“Wait, young sir. Wait.”


Shasha’s face was twisted into a snarl and she looked coiled, ready to spring. Félicien was white to his hairline. He couldn’t see Fatima or Azar or Malala or Ahmed, although a woman was sobbing somewhere nearby who sounded like Fatima. Hari was sitting on the ground with his legs crossed and his feet on his knees, eyes closed, omming, which Jaufre did not find useful. He heard Gokudo curse and looked around to see that Johanna had tried to trip him again, crying out, “North Wind! North Wind!”

This time Gokudo lifted her off her feet and carried her to his horse, to which a second horse was tethered. He threw Johanna up on the second horse and tied her hands to the pommel and her feet beneath its belly. She immediately kicked it in the belly so that it reared and plunged, the hooves narrowly missing Gokudo.

“Johanna!” Jaufre said. He would have gone to her, nothing would have stopped him, but he was seized from behind with arms like iron. “No, young sir, wait,” a voice whispered in his ear. “Wait.”

The man with the spear was laying on the ground, his blood spilling from a wide cut on his throat. So, Jaufre realized, were all of their guards. It had happened so fast and so quietly that, incredibly, no one seemed to have noticed what was happening behind them, their attention fixed as it was on the drama playing out in front of them. He looked at Firas, bloody scimitar in his hand, and found himself unable to utter a word. Firas gave an approving nod and held up his hand, palm out. “Wait, young sir,” he said in a low voice. “Wait.”

Gokudo seized the reins of Johanna’s horse and dragged him down with an iron hand and struck her again. Blood spurted and this time Jaufre could not help himself. “Johanna!”

Gokudo looked around and grinned. “Ah, young Jaufre. How nice that you woke up from your nap in time for me to say goodbye.” He looked from Jaufre to Johanna and back again. “A little bruised but she will warm my bed nicely between here and Cambaluc.” The grin widened. “You must know that Wu Li’s widow has placed no conditions on her return to Everything Under the Heavens, other than that she be breathing.”

Who doesn’t love a good villain? Or an ambush, for that matter? Not me. –Dana

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Dana View All →

Author and founder of Storyknife.org.

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