Thursday, March 22, 2018

Flash Fiction #295: Honor Among Thieves/8

"That table was irreplaceable," I shouted.

"Kill him!  Kill them both!" Kimlin ordered.

The orcs moved forward.  They swung table legs which looked like dainty clubs in their hands. The one on the right, opposite Darkin, made a sudden and surprising leap forward.

I shouted as I spun to help Darkin -- and that was when my orc darted forward.  I knocked Darkin down and fell as well --

My orc hit Darkin's orc straight across the face and it fell like a bag of rocks.

"I planned that," I said as I rolled off of Darkin and got back on my feet.

"You are an idiot ... but a lucky one."

We only had one orc left. Then there was Kimlin, though he didn't seem to be rushing into battle to help his orcs.  I didn't want to think about the others with Kimlin, but at least they hadn't made any moves yet.

I could hear loud sounds from the battle between the Demon Lord and Lady Yeti, but a glance showed only a wall of black beyond our room.  I had no idea how she might be doing, but I didn't pretend that rushing to her aid was going to do any help there. 

So back to our orc.  Darkin raised his left hand and gave me an old signal -- one we'd used when we had to deal with a city guard.  It was a simple enough ploy.  A single guard, even with weapons, was no match for the two of us.

Orcs, I hoped, wouldn't be any worse.

I went to the left and started to fall, while Darkin moved to the right.  My fall caught the orc's attention as he sensed weaker prey, and turned my way for just that single breath that Darkin needed to grab the table leg and swing it with all the force he had against the orc's startled face.

The orc tottered.  Darkin hit again and the wooden leg splintered.

The orc fell.

On me.

Kimlin gave a cry of despair as I gave a grunt of pain.  Darkin cursed and grabbed the orc's leg, trying to yank him off of me.  The others moved forward, and Darkin spun on them, but they only mumbled a few things and helped grab the orc.  Cooperation.  There was hope for the Guild.  I could rebuild from this dozen members.

If we survived.  As the others manhandled the orc off of me, I looked at Kimlin.  He'd started by yelling and then began to panic.  Panic was worse.  I saw him reach inside his shirt and pull out something on a chain.  It glowed.

Anything that glowed was a real problem.  Unfortunately, I still had orc on me and couldn't breathe to get enough air to yell, and I couldn't move my arms.

"Ki --" I hissed.  "Ki -- m --"

Darkin realized the problem just as they rolled the orc off of me.  He spun, but Kimlin was ready for my friend to attack.

Kimlin was not ready for me.

I knew I couldn't stand.  I still had trouble breathing as well.  I could, however, roll over and grab Kimlin's leg as he took a step forward.

I hadn't paid attention to what he'd been doing.  I knew there was a glow of power and that the others began scattering.  When I grabbed him, he fell backward, and a bolt of something far more potent than lightning shot straight up through all the floors of the building and made a hole right out into the sky.

We all stared for a moment.  Then Darkin kicked Kimlin so hard that I heard the bones in his hand break and the object went flying.  It landed by me.  I gingerly took it by the chain.  It didn't glow now, but I still didn't like the feel of it.

"What now?" Ram asked with a worried stare at the two unconscious orcs and the whimpering Kimlin.

"Wait -- see what they do --" I said with a wave toward the still black door.  "Make whatever deal we can."

The battle beyond our room had gone oddly quiet.  Then I heard something unexpected.

Laughter, both from Lady Yeti and the Demon Lord.  That worried me.  I let Darkin get me to my feet and hold me there.  I couldn't be sure of broken bones from the orc falling on me, but I hurt everywhere again.

The black parted like a thick cloth, and the two were still where they had been, both looking like adversaries ready for battle -- but the tension of moments before had disappeared.

"Then I go," the Demon Lord said with a bow of his head.  "And I take back some of my own that you have stolen."

"Only borrowed," she said and waved a hand.  A dozen spots of shadows darted over to the Demon Lord.

I stared in disbelief.  Was this done?  A bit of laughter and a handing over of hostages?

"What is going on?" I dared to ask, though Darkin hissed at the words. Silence might have been better.

"We will not fight the war this time," the Demon Lord replied.  "You would want a different answer?"

"Think about it," Lady Yeti warned with a kind of smile that made her look unworldly.  "Think about your myths."

The dozen times darkness and fire had beaten down humanity, and we'd had to climb back out of the abyss again.  Oh yes, I knew the myths.

Or were they history?

"I am grateful that you will not fight," I said with a bow of my head to both of them.

So they left.  We gave Kimlin over to the guard, and none of us went to see him hanged for killing the mayor.  We fixed the Guild House and repaired the table, though it has a crack across the middle, one odd leg, and a new legend attached to it.  We went back to work.

So did Lady Yeti, going back to her little home.

I try not to worry.

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