Fatal Distraction

There was a sound in the other room, a quiet, almost non-existent sound as of someone creeping, not wanting to be heard.  Mica’s eyes widened.

Jasmine’s soft sobs muffled further as Mica drew her friend closer but the apothecary was still once more.  Her eyes glanced from one shadow to the next.  They were a standing target, attack could come from anywhere.

Were they moving?  Was that someone slithering around in the short hallway?  Mica’s heart jumped in fear.  Had they been discovered by the enemy?

Gently, oh so gently, Mica disentangled herself from Jasmine.  Jasmine’s eyes, now puffy and rimmed with red, looked questioningly at her friend but Mica could only shake her head and put her finger to her lips.

Jasmine sniffled and nodded her understanding.  Only scant hours before the entire temple teemed with the enemy, this was no place to break down into hysterics.  There was yet another sharp stab of pain in her chest as her mother’s loss hit home once again.  Only her breathing hitched to show it, otherwise she stood rock-steady.

Mica seemed to melt away into the wall to the left, Jasmine disappeared to the right.  The pair crawled along the walls moving from cover to cover until they reached the doorway.  No other sounds had come from the Apothecary but that meant nothing; they might have slipped in while the guard was away relieving himself.  By the nine hells there might be a platoon stationed out there just looking for the cure to crotch-rot because all their liquor supplies had finally run out, you never really knew what you’d find after a looting.

Mica slipped her head around the door-frame.  A twang sounded from the distant doorway preceding a bolt aimed straight for her face.  Mica fell away just before the bolt flew past but Jasmine gasped and stretched out her arm.

Another bolt shot from a slightly different angle penetrated Jasmine’s belly off to the right.  She gasped and fell back disappearing into the shadows.  Mica looked her friend over in the cover of darkness.  Without warning she grabbed the shaft and yanked it out.  Jasmine wanted to gasp, she wanted to scream out in agony but instead she clenched her jaw.  Mica quietly said; “Go,” with a nod to the wall and then lunged at the approaching enemy soldier.

The soldier’s dark-red robes were too large under the shiny chest armor.  They bunched out around his arms.  Mica punched the half-loaded crossbow out of his hands and it flew off against the wall with a loud clatter.

Both her hands slipped down and pulled his spare knives while he was still registering surprise.  Both knives struck deep in the man’s shoulders hitting the nerve plexus and turning his arms to limp rags.  She lunged again, pulling him with her, spinning them around.

A bolt struck his back then another, Mica slipped around the guard, his blades dripping his blood in her hands.  She darted forward and the man slowly sunk to the ground.  He groaned and closed his eyes.

Jasmine took three steps and fell to her knees.  Sharp pain shot through her torso.  She squeezed her eyes shut and forced herself to breathe slowly.

She’d had training for just this very thing, breathe slowly, center your mind and the body will follow.  Slowly, so very slowly, the pain subsided.  Jasmine looked up at the window, the wind was blowing slightly fluttering the thin fabric of the curtain.  Moonlight shone down on the stone floor highlighting the glowing frame.

Her gate to salvation; the glowing window frame.  Jasmine forced herself forward.  Pain flared in her gut but she fought through it. Damn those bastard sons of a swine.  Damn them to the bloody hell of pissed-off Mica.  Ha… ha haah… yes.  Mica would make them suffer ten times more than what she was going through.

Serves them right.

They came here, invaded her home.  Murdered her friends, her parents… everyone she knew almost.  They deserved all the pain they’d get.  More.

Jasmine lurched forward one last time, grinning in terrible fury.  Her jaw clenched shut, her face a grimace of pain and her eyes flashing blue murder.  Silvery light bathed her stretched out fingertips.  A breeze ruffled the curtain and for a moment her entire hand glowed.

She wanted to cry.  Instead she gathered up her legs and pushed herself forward.  Her gut burned but she pressed down on it harder.  She had to make it out for her mother, she had to survive to carry on her legacy.

Jasmine remembered all those lessons at her mother’s feet like they happened only yesterday.  Long afternoons watching her mother grind herbs for some medication or other.  Long lectures about the efficacy of one herb in particular.  Jasmine always knew when her mother had been reading up on something.

She chuckled despite the pain, or in defiance of it perhaps.  Jasmine’s mother would always live on through her, through her memories, her thoughts and knowledge passed along by spending so much time together.  She drew herself up and lurched forward and she was leaning against the stone wall.

Coolness pressed against her cheek, refreshing Jasmine.  A breeze pressed against the curtain and the moon peeked through the opening silvery-blue against the diamond-speckled velvet lining the sky.  She couldn’t help but smile as she looked up.

How many times as a child had she sat just here watching the moon through that window, staring out at the world.  Her gut began raging at her and she winced.  It began hurting harder and the wince turned into a scowl.  ‘I might have ruptured something,’ she thought.  ‘I might be screaming in agony in a short while just before I die.’

A chilling thought that brought goose-pimples to her spine.  She needed help, she needed to get to the medics waiting just inside the forest.  They’d patch her up and put her back together.  She just had to get over the lip of this window.

Jasmine stretched her left hand up, blissfully unaware of the quiet from the other room.  If anything she thought Mica had probably forced the fight out into the hallways beyond.

She’d be wrong.

Her hand grasped the sill.  Holy fucking hell that huuurrrtssssss.

‘Do not pull yourself up.  Got it.’

Jasmine gathered her legs up under her.  The wind forced the curtain back and, for just a moment, she was entirely lit by the moon’s rays.

A bolt appeared as if by magic pinning the curtain to her hand, and her hand to the window-sill.  She hadn’t even registered the one before another pierced her head attaching it to the wall.  Her gaze remained on the moon even as the light left her eyes.

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