“I surrender and you kill me now?” I asked. “That’s not a very tempting offer.”
Hera was not amused. Nor were any of the Dracs standing behind her. “You surrender now and we will transport you to a prison.”
“A prison where? Below the palace? Because what I’ve seen down there won’t be very painless.”
She was surprised by my reply, surprised I knew what was down there. Her reaction wasn’t big- she was good at keeping her cool- but I knew her well enough to see the small changes in her expression. “I don’t know what you think you’ve seen…”
“You know exactly what I saw. Your master is a monster.”
“If you say another word and I’ll rescind my offer.”
“Your offer of what? Death? Torture?”
“This is your last chance.”
“I’m not surrendering, Hera.”
“Then you will die.”
I didn’t want to die, but if I tried fighting them that was my only real option. I couldn’t win with violence. I had to try a different tact. “What if I told you I knew where the General’s wife was? Where his daughter was?”
Hera’s eyes went wide with surprise- she couldn’t keep her cool this time- then quickly turned to anger. “Where are they? What did you do to them?”
“I did nothing to them. They escaped, Hera, on their own accord because your boss is a maniac. They ran away from him the first chance they got.”
“If you’ve harmed a hair on their heads…”
“You’ll what?” I asked. “Hurt me?”
“I will tear you apart,” she promised.
“Don’t worry, Hera. They’re both alive and healthy and much closer than you think.”
“What is that supposed to mean?”
“I’m sure if you look around, you’ll find them.”
“What did you do to them?”
“I didn’t harm anyone. I’m not the one that does that. Unlike you. Unlike your boss.”
“I’ve had enough of your games!” In a flash, she was upon me, holding me up by my neck. “You will tell me where they are or I will make you tell me! Where is the General’s wife? Where is Fran Zlodeyskiy? Where is Lina?”
Suddenly, Tilly rose out of the mountain, as if she had been waiting for her cue, which I really hope she hadn’t been. Hera stared in wonder at her, as she accidentally loosened her grip enough to allow me to slip through. Tilly smiled back at her, having too much fun for my liking. “Was someone looking for me?”
Hera stepped back in such a state of shock that she lost her balance and fell back into her men. “How…? How did…how could…? Where?”
“I don’t think you should be worried about the how and where,” Tilly told her. “You should be much more worried about the who. As in, who else did I bring with me.” Tilly pointed to the top of mountain where the Sharkwoman was standing. And by her side was none other than Lu Wu! He was alive and well!
“Hello, demon!” Lu Wu yelled from the mountain top. “I think we’ve got a match to finish.”
Hera snarled. Pushing back at the Dracs as she tried to regain her balance and her dignity. “Perhaps this time you’ll actually fight me? Or will you chicken out again and cast me away? Face it, sorcerer. You cannot defeat me.”
Lu laughed. “Maybe not. But I think she can.”
The Sharkwoman grinned and as I watched her smile began to grow. After a second, I realized that wasn’t all. Her teeth were turning jagged. Her skin was starting to turn grey. She was changing. The top half of her body was turning into a shark. “I will tear you apart for what you did to my beloved!!”
Hera didn’t seem very impressed. “You are welcome to try.”
The Sharkwoman never needed much instigation to fight, so Hera’s invitation was more than enough. She went charging down the mountain toward Hera, but at the last second Hera easily slipped out of the way. The Sharkwoman was shocked by how quickly the other woman had moved. She turned, looking for Hera, but that just opened her up perfectly for Hera to punch her right in the face. The look on Hera’s face said she expected that to be the end. It would have been if she had been fighting almost anyone else, but the Sharkwoman barely seemed to even feel it. It was Hera’s turn to be shocked. The Sharkwoman pounced on her.
The Dracs didn’t just stand there, watching their boss tussle. They charged up the hill at me. Tilly and I prepared to face them. I didn’t know what we could do against all of them. They were stronger than me, faster than me, tougher than me. They were trained soldiers. And there were a lot of them. Fortunately, Lu Wu decided to step in then. “Stand back,” he said and then let loose a hurricane force wind that went smashing into the Dracs. They went tumbling down the mountain and, for a second, I thought maybe we could do this. Maybe, just maybe, we could actually win.
And then the dragon roared.
to be continued…