Arabesque,

Arabesque Chapter 11.2

2/06/2017 Laura Watkins 0 Comments

I've moved! Read this post and more on my new website.









































































































I will be sharing parts of my writing every week (alternating between Arabesque and Persephone) as I write them (with the exception of some parts of Arabesque, which were written previously), so please be patient with any errors you may find, as these are a first drafts.

About the book

Tatania is tired of living in her sister's shadow but doesn't know about Princess Anna's dark secret. Bound by a sacred oath, Anna's struggles to live a double life that can never be her own. 
Described as "Sense and Sensibility meets Ever After with ninjas," Arabesque is full of action, romance, intrigue, and betrayal.

Since I've always been super paranoid, Arabesque was officially copyrighted in 2009. Duplication or use of this work in any other form is prohibited by law.


Arabesque Chapter 11.2
Anna

I stalked silently behind my guardian. The strong wind atop the flat roof whipped loose wisps of hair across my cheek... I tried to ignore the bitter reminder of the touch I would not feel again.

All of our interactions were not painfully formal. An accidental brush of our arms elicited a stream of profound apologies and formal bows. Did he truly believe I thought myself above him?

I barely heard his whispered instructions. Thankfully, he seemed to repeat the same things he had spoken before we had left the cathedral.

I followed his lithe figure closely through darkened streets and across rooftops. We picked our way through refuse strewn alleys, and often hid to avoid riotous groups of criminals.

The Raleran district was fascinating. I had heard tales of the king's efforts to restore it, but I had thought such descriptions had been exaggerated. Now I saw they had actually painted it in a better light.

The moon appeared ghost-like through the sliver clouds overhead. I did not realize I had stopped, staring at its beauty in wonder. The world seemed different here. The sky was darker, more mysterious. Time itself seemed to slow as streaks of clouds inched across the glowing moon, paling its light.

A thick hand covered my mouth and I felt the sharp edge of a cold blade across my throat.

"Quiet now, no screaming or I'll slit your pretty throat," a rough voice growled.

How could I have been so careless? This was no training session, tucked safely away in our hidden places. I had allowed myself to be distracted. Now Henry was nowhere in sight.

Fury at my own naiveté and stupidity surged through me. I snapped the end of my stave up with a crack, into my assailant's face. The knife fell to the ground with a resounding clatter as his hands flew to his ruined face.

I broke away, breathlessly. Henry appeared at my side. He held his arm, as if to keep me from toppling over.
"Have you been harmed, princess?" he whispered, frantically looking me over.

"No, I'm alright," I sputtered, putting my hand to my neck. It came away red.

Henry gasped, examining my wound. "Can you breathe properly?"

"Well enough, the cut is superficial."

"The cut I receive for this will not be nearly as superficial. The king will have my head for this." He muttered. "We need to leave before..."

Henry stopped short as a group of six men approached us. "They must have heard the commotion," he said, taking up a defensive position in front of me as the men sauntered toward us.

They stopped next to the inert figure of my attacker. "It's Clive!" one exclaimed as he nudged him.

"Is he dead?" another asked with a laugh.

"Not yet. The idiot's out cold for now, not sure if he'll make it. Got his face bashed in pretty good."

"Heh. Took on more than he could handle," said a third.

"Wasn't much that bumbler could handle," someone laughed.

"They won't be much trouble for us. Just one man and his wench," said a big man, obviously their leader. He leered at me and I shivered.

"I get her first!" one chuckled darkly as they advanced.

Henry did not wait for them to strike first. He lashed out as soon as they were within his reach. I had never seen such a sight. Before I was able to reach his side, he had incapacitated two of the men, but he paid for it with a jab to the side and a limp and bleeding arm.

"Run!" he yelled at me. "Get away from here!"

I would not leave him. He was barely holding them off. They were so amused taunting Henry that they did not notice me until I cracked on of them soundly across the back of the head.

"Idiots, she's armed!" yelled the leader. "You three, take care of her. This one is mine."

They did not let me close enough to Henry for us to fight together. My mind reeled. I was alone. I, who had never fought in a true battle, now battled for two lives.

From the corner of my eye, I saw their leader play with Henry, injuring his leg. He shouldn't have been able to stand. The man growled and jeered at him, making crude remarks, and trying to inflict as much pain as he could before killing him.

I stood nearly frozen as they surrounded me. "Don't worry about your man, there milady," one said with a mock bow, his knife glinting with Henry's blood. "We'll take care of him real good. Maybe feed him to the pigs. Then you and I..."

He did not have the opportunity to finish his sentence before my staff was buried in his gut. He sunk to his knees and fell.

A sharp pain stung my arm as a blade slashed my sleeve. My rage grew stronger until I felt as though I was an observer, watching a strange creature fight the three men.

I spun, struck, jabbed, and leapt, in a whirr of motion. I swept one man's legs out from under him, while dodging to duck a blow, then struck him swiftly on the head. I would take no chances that he would recover before Henry and I could get away.

An elbow jabbed my face and my vision blurred. I blinked furiously to clear it. Were there two men or just the one? I did not trust what I saw.

I swung my staff around in a circle, trying to gage where it would connect with flesh. The impact nearly knocked my weapon from my hands. Another man went down.

Why could I still see one standing? He didn't look like the same man I'd just felled. He was hunched over, one arm over his stomach. It became clear. I'd only injured this one and he'd recovered enough to attack, potentially fatal mistake on my part.

He swung his blade down hard, meeting my staff and jarring my shoulders, then struck my temple with the hilt of his sword.

I staggered back, the edges of my sight rapidly blackening. If he'd wanted to kill me, I would have been dead. I shook my head and cried out, desperately trying to stay conscious, but it was useless.

The last thing that I saw confused me. The man was laughed at me, then staggered forward and collapsed limply on top of me.

I awoke with a start. My aching head informed me that it had been no dream, but I was able to rise unburdened by the weight of the man who had rendered me unconscious. I blinked in confusion. I distinctly remembered his weight crushing me, and the pain of my head striking the ground.

I closed my eyes to quiet the wave of dizziness that threatened to overtake me. I moved my hand down to brace myself, and almost screamed as it touched flesh.

My eyes shot open. The man lay beside me with a dagger in his back, and Henry lay next to him, his breath shallow and color pale.

I understood. Henry must have heard my cry, thrown his dagger, killing my opponent, then his own. He also must have dragged the man off me before succumbing to his own injuries.

My own aches and pains seemed trivial. Henry's life was still in danger.

I hurried to his side and surveyed the damage. His arm and leg were soaked with dark blood, but it was wound in his side that troubled me. He had lost a large amount of blood, and the wound had lain unattended for goodness knew how long, while we'd been unconscious. Without the sun, I had no means to judge the time.

I bound our wounds to the best of my ability. It would not do for me to lose consciousness again.

"Henry," I shook him gently, trying to rouse him. "Henry, you must wake up!"

He groaned softly and I thought he muttered my name. I kept talking to him and trying to wake him until he was conscious enough to help me move him. He staggered, his arm around my shoulders, and leaned heavily upon me.

I barely remember how, but as the world began to fill with the light of predawn, we crossed the threshold of the cathedral.

I laid Hendy down upon a pile of blankets and cleansed his wounds. A fever had taken hold of him. His skin was nearly unbearably hot to the touch and he was delirious. I could not leave him, but if he did not get help soon, I would lose him forever.

More coming soon! Read Chapter 12 here or more about my projects here.
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