Prince James is tied to the pole across from me. Micah is tied to the same pole as me, with his back to me. Nate is similarly tied up with Prince James. Robbin is tied to a pole all by herself.
Prince James looks at me. "Well, Prince Damion, tell me, how are you liking your visit to Aleria?"
"Well, this is certainly interesting to say the least," I reply.
Robbin makes a rather annoyed sound. "I told you boys to be more silent and pay attention."
"Yes, thank you for pointing that out, Robbin. Would you like a round of applause?" Nate quips back.
Robbin's glare is wasted as he can't see her. "I wouldn't have to state the obvious if you would notice it to begin with."
"Are they always like this?" Micah asks.
"Unfortunately," Prince James says.
"Prince James-" I begin.
"Please, just call me James. There's really no point at being formal right now."
"Fair enough. How long do you think it will take before someone notices that we've been gone longer than we should have been?" I ask.
"James has a habit of saying he'll be gone for the day and going AWOL for a week," Robbin says bluntly. "Nate, on the other hand will be missed no later than tonight's review of the troops."
"Thank you for putting that so delicately, Robbin," James says.
"Why did she come with us anyways?" I ask.
"Because she's Robbin," James and Nate reply at the same time.
"I'm here to keep an eye on them and attempt to keep them out of trouble," she says.
"Isn't that the guards' job?" Micah asks.
Before any of them can respond, the tent flaps fly open and admit our captor. From his rugged appearance I can tell he's a bandit. His black hair is pulled back in a ponytail, and his facial hair is elegantly trimmed, in direct opposition to the condition of his cloths. They are a motley green, grey, brown, and black. I couldn't tell how much was its original color, and how much was from the woods. His sharp brown eyes survey all of us.
"My, my. We've quite the catch today. The sons of two nobles and no doubt their high-born watch dogs." His eyes move from Nate, to James, to me, and to Micah as he speaks. His eyes then move to Robbin. "And a Lady." He looks her over. "M'Lady, I must say if these four young men all fail to protect you, then you should consider a change in your male companionship."
"You wouldn't happen to be the Gentleman Bandit, would you?" Nate asks.
"Sir Henry, at your service," he says with a sweeping bow.
"Simply claiming the title of 'sir' doesn't make you a gentleman," Robbin says in a bored tone.
"Says who?" he asks giving her a charming smile.
"You have to follow the Gentleman's Code, and kidnapping a Lady is against the Code," James says.
'Sir' Henry gives James a questioning look. I can't really judge him on this though because I am similarly lost.
"'Lady' is only loosely applicable in this situation," Nate puts in.
Robbin's glare is once more lost on Nate.
"If you want to prove that you're a gentleman you have to allow one of us a challenge of a duel for our freedom before just taking us captive. Ambushing an unsuspecting group of travelers and just taking them captive is the exact opposite of what a gentleman would do," James states.
'Sir' Henry scoffs. "Well it would be unfair as the duel would be on my terms."
"It's up to one of us to accept it. You have to at least offer it," James counters.
"Fine. The terms of the duel are. . . it will be in the center of my camp. The first one to leave the circle loses, or first to draw blood wins. I get a sword my challenger gets a dagger." 'Sir' Henry looks between James and me.
Micah and I both have no training with daggers, and from the expression on James face, the same goes for him and Nate.
'Sir' Henry smirks. "What? No takers?"
"I can't believe you boys," Robbin says, exasperated. "You're all helpless."
'Sir' Henry chuckles. "I couldn't have said it better myself, and I guess that settles that matter. So,-"
"No, it doesn't," Robbin interrupts him.
I go to look at her, but my eyes stop on James. He's giving 'Sir' Henry a smug look.
"What are you saying?" 'Sir' Henry asks. "I offered a challenge. There were no takers."
"I accept your challenge."
I'm the first to recover from my shock. "What are you doing? Are you mad?" I demand of her. I look at James. "You aren't seriously going to stand for this."
James looks at me. "I actually can't stand for anything right now. My hands are tied."
I hear Nate laugh.
"I'm not going to fight a Lady," 'Sir' Henry says, finally recovering.
"Why not? Are you afraid of losing to a girl?"
'Sir' Henry starts. "What? No. No gentleman would fight a Lady."
"Fine. Allow me to add an extra incentive. If you win, you can have me."
James starts at that, and I can see Nate straighten in his seated position and attempting to turn towards Robbin. I can feel Micah fighting his bond behind me.
I look at 'Sir' Henry. He's looking over Robbin. The hunger in his eyes churns my stomach. I look at James.
"You aren't seriously going to allow that to stand?" I demand.
'Sir' Henry beats him to responding. "I accept," he practically purrs. He and exits. I can hear him giving orders to his men.
"James," I insist.
He isn't paying any attention to me though. He's looking at Robbin. "Seriously?" He asks her.
Micah tugs at his bonds again. "Are you insane?" He demands. "You won't last a minute."
Robbin looks towards him. "Don't underestimate me," she warns.
'Sir' Henry's men enter the tent. Two walk to Robbin. Four walk to Micah and me, another four to James and Nate. The last one just watches them. "Sir Henry has allowed you boys to watch the duel," he tells us.
We're all released from the poles and dragged to our feet. Two men stay on each of us. The two escorting Robbin stop by the one by the entrance. He unties her hands and hands her a dagger. He then motions outside. "After you m'Lady."
Robbin leaves and we're walked out after her. A giant circle has been drawn in the center of their camp. 'Sir' Henry is on the other side, picking a sword.
"Robbin," Nate says.
Robbin looks at him and smiles, "I know."
'Sir' Henry steps into the circle. "M'Lady, are you ready to begin?"
Before Robbin turns to face him, I see something flash across her eyes- blood lust. I look at Micah. He must have caught it too, because he looks as confused as I feel.
"Please," Robbin says, entering the circle "Call me Robbin."
'Sir' Henry nods. "Very well, Robbin. I give you my word that I'll go easy on you. I am a gentleman after all."
Robbin stands casually, balancing the knife in her hand. She shrugs. "Your funeral." With that, she twirls the dagger before tossing it in the air and catching it. Without missing a beat she runs right at him.
'Sir' Henry barley has time to block her attack, still recovering from shock. All his men are shocked.
'Sir' Henry dodges and parries her blows, moving quickly around the circle. He doesn't get any chance to strike back at her. Her attacks are quick and precise. When he stumbles back two steps, she stops.
"Since you've been such a gentleman, I'll let you choose. Would you rather bleed or be pushed out of the circle?" she asks.
"I must say, you've certainly surprised me, but neither will be happening. I might be a gentleman, but I won't lose to a girl," 'Sir' Henry responds. "I won't go easy on you anymore."
Robbin raises an eyebrow.
"He's going to bleed," James says.
"No, he's going to be obliterated," Nate says.
"True. . . Three trines says its going to be three minutes."
"You're on. I'm calling one."
I look at Nate and James. "Are you two betting on the fight?" I ask.
I hear a clash and I look back to the fight. 'Sir' Henry and Robbin are at it again.
"Tell me," 'Sir' Henry says, "Where did you learn to fight? I can't believe that someone would actually train a girl, especially one so small."
"Yes, and I just lost," James responds to me.
I almost can't follow what happens next. Robbin parries a blow, throwing it over her head, catches 'Sir' Henry's arm, and flips him over her. 'Sir' Henry scrambles to get back on his feet, and Robbin kicks him back down to the ground, this time though, he lies on his stomach. Robbin kicks his sword away and drops to a knee on his back. With her free hand she grabs his hair, pulling his head back and up. She calmly places the dagger against his neck.
"What the hell?" Micah says, stunned.
"Now, you're going to tell your men to release my boys and their friends," Robbin tells him. "Or, I will draw first and last blood," she adds, pressing the dagger into his neck.
'Sir' Henry laughs. "A good bluff, but I don't believe you'll do it."
"Oh?" Robbin quickly releases the dagger from his neck and raises it in the air before bringing it down on his arm and then yanking out. 'Sir' Henry yowls in pain as she places the now blood-covered dagger back against his neck. "Try again."
If 'Sir' Henry wasn't convinced, his men were. They immediately cut through the ropes on our wrists.
"Looks like your men are smarter than you," Robbin says standing up. "Stay down," she orders him. "Now, if any of you don't wish to join your foolish leader, leave now."
None of them move. One of them actually chuckles. A second later, Robbin has launched her dagger at him. Her eyes are dark.
"You ruffians probably know me better by the name I formerly worked under. Nissa Mikros. Now, last chance."
All the men are shocked, even 'Sir' Henry. I'm just as shocked. In Glerven we had heard of Nissa Mikros, the most ruthless assassin of Aleria. I look at Nate and James, they don't even look phased. No, they look annoyed.
'Sir' Henry's men scatter along with him as James buries his face in his hand. "Why?" he groans.
"Care to tell anyone else while you're at it?" Nate asks.
"Bite me, Nate," she growls. "You can officially change my name to whatever you want, but that doesn't mean I care. Once an assassin, always an assassin."
"You have Nissa Mikros, the assassin so ruthless, she's known in other lands, working for you?" Micah asks, his voice is edged with wariness. If he still had his sword he'd reach for it.
Nissa looks right at him and bares her teeth. "Get over it."