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The Valley of Humanity – Part 10

December 9, 2015

The sounds of heavy boots echoed up the corridor. ‘Kele, get to the back of the room and get ready to fire’, whispered Drala. Kele did what he was told and quickly moved to the back where the glow of the hearth had now reduced to almost nothing. When he turned to face the door the room was bathed in darkness; he could no longer see Drala. The only constant light was a slither of yellow from the gap between the door and the ground. He knocked an arrow, a few years of his brother teaching him how to hunt still fresh in his mind, but this time he would be facing more than just a wild animal. He saw the dark shapes of the boots appear under the door, the light reduced to a few thin streaks. By the sound of the conversation beyond, there were two people, and they did not know he and Drala were in the room. ‘I need more bolts; bloody idiots, siding with him’. This voice was deep with a hint of vibration. ‘Well it’s almost done now’, said the other, this voice was lighter. ‘Some of the others told me the little one escaped through a secret passage and that one of the guards is helping him. Apparently these passages can lead to almost anywhere in the palace’. The light under the door began changing shape again. The deep-voiced one spoke again. ‘Do we know the one who’s helping him?’ The door opened, the bright torchlight from the corridor spilled into the room, Kele’s stomach fluttered to life. He released the arrow.

The first guard through the door barely had time to react before the arrow buried itself in his neck just above the chest plate, knocking him back. The second guard slipped past his staggering friend and, drawing his sword, saw Kele and hurried forward. The dark figure was gaining speed as Kele pulled another arrow from the quiver, knocking it. He took aim, but the guard suddenly stopped and turned. He blocked a strike; the sound of metal on metal rang out through the armoury. Kele could just about see the face of Drala as she continuously assaulted the guard from different directions; it was fierce and focused in the wash of the warm light from the open door behind them. The guard was quick, blocking every attack brought to him and countering with his own, sweeping at Drala’s stomach. She pushed her lower body back avoiding the swipe. The blades struck each other once again and for a few moments they traded blows, each blocking and striking. Then there was a sudden change in balance as Drala began retreating by a few steps, Kele aimed his bow at the guard but the warrior sidestepped around Drala, putting her between Kele and his target. The guard’s attacks grew faster and more urgent; Drala was being forced against the small stone table next to the whetstone wheel, and for a moment exposing half of the attackers face. Drala fought ferociously but the heavy strikes were gradually wearing her down. Then she was pinned fully against the stone table; the guard gripped her throat, the other lifting the hilt of his sword ready to bring the blunt object crashing down into her face. Her sword crashed onto the floor, she kicked and clawed at the grinning Alysmon. Kele took aim. His heart stopped. It was then he saw something hit the guard across the face and Drala push herself from the cold stone then, with a mighty roar, quickly launch a foray of punches and elbows to the already staggering guard. He collided with the wall next to the door and Drala, with a calm and almost calculated move, took out a small knife from somewhere on her leg and stabbed him the belly. She held the knife there for a few moments, Kele could see the slight shimmering of the metal rim of the hilt sticking out from between the guard’s chest amour and the mail chausses, then she swiftly pulled the knife away; the guard’s body slumped sideways. Kele relaxed, placing the arrow back into the quiver. Drala was breathing heavily and looked exhausted but composed herself quickly, collecting her sword and wiping the bloodied knife on the dead guard’s arm. She slid it back into a small scabbard stripped to the outside of her right leg. Kele looked at her with admiration. How can she do that? ‘Come on’, she said to him, no whisper this time. Kele began walking over; then he remembered. He moved slowly towards the arrow he’d fired not a few moments ago. The metal head was not visible above the neck’s flesh. There was just a piece of wood, it was surrounded by a lake of dark fluid that poured over the curve of the throat and expended across the cold hard floor. His eyes looked around and fixed on Kele, who stood in silent shock. I did that… Then, by some minute change of the guard’s eyes, Kele saw him die.

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