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It could have been worse

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It could have been worse. She wasn't dead yet.

Calponia kept reminding herself of that as the guard shoved her against the rough outer wall of the tavern. Shove, shove, drag, drag, and there was the pat down. She suspected she lost a layer of skin from the side of her face. Crude metal cuffs snapped around her wrists.

Not dead yet. The faces of her captors made her reconsider the permanence of that status.

"You mentioned friends," the older captain sneered at her, squinting upward at the broken window.

"I lied," Calponia blurted. Barring the fact Cesario's disguise was far better, and intact, Lady Agatha wore no disguise at all. Aside from the obvious legal issue they would have with the lady knight's flippant use of weapons, there was also the very discomforting chance the guard were not only aware of the Inquisitors' presence but supportive of it. Lady Agatha would stab them to death before she allowed them to arrest her. Best to divert their attention to the rebel without a mustache in front of them. "It's just me."

The captain's sneer turned ugly. He nodded to the other guard. "Go check upstairs-"

Calponia hurled herself backwards. The back of her head caught the captain under the chin, who grunted and released her long enough for her to slip out of his hold. With black spots dancing at the edges of her vision, she made it half a dozen steps before she tangled in her own feet; she managed to roll so she didn't slam her chin against the cobblestones. She'd developed a knack for falling. The guard chasing her wasn't so lucky. His arms closed around the air she'd occupied as he launched himself at her. The unfortunate fellow skidded hard on the street, tumbling into a crumpled heap. Calponia looked up in surprise, if she didn't know better, the bête noire seemed to be working to her advantage.

Her victory was short lived as the captain hauled her up, cursing through his bloody teeth at her. "Try that again, and I will spill your guts right here on the stones, trollop." His fingers clamped hard around her arm as he lead her away, snarling at the other guard to pick himself up. She almost pitied that one, his nose clearly broken as he staggered to his feet, but his glower promised retribution. He was going to blame her for the fall, and it likely was her fault in some way. Not that he knew that. He was still a jerk.

Assholes, all of them, she thought, through the painful march through the streets. There was no sign of the Inquisitors or zealots now, as if they'd all filtered into that tavern room. Why were the Inquisitors in this realm to begin with? Were the others okay? Her distraction worked in keeping the guards from further investigation but what if they had been overpowered? Mack was fairly hard to kill but what about Lady Agatha or Cesario? Her stomach churned at the thought and that unease provoked the bête noire. Twice the captain's feet found hidden potholes in the street, bringing down Calponia to the street each time. One hole was so deep he pitched forward with an audible crunch to his knee that made him limp the rest of the walk to the jail. Not that she was in much better shape, feeling the various bruises she'd accumulated since her plummet from the window. The captain ignored the incidents with grim determination, not losing his grip on her again.

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