Previous: Chapter 17
Chapter 18 (A fist fight)
About a day after escaping Blood the second time, I laid Yalrein’s body next to the fire then fed Pentorse and Wholt.
It had been a hard ride, and Barges was still as groggy as Yalrein, but at least the hammer didn’t weigh like murder anymore.
After pulling out some food and our bedrolls, I proceeded to kick Yalrein awake. “Stop being lazy. I didn’t hit you that hard.”
Yalrein gritted his teeth and drew his gladius, eyes still closed and lying flat on his back. He slashed at my shins.
I scampered backwards then ruled his bedroll, hitting his gut so hard he folded around it, his gladius flopping into the grass. I kicked out of his reach before tossing Barges on top of it and setting the food and my bedroll down.
Eyes wide open, Yalrein stared murder at me and snarled something under his breath. He tossed his bedroll aside, the edges singing as it passed through the fire. Acrid wisps rose from his bedroll as it caught fire, and the stink of wet paint filled the small clearing. I extended a hand and devoured most of the food that remained in my stomach to quench the fire. It wouldn’t do to come all this way just to have Yalrein get since from sleeping on the cold ground. Ekanli was going to owe me big after putting up with all this—
Yalrein’s stomach groaned. He was standing right beside me, fire-wrapped fist cocked back.
The One, Ekanli was going to owe me really really really big.
Throwing my shoulder back, I slipped under his strike, but the fire tore through my new shirt. Ugh, I’ve been going through way too many shirts recently. I twisted and kicked out with both feet, knocking his legs out from under him. Next time I get clothes, I’m going to get some that are resistant to attacks.
Yalrein pushed off the ground before he hit and shot back to his feet as I tumbled back to mine.
“This any way to thank me for saving your life?” I stepped into an orthodox stance, knowing he’d only fought me when I used southpaw. This wasn’t my best foot forward, but it should give him pause. “Really?”
“Saving my life?” Yalrein hesitated, the fire around his fist snuffing out. “You mean taking away my chance at revenge.”
“Don’t delude yourself; you know as well as I do that he would have killed both of us.”
“After you fed him!” Yalrein charged forward and threw a wild, looping punch.
I caught his wrist and used my shoulder and his momentum to flip him over, slamming him into the ground.
I took a few steps away and reset my stance. “As we are now, he would’ve killed both of us well before the villagers showed up to interfere.”
Yalrein slammed his fist against the ground, leaving a small crater. “I. I. I—”
“He won’t stop chasing us.” I moved over to him and offered him a hand up, which he took. Reluctantly. “And we’ll have another chance.”
“To do what? Die?”
“We’re going to kill that bastard.”
“I still hate you.”
Grinning, I gestured towards the fire. “That makes two of us. Should make training fun.”
“Training? With you?”
“We can’t go all out until we reach Jutzoran since we didn’t have a healer, but we can get strong enough to crush Blood the next time we see him. Even if it takes longer to get to Jutzoran.”
“And what’s so different about Jutzoran?”
“The preliminaries for this year’s Gladiatorium for this region are being held there. We can go all out against one another in the finals.”
Yalrein licked his lips. “Then what are we waiting for?”
I reached over and grabbed the food, skewering the meat so we could heat it over the fire. “Dinner.”
Next: Chapter 19