Pallas grabbed Sareh by the shoulders and squeezed. “You remind me what it’s like to be warm.”
She jerked away.
He caught her by the wrist and twisted.
She fell to her knees on the scaffoldwalk, causing the whole thing to shudder.
Aaron and Mavin jumped on him. Pallas flung his free arm, knocking Aaron to the boards. The boy fell into a fit of coughing, curling up around himself.
Mavin aimed a kick at the place where Pallas’s legs came together. He turned so she struck his thick thigh instead. “One of you going to help me here?” he growled at the other two goons.
“Hey, we’re taking care of the visitor,” one called back. They held him by the arms, leaning out over the edge of the scaffoldwalk. Djellian was frozen in fear.
Mavin tried kicking again, but Pallas scuttled sideways as he kept his hold on Sareh’s wrist, keeping her pinned in front of him.
Ffenyi backed away, step by step. She saw the curse had seeped into this man’s heart so much. He didn’t even know the evil that he let in. He didn’t know about the curse, and he reveled in it. She bumped into something. She spun and saw another man. Another goon.
“I heard some scurrying up here. Thought I might help my buddy out.” He grabbed Ffenyi by the wrists and squeezed ever so slightly. “You’re not going anywhere now, are you?” He leered at her.
Ffenyi looked away.
“Look me in the eye when I talk to you!” The man shook her.
She refused to meet his demand.
One of her wrists was free. A hand clamped down on her jaw, lifting her face, squeezing.
He forced her face up. She closed her eyes. She would not meet his stare.
Ffenyi did not know where the roar came from. It sounded like an angry bear. Something jolted the man holding her, and his hands fell away. His entire body fell to the ground. Behind him stood another man, one she did not recognize. “Pallas!” he screamed. “Let go of her!”
The man who held Sareh and easily fended off Mavin smiled. “Barras! Want a little fun?” He gestured to the girl. “She might be young for you, but I’ve already claimed this one.” He shook Sareh’s wrist.
Barras barreled forward. The boards shook with each step. Above them, the supports creaked. Barras tackled Pallas, and the two went down in a tangle.
Mavin stood awestruck for a moment before rushing to Sareh and helping her up.
The other two goons released Djellian and rushed into the melee. One pried Barras off even as he took an elbow to the face and went down to the ground. The other kicked Barras, shoving the heel of a boot into the back of his knee. Barras screamed in pain.
Sareh shook off Mavin’s help and rushed past the fighting mass to get to her brother. Danal shook in pain but smiled as he saw his sister.
Barras shoved a fist into Pallas’s eye. The other chopped him in the base of his neck.
Ffenyi dashed to her husband’s arms. They backed away from the fight, all of them. Danal leaned on Sareh. Aaron struggled to inch along the scaffoldwalk.
They watched as Barras fought off the three remaining goons. They started getting the upper hand, kicking and punching in a rough wrestling match. Barras kicked one off of him, sending him skittering to the edge of the scaffoldwalk.
“We need to help him,” Aaron said.
Danal nodded. “You’re right,” he whispered through his pain. “But which one of us could do anything to help?”
Aaron looked down at the scaffoldwalk and smiled. “Back up!” he commanded.
The group hesitated, then heeded his words. He reached down and pried a board up. He let it fall to the level below.
Mavin smiled. “Got it!” She helped him pry up boards, leaving a gap between the fight and the group. One lone board bridged the expanse.
Aaron called out, “Hey! Mister! Get over here!”
Barras saw the gap. He smiled. He kicked Pallas in the face before scurrying to his feet. He sprinted for the board.
Pallas chased after with a roar.
Barras’s boot struck that lone board. It shook. He kept his balance for a second step and faltered ever so slightly on his third barreling pace.
Pallas reached the bridge. He rushed onto it.
The board groaned as it bent.
Barras reached halfway across the bridge. A step beyond.
Pallas leaped after him with one strong lunge.
The board broke.
Read more of the world of Snow and Smoke here.
Read the previous entry, Therefore We Will Not Fear, here.
Read the next entry, An Ever-Present Help in Trouble, here.