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Escort Duty – Part 10

Hollo and Simon gently placed Soren on the tarp they had strung between his horse and Simon’s. The soldier’s head was swathed in bandages, and his breathing was shallow, but regular as a clock.

Hollo looked at Simon, saying, “I’ll meet you on the other side of the village after I fetch my pony. She’s been tied to that tree for hours, and if I don’t hurry, something’s going to eat her.”

Simon nodded, and Hollo trotted back up the trail. Erika, already mounted, watched him go. She paid no mind to the bandage around her wounded hand as she took up her reins.

“Can you find this village without him?”

“I’ve never been there, but I saw it from the hills this morning. If we can get to the valley floor before sunset, I’ll be able to get us there.”

“How is the captain?”

“He’s still breathing, my lady, and every so often he makes a noise or tries to mumble, so there’s hope.”

Erika nodded sadly. “Such a good man,” she said quietly. Greta’s breath hitched, as if she were going to start crying again, but she only stared forward from her saddle.

“That he is,” Simon replied, “Let’s get going. There’s not much time before dark.”


They rode in silence for a time. The path opened up as they followed it around a large hill, and Erika brought her horse up to ride next to Simon.

“I never thanked you,” she said.

“No need, princess,” Simon replied, “I’m sorry you were wounded.”

“Better this than to be dragged to Pesht or worse.”

“Yes,” Simon said with a knowing nod, “it can always get worse.”

“True,” Erika said, looking down at her hands, “I just don’t understand”

“Understand what, my lady?”

“He… he hit me,” she said as she looked over to Simon, “He struck me with a bare hand.”

“That happens in a fight,” he replied drily.

“But, that’s not how it’s supposed to work. It’s not fair.”

“Princess, in a fight, there is no ‘fair.’ He wanted to hurt you, you didn’t want to get hurt. Whatever either of you did to disappoint the other is what’s fair. Blades, axes, spears, teeth, fists, whatever’s handy, you use them all to win.”

“But my teachers, my father…”

“They taught you how to fence, my lady, how to spar, but not how to fight. I pray there isn’t a next time, but if there is, remember the difference. It almost cost you your life today.”

Erika said nothing, but rode on in stony silence. In her mind, she replayed the fight over and over, and compared it to her lessons.

“You’re alive, my lady, and he’s not going to hurt anyone again,” Simon said, guessing her thoughts. “Nothing else matters.”

Other episodes can be found here.  The entire anthology can be purchased at Amazon.

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  1. OldNFO

     /  March 5, 2018

    Clue bat, and she survived it, with a little help! 🙂

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