Siege (The Warrior Chronicles, 5)(3)

By: K.F. Breene


They had no idea what she was trying to do. There had to be a better way to communicate silently…

A soft footfall reverberated in Shanti’s ears. The slide of a hand on bark.

She took a deep breath before slowly easing her sword out of its sheath. She glanced at Kallon, raising her eyebrows with the slightest of nods. Ready?

His brow furrowed and he shook his head. Duh…

Unable to speak for fear of being heard, she hoped her people would understand as she stepped out from behind the tree. The stranger straightened up in surprise, his eyes going wide and his hand reaching to the knife on his belt. The black of his uniform with its three red stripes burnt into her brain. A surge of rage made her tighten her hand on her sword.

“Why are you here?” she asked, willing for the level head her grandfather spoke of.

His eyes darted around, no doubt looking for other Shumas. They came back to rest on hers. “Looking for you, of course. My master, the Being Supreme, would love to speak with you.”

A feeling of violence whispered into the mental thread. Shanti ignored it, wondering why they weren’t fanning out around him. Why they were sitting where they were, watching. “He has asked before. We told him no.”

“Actually, you killed the messenger.”

“Same thing. Why did you really come?”

A sickly grin coated his face. “Your people were a mystery. Now they are a riddle. Soon they will all be in the Being Supreme’s possession, as they should be. But you…he has great plans for you. You should be honored.”

Shanti sneered. “A man who kills innocence should be killed. Surround him!”

In a rush of movement, he tossed the knife up and deftly grabbed the blade. A shock of fear had Shanti diving to the side as the knife sailed past her, just missing her shoulder. She hit the ground, yelling, “Don’t kill him. Capture him!”

The man was running as Kallon leapt out, his sword in hand. He bent to Shanti, checking to see if she was okay.

“Get him!” she shouted, scrambling to her feet. She latched on to the intruder’s mind as he fled, ready to deliver a soft blow to halt his progress.

Sayas tripped over Tulous, as both tried to slip between the same trees in pursuit. Mela had taken position in a small, open space, sighting an arrow.

“Don’t shoot!” Shanti yelled.

Too late. Mela let go of the bowstring. An arrow zipped out as three people stabbed, or struck, adding to Shanti’s punch. As the intruder’s body stumbled, already dying from the mental assault, the arrow hit him in the center of his back.

He hadn’t had a chance.

Neither had Shanti.

It was her first real attempt at leading, and she had failed. Miserably.

“Flak,” she said as she slumped.

“They are coming more often now,” Kallon said with his hands on his hips. “That must mean the battle is getting closer.”

“They could’ve been coming all the time.” Mela lowered her bow, her eyes still on the downed body. “Shanti—I mean Chosen—is better with her Gift. She has felt the last three spies.”

“Xandre is gathering information.” Shanti’s grandfather stopped beside her, his disapproval plain on his face. He’d expected more from her. “When he has all he needs, he will attack. If that is soon, then we won’t be ready.”

Shanti watched him walk away with a stiff back. His message was plain: if she didn’t form a cohesive fighting team from her people, and then again when they joined the Shadow, she would fail as the prophesied. She would kill them all.





2





Sanders walked out of the gate with a surly expression and a can-do attitude. What the hell women were doing wearing britches and toting bows he had no idea, but lately it had become part of his life whether he liked it or not. His apparent ease in accepting Shanti had made him perfect for the role of overseeing the new female recruits…or so the Captain said.

Plain foolishness, that’s what that was. He hated the post. A bunch of know-it-alls, the lot of them. And why point out that he stank every time? It wasn’t like he could take a bath in between training sessions.

He had a wife. He didn’t need any more women to argue with him.

They did not respond well when he explained that.

Grinding his teeth, he glanced up at the sentry. A cold-eyed Shuma stared back down at him.

Tingles worked through Sanders’ body. His fists tightened in response. “You should be scanning your surroundings, not watching me pass by your tree,” he barked.

The Shuma—Kallon—tapped his temple. “I am watching without my eyes.”

“Anyone ever tell you staring was rude?”

“Yes.”

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