”That isn't a plan, that is suicide.”
Jeeb said with a stern look on his face. Balthazar shifted his hands uncomfortably in the ropes that bound them together. The Ithecal prisoner and the two girls held their silence because they didn't know who to follow here. Jeeb had clearly made himself leader of this band of prisoners, he had probably promised them all he would help them figure a way out. Then again based on his attitude Balthazar thought it was just as likely that Jeeb was the only reason the other three hadn't pressed their luck against the guards. He sold them wisdom that Balthazar recognized as cowardice.
Jeeb did not want to die and so he used words to keep Vale the Ithecal, Terra the Human, and Tara the Human from lashing out against the guards. He appealed to their fear because they feared death just as much as him... but Balthazar did not fear death... he feared being butchered.
"I will not negotiate with men who hunt my kind for a living and I will not live by their mercy as a slave."
Balthazar replied confidently as he stepped up to the one doorway into the room.
”You can't beat them all- not without magic.”
Terra, one of the two human women finally chimed in. ”But our sparks are different now... we could all let you flay just a little of our life. It would be enough to give you some magic?”
"No. If I flay from all of you, you will not be able to run when you need to."
Balthazar argued that point to hide the real reason he wouldn't flay. He didn't want to die here and if he started flaying them, he wouldn't stop when he entered the hallway. He wouldn't be the man he wanted to be. He'd become a monster. "Just get ready and when the guards are down, run."
”And when they kill you?”
"Well if that happens, it isn't really my concern what you do next."
Balthazar took a deep breath and pressed his ear to the door. He could hear the two guards talking to each other just beyond the thin wood dividing the room from the hallway but their voices were muffled. He couldn't understand what they were saying but he didn't really care. All he needed to know was that there were two of them just beyond the door. Balthazar took a step back and looked over the frame of the doorway. There were no hinged on their side meaning the door opened outward... perfect.
Balthazar took one more deep breath and as he exhaled he brought his leg up and delivered a straight kick to the side of the doorknob. The door caved outwards from the force behind Balthazar's foot and smacked directly into the back of the guard standing outside it. Then having smashed into the guard the door began to quickly swing back closed but Balthazar kicked it again, smashing it into the guard and this time knocking the guard over.
Balthazar pushed out into the hallway just as the second door guard drew their sword. The guard swung downwards at Balthazar who sidestepped the swing and slammed his shoulder into the guard- knocking the man backwards into the wall. Then Balthazar turned on his heel and punted the first door guard- who had been hit by the opening door- in the head to keep him on the ground. Then Balthazar turned on his heel again to wheel kick the guard he'd just thrown into the wall. The kick struck the guard in the chest just after he pushed himself off the wall and the combined momentum knocked the air from the second guard's lungs. He doubled over- coughing violently- before Balthazar grabbed the back of his head and drove his knee up into the guard's skull.
The guard fell to the floor and joined his motionless friend among the unconscious. Then Balthazar knelt down and began running the ropes binding his hands along the edge of the unconscious guard's sword.
”What are you doing?”
Jeeb asked from inside the room. He hadn't moved to make a run for it yet, none of them had.
"Quite, I need to focus."
Balthazar shouted back as the ropes binding his wrists finally snapped, freeing his hands. Balthazar grabbed the sword and stood up straight just in time to get a good look at the hallway. There were three doors total. One on each side of the hallway and one at the very end. "Defend yourself if they come in."
Balthazar said before tossing the sword into the room with Jeeb and the others. He turned back to face the hallway just as the door on the right side and left side of the hallway opened and guards began to come out.
Two more guards ran down the hall, one with a dagger in an ice pick grip and the other with a longsword held firmly in two hands. Ice Pick arrived first and hammered his arm downwards, hoping to impale Balthazar somewhere between the shoulder and the neck but Balthazar blocked the blow with his forearm and Ice Pick immediately let go of the dagger- clearly hoping to catch it and impale Balthazar beneath his guard. But Balthazar sensed his hand opening and he caught the dagger with his own hand before driving it into Ice Pick's chest.
He threw Ice Pick aside just in time for Longsword to reach him. Longsword slashed wildly and Balthazar sidestepped his swings for the most part until Longsword swung his blade horizontally and Balthazar ducked beneath it- the sword bit into the wooden hallway wall and when Balthazar stood upright, Longsword was having some trouble freeing his longsword. Balthazar quickly stepped in, punching the guard just beneath his armpit then quickly grabbing the back of his head and slamming it into the wall. Then he pulled the man's head back and smashed it into the wall again... and again... and then he smashed what was left into the wall again.
Balthazar let go of the back of Longsword's head and the guard fell to the floor as three more guards came into the hallway. Balthazar quickly adjusted his stance and footing- lifting his arms in front of himself much like a boxer. One guard wore armor bearing the color of rust, another wore a helmet, and the last had a long beard but none of them had any weapons. They seemed far more surprised and less prepared than those who had come before them. However their number grew quickly as six more guards flooded out of the two doorways and into the hall.
Rusty and Helm lead the charge of the guards because they were the fastest to decide Balthazar needed to be put down. They- like the guards behind them- had no weapons and as such they were entering Balthazar's area of... well competency at least. Rusty when for a hook punch with his left arm when he reached Balthazar and the mage caught the punch with his left forearm before delivering a swift jab with his right fist to Rusty's jaw. Rusty stumbled back and Helm stepped in to fill the void without giving Balthazar a moment to breath, but that was exactly what Ustrina prepared him for. Helm tried to uppercut Balthazar but Balthazar lunged backwards out of his reach, then quickly dropped into a spinning leg sweep to knock Helm to the floor.
As Balthazar came up Long Beard arrived- driving his shoulder into Balthazar's stomach while also wrapping his arms around him and attempting to lift the mage off his feet. Balthazar planted himself quickly and wrapped his arm around Long Beard's head. He went to snap the man's neck but before he could another guard in a chain-mail shirt socked him across the jaw. The hit dazed Balthazar, who was then lifted up off his feet and slammed down onto the floor. The impact sent waves of pain rippling through Balthazar but he endured it. He rolled backwards away from the encroaching guards and back up onto his feet but as he had a habit of doing, he stumbled a little as he came up.
The nine guards in the hallway- including Long Beard, Helm, Rusty, and Chain-mail- stood in readied stances watching Balthazar slowly ready himself. Then they all charged at once. The hallway was narrow and Balthazar knew that was his one advantage- aside from being probably the only one in the hallway with unarmed training- so he quickly ran to the wall, took two steps up it, and then pushed himself off the wall into a spinning kick that connected with Helm's helmet and Rusty's apparently fragile jaw. Balthazar landed on his feet while the two guards fell backwards into their allies who more or less pushed them aside to continue attacking.
Long Beard arrived and swung his fist downwards like a hammer at Balthazar who responded by punching Long Beard very swiftly in his descending wrist. Long Beard pulled his hand back in shock and pain and Balthazar front kicked his knee in so that it bent backwards the wrong way before grabbing Long Beard's head and driving it right into the longsword that was still stuck in the wall. Just then Chain-mail grabbed Balthazar by the shoulder and turned him around. Chain-mail socked Balthazar across the jaw but his hands were soft... too soft. Balthazar returned the exact same punch but with the fist of a warrior and Chain-mail fell to the ground.