Aster speaks to Akka like he is supposed to know him, but Akka looks confused by his statement.
“Okay Boy, I don’t know what your problem is but I do not know you, I would remember your face.” Akka says relaxedly.
“Maybe it is one of those times when people mistake you for your blood thirsty brother, remember that time Juliet slapped you thinking it was him who slept with her and refused to pay?” Shem says amusedly and the others nod their head.
Aster throws a knife at Shem; it nearly hits him and he grins. “Don’t provoke me, you wouldn’t like it.”
“This is not what the King ordered you to do, why complicate issues?” I try to reason with him.
“The King would not mind if the night guard dies, especially him. Don’t you remember the battle at Ile? I watched you kill my father in cold blood, your blade did this to me!” Aster points at his scar.
“I don’t harm children, was your father a soldier?” Akka asks.
“It doesn’t matter what he was, the fact is that you killed him, I tried to fight you and may have accidentally nicked myself by mistake, I’ll admit that but every night, I remember how you gutted him down without a second thought. Do you remember now?” Aster asks.
Akka folds his hands and behaves as if he is trying to remember. “No, Nope, absolutely no recollection. I’ve fought in many battles, it was war, people die…. That is the entire point. Revenge? Is that what you want? Or did you expect me to grovel and beg for my life? I don’t remember everyone who has fallen under my sword, you might have to be more particular than that.”
“How can you not remember me?” Aster screams out loud.
“Are we going to fight or what? My arms are beginning to hurt.” Emer complains.
“I Challenge you to a Twark, no one dies except one of us. This way, I can do you the last honors at a warrior.” Aster challenges.
The men chuckle at this, Aster signals his men to drop their weapons, Akka does the same.
“I accept your challenge. You have no idea what respect is boy! And you are about to learn it.” Akka drops his wine bad and holds his sword, I don’t think I have ever seen him drop his wine at any point, not even when he was fighting for his life.
Shem signals the start of the Twark, Akka smirks and waits for Aster to attack first. Aster has a twin sword, he is small and lithe like Akka but taller, he is good but Akka is experienced, I put my money on Akka, so do the rest of the night guards, Akka’s men scoff and put their money on Aster except for one of them who bets on Akka, yes, we are actually betting on who would be alive by the end of the fight, it is not something I ever thought I’d be involved in but here I am, betting on someone’s life. I have a feeling that Akka will not kill him, perhaps it is just hopeful thinking on my side.
Aster attacks Akka, he dodges swiftly and tits him with the blunt part of his sword while grinning.
“Are you sure you are a fighter? Don’t you need to still be sucking your mother’s milk?” Akka taunts him and Aster fumes, he attacks with a faster stride and hits but Akka just dodges and spanks him with his sword repeatedly, it is obvious from the match that Aster cannot be equally matched with Akka especially with Akka’s taunts, Aster gets angrier and hits blindly. Aster begins to lose his speed as he weakens, Akka has him in a lock hold, he puts him on the ground, Aster tries to tackle him but Akka uses his sword against him and holds the blade to his throat, everyone freezes including Aster.
“You are good, especially for someone your age but you are predictable, before you come for revenge; the first thing you ensure is that you are stronger than your opponent and not the other way round, I remember a young stubborn boy who followed me from Ile to Saim just because he wanted to stab me, how old were you? Twelve? Thirteen? Your father was a soldier who had betrayed his own people for money, he might have been a good father but he was a terrible man and not someone you need to risk your life for just for revenge, If I hadn’t killed him, someone else would have. War is ugly, there are really no winners, just broken people picking up the pieces of their life. I know you will try again to kill me so I will give you three chances, the first was the first time we met, when you had that scar, the second is today, you have one last chance, so use it wisely.” Akka removes the blade and walks away, Aster stays in that position for a while before his men help him back to their Tent.
“That was wild.” Ladda comments out loud.
“And intense” Emek adds.
“Pheeewwww, do you think we all have people coming after us for revenge? That is an unsettling thought.” Shem sighs.
“Who do you think has made the biggest enemies out of us all?” Roark asks.
There is complete silence for about three seconds, they look at me, Akka comes back for his wine.
“What?” I ask.
“Salem, if any of us has made the most enemies, it would be her; her saving grace used to be the fact that no one knew who she was, most people thought the demon general was a man, but now more people know, news will spread and people will come for her. This was a big reason why we came for her, abandoning our duties to Roelum, when word goes out, they will come for her.” Ladda says in a dramatic voice.
“You always do the most!” Shem groans.
“So dramatic!!!” Emek shakes his head.
“You know it is true.” Ladda defends.
I smile at them… “I am grateful that she has people who would fight for her to the death; I don’t understand why but I appreciate it.”
“She would do the same for any of us, she already did even by marrying you. You think she did it all for her father?” Akka scoffs.
“She is a big softie, that one.” Roark murmurs.
I feel like I am missing something in their interactions but I do not know what. The men indulge in wine and the mood goes sober, the men retire to their tent leaving just me and Akka. I think about Salem and hope that she is alright, Akka notices.
“She is fine, if anything, you should be worried about anyone who stands in her way,” He comforts me and I nod.
“Why didn’t you kill him?” I ask.
“He is young and stupid, it doesn’t mean he deserves to die, I also find him amusing.” He smirks.
“You know he would kill you at the first chance he gets.” I say with a sigh.
“He is not one to stab people in the back, I will always see him coming, he is just hurt, angry and lost. I know exactly what it feels to be in that position, it’s a complicated emotion.” Akka lies down.
“Sleep Prince, we have a long day tomorrow.” He closes his eyes.
The next morning comes, we see none of Aster’s men except Aster holding is bag and glaring at Akka.
“What now? Another Twark?” Akka grumbles and I wonder if he finally has a hangover.
“No, take responsibility for me.” Aster says while trying to fight his blush.
I blink, Akka widens his eyes.
“You say what now?” Akka asks again.
“You made me an orphan, made me lose respect in the eyes of my men, I have no where to go, so now I am your responsibility.” He grabs Akka’s bags and goes past us.
“What is happening?” Ladda asks out loud.
Roark laughs heartily; “This is about to be an amusing ride.”
“I thought he wanted him dead.” Emer says out loud.
“You know what they say, keep your friends close and your enemies closer, maybe he is trying to get close so he will have the opportunity to kill him at the right time.” Enek wonders and receives a slap behind his head from Shem.
“Keep your ideas to yourself and go do some tracking.” Shem scolds him.
We are in a cell without Paula. Elena snuggles close to me and I cover her with my clothes, she smiles at me and whispers “I knew you liked me”. I roll my eyes at her and look at the man coming to open the cell doors. He speaks a language I do not understand and neither does Elena. We stand up and follow him, we get to a table made from wood and animal skin, most of them are dressed in animal skins and leaves, Paula smiles at us from beside the man who I guess is their chief.
We sit beside her, “What is happening?” I whisper to her.
“Is he really your father?” Elena asks.