Published in Darklaw
Copyright © Teresa Wymore. All Rights Reserved.
Epic fantasy | 2017
KAMI PROTESTED AS Avestine seized her by the back of her dress and pushed her away from the storefront.
After they reached a deserted ally, Kami turned around clumsily and straightened her clothes. “That’s the fourth man beaten since we came here.” Her finger stabbed the air. “And what about the women?”
“They’re all fatherless, stinking sword-suckers!”
Kami stepped back in shock, but then she realized Avestine had not been listening to her.
“They think a long sword’s better just until the thin tang snaps like kindling.” With one hand wrapped around the pommel at her belt, Avestine paced. “I could crush every one of their skulls before they could even pull those ridiculous blades from their belts.”
“Are you listening to me?” Kami tried to interrupt Avestine’s pacing, but Avestine stepped around her.
“Metal doesn’t slice through metal and not even leather most of the time. The damn things weren’t made to cut. A sword is for bludgeoning. This!” She drew out her sword, turning it back and forth in her palm. “It’s the nicks they see, not the endurance of the metal, not the strength.”
Rook said, “You gave him half our coin.”
Avestine finally took note of Kami and hissed, “That’s because you couldn’t keep still. You cost me my check from Faye’s. Do you have any idea what that coin was worth?”
“Faye’s? That was the whorehouse in Queenscourt.”
“The largest whorehouse in the Trade Quarter,” answered Rook mildly. He paused and offered thoughtfully, “But not as agreeable as your mother’s place.”
Avestine frowned at Rook before continuing, “That check bought a whore through sunfall! And that includes a quarter-pound tobacco and bottle of whiskey. How are you going to pay that back?”
“I don’t have to.”
“Oh yes, child.” Avestine seized Kami’s arm. “I guarantee you’ll be working it off.” She paused in thought before adding, “For the next year.”
“It was one day.”
“You think you’re that good?”
Kami slapped Avestine, shocking her into speechlessness. Anger quickly caught up, but before Avestine reacted, Rook inserted himself between them. “We have business.”
Kami backed away. “You could have stopped them.”
“And when stories reached Darklaw that a woman killed soldiers, they’d know right where I am. You think I didn’t want to gut every one of those pigs?” She spit on the ground in the direction the men had left. “These days it seems the only thing worse than a Darklaw soldier is a deserting Darklaw soldier.”
“Isn’t that what you are?”
“It’s a matter of principle. I was their general.”
“And a deserter.”
Avestine stood a little straighter. “The charge I’ll be impaled for is treason, not desertion.”
Kami frowned. “Much better.”
“Since they’re deserters,” said Rook, “they have to keep moving. They’ll be leaving sometime soon. We stay out of their way, get my boots, and get out of here. We don’t need to borrow trouble.”
Kami set her hands on her hips. “They’re beating old men, raping women, and taking whatever they want. Doesn’t that bother either of you?” Avestine and Rook answered in unison, “No.”