When he saw the armored woman stepped back, turning her blade over in her hand and inspecting it, Varlaine deliberated for just a moment before swinging his legs off of his horse. When he hit the ground, he stumbled over his long, flowing robes, righting himself with a hand on his steed’s reins and moving closer to Eryn. The rider had stooped down low, and offered a palm to the downed young man. He took it and sat up, and ‘Laine watched him wince, trying to get his bearings, as he drew near.
“I… I’m sorry about your friends.” Eryn’s voice was soft, and she stole a glance over her shoulder, at Naz. Then she moved her hand to his shoulder, slicked crimson, and he jerked away from the touch, reaching for his spear. Varlaine, closer, reached down and grasped it, tugging the haft away from him.
“Get away from me.” A pained hiss from the bandit’s throat pushed Eryn away harder than his hands could muster. The rider stepped away, hand tinted red and eyes falling to the bloodied dirt. ‘Laine pulled the spear further, picking it up in both of his hands and sticking it in the ground. While the bandit rose to his feet, ‘Laine was pushed aside, and Naz stood in his place; her sword, notched and stained, pressed right against the bandit’s chest like a fang waiting to strike.
“This is your last warning. Tell me where to find your hideout or lose an arm.” Her voice left little in the way of mercy, making Varlaine cringe. The young prince righted himself, leaning on the spear, while the marauder he’d knocked down took a deep breath. His chest pressed into the tip of Naz’s blade when it inflated.
Before he could speak, ‘Laine reached over and placed his hand on Naz’s sword-bearing wrist. She looked to him, but did not speak, red brows furrowing over cold steel eyes and lips twitching.
“Is she telling the truth?” He asked.
For a moment, the cornered rat sneered at the boy. That blade dug into his chest hard enough to elicit a jerk away, before he bowed his head. “Aye. She ain’t lyin’. You… really kill Henrik, lady?” Naz pulled her sword away, resting it on her borrowed pauldron. She, too, nodded—which made the much younger bandit laugh a hollow, empty laugh. “That bastard owed me big. I guess I won’t be seeing a coin of it.”
“Boy, you have bigger problems.” Naz shook him from his rambling with a poke, piercing his shirt and sending him stumbling backwards. Eryn grabbed her arm, pulling it back and earning herself a glare that made Varlaine shrink into himself. “Tell me where to find the things your lot stole.”
The raider lifted a hand to his chest, touching where the steel had sunk in and coming away just clean. Then he took a step away, one that had Naz following, before holding his palms up and out in surrender. “There’s a camp in the woods, straight south. Three hours. Traps around the perimeter. I… don’t think there’ll be much of a guard left. If’n you got Henrik, I figure the rest who stayed behind…”
Naz nodded again, before turning to Varlaine and holding out her hand. He hesitated, before holding the spear he’d been holding out to the older woman; she took it in one hand, the other keeping her blade trained on the outlaw, before pulling back and swinging it overhead. ‘Laine flinched and looked away, and Eryn protested with a shout, pushing the boy away from the blade while Cassius screeched in alarm.
When ‘Laine opened his eyes again, it was at the sound of splintering wood. Naz looked around herself, at the retreating prince and the rider who had pushed who she thought was going to be her next victim to safety, before holding up the spear she’d taken; its end lacked a point, the metal tip laying in the ground and the haft ending in splintered wood. She jammed the wood down into the dirt, flattening the jagged, sharp tips, before offering it out to the injured bandit.
“…This will help you walk. There is a larger town to the east that will take you in,” She instructed in her callous, scratchy voice. Her thumb jutted to her right– east. He took the staff, leaning some of his weight against it, as both Eryn and Varlaine watched without a word. “Tell the people at the smithy that Naz sent you to apprentice.”
Stupefied, the boy, and she had every right to call him a boy when he was half of her age, nodded and backed away from her, from Eryn. “I… thanks.”
“Don’t. Just don’t let me cross paths with you again.”
Shaken, he nodded, and then warily turned in the direction she’d pointed. Stepping over the corpse of one of his ex-companions, he started to walk. Varlaine watched him go in silence for a little bit, and then watched Eryn, who was keeping her eyes on Naz even while she moved to hug her griffon. Eventually, it was broken by the woman who’d saved their lives, burying the blade of her sword in the earth so she could adjust her gauntlets, then kicking her boots.
“Where are you two going?” She asked absently. ‘Laine jumped at her question, and Eryn looked away. Eventually, the prince spoke up.
“Um… Fort Skyvlan, to the south, and then Immervolk’s capitol city.”
“That’s a long way to walk alone,” Naz voiced. “If you need an escort, I’ll come.”
Eryn shook her head, about to complain, before Varlaine answered for her. “We appreciate the offer, but we can’t pay you anything.”
“So work it off. I’m going to make a recovery effort. You want me to come with you southward, you come with.” Naz pulled her sword from the dirt and tapped it against her boot, before moving to pick up one of the bags the bandits had dropped to rifle through it. Shrugging, she dumped it to the ground, before turning her head to watch the prince for a response.
With both her eyes and Eryn’s on him, Varlaine nodded slowly.