The Tale of a Mage (part 9)

The group stopped to rest at sunset. At least Nyx thought it was sunset. The storm had not abated and the sun remained obscured by black clouds making the exact moment it sunk below the horizon difficult to pinpoint. The woods, however, were falling into darkness. Livia wished to continue their journey throughout the night but Izzy insisted on the break, arguing none of them would be any use in a fight without food or sleep. Izzy chose a secluded clearing, cautioning against a fire. Nyx and Livia rolled their eyes in synchrony, neither of them needed the dangers of a fire while on the run explained to them. They made a meal of what nuts and berries they could scrounge up around their campsite. Nyx shook her head wondering what possessed Izzy to go to the trouble of stealing their weapons back from the guards while not bothering to bring any food. Secretive, overly cheerful, and now impractical. Whenever Nyx thought her positive feelings for Izzy had reached an all-time low they sunk even lower.

“I’ll take first watch.” Izzy offered “The two of you should get some sleep.”

“When hell freezes over” Livia snapped “There’s no way I’m trusting you to…” Livia’s words began to fade. Nyx wanted to express objections to either Izzy or Livia keeping watch while she slept but she was just too tired. Even the cold, wet ground posed no challenge as she drifted off to sleep.

“It’s your turn to keep watch.” Nyx awoke in mild confusion to find Izzy shaking her gently. It would seem Izzy had won the argument, or maybe Livia had and Nyx was being given the third watch, she had no idea what time it was.  Nyx stretched out her stiff body and shivered. The ground had been hard and she was still wet. Izzy curled up beside her appearing significantly more comfortable still wrapped in her fur cloak. Wrapping her arms around her knees Nyx stared out into the darkness. This was going to be a long night.

Livia lay several feet away snoring loudly. Nyx shook her head in disgust. She couldn’t believe she was still stuck in the bounty hunter’s company. She stared longingly at her exposed throat her hand reaching into her boot to withdraw a knife. She flipped the knife a few times in her hand continuing to stare at Livia. It would be so easy cover the few steps between them and plunge the knife into her neck. If she did that, however, Izzy would likely be displeased. She could slash Izzy’s throat but that would wake Livia and she wouldn’t appreciate the death of a person who had promised her a massive pile of gold. Nyx’s options were limited. She could only kill one of them and then she would be stuck dealing with the other’s ire. Neither option was favourable.

She stared back into the dark abyss of the woods. She was still tired and this was boring. Nyx wasn’t accustomed to having travelling companions so she had little experience with watching for enemies in the middle of the night. Usually, she spent her nights asleep curled up somewhere out of sight such as under a bush or burrowed into a haystack. Being on lookout would have been loathsome had she been doing it for people whose wellbeing actually concerned her. She briefly considered using this as an opportunity to run but then dismissed the idea. Leaving now would require permitting Livia’s life to continue, not to mention she was mildly uncomfortable letting Izzy out of her sight before she deciphered the reasons for her interest in Cassandra.

Nyx sat motionless asides from the occasional violent shiver. It felt like hours had passed although it had only been twenty minutes. She was sick of this. Her eyes strayed to Livia again, the temptation flooding back. Izzy would, indeed, be angry but would she really do much about it? Whatever her plans were in regards to Cassandra she would presumably need Nyx to accomplish them. Otherwise, she never would have broken her out of the royal dungeon. Nyx made a snap decision. She was going to do it.

Knife clutched firmly in her hand she crept towards Livia. Her heart pounded against her chest. If Livia awoke or if Nyx had misjudged Izzy’s motivations she was about to find herself in an extremely nasty situation. She knelt on the ground beside Livia. Time seemed to slow as she positioned the knife above Livia’s throat and began to lower it, the tip set on a collision course with her carotid artery.

A fraction of a second before the blade found its mark Livia’s eyes flew open. Nyx felt a hand close around her wrist. Before she could fully register what was happening her back was colliding with the forest floor. Her own knife pressed against her throat. Nyx stared up in horror as Livia’s wild eyes met her own.

“Did the little elf really think she could kill me in my sleep?” A malicious smirk spread across Livia’s face. “Normally, I would return the favour, however, I feel my new employer would frown upon that. Fortunately, I can still make you hurt.” Nyx gulped. Livia was grinning at her now.

The pressure of the knife on her throat disappeared and moments later her chest crashed against the ground as Livia flipped her. This time she kept her head raised avoiding a mouthful of dirt however that was little consolation. Her bottom was still sore from the incident with the sword and now Livia was going to spank her again. Livia’s knee pressed into her back holding her in place.

Nyx yelped as Livia’s palm collided with her bottom. Livia was only using her hand but applied over the bruises, which had yet to heal, the pain was breathtaking. Livia rained down a barrage of slaps scalding her flesh. Nyx howled, thrashing desperately from side to side in an attempt to throw Livia off her.  Then as suddenly as it had started it stopped. Nyx glanced over her shoulder in time to see Izzy haul Livia to her feet. Over-brimming with rage Izzy’s eyes flickered from Livia to Nyx and them back again.

“Have the two of you completely lost your minds?” She hissed her voice barely about a whisper.  “Do you have any idea how much noise you were making? There are still soldiers searching the forest for us and thanks to this little display it is probable they now know exactly where we are.” Izzy stood silently for a moment listening carefully. A panicked looked appeared on her face. “Run!” She turned took off at a sprint, disappearing into the darkness.

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