Chapter 31 - Swords and Blood

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Two men against a girl. Weak, that's what they are, I think as we move at the edges of the circle that was formed by the people of the Outlands. I can hear their whispers, the heavy pounding in my heart.

But I am also weak, just a girl. Beads of sweat trickle down my forehead when the hooded man's muddy eyes flashed. Not a girl, a hunter, I try to tell myself but fear still sinks its claws into my chest.

The people will not help me, that much I know. I have become an outcast-- a traitor when I saved Ariella. And the Outlanders will not lend a hand to a traitor. But I still can't help to feel a spark of hope when I see the fear in their dust-caked faces. Do they worry for me, or themselves?

The hooded man with the broadsword launches at me, the blade high but also slow, giving me time to side-step him. I don't have time to rejoice when he falls to the ground as the golden man is too moving towards me, his sword slashing at the air in front of me.

I clash my spear with his sword, the clang echoing. "Die!" He screams, bringing the tip of his sword to my belly and with a gasp, I leap backward. It only managed to cut through the fabric and no skin is torn.

I'm one step closer to either death or victory.

The broadsworder is on his feet again, spitting to the cobblestone below us, his blade already poised to kill me. I take a short breath and ready myself to side-step him, but the hooded man swung it diagonally and in a shocking second, I fling myself to the ground. My cheek kissed the sharp edges of the broken cobblestone tiles and the sting spreads throughout my face like the rapid beating of my heart.

Warm blood trickles down and over my lips and I wipe them away, looking up to see the golden man's boot near my face. No no no, don't-- He kicks the side of my head hard, making me see blinding white.

Immense pain spreads in my head and I try to grit my teeth when my body stumbles as a result of the kick. I taste copper in my mouth as I try pathetically to get up. My spear is away from me and as the people doubled, my vision blackened, I try to reach my weapon with trembling hands.

Both of the Valarians guffaws, amused at the state I am in. The hooded man moves closer and I can hear his leather boots thumping towards me.

"What is this? The little girl is tired?" He asks mockingly, his big feet dangerously near to my wrist.

It hurts, it hurts so much. The pain, the shame that they made me feel, the refusal of the Outlanders to help me, father's death.

The hooded man raises his boot high, my wrist shadowed by it. This man, I look up, gritting my teeth and I am met by his white outfit, black hood and those mud-eyes looming over me. This man took father's life. I won't allow him to take any more of mine.

Fury burns in me and with my other hand, I pull out the dagger that was waiting on my waist. It is so sweet to see the shock in his face when I stab the heel of the foot that he raised. Blood splatters onto my lashes before I quickly reach for my spear.

Today is not the day I die. I can feel the fire rising back into me as my grip tightens on the spear. I bring myself up, spitting a wad of spit and blood to the ground.

The man roars at the pain and he stumbles backward, clutching his foot with my dagger buried into it. The golden man-- with all his fine armor-- turns to me with anger in his eyes. He is ashamed-- again. "Outlander bitch!" He shouts out and some people's face hardens at the phrase.

"You've insulted me enough, Valarian," I tell him, my voice sharp as his sword. The hooded-man screams in agony still and not a person in the crowd moves to help him. I can feel their eyes trained on me and the golden man.

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