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Old 01-21-2007, 02:03 PM   #327
Illusionary Holbytla
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Join Date: Dec 2003
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Firefoot has been trapped in the Barrow!
Johari’s concern for Hadith had largely been forgotten in her discomfort, and so she could not help but be slightly relieved when Hadith faded back into unconsciousness.

It was as if their relationship was losing objectivity and becoming more personal. And his touch – it seemed like so long since she had felt another human’s touch. For years now, she had isolated herself from others, mentally and emotionally, so that even Hadith’s friendly, desperate touch repelled her and confused her. Her hand still felt tingly.

I’m not really that nice of a person, Hadith. You’d probably be better off without me.

The cries of fighting brought her back to the present. It was much closer now; Johari realized the slavers must be attacking here, at the grove. They would be in danger now; if she wanted out of the fighting, she would have to leave now. Instead, her hand went to her knife. She might have avoided the fighting earlier, but she wouldn’t run from it now. She began to stand, then knelt back down and quickly squeezed Hadith’s hand. Then she was gone.

She moved quickly and stealthily towards the screams, her knife drawn. She did not know how to use the knife, not really; with her fists and fingernails she might be as vicious as a wildcat, but the knife felt awkward in her hand. It would be better if she could ambush a slaver, rather than exchange blows.

Through the trees she caught sight of a slaver was chasing two girls, perhaps two of those she had seen gathered around Granny Brenna the previous night. Johari broke into a swift run, aiming to intercept their path. Hatred for the man bubbled up inside her that had nothing to do with the two girls: it was entirely personal. She could easily imagine him as one of the overseers she had only ever been able to offer token resistance to. How many times had she wanted to launch herself at them, strangle them – anything that would do more damage than a smart mouth?

She forgot the knife in her hand. As she neared them, he seemed to hear her footsteps crashing towards them, but his momentum would not allow him to turn enough to meet her with his blade as she jumped on him from the side and landed heavily on top of him. She heard his right arm, his sword arm, crack beneath them. Still he grappled with her with his good arm, and soon was out from beneath her. She launched at him again, swinging her fists. One blow connected solidly with his left temple. She fought furiously, unthinkingly, like an animal. Dimly she realized that the knife in his left hand was her knife, the one she had dropped; she had grabbed his wrist and was digging in her fingernails. A sensation of needing the knife coursed through her. She clawed at his fingers without avail. A hard kick in the shin loosened his grip enough for her to knock the knife from his grip. Both lunged for it; Johari reached it first and swung the blade blindly in his direction just as he came down on top of her. The blade ran straight through his chest. He was dead.

Suddenly weak and breathing shakily, Johari crawled out from under him. The fury was gone. She could already feel aches forming all over her body, and her arm was bleeding, but she remembered receiving none of the injuries. In fact, she remembered very little of the fight at all after she jumped on him the first time. She had killed him; only that mattered. Or it ought to matter. At the moment, Johari did not feel anything, not anger or satisfaction or grief or victory. She only leaned back against a tree and closed her eyes.
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