An Escort’s End

knife

  Things had gotten ugly in a matter of moments.

  “Lift the curse, Erin, just lift it,” Isil-Gar said angrily. The citadel was in sight, their land-spanning trip almost at an end. The camp fire lit up his contorted face in a terrible way. He had been quiet and genial for most of the escort, as co-operative as any bounty had been before, she thought, but with condemnation in sight he had lost the will to persuade and coerce in a cordial manner.

  Erin, to his surprise, had not warmed to him, not in any significant I will set you free sort of way. His looks alone were enough to convince most girls to do… well, just about anything, but she was different. She was serious. Deadly serious. Isil-Gar had been wanted long enough to know what was waiting for him before the council would not end well. The posters said Dead or Alive. The difference in payout was mostly negligible.

  “You know I can’t do that,” she said, un unexpected calm emanating from her. She’d been up against the wall with a knife to her throat before, and she’d be in the same situation again before her time on the planet was at an end, so she didn’t see why her poise had to be affected. She stared unblinking at her companion-cum-attacker. She saw the desperation in his eyes. She knew what it could lead to.

  “Kill me if you want, Isil-Gar,” she said softly, alarming her assailant with her nonchalance, “but the spell will still be in effect. The ethereal cords binding us will not simply drop away. You’ll instead be tied to a corpse. An easy to spot mark and an even easier to catch perp for the next hunter that comes for you.” There was a moments silence as he considered this. The sharpened blade pressed hard against her throat. Blood rushed to the skin eagerly, waiting for the break, for the mad dash out.

  “Look, we got on well, didn’t we?” she said to the confused soul before her, “our time together wasn’t totally horrible. I didn’t shackle you or take you against your-”

  “Not in the conventional sense, no, but at least with that I know what to expect” he said spitefully, obviously feeling their connection reverberate inside of him. The binding spell she’d cast upon his capture. Every bounty hunter has a means. Hers was just more effective than most. It usually made for a nicer trip, less yelling and squirming, all until they see the tower, of course. She sighed.

  “Isil-Gar, you’re going to be found again, only this time with cold hard evidence in the shape of a cold hard corpse slung over your shoulder that you literally cannot leave behind. Why not just do me a solid and at least let me benefit from all this rather than the next jackass who – and I promise you here – won’t be as nice.”

  “Or I could just chop you up,” he said, pressing the knife harder now, a madness in his eyes, “chop you up and experiment. Chop you up and find the bit that counts-”

  My heart she thought to herself.

  “-and stuff it in a satchel and keep it with me always. Who knows how long I’ll last. I may never be caught. Hell, I might even have a little fun with y-”

  “Oh honey,” she said, reaching forward, past the blade – slowly so he knew it was safe – and touched his cheek, “you overestimate yourself.”

  The hidden blade shot from her wrist, out from beneath the cloak that had – until now – masked its deadly intent, and Isil-Gar crumpled instantly. As he fell she lowered herself with him, slowly withdrawing her hand – and her weapon – from his head.

  “Guess it won’t be or alive after all,” she said, annoyed.

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~ by Joseph Blame on February 22, 2011.

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