“Now, will you come quietly, or do I have to spill her blood first?” the man said. “Or should I spill the other girl’s blood too?” he chuckled.
“Release her, and I will come with you,” Richard said.
“Drop your sword first,” the man said.
“Just let her go, and I will do whatever you want me to,” Richard said. People were gathering around in a circle, curious as to what is going on. A dozen soldiers in red pushed their way forward. Richard couldn’t see an escape route.
“Drop the sword or I will kill her!” the man shouted. Richard knew there was no other option.
He released his sword, which clattered to the ground at his feet. A soldier sprang forward and picked it up. Another came up and pulled free the knife at his belt.
“Take him into custody,” the man holding Brianna said. He pulled her closer to him.
“You said you would release her!” Richard shouted. A soldier came up and yanked his arms around his back and started to bind them together.
“I lied,” the man said, grinning evilly. He started to pull Brianna away with him. Brianna’s wide eyes looked at him.
“No!” Richard shouted. He started kicking men around him. He had failed Katie, but he would not fail Brianna, no matter what Ari had said. The man glanced at him for a moment before walking off, pulling Brianna with him. He did not seem concerned that his men were being injured. Brianna struggled in his arms, but he was too strong for her. He pulled her atop a nearby horse.
Richard kicked one man in the shin and he heard a snap. The man crumpled to the ground, screaming in agony. Other soldiers were a bit more reluctant to come closer to him after that. The ropes around his wrists dug into his skin.
“Calm down, boy!” one of the soldiers shouted.
“Grab him!” shouted another.
“kill him!” two men screamed as they all started to close in a circle around him. Richard looked around, waiting for the first to come in. If only he had his sword. He searched the ground. There it was! On the ground just outside the circle.
“I will go quietly,” Richard said to the men.
“Grab him!” a man shouted again, and Richard felt fingers wrap around his wrist.
“Where will you be taking me” he shouted over the roar of men.
“To Hellio where you will be hung for the Emperor,” a man said, chuckling. Richard waited a moment, thinking hard on what he should do. There were a few possibilities. He could cooperate and let them take him to Hellio. Or he could break free, rescue Brianna, and then rescue Katie with more of an advantage. He decided in an instant what he should do.
He jerked away from the men’s grip as soon as he felt them slacken a bit. He spun, swinging his bound fists at the nearest face. It collided and the man went down in a heap. Richard turned and instantly leapt back and away from a man with a sword. He swung at Richard, but missed. Taking the opening, Richard kicked the man’s stomach with as much force as he could. The man fell down hard and did not move again.
And then his sword came into view. He had taken out the man who was in the way of him getting to his sword. Richard dove forward through the opening while he still had a chance. The half dozen men still standing followed after him. They reached out to grab him, but he managed to stay out of their grasps.
Richard turned to kick another man away, but got someone else’s boot in his gut. He went down and landed hard on his back. Something hard was jabbing into his back. The same man brought back his fist and clubbed Richard across the face.
Richard was flat on his back. He felt something metal on his back and it took him a few moments to collect his thoughts and realize what it was. His head spun, but he managed to scoot back a few paces so the sword was within his grasp. He lightly touched the blade then brought his wrist around it. He sawed at the rope.
Richard couched up a bit of blood and spat it out at the men’s feet.
“That’s what I think of you men and your filthy Emperor,” he mocked.
“That’s it!” the man shouted. He leaned forward and grabbed Richard’s hair. The sword slipped away from the ropes before it was all the way cut free. In a panic, Richard kicked at the man’s shins. It wasn’t hard enough to break the man’s leg, but it had been enough to make the man release him. He landed back on the sword.
“Let’s kill him!” a man to his left said.
“No, Emperor Astroth wants him alive,” the man who Richard had kicked said.
“Why does he want this boy?” the other man asked.
“Because he is special,” the man replied. Richard sawed quickly through his bounds, but couldn’t get free.
“Lift him and take him with us,” the man said to the others.
Hands reached out and they started to lift him to his feet.
“Wait,” Richard said. The bounds still weren’t cut all the way through.
“Wait, nothing. Lift him up,” the man said, not looking at Richard.
“I have something to tell you,” Richard said. He felt the ropes falling away. His hand curled around the hilt of his sword.
“And what would that be?” the man asked, turning towards him.
“You are going to die,” Richard replied. He swung the sword over his head as he leapt to his feet. He cut the man down in one fluid motion. The other men realized what happened and were moving in to stop him.
Richard swung recklessly, taking a man down with each cut. In a matter of moments, they were laying, dead, at his feet. Richard looked up to see where the man who had Brianna was. He wasn’t anywhere in sight.
“Brianna!” he shouted. There was no answer.
He stepped over the men and ran in the direction on which he thought they had gone in. He saw horse tracks leading away. In the direction of Hellio.
“Damn it!” Richard shouted. People were watching him closely. When he looked their way, they hurried off, averting their eyes. Richard ran to Brianna’s horse and grabbed the bags off the horse’s saddle. It wouldn’t be worth taking the horse with him. It would only slow him down. He quickly gathered the reins to his horse and jumped on.
He kicked the horse into a fast run. His only hope was to caught up with them and rescue Brianna before they got to Hellio. They weren’t that far in front of him. A few minutes, tops, and he would be caught up.
Trees and greenery flashed by as he raced forward. He carefully watched the tracks on the road. He could tell which belong to the man’s horse because they were more fresh than the others. He carefully followed them with his eyes.
Richard looked up to see them not far in front of him. They were only a few minutes ahead of them. Brianna looked back at him, but didn’t shout anything. The man probably didn’t know that Richard was behind him.
“Faster,” he whispered to the horse. Either it were his imagination, or the horse actually heard him, because it felt like the horse was running faster.
At the sound of the running horse, the man looked back. He saw Richard, and kicked his horse to go faster. Richard did the same, leaning forward to give the horse a bit more momentum.
His horse gained on the man with every second that past. He was getting closer. Small sprinkles of rain hit his face. The horse’s hooves thundered over the hard ground.
Brianna hooked eyes with Richard for a moment. He knew that she was terrified. Her arms were bound and there was no hope of jumping. Richard had to do something, and quick.
Something above them flashed by in the sky. Something red with large wings. It flew across the sun, making a shadow fall over them for a moment. Richard glanced up to see the dragon flying over them. It shrank into the distance in only moments, in the direction in which they were heading.
At the sound of slowing hooves, Richard looked back at his case. The man was slowing down up ahead. Richard did the same, but was cautious in case he took off quickly. The horse in front of him stopped, and Richard pulled his to a stop as well.
“Leave now, boy,” the man shouted to him. He was holding Brianna’s arm and held a knife in his other hand.
“Release her, and I shall,” Richard said back. The man climb off from atop his horse, pulling Brianna down as well. Richard did the same. He left his sword in its sheath.
“No, she is property of Emperor Astroth,” the man said.
“Am I not property now too?” Richard asked. “Which would he rather have?”
“True. The Emperor did say that he wanted the boy from the prophecies,” the man said.
“What did you say?” Richard asked. He took a step forward.
“Nothing,” the man said. He shoved Brianna to the ground and started walking towards Richard. “Do anything stupid and the girl will be the first to die.”
Richard stood where he was. He watched the man come. The man came up and grabbed his wrists and pulled a cord rope from his pocket.
“Let me see you get out of this,” he said in a mocking voice.
“There is no need,” Richard said.
“ I will be the judge of that,” the man said. He started to wind the rope around Richard’s wrist, binding them together.
“No, I mean that I won’t have to get out of them,” Richard said. The man’s eyes started to look up at Richard, but he was already moving. In one swift motion, the man tied a small knot into the rope, and then another. He moved so fast that Richard was surprised.
Richard’s wrist twisted out of the man’s reach and he swung them at the man’s face. He slammed into the man’s chin, and he felt it shatter. The man collapsed into a heap. Richard leaned over and slammed his fists into the man’s head until he stopped moving.
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