Forty-three – 06

[This post is from Thordin’s point of view.]

“What exactly does that mean?” Thom asked, his voice deceptively soft, deceptively gentle, probing. “How did you do that?”

The leader inclined his head slightly. “Well, I would most certainly be lying if I said it was an easy feat. She was willful to a fault, but then most orphans are, aren’t they? In my experience they have been, anyhow. Still, she seemed…largely eager to learn. Wouldn’t you agree, sister?” He glanced back over his shoulder toward the woman, who inclined her head slightly.

“More or less,” she said, her voice quiet and cold. “But she was certainly stubborn, for all of her eagerness. That proved to be a problem at times.”

“A significant one,” the flag-bearer growled, earning a glare from both the woman and the leader. This time he met their glare head-on, spine straightening in defiance. “She was willful to a fault, you can’t deny that much. That made her as troublesome as she was useful until she was properly broken.”

Thordin didn’t bother to hide his flinch. The way the flag-bearer said the word broken had sent a frisson of cold spiraling through his veins, leaving him chilled and with a flame of cold fury starting to build inside his chest.

“Broken,” he said, speaking for the first time since he’d joined Thom out in the field. “That sounds decidedly unpleasant.”

“I imagine it was,” the flag-bearer said, focusing on Thordin with a sneer. “But it was also necessary. She was of no use to us the way she was when she came to us.”

“Still your tongue, Aietes.”

The flag-bearer glanced toward the leader and smirked slightly. “Or what, dear cousin? What will you do if I don’t? Tell me that I have lied. Say the words in front of these two inferiors. Go on, tell them.”

“Do not test me.”

The flag-bearer just smiled. Thordin reached for Thom’s arm, ready to run, to drag his friend back toward the wall and out of the line of fire.

Sudden panic welled up, forced up by a sickening sense of foresight born of experience that he couldn’t quite recall.

This is about to get ugly and it’s about to get ugly fast and we don’t want to be out here when it does.

Thom didn’t budge, just waited, staring at the three with a hard, cold expression on his face.

He wasn’t going anywhere, and if he wasn’t going to run, neither was Thordin.

Christus. We’re both going to die out here today.

Unless we end them first.

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