As promised on Monday, today we're going back to Mejaran.
Somehow, someway, Max turned nine months old today. Three quarters of a year already. Ridiculous. Don't you think, Max?
Yeah, that's what I thought.
Yarel had equipped himself well in the melee, though you'd have struggled to convince him of anything of the sort had you come across him that night. Huddled in a tool shed behind the forge, shivering from shock and blood loss, he certainly didn't seem to have come out of the mess by the north bridge on the winning side.
But his actions had likely saved lives, whether he knew it or not. He'd certainly helped Azmar in those opening moments. How could he not? Without a soul by his side the estate agent must have been facing down eight or nine men, each with at least one weapon drawn and ready to be used.
Not having time to fully consider what he was doing, Yarel had darted out of the crowd and plunged his knife into the nearest attacker's back. He could have killed the man easily, had he been more ruthless. Instead his blow landed near the shoulder, causing the stranger to cry out in pain as his sword splashed down into the mud at his feet.
Two of the man's companions had turned at the disturbance and wasted no time in advancing upon the boy. Yarel had backed away slowly, his arm already bleeding from where the stitches had ripped away during his initial foray. By then Azmar had engaged with two or three other men with a shout and clanging steel, and other defenders of Mejaran had begun emerging from the crowd to fend off the invaders.
Yarel saw two members of the dueling club step forward - he could not for the life of him remember their names at the time - before he was consumed with the business of keeping his head attached to his shoulders. He remembered drawing blood on each man before taking a glancing blow to his left leg that sent him crashing into a puddle.
Raising his knife as he scrambled awkwardly backward, he was certain that his last moments were upon him. That was when Orsana appeared out of thin air to knock one of his attackers to the ground with a punch that left the man with a broken jaw.
"Get out of here, youngblood!" she had yelled over her shoulder as she took up a position between Yarel and the remaining man. "Go! Now!"
Much to his own shame, Yarel had obeyed. He'd found the unlocked shed a few confusing minutes later and had remained there until dark, long after the sounds of battle had died away. It was time to get home, he knew that. He was just having trouble getting moving again.
Finally, in the pitch black of the middle of the night, with rain still leaking from the heavens, he limped outside and headed for his waiting mother. He paused often to stare into deeper shadows, and jumped at every unexpected noise. Halfway to his destination he took a brief rest, leaning against the doorway of the baker's shop.
That was when he saw Azmar emerge from a home four doors down, standing in the pool of light cast by a lantern inside as he surveyed the street. Yarel was about to call out when a sodden glove clamped down over his mouth.
"Not a word." Liefert's voice was an urgent hiss in his ear.
Yarel did as he was told, all of the fight drained from his body by the day's events. He had questions, so many questions, but they could wait until morning. After sleep. And another visit to Dr. Maximus. And perhaps a stiff drink or three.
As they watched, Azmar looked over his shoulder and beckoned someone from inside the home he had just left. A few moments passed before a second figure joined the estate agent in the street, closing the door quickly behind him, extinguishing the light with it.
But not before the hidden observers saw the distinctive features of Principal Olean.