This post is a continuation of the story I put up in October of last year, Playing with Action Scenes. To get the full story, you'll have to jump back there. I hope to make this more of a regular feature going forward, but it is just me playing with a story I dreamed up. The level of polish isn't what I would send to a publisher, but I have three other books I'm trying to finish editing that I do intend to submit, so I apologize for any imperfections. With all that editing, I desperately needed to do a little creating. I hope you enjoy it. Cheers!
Missed Part 2
Asoka woke to pain. Her head pounded as if it lay under a blacksmith's hammer. Her shoulders screamed and her wrists ached within the tight binds that held them behind her back. The injured ribs throbbed, worse because she’d been left lying on that side. She opened her eyes slowly, or one of them anyway. The other was gummed shut.
She lay on the stone floor inside one of the tower arches. The stormer with the hazel eyes sat in a chair a few feet away binding a strip of cloth tightly around his thigh where her dagger had sunk in. Blood already stained the fabric. His helmet sat beside him, his long dark hair still neatly bound up. A dark blue tattoo on his temple marked him as Inan nobility, obligated to serve in The Divinity’s army for a paltry five years in exchange for lands of his own and a title.
Rage swept through her and she twisted her body around. The wound in his leg slowed his reaction and she kicked as he stood, striking home on the bloody bandage. He dropped to one knee, grabbing the wound with one hand as the other swung out, backhanding her in the jaw and knocking her head into the stone. Blackness swept over her again.
Something cold trickled over her face. An arm held her propped in a reclined sit. Fingers touched her cheek. Asoka turned her head, sinking her teeth into flesh. The stormer grunted and shoved her away. When she slammed into the stone this time, she curled forward, keeping her throbbing head out of harm’s way. Her ankles were also bound now.
“By Agar’s blood, don’t you ever stop?”
His shout lanced through her head and she moaned. Her one cooperative eye opened and snapped shut again against the bright flame of a torch.
“I was trying to clean the blood off so you could open that eye.”
She opened the one eye again, squinting in the light, and glared at him. He was sopping water from a puddle outside the edge of the tower arch and using it to rinse the fresh bite wound. When he finished, he bound the wound, using his teeth and free hand to pull the knot tight.
She spit away the taste of his blood. “The noble’s flesh is soft and foul,” she hissed.
He narrowed his eyes at her. “You’re the one lying tied on the stone. A disgrace to your order.”
To the order, she was dead the moment she took the uniform and the horse and stole away into the night to seek vengeance. She snorted disdain then winced at the resulting pain in her ribs.
He shook his head. His pitying look made her blood boil and her skin burn.
“Do you want me to clean your face or not?”
“Touch my face and I’ll kill you.”
“Have it your way.” He threw the wet cloth at her and it slapped down heavy and cold on her chest.
She turned slowly, wary of her injuries, and let the cloth fall off. Her fingers itched to pick it up. It would be nice to open both eyes. Perhaps if she inched her way out into the rain.
“Who sent you?”
“I told you. No one.”
She stared out at the pouring rain beyond the shelter of the arch. He moved quickly this time for someone with a knife wound in the thigh. His hand closed on the back of her collar, the ridges in the gauntlet pressing into her neck, and he dragged her out into the rain, dumping her in the shallow puddle. She curled onto her good side, letting the rain spatter on the blood gummed eyelashes and opening her lips to the trickle of fresh water. The stormer limped back under the arch.
Pummeling rain gradually rinsed the eye enough for her to open it, but it also saturated her armor, sinking through to the skin and showing no sign of letting up. She started to shiver more and more violently, a sinister chill sinking deep inside her, reaching for her core. The shivering made the pain in her side flare so that she could think of little else, at least until she began to feel numb. Her fingers and toes began to lose feeling. She would’t ask him to help her. Better to die of hypothermia.
“Tristan!” Tristan groaned, struggling up from a sticky fog of sleep into a cold, painful reality. Someone shook his shoulders.
“Agar’s blood! I thought you were dead. What happened here?”
Tristan opened his eyes to his brother’s face, silhouetted by the grey light of early morning. He turned to the side. Someone else lay nearby, a distinctly feminine figure dressed in black armor, her hands and ankles bound, her fine features softened by sleep and pale as snow. Too pale perhaps. Was she sleeping or…
“The rain stopped,” he muttered. His mouth was dry. The words came out thick and slow like cold molasses.
Jeygar grinned and offered a hand to help him up. Then he clapped him on the shoulder, nearly knocking him down again. “You defeated a Koteki assassin, Tristan. That’s one hell of an accomplishment.”
Tristan put a hand on Jeygar’s shoulder and leaned most of his weight into him. The injured leg didn’t want to support him and his bitten hand throbbed, not to mention the ach through his upper chest and shoulders from the impact of her saddle-cannon shot. He felt more like the defeated than the defeater.
“Course, I imagine the Divinity would have preferred that you'd taken her alive.”
Something twisted in Tristan’s chest when he looked down at the still figure. “Is she dead?”
Jeygar helped him to the chair. “She’s got a weak pulse. Looks like she spent most of the night in the rain. Probably inched her way out after you fell asleep in an effort to get away.”
Not exactly. Tristan stared at the woman. After several seconds, he caught the slight movement of her chest when she breathed.
“I doubt she’d make it halfway to the palace in her condition. Take my horse and get your wounds seen to. Send someone back with him once you get there and I’ll continue on foot for now. I doubt I’ll find anyone alive in the other towers if she made it this far.”
Tristan moved his gaze from the woman, the assassin, to the sturdy gelding now itching its face on one foreleg. “Give me your jacket.”
Jeygar tilted his head, giving him a puzzled look. “It’ll be too tight for you in the shoulders.”
“Give it to me.” Tristan shoved a hand out in demand.
Jeygar shrugged the jacket off and handed it over.
Tristan got to his feet and began to limp out of the tower arch, waving away his brother’s offer of assistance. He sank down gracelessly next to the woman and lay the coat down, rolling her gently onto it.
“I wouldn’t bother. She’s as good as dead.”
Tristan ignored him. He reached for the dagger at his hip. It wasn’t there. He had a fuzzy recollection of her kicking it from his hand. He reached down drew the one from his boot, using it to cut the ropes binding her hands and feet.
“Are you mad! She’s Koteki!”
Tristan scowled over his shoulder. “A nearly dead one. You said the Divinity would like her alive. I aim to get her there that way.”
“Why does it matter now?”
That was obvious, wasn’t it? “I never found out who hired her. If we can keep her alive, we’re far more likely to get the information out of her than out of the guild.”
Jeygar threw up his hands and turned away.
Tristan used the sleeves to tie the jacket around her. She packed some incredible power for such a slight thing. He lifted her, groaning with the pain in his leg. “Here, take her for a minute.”
Jeygar grumbled something under his breath, but he accepted the limp bundle in his arms and stood, still grumbling, while Tristan struggled painfully into the saddle. At his gesture, Jeygar passed the woman up, helping situate her in front of him on the saddle.
“I’ll send a rider back with your horse.”
Jeygar nodded once, his eyes pinched with irritation. “And I’d like my jacket back.”
Tristan clucked the horse, finding it near impossible to squeeze his legs with the knife wound. His head spun when the animal started moving. Wouldn’t it be just his luck to fall off now? The woman’s weight shifted as they moved into a trot pressing painfully on the injured leg.
He ground his teeth. Somehow, it seemed inevitable that he would suffer every moment she was with him.