With Ladon in the air and Barak on his horse, the two were able to cover a lot of ground the next morning. However, since Venator had his horse, finding him proved difficult. On the other hand, they had his possessions, so it wasn’t likely he had gone far. Barak took Venator’s things with him, just in case the dragon slayer had been planning to circle back to the cleft.
Eventually, they split – Ladon heading north, while Barak searched south. As he searched, Barak was growing frustrated. There were too many places Venator might have gone to, and every pause at a potential location cost him time to check the others.
However, his spirits lifted in the late morning when he found a glitter under an overhang. Dismounting, he entered to discover a necklace, supporting a blue jewel shaped in a fleur-de-lis. He also found a sword at his back. It was Venator.
“Who are you?” Barak asked.
The dragon slayer hesitated. “What do you mean? I am Claudius Phineas Venator.”
“No you’re not. I went through your things.”
Venator growled angrily. “It’s rude to look through a woman’s belongings, you know.”
Barak twisted around, bringing the back of his fist against her face. She fell, and Barak hurried to his horse to retrieve his own weapon.
“It’s also rude to hit a woman,” he said, standing to face her. “But you forced it on yourself.”
He charged, swinging the nauskilo two-handed. The dragon slayer held her sword in both hands as well, in order to match the power behind Barak’s blows. Though she had impressive skill, Barak realized that she had never fought against his weapon, putting him at an advantage.
The dragon slayer backed up the hill under the strength of his blows, moving toward the small rocky plateau on the overhang. Once on the flat area, she parried one of his thrusts, sending her own thrust at Barak’s chest. He blocked with the nauskilo‘s handle, before swinging at her head. Venator ducked, raising her sword and halting the blow. Pushing his blade back, she stood up, while he pulled back his weapon and swung again.
Barak could see a new determination in Venator’s eyes as she tried to push him down the hill. However, with his step back, he also made a step to the side, slowly circling around opposite the hill. Surely Venator could see where he was pushing her, but his strong blows prevented her from doing anything about it. Finally, he swung so hard that she was forced to back up. Her foot missed the ground, and she tumbled backward down the hill.
Barak hurried down the hill, until he stood over Venator, who looked up at him with a slashed and bloody face. He smiled triumphantly, placing his blade over her heart.
“Any last words?” he asked.
Her gaze moved past him as she replied. “If you kill me, they’ll be after you next. If they aren’t already.”
Barak turned around at the sound of a huge thump on the hillside. It was Ladon.
“I’d like to kill her, if you don’t mind,” growled the dragon, before he opened his jaws wide and let loose the flames.
The dragon lay dead over the ground, victim of the dragon slayer’s blade. It hadn’t taken her long to defeat the thin dragon who hadn’t fought at all in the last two years. All she had really done was roll out of the way of the fire, scramble to her feet, and thrust her sword in.
Now, Barak looked up at her though bleary, bloodstained eyes, watching her pry Ladon’s fore-scale out with a knife. Only when this task was complete did she seem to notice Barak’s charred form lying nearby on the ground, surrounded by pockets of fire.
“Who are you?” he croaked as she stood over him, her body as bloody as her face.
“My name is Cynthia Athano,” she replied. “I am a dragon slayer, daughter of King Kligel Athano, who was killed by the High King of the dragons. My first kill was the High King, and now I shall kill you. Good bye, Barak Tueur, traitor, and one-time dragon slayer.”
And with that she plunged her knife into Barak’s chest. His eyes widened in sudden pain, and then closed, the darkness swirling inward toward the dragon slayer’s face, overcoming all his senses as he drifted away.
Hope you enjoyed this! Next week, Twilight!