174 ~ Yarrow

2580 hours

Somehow they reached the banquet hall without incident. The castle was strangely deserted. Yarrow hoped that meant what it was supposed to mean.

Stupidly, she let down her guard for a second, and it was when she heard the click behind her that she realised somehow Lord Exsil Vis had gotten his pistol through without getting the powder wet. How, she didn’t know. Probably never would.

Automatically her hands went above her head in surrender as she slowly turned. They were the only two people in the banquet hall. He stood, his pistol aimed at her chest, with that smile on his face. She stood, defenceless and unable to do anything. She’d left her plate in her tent, unable to swim with it.

This is it, then. It all ends now. I hope Anala and the rest can finish it when I’m gone.

“Did you really think, Yarrow, that I would let you live? That I believed your alliance for a second?”

She shrugged slightly. “I suppose I’m just as foolish as my mother.”

He laughed, but did not take his eyes off her. Before he could respond, a cry rent through the air.

“Daddy!”

Both bellica and lord turned to see a young girl, the spitting image of Lord Exsil Vis, standing by the kitchen entrance to the hall.

“Miranda,” Lord Exsil Vis said, but did not sound happy. “Get out of here, girl. You’re always underfoot.”

The girl looked like she was about to cry, but instead pointed. “Behind you, father.”

Lord Exsil Vis whirled to come face to face with a woman he’d murdered seventeen years before. “What,” he gasped. “I killed you.”

Yarrow took the chance given her. She leapt upon him and knocked him to the ground, hitting his pistol-holding hand to the floor with special viciousness. “Get the girl out of here,” she said to her aunt, who was back far too damned early. Thadea nodded and ran. Yarrow didn’t look; she knew the woman would get Miranda to safety.

On his back, she grabbed his hair and smashed his face into the floor; it had little effect, for the man merely laughed and tossed the bellica off. She landed on the ground hard, and tried to get up, but he was already on top of her. His pistol forgotten, Lord Exsil Vis engaged her in hand to hand combat. For a while they grappled on the floor, throwing punches and hoping they’d land. They rolled over a few times; soon he got her on the floor again and landed a few lucky punches. Dazed, Yarrow couldn’t think. Blood ran down her face from her chin and forehead; her sight was blocked by a red haze. She felt hands close around her throat, and tried desperately to fight back, but she was too dizzy, and he was stronger than any opponent she’d faced before.

Coughing, gasping for air, she struggled madly. All she heard was his joyous laugh, and then everything went black.

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