Hilari Bell

Writer of ethically ambiguous SF and fantasy for kids and teens …

 

Scholar's-Plot-cover-LG

“Hey!” Fisk shouted, but I had already broken into a run.

They reached the street and tried to dash off, 
hampered by the jeweler who not only refused to run, but seemed to be struggling. We’d have caught them easily… In fact, we did catch them easily, whereupon two of them turned and pulled out short but effective cudgels.

Fisk and I, unarmed, skidded to a stop. Kathy ran into Fisk’s back and set him staggering.

“What do you think you’re doing?” Fisk demanded. “That man is our guest.”

“Yeah? Well, we been paid to un-guest him,” one of the men who’d stopped us said.

The third man was hustling the jeweler on down the street. The poor man’s struggles were more effective against just one captor, but the end was in no doubt — he would be carried away.

And unarmed, there was little Fisk and I could do to stop it. If we rushed the thugs their clubs would make short work of us. If we ran back to get our weapons, they’d be long gone by the time we—

An ear-shattering scream ripped the quiet night.

All of us jumped, including the thugs.

“Help!” Kathy shrieked. “Help, robbers, help, please, somebody get the guard, help, robbers, help!”

She darted around the startled thugs, still shrieking. The nearest one had the sense to swing at her, and Fisk — who never goes near armed thugs if he can avoid it — took advantage of his distraction and tackled the man. They went down on the cobbles in a welter of flying knees and elbows, and Kathy ran after the man who’d taken the jeweler, still screaming at the top of her lungs.

“Here now!” The thug who was guarding me stared wildly about, as windows and doors began to open. A man in his nightshirt, waving a poker, charged into the street looking for the source of the commotion.

“I’d run if I were you,” I said pleasantly. “She’s got a scream that could pierce plate armor. She always did, even as a toddler.”

He was running before I finished speaking.

–Scholar’s Plot
(November ’14)

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