Continued from here
37th Trial, Ymiden, Arc 709
The word flashed through Marcus' mind as soon as the skinny little fucker showed them who he really was, and the greenie was the first to suffer for their mistake. Marcus knew that's what it was, too. Street instincts kick in when the first punch was shown, and he was kicking himself for letting his anger take over and lead them both down winding alleys and deserted passages to...
Somewhere nice and quiet for this cunt to kill the both of you.
The stranger burst forward, a blur of flesh and cloth in the half-shadows of the alleyway, and by the time his partner had got a hand around his sword-
-the little man stomped hard on the boy's thigh as his leg jutted out, frozen in the motion of lunging for the man. Even Marcus winced, body twinging for a trill in sympathy as it imagined every nerve in his limb going insane with pain, then dead and unresponsive. Gabriel went down to one knee, cursing and howling. But he was still a game lad, tried to draw his sword-
Fuck me, he's fast.
Whoever he was, the Wee Cunt wasn't going to give them an inch. His arm shot forward like it was fired from a catapult, open palm striking out-
-smashing into Gabriel's wrist just above where his hand was gripping his sword, keeping trapped in the sheath, and as it drew back-
-his other hand lashed out in a short, surgical jab at the space under the greenie's helmet. There was a thick, wet sound like a brick falling on a melon, and Gabriel toppled backward with his pretty young nose spread all over his face. But now he was put the way, and Marcus didn't have to worry about hitting the wrong man when he-
-made his move, lunging forward and leading with his cutlass. Wee Cunt saw him coming, or reacted like he did. He stepped forward, into the blow, under his reach, left forearm shooting up to smash into Marcus', stopping the sword swing before it even got to him-
-and Marcus gave him a face full of Blackjack helmet for his presumption. His head butted down and smashed his armored crown into the Wee Cunt's forehead. Not as low as he wanted, but the man was so blasted short he didn't have much of an angle. It did the job, though. The man staggered, feet rubbery as his vision crackled and crumbled into stars and bursting shadows. Marcus drew back his arm, cutlass gripped tight, grinning as he thrust for the man's belly-
-only to see the curved blade slice through the air as the man twisted hard to one side, right hand grabbing Marcus' wrist as it sailed past, left arm swinging up into an open-palmed strike that seemed to be powered by a savage roar of rage-
Marcus joined it a trill later, as that strike connected with the back of his own elbow. he felt something fracture, dislocate, break, he didn't know and it didn't matter. The result was the same: his arm on fire and his cutlass falling from his hand and-
-then his legs were swept from under him and the grimy alley went sideways, then up and away as-
-he landed hard on his back, useless sword arm still being held by the stranger, face contorted in injured rage. Marcus opened his mouth to yelp but before he could get it out the man seemed to collapse on top of him-
-crouching on Marcus' throat, pinning him down, cutting off air, killing words, driving all conscious thought and tactics from his mind and leaving him desperate and sputtering and flailing at the waist of the man who-
Kasoria didn't let him suffer long. His fists moved up and down in a frenzy, and with every impact he seemed to scream a fraction louder. He unleashed a dozen brutal punches against the man's face, only stopping when he saw the lights go out in Marcus' terrified eyes. He was just squatting atop a bubbling, wheezing pile of meat and that was not where he wanted to-
"S... Stop... inna... inna name..."
Something young and plucky and pissing blood was rising from the cobbles by the wall. Kasoria rose at the same time, cocking his head at the kid with the bloody smear across half his face, hobbling badly, trying to pull his sword with his off hand... and failing. He could get his hand around it but the angle was wrong. Kasoria flicked a glance up and down the panting figure.
Probably got his cup in, so one to the balls is out. Need to finish this faster, anyway.
He stalked forward and some feral part of him was gratified to see the boy stagger back a step, despite his attempts to preserve his authority. No, he wasn't just some "little cunt" anymore, was he? Not after taking the two of them apart without anything in his hands. Which was to change, when he pulled his own gladius from its sheath. A queer, rotting stench filled the air and Gabriel finally got his sword free, waving it move like a boy with a stick than a man with his weapon-
-Kasoria knocked it away with one swipe and with a backhand-
-slapped the cold, smelly blade across the boy's face, making him yelp, drawing a wild swing of retaliation-
-as he dropped down low, gladius going with him, tight to his side, then stabbing out-
Another yelp. Another spurt of blood from Gabriel's one, remaining, undamaged leg. Now there was blood spurting from the shin and he tottered back down to the cobbles. Gabriel cursed and tried to keep talking even as the man circled him. He knew... yes... he was going to die. This thing... it wouldn't stop. It took apart that bastard Marcus like he was a child, and now him... he closed his eyes and tried to prepare himself. He could feel the pain begin to leave him. Maybe the old ones were true. Maybe true death was painless. Just the slow dimming of the senses until there was nothing-
The words were proof that at least his hearing still worked. He blinked but his eyes were... no... they worked, but they were so heavy. He was suddenly so sleepy, so weary, even with his aching face and legs and the hot, pumping sensation from his wounds. He tried to get up again, but his body was heavy, too.
"It'll put you under." The voice was so far away, but he could still hear every word as if it was whispered to him. Calm, almost bored, resentful that it had to waste time like this. Why wasn't he dying, too? Why wasn't he being killed? He didn't understand. "You don't die today. Yer welcome."
Gabriel tried to manage a laugh, but what came out instead was the ghost of a chuckle, thick and toneless and without mirth. The shadows were sweeping over him now, warm and soft and unyielding. He couldn't feel his body anymore. No pain, no pleasure. His eyes were covered in cotton wool and yet his ears... his ears still worked.
Past the point he heard a queerly-pitched whistle, echoing off wet stones and from dark corners. Something more than a bird's call, reminding him of the thieves he'd hunted with Marcus and the others, communicating by whistles and calls without words. A sliding, grinding sound accompanied it, like... like a grate being pulled aside. There were feet. Quick. Lively. Eager to obey.
"Leave the kid," was the second to last thing he heard. "Get the legs of the other one. I'll get the arms."
That was the last. Gabriel tried to move, one more time, arm flopping into a puddle that splashed his face. He thought of the river he'd swam in as a boy. He saw, for one blinding moment, that might swell of brown and blue and the bobbing boys who thought it a paradise, himself among them. Then the shadows swallowed everything up, and he let the poison take him.