An Excerpt from Chapter 9

I’m jumping around in the story a bit with this excerpt.  This little piece of Augira comes from chapter 9. I really like how it turned out, so I decided to share it with you.

The formatting is all off, but adding in the appropriate tabs and removing unnecessary spacing would take forever, so it is what it is, for now.

To give you some background, Renna (one of the main point of view characters, not the same girl as the one in the excerpt from chapter 1) has been captured by the Order of Illumination, a militaristic religious organization that believes her to have used magic, which is illegal. They are taking her to the capital to await a trial, but have stopped for the night. During the stop, Renna was able to escape. However, the escape – and the whole, captured-and-expecting-to-be-sentenced-to-death thing – has been exhausting, and she becomes lost in an unfamiliar city, closing her eyes for just a moment…

“Well, now, Johnah,” a loud voice said, causing Renna to blearily open her eyes, “what’ve we got here?”

Everything hurt.  Her legs ached, her back felt stiff, and her neck had a shooting pain as she straightened it to bring her head up from its resting position on her chest.  Her mouth tasted bitter, and her eyes felt gummy and moist.  She blinked at the shapes that loomed over her.

Where am I? Renna thought, still clinging to the last vestiges of sleep.  The menace in a second voice was enough to wake her with a burst of fear.

“I dunno, Tonnny,” it replied in an amused tone that sent shivers down Renna’s back, “It looks to me like a lady takin’ a nap in the wrong part of town, wou’n’t you say?”

It all came rushing back, hitting Renna like a ton of bricks.  The capture.  The trip.  The cell.  The escape.  Then…oh, God…

Her head finally clear, she craned her neck up to face the two men who were standing much too close to where she was sitting.  She wanted to stand up quickly, surprise them, but, oh, the pain.  Her body screamed at the mere thought of such quick movement, but she had no choice.

“I’d say so, Johnah, that I would.  Johnah?”

“Yeah, Tonny?”

“What happens to little ladies like this’n when they stay too long in these parts, ‘specially late at night?”

“Now Tonny, ‘s not nice to talk of such things in front of a lady, y’know…”

Renna sprang up, her back to wall.

“O’ho!  Johnah!  Lookit that!”  The one called “Tonny” seemed even more amused now.

Renna tuned out her body’s agonized response and drew the nail from her braid.  She kept it hidden in her hand, ready should she need it.  Realistically, a woman with a nail was no match for two men, and Renna knew it.  She refused to think about the alternatives.

“I think we got us a fighter, Tonny, ‘s what I think,” Johnah replied.

“What do you want?” Renna snarled, trying to match their predatory gazes with a vicious one of her own.

The men look at one another and laughed.

“Well, now, girlie, what do we want?” Tonny asked in a faux-contemplative way.  “Now, there’s a question!”

The men were obviously thugs.  They were big, muscled men in clothes that were more concerned with allowing a range of movement and concealing weapons than fashion.  Renna could make out the outline of several knives of various sizes underneath their leggings, and their tunics no doubt concealed more.  Her biggest concern was the cudgels that each carried, their hands caressing the wooden bats in a threatening manner.

“I dunno ‘bout you, Tonny, but if we’re lookin’ at what I want, well, I could use some new knives,” Johnah said.  “An’ maybe a pair o’ waterproof boots.  I hate it when the bloodstains begin t’ turn the leather.”

“Oh yeah,” Tonny agreed, “And mayhap a belt for all my tools…”

Renna felt well and truly trapped.  As the men continued their sinister banter, she eyed the opening of the alley.  It was still quite dark, maybe a few hours after midnight, and the part of the street that she could see was deserted.

Stupid, stupid, stupid, she thought.  How could I have fallen asleep?  These men wouldn’t hesitate to do things that the Hand wouldn’t.  Lord, I’m an idiot, and I am surely going to die.  Light protect me!

Renna did the only thing she could think of.  She screamed.  Almost immediately, the thugs leapt on her, covering her mouth with filthy hands and striking her in the head with one of their cudgels.  The nail in her hand went flying.  Her vision swam and her ears rang.  Her bones seemed unable to support her, and she felt herself sliding down.

No!  It will not end this way!

Renna tried to blink to clear her blurry vision as she fought to retain consciousness, but her eyelids felt like they were lead weights.  She barely noticed Tonny and Johnah pawing at her, their first priority any valuables she might be carrying.  Renna felt like she was floating high in the air, not here with these men.

A voice suddenly echoed down the alley.

“Release the girl.  Immediately.”

She was back in her body for a moment, something about the voice tying her to the situation.

I can’t hold on much longer…I just…I just want to let go…I’m so tired…

The voice brooked no argument, but the thugs weren’t about to relinquish their prize without a fight.  Renna was twisted toward the dead end of the alley as Tonny dropped his hands, and she could just barely hear his taunts as the world spun upside down.

“The lady’s ours, mico.  Just walk away.”

Johnah tightened his grip on her, his hands bunching her tunic in his grip as he spun her back around.  Renna was dizzy, and she tasted blood in her mouth.  Had she been hit again?  Where did the blood come from?

So tired…

A thudding sound bounced around in Renna’s head, her ringing ears distorting it.  She tried lifting her head, but it was too heavy.  Why was it so heavy?  She could barely raise her eyelids enough to see Tonny crash into the wall, taking a punch from a man in a brown robe.  Suddenly, voices filled the alley, and Renna could just barely make out more brown-colored figures as she was dropped to the ground.

She couldn’t move, her hearing fading in and out.  The roaring in her ears drowned out most of the sounds that came intermittently, but she detachedly thought they sounded like fighting.

The last thing she heard was a familiar cold voice saying, “She deserves nothing short of the Light’s justice; I’ll not have her dying on my watch.  Take her back to the inn, and for the Lord’s sake, get her cleaned up.”

Then everything faded to black.

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