Chapter Twelve

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(A/N): Sorry for the delay. Got a little sidetracked. Anyway! Here is the new chapter. Remember, you can read the whole book now on Kindle Unlimited. ;)

"I was surrounded—by murderous men with hideous faces and discolored teeth! And then, when the situation seemed the most dire—and desperate!—I was able to notice that the largest man among them had on a rather loose pair of breeches

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"I was surrounded—by murderous men with hideous faces and discolored teeth! And then, when the situation seemed the most dire—and desperate!—I was able to notice that the largest man among them had on a rather loose pair of breeches. I moved quickly, using my superb reflexes to dash forward and slice through his belt with my sword. Before any of the others could move against me or even realize what I'd done, the man's pants fell! And it caused such a distraction among them that I was able to slip past them and escape!"

Joanna's eyes were wide and expectant all throughout Diego's story, and once he'd finished, she let out a quiet giggle into her hand. She'd been doing well to keep her spirits up since being rescued from her horrible ordeal, even with her prominent bruises, and Diego was glad he could help in that. He'd been the only one among them to extend himself verbally to her, and she seemed much obliged.

"Ahh, but you have not heard the worst part of it, my dear," the demi-human said lowly, urging her to come closer.

The auburn-haired girl leaned in, captivated. Diego raised his gloved hand to shelter his mouth.

"The pants were baggy, for beneath, the brute was wearing lady's pantaloons!"

Joanna nearly fell over laughing at the scandalous notion, but she remembered to keep her hand over her mouth to minimize the sound. They were still within the southern woods, after all.

The group of four mismatched travelers had finally decided to stop and have a rest. It was undecided whether or not they could attempt to sleep, what with the dark and the sounds they kept hearing throughout the woods. There were still a few hours until dawn, with a long stretch of woods to go. For a short bit though, the small party had scattered over a clear area.

Diego and Joanna were sitting upon a fallen moss-covered tree, talking quietly together. Gabriel had seated himself on the ground, but was leaning his back against the same fallen elm several feet away. He looked very relaxed, his hands limp in his lap, and it was truly impossible to know whether he was asleep or awake. Hendrik was even further set apart from them, supporting himself against a standing tree and refusing to sit. He didn't lend them his attention though, keeping his hat pulled over his face as he stood with his arms crossed across his broad chest.

Even though they had stopped, time passed on dutifully, and the world was still alive without their contributions to it.

"You've certainly had great adventures, Mr. Diego," Joanna said quietly, somehow doubting that this particular story of his was true, but not caring much. "But if I might ask, how did you wind up with, um..."

She turned her brown eyes toward Hendrik standing by the tree, somehow afraid to look directly at him. But he was certainly not looking at her, so he would not have even noticed her gaze.

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