The Hâfléng leader gripped my arm tightly, and led me from the room. We walked down several long halls. I wondered for a moment if he was lost- we seemed to be going deeper into the building. Finally, he pulled me aside, into a room. It was made of iron as well, but it was not the one that I had been in before.
“What are we doing here?” I demanded.
He released my arm, and stepped back, studying me, arching his eyebrows slightly. “How you’ve gained so much favor with Lord Karnax, I cannot imagine. You rebel against him constantly, yet he regards you as more useful than his entire army. We have served him more loyally than you- you have done nothing to earn his admiration and respect!”
I hesitated, made uncertain of this burst of hostility. I got the feeling that speaking right now was a bad idea, so I remained silent.
“From what I can see,” the Hâfléng continued, “Karnax has gone blind, allowing you this much freedom. He will destroy all we’ve worked for. I cannot allow that to happen.”
My eyes caught a glint of light as he pulled a knife from his belt. “I’ll tell him you tried to escape, or fight. Either way, I’ll have a reason when he finds you dead!”
He lunged for me, the knife arcing down towards my throat. For a moment my muscles locked with surprise. With no magic to defend myself in this iron room, I was vulnerable.
Then I regained the ability to move. I skipped to the side, and the Hâfléng missed.
Of course, my respite wasn’t long. He snarled, coming at me with another lunging sweep. I ducked to the side again, but he was faster than I had given him credit for, already directing a sharp thrust at my chest. I dropped into a crouch, and it hit the empty air above my head. He stabbed down at me and I rolled away to the side, coming up to standing again.
I had no idea what had driven him to this sudden bout of insanity, but I had no intention of finding out. My only goal at the moment was to stay alive.
The Hâfléng stepped back for a moment, surveying me as if deciding the next place he intended to stab his knife. This gave me a respite, however, and I backed away slightly, wishing I had a weapon of my own. I began to work my way around the side of the room, hoping to reach the door so that I could use my magic and defend myself before the Hâfléng cut me open with his knife.
He saw what I was doing, however, and moved to cut me off, knife flashing ominously. I backed off again, never taking my eyes off his face, where I would find warnings of the next attack.
His eyes darkened with malice, then he lunged towards me. I dodged back again, but found a wall behind me. He came at me, striking towards my left side. I dodged to the right, only to hit another wall.
“Congratulations, Sivva,” he snarled. “You’re only making this easier for me.”
He raised the knife, positioning it so that it lightly touched my throat. He drew his hand back to drive the knife forwards.
And when it came forwards I wasn’t there anymore.
The knife hit the wall with a jarring clang, and the Hâfléng spun, finding me a few feet away, smiling darkly. Last second dodges were easier when your opponent expected that you were finished.
“You can’t expect to last forever, Sivva!” he snarled, lunging for me again. I spun away, again accomplishing a last minute maneuver. I wasn’t simply showing off here- the Hâfléng leader was fast and incredibly skilled. Despite the fact that anger guided his strokes, he was still a distinct threat. Only my training, driven into me by years of practice, allowed me to move so swiftly, avoiding death each time by little more than a hair’s breadth.
The Hâfléng swore, striking out at me again, but even as I dodged I saw him change the direction of the stroke with lightning speed. I did my best to swivel away, but the knife clipped my shoulder, drawing blood. The Hâfléng seemed encouraged by this, lunging forwards again, and we resumed our deadly dance around the room. I did my best, yet again, to work my way around the side of the room to the door. However, each time I drew close, the Hâfléng would cut me off, forcing me to dodge away from the door in order to keep from being sliced open.
The Hâfléng advanced again, and I tensed, preparing to dodge his next attack.
But it never came.
The Hâfléng leader’s eyes suddenly widened in shock. The knife dropped from his hand, clattering to the ground. For a moment, I was confused. Then I saw the tip of a dagger protruding from his chest, blood already seeping from the wound. He collapsed soundlessly, as the dagger was yanked free of his body.
Karnax stood behind him, shaking his head.
“I should have expected that he would try something like this,” he said, shaking his head. “You’re lucky you lasted this long, Sivva. He was hardly an incompetent warrior.”
“He was guided by anger,” I said, dismissing his words with a slight shrug. “It clouded his mind.”
“Quite,” Karnax remarked, amused. “He is of little consequence though. Hopefully whoever takes his place as his successor will hopefully be more competent.” He turned away from the Hâfléng’s body carelessly, leaving it lying upon the ground.
I stopped for a moment, going back and kneeling beside him, just for a second. I had no compassion for him, of course- he had tried to kill me- but it seemed so callous to just leave his body here, and walk away in such an uncaring fashion.
“Sivva,” Karnax said harshly. “It is of no consequence to you. Leave the body. I will have someone bury him in a… proper fashion. You have no reason to feel any concern about it.”
I sighed, rising. But not before I had pocketed the knife that he had dropped.