This chapter corresponds with Chapter 18 - Slaver, of WTWFTD. If you haven't read that, then you might not understand the end of this chapter so much, but other than that, you should be fine. :D
Characters appearing in this chapter: Nadiko (elf) and Sai (wolf Guardian) ~ Wolfheart //// Kanyk Scarletblade (angel) and Ethan/Darkscar (dragon Guardian) ~ Katherine_Scarletblade
Nadiko didn't have time to react before the wolf pinned her to the ground, his paws crushing her shoulders. Pain flared through her as she tried to free her arms, tried desperately to reach her blades. The wolf's breath reeked of blood as it panted, fangs gleaming.
Its eyes narrowed, and something that looked like pain passed into them.
And then it was slumping forwards, weight pinning her completely to the floor.
"Drag it off," a voice commanded. Why wasn't the stupid animal moving? "And be ready to fight the elf."
"Get up!" she hissed to it. Still, nothing but a weakened whimper. Something dragged the wolf from her, and she sucked in a deep breath of air, reaching for a knife and springing up.
She summed up the situation in seconds: they were surrounded by dwarves, all of whom were armed. And then - the wolf.
His fur was bloodied, two arrows protruding from his back, and she realised with an ugly concoction of dread and horror that he had been wounded protecting her from the arrows. For a moment, she paused, and that was all the dwarves needed.
Instantly, there was a blade to the wolf's throat.
"Allow us to take you capture, or we will cut open this monster's neck, and kill you afterwards."
She could take them - Nadiko knew she could. So why was she hesitating? She should simply be fighting them, not waiting because of a simple wolf. A wolf who had saved her, admittedly, but a stupid wolf nonetheless.
Gritting her teeth, she sheathed her two swords, raising her hands above her head and sighing irritably.
"Fine," she hissed. "But I'm going to kill you all later. Every. Single. One."
Something collided with her head as the dwarves held out the handcuffs, and she slumped forwards into darkness.
Kanyk narrowed her eyes, watching the dragon circle the fortress. She wanted to free the creature; she could sense Ethan's desire to slaughter the dwarf astride its back, but that would do nothing but alert the guards to their presence - and then they might not be able to free the prisoners in time. They would have to return for the dragon later, no matter how hard it was.
A sudden movement caught her eye, and she glanced towards another shadow. By the looks of it, an angel. Just an innocent trespasser? Or a correspondent of the slaver? Either way, the shadow had the dragon rider's full attention. Now was the perfect moment to strike.
"The guards look like they're about to shift. We should go while the dragon rider's distracted," she told Ethan.
"About time," he grinned to her.
Nodding, Kanyk poised herself for take-off, watching as the land-bound dwarves moved from their positions in the watchtowers, heading back inside to get the next two lookouts. Kanyk launched herself from the mountainside, taking Ethan's wrist and gripping it tightly. He could easily have transformed into a dragon and destroyed the entire slaving fortress, but there was the possibility he'd harm one of the captives.
Stealth would be much more effective, even though she knew Ethan's preferences were with a head-on attack.
They dropped to the top of the watch tower, slipping through the trapdoor before anybody could notice them, two shadows in the night. Kanyk folded her wings back as the two of them pressed themselves against the walls.
Oblivious, the next two lookouts walked past.
They were running again before anybody could notice the two shadows flitting through the corridors, footsteps silent on the stone beneath.
She met Ethan's ruby eyes, and together, they plunged deeper into the fortress.
When Nadiko woke up, there were muffled voices.
"...Kill them soon..."
"...Keep them for the battle arenas..."
"...Sell them off..."
The brief glimpses of conversation didn't sound promising, and she looked up wearily. Her head was throbbing, but it was better than the pain in her shoulder from the wolf's fangs.
A faint whining from the corner dragged her attention to the wolf.
It was shackled to the wall with heavy chains, head hanging limp and uselessly. Pale green eyes were lifeless, and, as she coughed to gain its attention, its head raised only slightly.
For a moment, they locked eyes, before the wolf's head fell again.
"We need to get out," she said urgently. "They're talking about killing us."
As she spoke, she realised how stupid she sounded. What the hell was she doing? Expecting help from a wounded, bloodied wolf? The arrows were still lodged into its back, though the blood had dried, staining the white fur a deep, rich scarlet.
The wolf whimpered again, and her head snapped around.
"We'll kill the wolf, and keep the elf for fights."
The voices from the other side of the door were clearer, now, and Nadiko swore, her eyes fixed on the wolf, as it struggled to raise its head.
A faint, silvery light started seeping from its body, strangely alluring as the wolf started to shrink, its legs twisting into more humanoid limbs. With a horrified fascination, she watched as the fur melted away into ghostly pale flesh, and the claws shrunk back to fingernails.
"You're a Guardian," she breathed, as the chains fell around his now smaller body. He looked up at her, green eyes wide and questioning.
"If I free you," he said slowly, his voice deep and untrusting, "then will you promise not to kill me?"
Nadiko fought for a reply. He was a Guardian - a real Guardian. Asking her not to kill him.
"Fine," she said. "I owe you, anyway."
Nodding, he pushed himself from the floor, movements shaky and weak, forcing himself to stagger across the floor of their cell, and grasp the keys from the other side.
They'd probably been put there simply to taunt them, but the dwarves hadn't thought it through. The Guardian lifted the keys to the lock holding her chains in place, pushing the smallest key into the lock.
With a faint click, she was released, landing perfectly on the floor.
For a moment, the two of them simply stared at one another, deciding whether to trust, or whether to be cautious. Nadiko was just about to break the glare and leave when the Guardian's eyes rolled upwards into his head, and he slumped forwards. She barely had time to reach her arms out, but somehow, she managed to catch him. He weighted almost nothing, she realised with alarm. Was he ill? Starving?
Gently laying him down, she glanced at the two arrows from his back. She probably shouldn't remove them, but they'd only get in the way of escape, and, no matter how much she wanted to get out, she couldn't just leave the Guardian. Even if he was bellow her. Even if he was a dead weight.
She pulled the arrows sharply from his flesh, slinging off her jacket and tearing a strip of fabric from that. Trying to tie it around his wound to stop the bleeding, she cursed again. Healing had never been her strong point, but she could deal with that later. For now, they had to get out.
She approached the cell door, taking her two swords from their sheaths. If she were quick, she could do it...
Nadiko took a deep breath, and burst into the room of slavers.
The first dwarf was dead within seconds, and Nadiko grinned victoriously, moving forwards to fight the rest. They moved to protect one in particular, and she made him the target. If the rest were protecting him, that meant that he was probably the head slaver - a fact proved by his expensive outfit and polished decorational weapons.
Nadiko cut through the four bodyguards with little difficulty, striking before they could slip into battle stances. She faced their leader.
"You got us stuck here, huh?" she muttered. "I hope you enjoy dying."
A scream from outside the room pierced her ears, and for a moment, she was distracted. The door swung open, and another figure strode into the room, holding a bloodied blade.
An angel, with faded, ghostly wings.