locked in the young man's grip, the more her rational mind started to fail her and give in to panic. She wasn't ready to die. Not like this. She had been wrong, she wasn't prepared. Only death awaited her now.

"Relax." The paladin said softly. His voice was as strong as his grip, making Sarah all the more frightened. He honestly believed these people were part of the guard.

But if that was the case. . .

Sarah stopped resisting.

"That's it. I'm sure whatever you've done can be--"

The scar faced man cut him off. "Good catch, now just give 'er over and--"

Sarah slipped her off hand over the paladin's sword arm, raised her voice clear and loud, "Worry not, my love, we shall face them together!"

Everyone, even Keiter looked at them. Sarah arched her back in a false swoon. "Be strong, my prince, forsooth not even the sharp blades of their swords shall rend our love-- we will face the future, the consequences, together!"

The young man shifted. "W- What? Now hold on--"

"Yes, hold on! Hold on to sanctity, for as long as we do, they cannot possibly tear us asunder!"

Scarface stopped a few feet away, glanced at the guards with an arched brow. "Thought he was one'f yours."

"Thought he was one of yours--"

The young man started to object, "No, you see, I'm a--"

"Tremendous lover!" Sarah tilted her head up to look up at him and smiled a well rehearsed affectionate grin. "That you tried to help me escape is sweet, but dear! I cannot let you face these ruffians alone! Fear not, I shall protect you!" For emphasis, she threw her hand up around his neck. His hand trembled against her gun hand but he held firm. "I don't care what the guards say about your duplicitous activity, I know none of it's true. . . Not you, my dove. You would never do anything to warrant arrest."

There was a tiny flicker of something in his eyes, for a split second Sarah dared hope that this kid-- this paladin-- could understand subtlety. Even if he couldn't, though, she wasn't going to give up the initiative now. She stroked his arm longingly and, even as he started to blush, she turned her gaze to the guards. "Do what you will, but know this! Our love is eternal-- unquestionable! I will protect him to the last breath!"

Scarface's gaze fell to the paladin. "Look, jus' hand 'er over and you can go--"

"He will do no such thing! Forsooth, what star-crossed lovers we may be that fates conspire to rip us apart shall be denied again and--"

"Fine by me." Scarface started, "Kill the rest, take her." He pointed to Sarah. The guards rounded the corner and Keiter jumped to face the new threat.

"But I'm not with her!" the kid blurted, utterly confused as to what was going on. He shot a glare at Sarah. "Tell them!"

"Tell them what, my dearest cavalier? That you will die to protect me as I will for you?! I think they know that already!" When he stared at her, she rocked back against him. The guards were only a pike's reach away now. She whispered. "You wanted to fight a dragon, now's your chance. These people work for him."

He blinked.

In that same low tone, she said, "The sand is ever slipping through the hourglass, dear." Sarah slid her hand down his body, tracing a line on his chest to his stomach and then down to his groin. She prepared to grab him. "Which one of us is dying today?"

"You're certain. . .?"

"City guards kill on sight these days?" she shot back.

"Good point." His grip loosened slightly. "You're not leaving my sight, though. Not until this is cleared up."

"Were I to tear myself from those beautiful eyes of yours for even a moment, I would surely be poorer for it." When one of the guards got too close, Keiter and Tessarie both loosed spells aimed at the group of them. One froze in place as a tight coil of energy bloomed into existence around him. A small group of them fell against one another, deep in slumber.

The paladin startled. "Hey!"

"Time to go!" Sarah fought to free her gun arm and slide out of her captor's grip, stepping to the side. The young paladin didn't let her go entirely, though, holding on to her shoulder with a firm grip. "Relax, their spells aren't permanent!"

"You stay by my side, and I'm taking this." He grabbed her pistol and tweaked it out of her hand. Even then, Sarah could feel the tension in his body relax now that he felt he had control of the situation.

Let him think it, she decided. She grabbed Keiter's arm and turning to run. "Come on!"

The four of them had to have looked guilty as sin as they bowled out of the alley at a full sprint with the city guard hot on their heels, but what choice did they have? It wasn't like common law mattered in instances like this anyway.

Sarah lead them through the alleys she had chosen for her escape plan, counting on the semi-random pattern that would take them through the upscale Old Quarter to confuse their true destination-- and keep the guards from cutting them off. Sweat was beading up between her shoulders and her breath was coming in ragged sips as she pumped her arms faster and harder. Keiter was panting too but the other two seemed to have no problems keeping up.

Gods, she was too old for this. Fortunately, the heavily armored guards were just that much slower. Scarface had disappeared long ago. That was probably a bad sign.

They rounded the corner of an alley into a main thoroughfare. Once they got deep into the quarter, Sarah knew just how they could disappear, all they had to do was get there. The guards were only a few hundred feet behind, their pounding feet slamming into the cobbles second after second. But how much longer could they possibly go on?

Sarah was exhausted, too old, and much too out of shape to do this nonsense.

"Come on," The paladin offered his shoulder. Sarah looked at him like he was stupid-- as if she'd trust someone like that to keep her safe. Was he completely insane? "Where are we going?"

Fresh blood slid down Sarah's chest from the hole in her shoulder, reminding her that she needed to get her wound taken care of, even as she pumped her arms to get more speed. "Like I'd tell you!"

"Sarah!" Keiter's high pitched voice cut through the haze of adrenaline like a knife. "Trust!"

"Shut up, you!"

She lead them around the twisting corners of the old quarter until they got to the crest of a hill that poured down towards the main gates. At the bottom of the hill were several merchants carts being inspected by bored looking guards and inspectors who's bright filigree laced suits almost seemed to glitter in the early evening light.

There was something wrong, though. The guards were armored. Prepared for something. One of them looked up, spotted her and pointed. The entire lot of them turned up towards Sarah's group. This wasn't going nearly as she had planned. "Bollocks--"

The paladin and Tessarie were both panting now, they looked back. "Uh--"

Sarah grabbed the kid's arm and started off towards the alley lining Marshal street, wondering just how much time they had to get to her house, and even more than that, wondering if Scarface's men had figured out where she lived.

She knew the alleys better than most street urchins-- she had made a point to do so when she came to any new city. One never knew how useful that information would be when things went to pot. That also included knowing when certain deliveries were made. Near this hour, for example, the baker's shop on the lower end would be getting its flour delivery for early morning baking.

The Dysin family would be accepting their delivery with their father getting the store prepared while the millers loaded the flour into the back of the shop, leaving their cart empty--

Sarah glanced back. They had gained some distance on the guards.

Decision made, she pushed herself harder than before. "Tessarie, try putting them to sleep!"

"It only works once in a day, Sarah!"

"Keiter?" She huffed.

The little kobold's claws clicked rapidly across the cobbles as he tried to keep up with them. "I can't! I can't harm them!"

That got the paladin's briefest glance, Sarah muttered profanity as she pumped her arms all the harder. Blood was flowing freely down her chest by now but she couldn't stop, she couldn't give up. Not now. In the tight confines of the alley their boots clattered together in a cacophony of sound, deafening in its hard edged clips and clops.

This was a bunch of bullshit, Sarah decided. Assassins she had expected, but the city guard? That was just uncouth. Her body ached, she was tired and hung over. This was not the time to be running-- it was time to take a rest. They weren't going to be able to stay ahead of these men for much longer anyway.

But what about Keiter and Tessarie? Hell, even the paladin. None of them knew what was going on, nor what they'd die for. Hardly her problem. Was it? "Nngghh," she growled through clenched teeth. Fine. It was time for a new plan.

She knew just where to go.

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