Monday, November 5, 2012

Harduk the Slayer and the Hidden Boat of Doom

"If we hurry, we can still make it," Nissa said, following something that might charitably be described as a trail down the back of the mountain. "I stashed a boat when we arrived here. It's a small thing, built for exploration and emergencies, but it's well-supplied and--"

She stumbled over an upthrust root, and Harduk caught her shoulder before she could tumble down the side of the mountain. "I hate that," she said, testing her ankle before they continued. "I hate these places. I want to live in a nice house in a big city, where the roads are even and other people provide us with art and culture and entertainment."

"You're the daughter of a wizard," observed Harduk. "Why don't you?"

"Because," Nissa replied, "I'm the daughter of a wizard who has seven-hundred-year-old ideas about propriety. Unmarried women do not live on their own."

"Ridiculous," said Harduk. "In my land..."

He stopped and tilted his head, listening. There were voices behind them. "They're coming," he said, and scooped Nissa up. His strength was such that even carrying her, he could double their pace.

The voices of their pursuers had fallen far behind by the time they reached the boat. Nissa loosed the mooring lines while Harduk raised the sails and shoved them out from the tiny fissure where the boat had hidden. He glanced back once, as the winds caught the sails, and eyes honed to the savage plains of Distractia picked out a single robed figure among the armed men. Lifting an arm, he waved cheerily in the wizard's direction.

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