They Call Her Lady Warrior Ch. 7
Cianna ran a hand through her hair and suppressed a long held sigh. Where was Dancer? She was supposed to meet her here an hour ago.
Looking up the street to the hill where Lady Arabella's castle stood, Cianna squinted against the sunlight trying to see the faces of the townspeople as they came toward her. It was Market Day and Central Brittany was packed with vendors, merchants, and shoppers, all dressed in their brightest colors and scurrying around. Everything from ore mined from the surrounding foothills to baked goods and beer was available in the stalls along the streets, and crowds stood three or four people deep at all of them. Finding someone in this crowd was next to impossible.
Just as she was about to give up and return home to Aelasar's Forest, Cianna heard her name being shouted from nearby.
"Cianna! Cianna, wait up!" It was Dancer, the short, spunky Outlander that Cianna had befriended just weeks earlier. With her cropped, overly blonde hair she stood out in the crowd and Cianna had no trouble picking her out. Dancer wasn't alone, though, and seemed to be dragging someone along behind her as she laughed.
"Look what I found in the tavern," she said.
Cianna peered behind the young woman and tried not to smile. Nick Cold looked bewildered as he stared between Cianna and Dancer.
"I see you've met the force of Nature that is Dancer," she said with a laugh.
Nick's eyes widened. "So you do know this Outlander?"
"Of course, she does," Dancer replied, before Cianna could open her mouth. "That's what I've been telling you. Cianna and I are roommates and best friends, right Cianna?"
Cianna laughed at the look on Nick's face. "Dancer and I met in Aelasar's Forest," she said by way of explanation. "Dancer was, um, looking for some help. I offered to let her stay in town."
Dancer huffed. "Don't let Cianna fool you," she said to Nick. "I almost killed her and yet she was kind enough to take me in."
"Yes," Nick murmured. "She is kind. Wait...what? You almost killed Cianna?" He let out a low growl and wrenched his hand from Dancer's grasp.
"Easy, my friend," Cianna said. "It was simply a misunderstanding. Dancer was scared and alone. She only arrived in Brittany about a month ago. Besides," she added with a laugh, "the 'weapon' she had on her wouldn't have hurt a fly."
Dancer made a face at her, then whirled around to look at Nick. "See, I told you I knew Cianna. Why didn't you believe me back at the tavern?"
Nick looked again between the two women, then shook his head as if to clear it. "I, um, well, you never know who you can trust these days. Cianna likes to keep a low profile, don't you, milady?"
A questioning look from Cianna had Nick slowly nodding his head. "She was asking everyone in the tavern if they knew you."
"Damn it," Cianna said.
"What?" Dancer asked, looking back and forth between them. "What am I missing? Did I do something wrong?"
Cianna ignored her for the moment. "How many?" she asked Nick.
"I only saw two. There could be more."
"Cianna? Nick? What are you talking about? Two of what?"
"Dancer, I should have explained to you before we came into town. There are some...men looking for me. I hadn't realized they'd tracked me this far, though. This is bad. We're too close to Aelasar's Forest. We can't go back there if you're being followed."
Dancer started and quickly looked around her. "We're being followed?" she said, excitement and anxiety warring in her voice. "Cianna, you should have let me bring my bow," she admonished her friend.
Cianna raised her eyebrows at Nick and he burst out laughing. The laugh was cut short as something went whizzing by his head. His eyes widened when he saw the hilt of a dagger sticking out of the wooden building just behind Cianna.
"Down," he hissed, pushing Cianna and Dancer to the ground, at the same time pulling his swords from their sheaths. "Make your way up the street to Arabella's castle," he said, eyes scanning the crowd around them. "There are enough guards around to keep these men from going there. Make your way back to the Forest. I'll hold them here to give you time to get away."
"Nick, I don't...."
Nick cut her off. "Cianna, you've got to get Dancer to safety. For once in your life, don't argue with me." He took a deep breath. "Please."
She was about to do just that, but one look at Nick's face and she knew this wasn't the time or place. Besides, he was right. Dancer couldn't help in a fight like this. Cianna had to get her to safety.
"Will you be alright?" Cianna asked Nick.
He smiled at her and winked. "Aren't I always? Now go."
Cianna grabbed Dancer's hand, just as two burly men appeared on the edge of the crowd, looking their way. Though they held them close to their sides, she could see the daggers in their hands. "Hurry Dancer, we've got to get out of here."
With a last look at Nick, who was running toward the two, Cianna and Dancer headed straight for the heart of the crowd where they could blend in and move swiftly to the castle.
"Will he be alright?" Dancer said, her breath coming in short pants as they began to run up the long hill leading to their destination.
Cianna didn't answer, but nodded. Nick would be alright. He was a master swordsman, swift and agile, and, if that wasn't enough, he wasn't above pulling a rogue's trick or two when the fighting got tough. She nodded again. He'd be alright.
She stole a quick look behind them.
He would, wouldn't he?