“So…lemme get this shit straight. You guys don’t wanna go back an’ do the jobs you have been hired on to handle?” Jarod grinned, the light of amusement gleaming in his eyes.
The dockmaster leaned back in his chair. “Not until they pay us what we is rightfully entitled to.”
Jarod leaned over the desk, his bunched fists resting on the scarred, sticky surface. “You are rightfully entitled to a punch in tha fuckin’ face if ye don’t watch yeself.”
“You can’t threaten us!”
“I think ye are mistaken on that point, me boy. I don’t have ta jus’ threaten…” Jarod’s arm whipped out, his hammy fist twisting the threadbare fabric of the dockmaster’s tunic into a choking twine and jerked his considerable bulk upward. “As I’m a Shadowguard, I can follow through whenever I feel like it.”
“Shit.” The dockmaster paled, and his gaze shifted to a half foot over Jarod’s shoulder.
The longshoreman’s hook speared into Jarod’s shoulder. He shoved the dockmaster back several paces, grabbed the hook where it impaled him and twisted. The stevedore, hefty across the shoulder and thick across the gut, tried to jerk the hook out. Jarod held on.
“Very fucking stupid, my friend.” Jarod glanced at the dockmaster. “I will be with you in a moment.”
Freyja cracked her knuckles, a sly smile curving her lips, the points of her fangs indenting the flesh. She glanced at Wynter. “Ready for this?”
Wynter flicked her palm open, the accent of her home rich on her tongue as she replied: “Just try to keep up.” Magic crackled across her palm, the smell of a summer thunderstorm flaring as the white coils of hair snarled in response.
“Winner pays for breakfast.” Freyja shifted her shoulders, the formidable muscle flexing.
“See you on the other side.” Freyja leapt forward and slammed into the first dwarf.
“Stay safe.” Wynter threw the spell she had brewing and somewhere in the depths of bodies protecting the dwarven lord light and heat exploded.
Bryn leaned back against the tree and yawned, scratching her chest. She glanced back at the tribal merriment taking place around the fire and snorted in disgust. Passing through Qatari territory wasn’t the best time to be making merry.
“You will not join us?” The lilting tones of the Ambassador were formal, but faintly amused, in the twilight surrounding them.
“Nah. Not my scene, Your Ambassadorship.”
“This must be quite dull for you.”
“You are quite honest.”
“Don’t give a crap enough to lie, Your Ambassadorship.”
“How intriguing.” The Ambassador smiled, her dark eyes gleaming.
“You are pretty weird yourself.” Bryn frowned and peered up at the elegantly clothed woman.
An arrow slammed into the tree just above Bryn’s head. The Ambassador shrieked. Around the fire, screams echoed to the night skies and blood stained the sand.
“GET DOWN!” Bryn shoved the Ambassador down and drew her sword. “Don’t put your bloody head up until I say so.”
She sighted on a target and grinned suddenly. “Now this is fun.”
“What do you mean…’no’?” The exquisite woman shoved Eli backwards. The red tipped claws of her left hand left diamond red drops of blood beading on his chest.
“You pathetic worm of a man. No one says ‘no’.” Nualia clenched the demon claw into a fist.
“Maybe if they had, you would be less of a bitch.” Fuck.
Nualia went pale but for a red flare of colour upon her cheek. “Tread carefully, monk.”
“I’m not a bloody monk.”
The flare of pain that burned through Eli was sudden and shocking as claws raked his chest, laying open his flesh. Before he could respond, the second blow crashed across his jaw.
Shaking his head to clear it, he stared at the furious deva.
“What the hell…” Eli gasped, trying to catch his breath. He crashed a fist into her shoulder.
“You stupid, foolish man.” She slashed at him again, raking her claws across his gut.
The rest of the combat was brutal and short. Eli was flung from the tent, crashing through the wall, collapsing the structure. Blood flowed over his chest and streamed from nose and mouth. He peered out of swelling eyes, the bodies of the Kyrien guards fell, rendered headless by a wicked blade.
And he passed out.
Nualia stood over Eli’s form. She rubbed the tattoo on her breast. The seven pointed star. Her knuckles whitened on the intricate dagger held in her angel’s hand. She squatted down and held the tip against his throat.
She jerked his bruised and battered face to the side, and a bead of blood trickled down his throat.
She paused and drew back.
She yanked his arm aside and draw the razorsharp edge around the tattoo. She gouged the flesh from his arm and tossed it aside. She wiped the blade on his trousers and stood.
“Now we are even. Next time..I will kill you.”