Warning: This work has been rated 16+ for violence.
Jerica felt like she had a rug ripped out from under her. Warmth crept up her neck as the gaze of every man in the tent landed on her. So much for Derik being on her side. She scowled at Lord Femola, waiting to see if he was going to take Derik’s offer of demanding an apology from her.
What am I even going to say if he can actually bring himself to call me ‘General’? ‘Hey, sorry about killing your physicians. I know I just did it like two hours ago but my uncle says I have to say sorry.’ She hoped he would be too proud to ask for an apology on Derik’s terms. She certainly didn’t want to give him one.
It was stuffy. Jerica noticed that her breath felt hot now, thick, like she was fighting for each one that she drew. How she wished for an escape from that tent – or at the very least a breeze to ease the tension. The silence was stifling. Lord Femola’s gaze flicked across her like he was assessing a cow in the butcher’s field before paying for its slaughter.
“Did you even get hurt at all?” He finally broke the heavy silence.
Jerica leaned forward, pressing her knuckles into the table in front of her as she rose from her chair and stared into his eyes. The stitches tugged on the edges of her injured skin, flexed shoulder muscles straining against the thread. Pain radiated down her side like someone was in the process of dumping a kettle of boiling water over her. “Do I look injured to you?”
“I thought I saw blood on you as you ran away.” His gaze flicked away.
She threw herself back into her seat. Her shoulder tingled. She did her best to look condescending as she planted her hands on the arm rests of her seat. “That belonged to your physician, not me.”
His eyes snapped back towards her, full of rage once again. “We’re done here.”
“Great!” Jerica pushed away from the table and popped to her feet.
A shout broke out on both sides of the tent and the clanging of steel on steel rang in her ears. Jerica yanked her sword from her scabbard, eyes flicking towards the Nykerian closest to her – Josef. He looked at her for the briefest of moments, then turned and bolted towards the door behind them.
“No!” Lord Femola was out of the tent in an instant. “Stand down! She’s not hurt!”
An arrow tore through the edge of the tent and lodged in the back of the chair she’d been in moments before. Rage stabbed through her confusion. An ambush. Her eyes flicked towards the Nykerian General of the Archers, who had been to Josef’s right, across from Rekard. He was still seated, eyes wide as he looked between Jerica and the exit.
Jerica lunged forward. She planted her right foot on the edge of the table and hauled herself onto the table with her thigh muscles alone. She brought her left foot down on the table just in front of the General. He yanked his sword half-way from its scabbard as he tried to stand. Jerica’s right foot landed on his shoulder, driving him backwards into his seat, then toppling the chair over with him in it.
Jerica landed on top of him. She drove her right foot into his shoulder and kicked his other arm with her left foot. His hand was nowhere close to his still-sheathed sword. He was a good archer – she’d seen his targets before. His hand-to-hand skills were lacking.
He grabbed her ankle and yanked. She twisted her leg to grind her heel against his palm as she drove her left knee into his chest. She stabbed her sword through his throat. Blood sprayed into her face. She yanked the blade free, a fresh cascade of blood following the steel from the wound and splattering against her tunic.
Jerica stood, breaking the mesmerized silence that filled the tent in the mere seconds it took her to get over the table. The two Nykerian Generals were on their feet, swords in hand, but still standing in the corner of the tent rather than retreating. Jerica started towards them.
“Jerica, no!” Derik’s shout filled the tent.
She kept her gaze fixed on the Nykerian nearest her as she stormed towards him. It was just the head of the Calvary – General Rileng. General Vanir, Head of the Swordsmen, was behind him. But with any luck she could sink her sword through Rileng then toss him into his compatriot. Kill them and the war is over. Now wasn’t the time to be timid.
Jerica swung her sword at the man standing nearest her. She was forceful. It would be easy to block, but her swing was powerful enough to drive him to the defensive. And then all she would have to do – he dove to the side, well out of the reach of her blade. The momentum of strike against the empty air carried her forward. Rileng was behind her now; Vanir directly in front.
Rileng’s palm struck between her shoulder blades, hard. She crashed face-first into Vanir’s chest. Vanir threw her to the ground in an instant, lifting his sword over her head with both hands. He brought the sword down. She darted upright – towards him, rather than away. He was already committed to his swing, stabbing the blade deep into the ground where she lay mere moments before.
She drove her right fist between his legs as hard as she could. He crumpled to his knees. Jerica spun away from him, reaching for her sword that had fallen when she did. Rileng’s hands wrapped around her left wrist, yanking her backward, just as her hand found her weapon. She yelped, the stitches in her shoulder snapping open as he yanked her over backwards.
A glint of steel.
She couldn’t move her own sword fast enough.
His dagger came straight for her neck. He held her firmly in place by her left arm, shoulder aching beyond belief, unable to yank away from him to dodge. A force knocked into them. Her shoulder was wrenched even further, yanking her fully onto her back.
She rolled, pushing herself off the ground with her right hand. Her left shoulder was drenched in blood again. She brought her sword up; dizzy. Another man was laying between her and Rileng. The bottom dropped from her stomach as she realized it was Rekard, dagger meant for her still lodged in his abdomen.
Jerica drove her sword through Rileng’s throat.
Blood spurt across her and Rekard. She whirled around to find Vanir. He locked eyes with her for the briefest of moments then sprang towards the door. She couldn’t be bothered to chase him. She turned her attention back on Rek.
He moaned, clutching at the dagger in his abdomen. It was lodged just above his left hipbone, all the way to the handle. He grasped it. Jerica put her hand over his. “Don’t. It’s too deep.”
He groaned again.
“Rek!” Derik was next to them, shouldering Jerica out of the way. “Oh, gods.”