Chevalier caught up with Kellen a few minutes later. He’d got his second wind when Selene had reached out and was feeling fine for the time being. The chillsword slowed to a stop and though he wasn’t panting as Chevalier stood beside him, his voice had the barest hint of fatigue in it.
“Any idea where we’re heading?”
“Selene woke up,” Chevalier said. “She said that the grynaith are down near the garbage hatch and there’s a ship coming to take them off the ferry. I don’t know how long we have until it arrives, but it can’t be long if Selene can see it. Have any idea how close we are to the garbage hatch?”
“Can’t be sure, but I don’t think it can be too far. We’re already pretty deep down”
They ran down hallways and jumped down staircases, delving ever deeper into the bowels of the ship. They weren’t picky about which way they went, so long as they went down. If it was like most ships, the ferry’s garbage hatch would be the bottommost location.
Chevalier let Kellen lead. The taurolk had an instinctive understanding of all things labyrinthian and found routes down time after time.
Finally, they pushed open a set of doors and found themselves in an open, frigid bay that could only be the garbage hatch. The piles of refuse standing against the walls were dead giveaways, as was the smell.
The grynaith gang looked at them and Charlottia glared. She still had Selene clutched in one hand, but pointed at Chevalier and Kellen with the other. “We were followed! Silence them!”
The biggest grynaith charged forward, raising his hands in preparation of grabbing Chevalier and ripping him apart, but Kellen stepped into the monster’s path with a casual confidence and met the beast grapple for grapple. There was some shifting and shuffling as hulking armored mass contested with hulking monster mass, but before long Kellen let out a yell of triumph and threw the grynaith to the ground. Before he could get back up, Kellen kicked him with one of his massive boots and sent him skidding across the ground.
However, the grynaith clearly wasn’t really very hurt because he bounced right back up and started approaching again. This time, though, the approach was more cautious and less aggressive, but still extremely fast. Kellen ducked the first punch and launched one of his own, but the monster was no slouch and danced away.
Chevalier didn’t have time to stand around watching. He could now see the minnow approaching the ferry, and even if Kellen won his fight, it wouldn’t matter if Chalottia escaped with Selene.
He dashed forward, unslinging his sword as he did so. His path was blocked by one of Charlottia’s other gang members, but a quick flurry of cuts bought the knight enough space to squeeze past and make a break for the dancer-turned-seductress-turned-thief.
“Give me Selene!”
She smiled and dashed back out of the way of his blow. “I wondered if it was you,” she said as he snarled and missed her two more times. It was just like when he’d chased her in the hallways earlier, except instead of hoping to grab a kiss (and maybe something more), Chevalier was swinging to kill.
“That armor doesn’t suit you, traveler. You look like a child wearing daddy’s coat and shoes, fitting into neither and making a fool of yourself.”
Chevalier slipped on a piece of garbage as the momentum of his swing carried him past Charlottia and he hit the ground hard. Thankfully, his sword only skittered a few inches away and he snatched it back up and lunged for the grynaith once again. This time, instead of stepping out of the way or jumping back, she simply bent backwards and let the strike pass over her stomach before snapping back up and landing a kick on Chevalier’s chest. There was enough force behind the blow to send the knight flying into the far wall. The armor absorbed most of the impact, and Chevalier was back on his chase almost immediately. He was mad now, and even through the blue gray of his visor he was seeing red.
As he charged he looked over at Kellen. The chillsword was holding his own against the rest of the grynaith gang, his heavy armor shielding him from almost every monstrous attack and his heavy gauntlets dishing out plenty of his own. His foes weren’t stopping but for the time being he seemed unbreakable. Chevalier wondered which would give out first. He knew full well that eventually one side would break.
The garbage hatch groaned and started to open. Chevalier saw a green bubble getting closer to the ferry, and watched the way it got pulled close to the ferry, as if caught in a tractor beam. The minnow ship was painted green and had a wide brown stripe down its side. There was an emblem on the front of the ship of a tree and crescent moon, and Chevalier thought that he recognized it from somewhere but couldn’t be sure. Heraldry was common amongst the stars, and it was entirely possible that Chevalier had only seen an emblem that looked similar to this one.
With a quiet hiss, the ship landed and its hatch opened. A small arlai with thick glasses came out. She wore a puffy yellow vest and a pair of dusty slacks, and had an innately bookish aura.
She squealed at the sight of the battle in front of her and the door to the ship hissed closed once again. Her trembling voice crackled over the speaker.
“This was not the deal, Charlottia. Ya promised that there wouldn’t be any danger on the pickup! What if the empire catches me?”
Charlottia danced away from Chevalier’s blade and held up her fist so that the arlai could see Selene struggling in her grip. “The deal was for you to buy this space dragon. Think about how rare of a chance this is, and what it’ll mean for you to bring this little baby back to the museum. Everything else is just details.”
“Well, I don’t like it!”
Chevalier took advantage of the conversation to get closer to Charlottia, but the grynaith batted him aside and leapt toward the ship. She stood on the ledge until tThe hatch hissed open and she stepped inside.
“Kellen, they’re getting away!” Chevalier hollered.
A bestial cry from one of Kellen’s foes answered him. “I’m a bit busy here,” the mercenary grunted as he threw a grynaith away from himself. He was definitely panting now and there were a few angry gashes in the plates of his armor. “She’s your dragon, the ship is your problem.”
And problem it was, because the minnow’s engines were blinking to life and it was slowly starting to lift off of the floor. As it turned, Chevalier ran and made a mad grab for the ship’s bottom rail.
“The knight got aboard,” cried the arlai, who apparently hadn’t remembered to turn off her comms. “What do I do?”
“Go into space,” Charlottia said. “He won’t be able to survive without a suit.”
The ship lifted off the ground and turned towards the open hatch. Chevalier clambered up onto the ship’s ledge as it left the garbage hatch and went out into space.
Chevalier held his breath. He didn’t know if the armor would protect him the way his normal armor would, but he was sure that if he let the ship escape he’d never see Selene again, and that was worth risking death for.
As he moved away from the ferry the armor began to glow. A blue bubble of energy appeared around Chevalier’s body and he breathed a sigh of relief as he realized that he wasn’t about to face the void of space without protection and that he could breathe normally. With that particular problem solved for the moment, he pulled himself up and began working the door open. The metal was sleek and well maintained, but with the strength of the boon of Blue Moon coursing through his limbs and the adrenaline that pumped through his blood, he managed to pull the door open ever so slightly. He didn’t give a damn if it caused Charlottia and the pilot to die in the void, they’d taken Selene and had it coming.
Charlottia was waiting for him inside the ship, and in the confined space, Chevalier wouldn’t have room to swing his sword freely. Instead, he lowered his head and tackled the grynaith to the ground, grunting as they landed hard and the impact knocked the air out of his lungs. The small space had kept her from dodging. He rolled over and tried to catch his breath, but Charlottia kicked him in the stomach and sent him sprawling against the partially opened door.
“You’re persistent as hell,” the grynaith said. “Normally I would say that I like that in a man, but right now it’s just annoying.”
Chevalier scrambled to his feet and dodged the blow intended to knock him back out into space. He grabbed her leg and shifted her momentum so that she overcompensated and lost her balance.
Before she could move, Chevalier had his sword out and pointed at her throat. While it was true that he couldn’t really swing the weapon here, stabbing was an entirely different matter.
“I yield,” she said.
Chevalier had her stand up and lead the way to where the pilot was. The diminutive arlai blinked at him with fearful eyes, and Chevalier poked Charlottia with the tip of his sword.
The woman gestured to a small box next to her. It was a terrarium of sorts, with a large rock in the center and a small tree branch buried in some gravel, all under a faint yellow light. Selene slept atop the rock, her tiny body rising and falling with every breath.
“Is she hurt?”
The woman shook her head. “She’s sleeping. I gave her a sedative because she was really trying ta get free.”
“How long until it wears off?”
“A few hours. Half a day at the most.”
Chevalier took the terrarium and kicked Charlottia into the seat where it’d once been.
Holding his sword ready to stab either of them if the need arose, Chevalier nodded back at the ferry.
“Well that was fun. Now ladies, if you’ll be so kind. Take us back.”
This chapter was really hard for me to write, and unfortunately I think that came through. Sometimes when I write chapters I feel really confident after publishing them, and other times I start thinking about erasing everything and starting over. Sadly, this is one of those latter cases, and while I’d like to go through all the chapters so far and do a “touch-up” on them, for now my goal is to just improve by moving the story forward and continuing to hone my craft.
At the time of this posting, I’ve been doing this serial for a few months now, and I think that I’ve already learned a lot about writing. Though, a lot of that is seeing my weaknesses and knowing that I have a lot of work to do to improve.
In other news, for the past few weeks I’ve been working on another project that I’m hoping to finish the first draft for.by the end of the month. It’s a LitRPG called Demon Green and I’m having a lot of fun working on non-Chevalier things.
Finally, as always, I’m still thinking about starting to put this story on Royal Road once I get to Chapter 20.
Thanks for reading!