I Will Protect You When You Fall

Staying meant death for them all. No, the best way to keep her vows now would be to get out of Westing’s way. Amaril plucked the girl up and fled.

The girl weighed more than any sword. She weighed more than the pack. If Amaril couldn’t make the jump with those items, how could she leap the chasm with the girl in her arms?

No time to think. Run! Jump!

Behind her, Westing grunted, cried out.

Amaril flew through the night air, the chasm deep below her, sucking at her feet, pulling at her like Westing sucking down one of her pies, hungry, so hungry for her.

The edge caught her shins and she collapsed on top of the girl. Amaril threw all her weight forward. She crushed the girl, but she didn’t slide back down. The girl screamed. Again.

“Westing! We’re safe!” Amaril cried out.

Westing was lost in the murk of the night. Scuffling of sand. Weeping. She heard weeping. No, that was the girl, wasn’t it? It had to be. Westing didn’t weep like that. His sobs were deep and shuddering, not this light, can’t-breathe quick patter of breath.

She heard his feet on the sand again. Silence.

He must have jumped. Somewhere he was jumping over the chasm.

Make it over, Westing. Come on. You need to make it over.

He huffed as he landed, cried out again. He collapsed into the gray sand, the gladius falling from his hand.

The predators roared. Heavy footfalls pounded on the sand on the other side.

Amaril didn’t think. She didn’t have to. She had made vows. It was Westing’s vow to protect her; it was her vow to stand over him when he was weak. Now he was weak. The hilt of his sword was too large in her hands. Its blade sunk toward the ground.

She turned to the edge and saw golden eyes flying toward her.

Amaril thrust the blade forward toward the thing’s face.

The predator collided with the sword. The blade sliced through its mouth up through its head.

Unfortunately, death doesn’t stop inertia. The beast rammed into Amaril and threw her back against the sand. The heavy weight settled on her and did not move, leaking blood onto her face and hands.

Blood.

She had taken the life of another being willingly.

It was to protect her husband. She kept her vows. She meant the beast no harm except to protect her family.

The second creature roared, somewhere far away.

That was the second creature, right? Not a third?

Amaril struggled to get out from beneath the beast but couldn’t move more than her shoulders. Soon a small form appeared beside the animal and began to push it aside.

The girl’s efforts didn’t help much.

Then a larger form appeared, limping over the gray sands, and added his weight to the girl’s. Eventually the dead animal slid off of Amaril.

Air! So that was what air felt like in her lungs. That’s a pleasant feeling. She should appreciate breathing more often, really.

The three gasped for breath together.

Westing smiled. “I love you.”

“Of course you do,” she answered, holding out a hand sticky with blood. She pulled her hand away. She couldn’t offer that hand to him.

He grabbed it. “We’ll overcome this together.” He turned to the girl. “Now, I suppose we should know your name, huh?”

This is the sixteenth chapter of Summers’ End.

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