Chapter 6: A Cry for Help

Hello internet friends,

Here’s chapter 6 for Lead Heart – any feedback is definitely appreciated as I’m always hoping to learn something,

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A strange wooden ship, like the Galleys from her history books, glided smoothly into the sunset. It was difficult to make out much detail while staring into the setting sun, but she didn’t really care about that for now. It was a flying freakin’ ship, how long had that even been possible. How many times did she watch the birds enviously while she plodded along. Off in the distance she made out a bit of geometric shadowing on the horizon, probably a city, in the path of the airship.

Well that’s perfect, she needed to go there anyway.

She dropped a couple of branches before realizing it was about bedtime. She’d spent all day crossing this valley to get another glimpse of that amazing ship. Well, she was out of steam, so at least falling asleep wouldn’t be a problem. Leliana munched a bit of smoked meat while she surveyed the surroundings and picked a spot to nap. A couple of firs entwined their limbs with each other making a few cozy nests where she didn’t need to worry about falling, She picked a spot and made herself comfortable, or as comfortable as you can be in a tree with no blanket, and drifted off.

The next morning was cool and clear, with a brilliantly blue sky overhead. The sounds of the early morning woods were becoming a music of sorts, something to look forward to. Though, compared to waking up in silence on a steel mat to stare at some concrete, it was likely literally anything would become music to her ears.

“SOMEBODY HELP”

A panicked cry for help cut the air. The sound had carried quite a distance, but she was pretty sure it came from the direction she was already headed. Might as well check it out and see what was up.

A few minutes and a few miles down the scraggly dirt “road” she found an interesting situation.

Two women hid behind a tree in front of her, and a younger man crashed to the ground just as she came into view. Three men loomed in the shadows, one sidling down the path while the other two joined from the forest. Cruel grins and missing teeth marred their otherwise hideous faces. She almost gagged just imagining the smell.

“Heh heh heh, ain’t you a firecracker. Too bad you’re such a little-”

“You leave Leon be, you..you cowards!”

The younger of the women grit her teeth and gripped what appeared to be a kitchen knife in both hands. Her mother, Leliana guessed, was as white as snow and stood tight-lipped, wide eyed and silent.

The boy was a teenager, or had been recently. He scrambled to his feet with balled fists. “Fine, just take it!” He heaved a bag and hit one of the men square in the chest with a clink, though the robber ignored it outright.

“Oy kid, that’s not enough. What about them things you said about my mother? I’m hurting real deep inside, I’m gonna need some…healing.” His greasy face looked the two women up and down with a sick grin, before scowling as he spotted the newcomer.

“Who the hells are you?” His cronies noticed Leliana for the first time with a start, the lankier of the two moving toward her.

She glanced over to the uptight mother; well she was useless. “Hey,” she waved to get the others girls’ attention, “how much money is in that bag?”

The young woman was bewildered. “What!? I don’t know, like 100 silver dollars I guess, what the hells does it matter run away!”

“Is that a lot? How much food would that buy?” She had no idea what a silver dollar was, but if it was equivalent to the dollar notes the quartermaster carried, it was enough for a few comfy days in town at least. Some actual bullets might be nice. “Never mind, I’ll figure it out.”

All eyes were on her now, so she might as well use that to her advantage. The loudmouth had a knife in his belt, but the other two appeared unarmed So she targeted them first. If they were comfortable robbing people bare-handed, they were either stupid, strong, or had something to hide.

She sauntered as she closed the distance to the tallest of the three men, hips rocking side to side. “What’s your name big boy?”

His face held the same, “Did I step in something?” expression while his mouth opened to reply, not even changing as her fist drove his front teeth from their sockets. She followed it up with a couple knocks to the head and then swung him into the stabby guy who was advancing with his knife. The two smacked together, flying into the overgrown weeds next to the road from a heavy roundhouse from Leliana. The third, and biggest, moved to crouch in front of them with his hands ready.

They rose after a minute of yelling and bleeding and drooling. The last thing she wanted was to give them time to regroup, so she stalked menacingly at the big guy standing and almost missed the toothless one raising a hand to point at her. She barely had time to gasp and duck aside at the last second before –

*BAP* *BAP*

The gunshots set her ears ringing and the big guy still on his feet cowered out of the way. “Oy you idiot, watch it!” He fled aside, leaving Leliana and the gunman clear.

Damn, she’d bet on the other one having the gun.

She faked left, then dodged right a few steps and slung the knife from her vest pocket at the big guys’ face before ducking left again.

The small guy hopped up in front of his friend and plucked the blade from the air, landing with a tucked roll to keep out of the way. This forced the other to stop shooting momentarily, giving her time to close the distance – large hunting knife at the ready. He pulled the six shooter back hastily but missed and took a knee to the groin as Leliana heaved her full weight into the strike. She tried to lash out with the knife, but bowed backward just quickly enough to prevent being skewered by the second assailant.

Her larger knife deflected his blows easily enough, but he had two, including the one she’d thrown earlier, and he was fast. Once, twice,thrice the hot sparks flew as she blocked just in time. He wasn’t the only one she had to worry about though, and she was forced to split her focus to keep him between her and the one with the gun. The other big guy kept trying to get-

“Gotchya!”

His arms encircled her from behind, yanking her off her feet into the air. She huffed and went limp to try dropping to the ground, but his meaty fists grabbed hold of her hands before she’d slid all the way free.

Leliana flipped backward and used his face to launch herself at the ground, expertly breaking his grip. She caught herself on both hands and used the forward momentum to jump onto the knife guy feet-first. He’d relaxed when his friend grabbed her a moment ago and didn’t brace for the weight of the impact, so he tumbled backward and grunt as the air whooshed out of him. Leliana was caught off guard by how easy he was to knock over and fell forward, tucking into a roll to bound back up facing the trio again.

She was surprised to see the gun-wielder lying face down on the ground, that little kitchen knife sticking out of his back near the neck, and the young man holding the firearm 2-handed.

“Get back!”

The atmosphere shifted and other two raised their hands in a gesture of peace. “Aye kid, you’ve got the gun now. Let us grab that meathead on the ground and we’ll leave.”

They advanced slowly, the young man uncomfortably shuffling backward at the same time. “Fine, but I’m..I’m warning you!”

Leliana watched suspiciously, monitoring the two and counting back how many times the gun had already been fired. Hmm. She caught the one on the ground looking up at his team, the smaller man giving an almost imperceptible nod.

She narrowed her eyes and ran to catch up. She was about 10 feet away still when they stooped to pick up their friend, the small man palming a knife as they rose. She knew it! The two others covered his movement. She bounded forward in two strides and yanked her knife out of his hand as he pulled back. The two large men made way for the throw. The teen caught sight of the knife and fired wildly, gunshots ringing in the still morning air. An explosion of blood erupted from the the small guy.

He screeched and yelled incoherently, grasping at the other two and they carried him hastily into the forest.

Leliana smiled and moved toward the trio. “Good thinking, getting the gun. You three alright?” The youth swung the weapon in her direction, his panicked breathing running ragged. Sweat dripped off his face like he’d just taken a swim. “Relax, I’m the one who saved you remember?” Besides-” she reached out to grab the gun as he fired. Well, clicked.

“It’s empty.”

She pocketed the gun and sheathed her own knives, setting off toward town again. “And by the way,” she kicked their bag up off the ground and poured its contents into her own, the three watching in shock. “You’re welcome.”

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Author: keyboardcouple

A couple who write and learn in front of their keyboards.

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