His eyes were shifting from side to side, reminding Barson of a trapped animal.
“Why were you unable to join this mission?” Barson demanded, not giving the man a chance to regain his composure. “Why did you stay behind?”
“Well, I—” Siur clearly wasn’t expecting to be questioned, and Barson could see him frantically trying to come up with a plausible answer. His hesitation was damning.
“Tell me everything,” Barson ordered, looking at the man he’d once regarded as a brother. “Why did you do this?”
Siur blinked, backing away. “I don’t know what you’re talking about—”
“Don’t lie to me. At least show me that much respect.”
“Captain, Barson, I—” The soldier kept moving backward, and Barson saw what he was after the very second the man’s hand closed around his sword.
Barson unsheathed his own sword. “Tell me the truth,” he said coldly, “and you will die quickly and painlessly.” He was glad the traitor was showing his true colors; up until that moment, he hadn’t been completely sure of the man’s guilt.
With an enraged cry, Siur attacked. His momentum carried him across the room, his sword swinging.
Barson met his fierce attack, parrying every blow and watching carefully for an opening to disarm his opponent. Normally, Siur would’ve already been dead, but Barson didn’t want to kill him yet. He needed information, and the traitor was the only one who could provide it.
Siur fought like a berserker. Faced with the prospect of interrogation, the man was apparently trying to go for a quick, glorious death—something that Barson had no intention of allowing. They fought for what seemed like forever. If Barson hadn’t been so tired from his earlier ordeal, this would’ve been easier. As it was, he had to restrain himself from killing Siur every couple of minutes, while simultaneously preventing the soldier’s deadly blows from reaching his body.
His moment finally came when Siur made a violent thrust at Barson’s shoulder. With one flick of his sword, Barson grazed his opponent’s left side, drawing the first blood. Siur jumped back with a pained hiss, then attacked Barson with even more desperation. The soldier knew he would now grow weaker with every minute that passed, and Barson found it more difficult to restrain himself from dealing the traitor a killing blow.
“You can’t make me talk, no matter what you do,” Siur panted, executing a triple feint attack. Barson easily defended himself; he’d personally taught this maneuver to Siur, and the man had never particularly excelled at it. That Siur used it now was a sign that he was no longer thinking straight.
Silently taking advantage of this opening, Barson slashed the man’s right shoulder, slicing through his naked flesh with ease. It was fortunate the soldier wasn’t wearing armor; otherwise, Barson’s task would’ve been even more difficult. Siur stumbled, letting out a pained cry, but pressed on, his eyes glittering with rage and desperation.
A trickle of sweat ran down Barson’s back, intensifying his longing for a bath. Deciding to bring the fight to its inevitable conclusion, he pretended to favor his right side, leaving his left exposed for a brief moment. Siur immediately took the bait, going for a killing blow to the heart.
At the last moment, Barson twisted his body, letting the man’s sharp sword scrape the side of his armor, cutting through it and leaving a shallow scratch on his skin. At the same time, Barson’s gauntleted fist landed on Siur’s right arm with massive force, causing the traitor’s sword to fly across the room.
“Now we talk,” Barson muttered, punching Siur in the face and knocking him out.
Chapter 17: Augusta
The wizened old man was working behind his desk when Augusta entered his lavish study. His workspace was nearly the size of her entire quarters in the Tower. Being the head of the Council certainly had its privileges.
Dale Mayer [paranormal/YA]
Jaci Burton, Helenkay Dimon, Christi Barth