There was a desperate look to the girl: sallow skin, rough brown hair, a cheap linen dress with a hastily stitched tear up one side. No matter what the desperation was obvious. Only someone with no options would sidle up next to someone like Brigh.
Solene sat down, reaching for her cup of water with her free hand. There was a stagnant smell to it, but Solene drank it anyway. The unnamed god purified any foulness that passed her lips.
The girl's eyes darted from Brigh's sour, painted face to Solene's dour, sun burnt one.
Brigh shifted so that her shoulder eclipsed the young girl's face. She clutched her mug to her chest and snorted, as if the act of looking away erased the girl's existence. "I'm half a hero in my own land, but still never got begged for help the way I do with you."
"I am a holy knight," Solene said simply. She unclenched her fist and smoothed the paper against the table. "My role is guardian to the people who follow the truth of the unnamed god."
"Are you?" The girl exclaimed. She stepped around between the two women. Brigh's lip curled at the corner, showing off a snaggletooth and her frustration. Solene nudged the paper at her barbarian comrade with a finger. Brigh snatched it, eager to have her eyes occupied with something that wasn’t the girl, and made a show of looking at it. Though she couldn’t read the writing on the flier she hummed thoughtfully.
“There are dark priests about,” Solene offered. “The town must be cleansed.” She spoke calmly, evenly. Brigh’s look of displeasure deepened. “You have no obligation here. However, I must take this task. Stay here. Eat. Drink. I will return when the stain of evil has been washed from this place.” Brigh pushed her thumb through the center of the paper with a senseless destructive streak Solene came to expect. The girl used the brief pause to regain their attention. She took a step into the space between their bodies and touched her finger to the very edge of the paper Brigh held.
“My brother,” she said, “was taken by them. That’s the help I wanted. To get him back.”
“Shit,” Brigh said and knocked her drink back. The warpaint made her face pale gray, faded black around the eyes. Skull-like. It was a face meant to strike horror into the hearts of enemies, to keep the blood and murder off the soul of the woman beneath. Brigh’s people believed in different faces for different jobs, and not letting a job define the heart of the person doing it. Solene had been raised the opposite. As a holy knight she was meant to be nothing more than a tool of the unnamed god. Brigh was a warrior, but beneath it she was a good person. Sometimes it made Solene wonder what sort of thing she was beneath her god’s unwavering demands.
“Shit?” The girl repeated tightly. “Does that mean you won’t?” She turned her watery brown eyes to Solene.
Solene stared at Brigh, rose her eyebrows so they disappeared beneath the thin fringe of hair she was allowed.
Brigh tossed her empty mug behind the bar with a dull clatter. She tore up the paper declaring the opening of the shadow priests’ church and let the tatters fall. Solene frowned as Brigh showed her teeth in an eerie grin. The girl looked between them more nervous and desperate than ever.
Solene knew she should calm the girl. She was going to kill the dark priests and find the boy, if he still lived. But she was poor when it came to speaking to the commoners. It had hardly been a part of her training.
“Are you planning on just asking them to give up what they have and hit the road?” Brigh asked Solene, still ignoring the girl overall. She propped her elbow on the bar and pulled her wrist to her ear, shaking it so that the string of teeth she wore jangled.
“No,” Solene said. “I will fight them, and I will kill them, and I will hold vigil over their remains. Blood must be spilled.”
The girl looked no less certain for hearing Solene’s decree. Spoken straight from the instructions of the unnamed god to the holy knights. Just as Solene had heard them during her Awakening in the monastery where she was raised and trained. The girl was town raised and deaf to the unnamed god’s commands. It struck a strange mix of pity and distaste in Solene.
Brigh reached across and shook the teeth at Solene. “Remember when we agreed to travel together? Remember how I said not to try to trick me into doing good deeds?”
Solene swatted the bracelet away. “Show me,” she said to the girl, standing and loosening her blade in its place across her back. The girl stared up, awed. “I will find your brother.” Brigh huffed something like a laugh. “If he is to be found.” Solene paused, stared down at the girl staring up at her. “That is my word.”
The girl’s face broke apart in a smile overshadowed by grateful tears. She reached out but stopped her hands before they could touch Solene’s silver armor.
Brigh stood and shook her head, but her lips were still smirked up at the corners.
The bar fell strangely silent as the three processed through the narrow spaces between tables and chairs.The same mutter that wound its way over the patrons when they entered followed them out. Brigh thumped a fist against Solene’s shoulder, all loose violence and eager jostling, and hissed out a laugh.
Outside the bar, where usually there might be horses, an oversized hound lazed. The beast was at least the length of Brigh with a height that reached her middle. The girl jumped away as it lifted its shaggy gray head, eyes reflecting yellow in the moonlight.
When the dog saw Brigh its tail thudded the road and it lumbered happily to its feet. Brigh knelt just long enough to wrap her arms around the animal’s neck and knock their foreheads together with great affection. The girl looked over at Solene, uncertain, and the holy knight offered her an indifferent shrug. It seemed to communicate the point well enough. The girl kept herself close to Solene’s side nonetheless. As Brigh righted herself the dog took its place beside her. She maneuvered her spear off her back and slung it across the line of her shoulders, arms folded over so her hands hung limp. All eyes fell on the girl.
“My name’s Clara.” The girl’s voice squeaked. Brigh curled her lip to show her small, sharp tooth again.
“No one asked.”
“I am Solene. That is Brigh and her hound Rinn.” She glared at Brigh as she spoke. “He is a good dog. You need not fear him. It is more than can be said for his master.” Solene’s mouth didn’t burn because she wasn’t lying.
“Oh,” the girl muttered. She spared another nervous glance between Brigh and Rinn before shuffling to Solene’s other side and pointing into the night. “The priests’ve set up in what used to be a butcher’s slaughterhouse.”
“Figures,” Brigh said. She rolled her eyes as if the location was too obvious to hold any amusement for her. She hopped down off the steps of the bar, studded leather and mail tinkling with the movement. Rinn stuck by her heels and they peered together into the darkness in the direction the girl indicated. “How about leading the way, huh?”
Solene started walking, armor shining with blessed runes under the stars.
“You’re really real,” the girl, Clara, muttered in awe. The back of Solene’s neck itched with the heated weight of her admiration. She would never be comfortable with the worship of the commoners.
Brigh slunk along with Rinn padding silent and lanky just a step behind. For all the jewelry made of human teeth and hair and the skeleton look to her face she garnered less attention when they walked. She was just a foreigner whereas Solene was sent by god.
She adjusted her gait to align herself with her barbarian companion’s strut, Rinn backing off another step to give her space, and Clara bringing up the rear. She arched an eyebrow and Brigh returned the gesture, words unsaid but understood. Brigh was a good ally to have in a fight… to a point. She was afflicted with a thing called the blood fever, a curse of some sort that overtook her in times of violence. Solene’s holy vows kept her from doing harm to any innocent. Brigh did not have such limitations even when in her right mind.
“This all sounds like a good deed to me,” Brigh said in a tone just shy of threatening which meant it was amusement. Solene frowned and Brigh rolled her slate colored eyes. It was as good as an understanding they were bound to come to on the subject.
From behind, Clara said, “We have to take the next left. Then go straight. It’s the building with the bull statue out front.” Solene looked over her shoulder and nodded. The girl was crying, silent tears running clean across her ruddy cheeks. Scared.
“They just left all the butcher’s shit up?” Brigh asked in an offhanded way, masking any concern if she had it. “People out here sure are lazy for all their talk of the wills of gods.” They followed Clara’s directions, down a street that stank of rot. Brigh wrinkled her nose while Rinn let out an unsteady whine. Solene’s stomach heaved, a repugnant sensation filling her as their destination approached. The bull statue’s silhouette cut the monotony of the street, dark on just a bit darker. “You’d know if she were pulling something, right?” Brigh continued, turning to look at the girl full on for the first time though her voice was pitched for Solene. “What’s a holy knight worth to a bunch like this, huh? Probably some good coin for a little nothing girl to get in exchange. But you’d know, right? Get that whisper in your ear telling you something’s not right?”
Solene looked at Brigh, her voice all cold and slick like the belly of a snake. The voice of someone used to traps, used to setting them and springing them. Solene looked at Clara, face paler than the gray paint made Brigh’s because she was so afraid. A look in her dull, watery eyes that was near enough to wonder to show she wasn’t smart enough to even dream something like what Brigh was saying.
Solene shook her head and kept walking. Brigh shifted her shoulders, a movement halfway between a shrug and an adjustment of her armor, and let it drop. She was unpredictable, volatile and it made her a danger to have around even without the blind murder fury she sometimes fell into. Solene wasn’t sure how much of their partnership was based solely around expecting to have to throw herself between Brigh and a rampage.
The girl whimpered. “That’s the place. They took my brother. He’s only a kid and I think… I don’t know what they’ll do to him.”
Solene unsheathed her sword. “I thought you had a brother as well, Brigh.”
Brigh took a moment to glare at the church and then at the girl and finally at Solene. “I’m here aren’t I?” The words came like venom. Clara winced. Solene nodded gently. Brigh was sharp and deadly, made for blood and hardship. But there were little splinters of softness that led to the human heart of her. They surprised Solene when she saw them, and they warmed her as well. She supposed that was part of their partnership also.
Rinn nudged his head against Brigh’s thigh and she unlooped a hand from her spear to rest it between his curled over ears as they stared at the church. The statue of the bull was cut from marble, gilded with slips of bronze. Not something left behind by the butchers. Solene swallowed down sour spit, her body sick with the presence of evil. It was incentive to destroy it, to kill the heathens, to vanquish all evidence of anything besides the unnamed god’s good and stalwart followers. Brigh tapped the bottom of her spear against the armored helmet Solene had strapped to her belt with an empty thunk.
In the darkness of the side street, illuminated only by the runic glow of Solene’s armor, Brigh’s face looked more a death mask than ever. She pushed a tangle of her dark hair off her forehead and behind her ear. She glanced at Clara without moving her head.
Solene nodded and the next words out of Brigh’s mouth were in her thick, native tongue. “I think we should split up when we get inside, and I think the girl should go with you.”
“For the obvious reason?” Solene asked. Brigh rarely expressed concern over the consequences of battles. She gathered what Solene meant and nodded unhappily. She pursed her lips as if there was a bad taste in her mouth. Solene wondered what the people in Brigh’s home, the ones that she claimed looked to her as some courageous hero, would think if they saw her now. Worrying that she might kill a young girl while doing the work meant for a holy knight of a god they didn't believe in. It seemed bizarre no matter what the angle.
“You got me doing good deeds and feeling guilty all at once.” She grinned a hard grin. “Aren’t you just the best at your job?”
“Apparently,” Solene responded. She looked over at the girl, watching with no comprehension to what was being said. She had a face that said she might have figured it was about her, about her life and the hands it rested in.
She took a step that was meant to be steady but just looked awkward, thrust her hands on her hips, rose her shoulders high. “I want to come and look for my brother. I want to help.”
Solene turned her attention back to Brigh. The other woman gave a loose shrug. Neither of them had intended to let her do anything else. It seemed in poor taste to spit on the girl’s moment of conjured bravery. Solene nodded her head. Brigh dug along the crisscrossed belts at her waist, tossed a dagger at the girl. It smacked her hilt-first in the chest and dropped to the ground.
Clara scrambled to pick it up, body shivering all over.
“You ever hold a blade before?” Brigh asked, an edge to her voice that was part mocking and part honest concern.
“That supposed to impress me?”
“No, I’m sorry.”
Clara stared down at the dagger in her scared little hands. She tried her best to strangle her crying. Did a half decent job of it, all in all. Brigh looked back at the church with her lip curled, but Solene knew she was doing it out of compassion rather than scorn.
“Stay behind me,” Solene said. “Stay out of Brigh’s way once the fighting starts.”
Clara nodded, eager now. Solene approached the church. Her breathing came out heavy even before she lifted her blade and split the door. Rinn snuck between all their bodies and jumped into the heavy darkness of the entrance beyond the door. He was all stealth and strength. Clara uttered a nervous noise for him, but Rinn was a warhound born and bred.
Brigh put one leg through the gash in the wood, looked back at Solene and the girl as she was half in and half out. “Don’t get hit.”
“A better warning for you,” Solene replied and then Brigh was gone. The light from the holy armor did little to penetrate the darkness ahead. Even more evidence of the evil at work. “Are you ready?”
The girl made a noise. Yes or no, it wasn’t clear. Solene wriggled through the narrow opening she had created. The darkest of the shadows hissed as she pressed inside, white steam rising from the runes on her plate. She tread slowly in a few steps, the pitch black roiling back against the magic of her. The light of the runes intensified so that Solene could almost swear they were buzzing, making a noise like bees in the summer or teeth reverberating in a jolted mouth. She paused when there was enough space between the enhanced shadows for the small glow to be noteworthy.
“I will not look back to make sure you are with me,” she said to the girl, keeping her word and not looking back even this once as she stepped further into the unholy church. She unstrapped her helmet from her belt and fitted it on her head, her whole body a glimmer of silver in the darkness.
The girl sidled up close behind her as the shadows slid in their places.
The path that Rinn and Brigh cut through the church was easy to follow, a meandering line of broken relics. A pulsing in Solene’s stomach directed her and eventually the two paths diverged. There were still no proper lights, and the only evidence the church wasn’t abandoned came from a distant moaning sound whose origins Solene thought it best to ignore for the time being. They reached a wide, open room filled with the same black light Solene’s magical gear had been combating the whole way. At the center of the room, on an upraised dais, a giant minotaur sculpture was painted with rotting flesh and burning with shadow fire. There was a wet noise as Clara spilled her stomach on their feet.
Solene hefted her enchanted blade and severed the man half from the bull half of the monster god. The idol was a repository for the impure energies the dark priests were collecting and hoarding. As it shattered an unearthly screech shook the building. Devastating heat layered itself over the room while Solene muttered a prayer of exorcism for the arcana that had been kept and manipulated within the minotaur’s form.
The left side of Solene’s body prickled with a fizzling, burning sensation that was less pain and more a discomfort. She swung her sword into the shadows, felt it connect with a substance of weight as it jarred the joints of her arms, and heaved her weight behind the swing until she felt whatever spirit was housed in the darkness begin to buckle. She channeled her thoughts onto victory and righteousness and the prayers she learned as a child. There was another shriek and the tip of her sword tore through the final layers of resistance.
The sconces on the walls burned bright suddenly. Solene narrowed her eyes at the quick change, gritted her teeth as more sick flutterings filled her, and let the girl hide behind her as she turned her back to the only wall. Doors she hadn’t seen in the conjured shadows were on two sides of the room so she faced out to the hallway they had come through and shuffled backwards until the broken bits of the minotaur crackled under her boots.
The low moan was loud as ever, coupled now with a reedy whimper from the girl as she cowered within the remains of the idol. The door to the right burst open and Solene schooled her face neutral as three black robed priests crowded in, thin sticks in their hands for casting spells.
Their faces were things of nightmares; waxy skin and sunken eyes, teeth bared and stained yellow and brown, hair nothing more than the wisps of dust found on old corpses. Solene gripped her sword tighter, felt the calming ooze of holy magic as it channeled through the blade to her heart. The evil priests snarled in an evil language, something so foreign and foul the unnamed god did her the service of leaving it untranslated in her ears.
Magic stirred in the air around Solene and the girl, snapping and biting at them like hungry reptiles. The runes on Solene’s armor glowed blindingly and protected her, creating enough of a safe space that Clara wound up protected as well. Despite it she screamed and despite Solene’s training she turned to see. The girl was pale and shaking, a breath away from fainting straight out, the dagger clutched to her chest like an article of faith that would save her from the slathering monster that hovered, half built over her tiny body. Solene twisted around, but that put her back to the priests so she twisted again, balanced between priests and monster with her back to the unopened door.
The shattered fragments of the minotaur were being rebuilt by the priests, shadows slithering through the cracks and holding it all in place. The creature’s eyes were stone, simple and unseeing, but breath hissed and steamed from its pierced nostrils as foam gathered at the corners of its twisted mouth.
Solene charged the monster, ground her sword’s edge against the forearm it brought up to protect itself. She managed to get the back of one foot near enough to Clara to give her a sharp backwards kick out of the worst of the fray. The girl yelped, rolled, and scurried to a corner. Solene stopped watching after that and focused her attention on the minotaur with a vicious snarl.
It swung its arm away from her blade, sparks flying at the contact, and thrust its head down into her chest in the short moment before she could regain herself.
Pain even the holy runic armor couldn’t save her from exploded across her ribs as the metal buckled slightly. The beast pushed and Solene struggled to keep her footing, forced to back away in a quick, awkward scuffle. Her sword dropped and she braced both her gauntleted hands against the horns of the minotaur’s massive stone head. She locked her knees, held her legs, and strained her shoulders as she began to push back against the beast.
There was a wild howl followed by a crash, and the sickly overwhelming stench of fresh blood flooded the room.
Brigh and her blood fever.
Rinn threw himself against the back of the minotaur, teeth grinding and claws scrambling with the too smooth stone of the monster. His weight disrupted the delicate balance between her and it, and as the hound slipped against the creature Solene managed to knock its head to the side. Finally free of its horns she lunged for her sword, tumbled, and caught it up in a movement not quite as elegant as she would have liked. She struck out at the minotaur’s cloven feet, shouting with god given vengeance at the bastardization of magic, and cracked one nearly straight through.
The minotaur made a noise like flint being struck too hard and threw Rinn from its back. The dog landed on its feet and circled around so that he and Solene had the monster between them. In the haze of battle she couldn’t catch sight of Clara, but couldn’t find the ease of mind to worry too much. She could make out the sound of screaming behind her, magic crackling, and flesh tearing. Brigh, she thought and feared what might happen when the barbarian defeated the priests.
She would have to fight them both, Brigh and Rinn.
Solene rallied her faculties as Rinn attacked again, using his body as a distraction for Solene to make the strikes. She chopped across the monster’s human shaped shoulders, cleaved her blade into the thick neck, lifted it swiftly and brought it down again until she felt it strike a notch of shadow. Pain lanced up her wrist into her chest, seeming to trace the line of dented armor. Darkness spewed up out of the fracture, pushing against Solene’s sword with all the force of a geyser. She gritted her teeth, strengthened her stance, and pressed further in with her sword.
The minotaur grunted something that might have passed for language, or might have been simple animal anger. Rinn grabbed it by one of its horns, hung the whole weight of himself from it, and dragged the beast off balance. Solene raised her sword and spun around to get force behind it, hacking up beneath the monster’s chin through the underside of its great neck. Her sword felt hot in her hands as more shadows fell from where man and bull were fused. The minotaur reached out, spittle flying and breath an inconsistent huff, and dragged its fingers into the gap between her breastplate and her helmet. It pulled her down onto her knees.
Solene winced at the feeling of the stone floor against her plate armor against her knees. She heard Rinn yelp coupled by the sound of a body skittering away. Hot slobber dripped through the eye slate of her helmet. Her skin crawled. She adjusted her grip on her sword and stabbed straight up. Grit peppered her eyelids, her cheeks. There was a high, dry rumble and a sound like hot air escaping a too long forgotten kettle. The beast stood still, crumbling slightly from where her sword pierced through neck and head. The tip of her blade protruded from between its ears, glowing runes pulsing in time with her pounding heart.
She forced herself upright and yanked the sword from the stone skull of the minotaur. Rinn held himself tight and low to the floor, eyes watching with a vaguely human sense of dejection. Solene closed her eyes and prayed.
Just as Brigh’s shoulder crashed into her back, Solene brought the pommel of her sword back and smashed it against whatever soft part of the barbarian was within reach. By the sound of the crunch it was her nose, and the following feeling of blood leaking through the crevices between helmet and body armor confirmed the suspicion. Brigh ignored the pain, more than likely was fueled by it, and got her legs around Solene’s waist and one arm wrapped around her neck. There was a blade in her free hand which she slashed against the already out of sorts seam of metal under Solene’s shoulder.
Solene let herself fall backwards, weight of her muscles and armor pressing the air from Brigh’s lungs with a bitter whoosh.
“You are not this,” she said haltingly as Brigh struggled beneath her, still stabbing wherever she could reach. “I say that you must cease, that light must shine, that your soul return.” Solene concentrated on the pain in her chest that was part injury and part a strange affection for the cursed woman. Brigh tensed and sputtered, a garbled and strangled noise as if she were drowning, managed to get the point of her dagger into the gap by Solene’s neck before her body went rigid and still.
“Is it… over?” Clara’s voice piped. “Is she…?”
Solene untangled herself from Brigh’s body, bloody beyond all comprehension, and stepped away as Rinn laid his head on his master’s chest and whimpered patiently. Clara skirted the now empty statue and the unconscious barbarian to press herself to Solene’s side. The holy knight reflected inward, felt no latent stirring of distress, and sheathed her sword. She looked over at the viscous remains of the priests. When Brigh fought in a blood fury she fought with no sense of restraint. Solene saw bones and organs shimmering in the bloody slick of bodies totally torn asunder. Clara gagged uselessly, stomach empty from vomiting earlier.
The girl threw Brigh’s dagger away and covered her face in her hands, half sobbing and half dry heaving. Solene frowned, thought to lay a hand on the girl’s shoulder, but thought better when she saw the shadow icor and stone dust that coated her gauntlets.
Though the odds of anything surviving in the areas Brigh cleared were minimal Solene investigated them anyway. She left Clara in the temple with Rinn and Brigh, much to the girl’s distress.
Solene went room to room, bloody scene to bloody scene, and purified the building of its unholy purpose. Outside of demonic portraits and statuettes, Brigh’s swathe of utter wanton devastation was the worst she saw and would have been too much for the girl to handle. Solene felt justified in leaving her behind.
In the basement she found one body soaked to the bone in blood and viscera, but miraculously alive.
“Is your sister Clara?” Solene asked.
“Yes,” the boy said, voice hollow and eyes distant.
Solene grabbed him up out of the cold, congealing bodily fluids. “Come with me,” she said. He tried to wiggle away, but the dampness of the black cloth clung to him. “This place is cleansed.”
“Oh,” the boy managed.
He began to cry as they made their way up to the main room, each step through the slaughter another desperate sob. She kept her hand on his shoulder, but it wasn’t for comfort.
Clara was rubbing Rinn on the stomach with a weak little smile when Solene and the boy returned. Brigh watched them from her place on the ground, eyes slitted to nearly nothing, paint ruined with the drying blood beneath her nose. The girl looked up at the heavy sound of armored footfalls and noticed Solene and the boy she dragged with her. The girl sprang up, tripped once over a shard of the minotaur, and threw her arms around the boy’s shoulders. She didn’t seem to care about the blood ruining her dress, and Solene thought there might be something heartfelt in that.
Brigh rolled into an upright position. Rinn rolled over to lay lovingly at her feet.
“Cal! I can’t believe it, Cal!” The girl exclaimed. The boy’s face was still slack and sick. His hands laid loose against Clara’s back. Solene watched him catch sight of Brigh, watched his throat bob in a repressed gag.
“That one stabbed me,” Brigh said from the floor, casual as could be.
Solene reached back and pulled out her sword, the metal ringing ominously in the silent room. Clara clung to her brother tighter, looking up at Solene as if she was a traitor of the worst sort. She resisted the urge to tell the girl that her brother was the traitor here, black robed and black hearted. Brigh did not.
“He was guarding a room of prisoners. People to sacrifice, I imagine, if I judged the look of the place right.” She stood, favoring a leg and a hip and making it all awkward and jerky. She left out the part of the story where she slaughtered those prisoners in a blood fury. Solene supposed it mattered little at this point. “He signed up to join them for the place to sleep and the full stomach, and left you in the street without even a word.” Family betrayal was like a crime for Brigh so she didn’t hold back in favor of feelings.
“Cal wouldn’t--” The girl started. The boy had nothing in his own defense.
“I will judge him,” Solene interrupted. She held her sword in front of her. “I cannot strike an innocent, so if he is innocent he has nothing to fear from me.” Clara held closer for a moment, as if to keep herself between Cal and the blade, but she stepped away with a face full of honest trust. Cal seemed, possibly, paler. He stared up at Solene with tear stained eyes. She lifted her sword and swung.
The next day, after a long rest and an inventory of their injuries, Solene and Brigh left the town with as little fanfare as when they entered. There was fresh paint on Brigh’s face and it hid the bruising that ringed her eyes, but not her swollen nose and pronounced limp. Solene wore light armor rather than her standard plate, and her hands were freshly wrapped in unction slathered bandages for the blisters the shadow magic had caused. Rinn was mostly untouched.
“You can never hurt an innocent, huh?” Brigh asked with a suspicious side eye. Solene frowned and kept her gaze forward.
“The unnamed god prevents it.”
“It’s not just a lie you tell commoners so they trust you better?”
“The unnamed god does not lie.”
Brigh paused, chewed her lip, and rolled her shoulders against her armor and pack. Solene flexed her hands into fists, felt a few blisters pop and seep against the motion.
“I must be seeing things then, cause I thought I saw blood on his neck. Like your sword nicked him.” Brigh turned to stare at her head on and Solene returned the favor. “Like you were going to cut his head off and decided not to at the last moment.” She smirked and her snaggletooth snuck passed her lip. “But I must be seeing things. You wouldn’t do that, spare an evildoer or whatever, right?”
“Not even me?” Brigh asked. She widened her smirk in self-satisfaction, winced as it stretched her freshly broken nose.
“I would not spare an evildoer. I am only a tool for the unnamed god’s whims,” Solene stated solidly and her mouth burned because she was lying.
©August 2016 S. Creaney
S. Creaney lives in New York City and is a passionate fan of fantasy fiction, especially sword and sorcery. This is her first published story.