Three days Lucille and Bertram went out into the city without anything happening. Both of them expected something, almost hoped for it, because then they’d be free from the limbo they’d been stuck in for so long, but when the day came that the counterfeiters finally came out of the woodwork neither of them was ready. Quiar hated that she couldn’t stop it, as it was one of those things that had to happen, hated that her Moonjumper and the raven who had become her friend were going to be hurt by a group of people Quiar felt had no right to be on her world, but, like Raenarin had said, there was good and bad in every race. If they wanted to have the good then they had to put up with the bad. Raenarin, sadly, knew that better than the rest of them, as one of her races, the Witches, had chosen to assassinate their own Queen so they could have control of their world.
Quiar watched, because that was all she could do, and she shouldn’t really have done that. She knew that all she was going to do was upset herself, but she did it anyway. If she’d have stepped in, stopped it the way she knew she could, she would have changed the history of her world, which was something they’d decided they were not going to do at a time when they didn’t know how hard it would be to just watch what was happening. Watching Raenarin cry the day her Queen died was one of the hardest and Quiar knew there was a chance, no matter how small, that her Moonjumper would end up dead too. Lucille was smart, true, but did she have the skill to defeat two assassins, even with what limited help Bertram could be.
In an alleyway two platypi waited for the Moonjumper and the raven to pass. Quiar studied the two assassins, having seen them more often than she was happy about it recent times, unable to stop herself from wondering what might happen. She knew they had strong magical abilities and that was one of the reasons they’d been chosen by the counterfeiters as two of their many assassins, as well as the reason they had been chosen by the boss of the local counterfeiters to rid them of the annoyance that was Lucille. From what she knew of the true leader of all the counterfeiters she was certain he’d be angry if they did manage to kill the Moonjumper, but he wasn’t around to stop them from trying, because they were the ones who’d had to deal with her and they weren’t going to any longer.
Biting hard on her lip Quiar told herself that she couldn’t, under any circumstances, shout a warning to Lucille. That would change things. She wasn’t allowed to change things, no matter how hard they were to watch. If Raenarin could watch her Queen being killed then Quiar had to be just as strong. Lucille wasn’t going to be killed. Quiar believed that and yet she still couldn’t stop worrying that maybe, if the platypi did the right thing at the right time, that her Moonjumper wouldn’t be her Moonjumper any longer. As Lucille was the one on the ground she was the one who was attacked first and that moment was the most terrifying. She was the first true Moonjumper that Quiar had let herself get close to, she was being attacked by two assassins, and there was nothing Quiar could do to help her. Fortunately Bertram quickly realised that the thing they were waiting for had finally happened and dived at the two platypi.
The female platypi created an illusion, the way she normally did, so that neither Bertram or Lucille knew if they were fighting the real assassins or just another fake, which was worrying. Quiar sipped her tea, made for her by Raenarin as she knew exactly what it was like to be in that position, and tried to calm herself down. When Lucille made it out of the fight alive Quiar would be needed. Out of one of Lucille many pockets came one of Kaito’s charms. She was thankful that he’d chosen her world to live on, even though she had no idea at the time that he was going to end up meeting Lucille at the very time she needed him the most, but he did and that meant that Lucille had the charms she needed, that she wouldn’t have been able to get from anyone else, when she needed them.
As the illusion faded, thanks to Kaito’s charm, Lucille and Bertram found that the assassins, scarily, were right behind them, because the two platypi they’d been focused on before that had been fake. Lucille had the good fortune slightly more forward than Bertram, so she had the time to turn, but Bertram… Quiar shuddered at the male platypi grabbed one of his wings in a way that looked very painful, as though that was going to stop Lucille. If it wasn’t for the position the two of them were in Quiar would have laughed at his stupidity, especially when Lucille’s eyes narrowed and another charm came out of her pocket, but they were still very much in danger. With a whisper of something Quiar couldn’t quite hear Lucille threw the charm at the male platypus, in such a way that Quiar couldn’t help thinking that it was a diversion for the moment and something that would affect him in a much worse way later. That sort of charm was something Lucille and Kaito had been working on together, as they both knew the time was coming when they’d need something like that.
Learning to defend themselves was something every Moonjumper did, if they were taught by the Council, but Lucille had taken it a step further once she realised the position she was in. Being a true Moonjumper put her in a permanent position of danger and she knew that. She wanted to know that she could protect herself if someone found out what she was. A sword was something she wasn’t permitted to take with her from world to world, as the Council didn’t truly believe that their Moonjumpers were in danger. The Moonjumpers knew different, as they were the ones who got attacked. Normally a sword was one of the first things that she purchased when she stepped onto a world, but with everything that had happened she simply didn’t have time to, and as she looked for a weapon Quiar could see her cursing her stupidity. She should always make time to buy a weapon.
Normally she wouldn’t have thought of a stick as a valid alternative, but she had no other choice. Quiar was grateful Lucille didn’t know that the platypi normally poisoned their weapons, because that would have made her think more before picking up the stick, and her lack of knowledge meant that she reacted instead. Bertram had managed to free himself from the male platypi somehow, Quiar didn’t know exactly how as she hadn’t been watching him as closely, which made it more of a fair fight, although, from the way he was holding his wing, she could tell that he was more of half a person than a full one. The anger in his eyes, though, told her that he was going to do everything he could to fight the bastard who had damaged his wing.
One of the things Lucille had made certain to do was get charms for both Bertram and Peric. Working with Kaito had made everything a little cheaper, and Quiar couldn’t help thinking that he would have given everything he’d made to her for free if she hadn’t of given him the look, so the charm Bertram plucked from his feathers was one he only had because she insisted on it. It was something Quiar was certain he was grateful for, especially as they looked just like the rest of his shinies. As Bertram would never have been able to throw and chant at the same time they’d come up with something else, so he drew the sigil that set in to working in the air in front of him with a wing, looking a little like he didn’t believe it could work, before throwing it at the platypus. The platypus, to begin with, just smiled, probably sensing Bertram’s disbelief, before the discomfort began to make him realise that the charm was actually working. Quiar smiled. Like all of Kaito’s charms it was something a little different as he wasn’t entirely comfortable with killing someone unless he had no other choice and the one Bertram had used meant that the platypus was suffering from pins and needles in all four of his paws, which was a sensation she knew he’d never had before.
The charm that Lucille had used on him, for hurting her friend, was something different entirely, and Quiar knew she’d be trailing the assassin’s for a little while, to make certain that it did what it was supposed to. It was almost like one of those poisoned weapons, because the damage was done without someone knowing that it had been, which seemed the right way for him to die – in much the same way as he had killed. Lucille was still busy attacking the female platypus, who was mostly using magic in her attempt to kill Lucille, not realising that the charm that had dispelled the illusions would keep working on all other magic in the area for at least another couple of hours. That, fortunately, could be one of the advantages of fighting a magic user, as they sometimes didn’t think of the other options, while Lucille had been trained never to rely on her magic, especially on other worlds. Charms normally worked, but there was no guarantee unless they had been made on the world they were being used on, and almost everything else would go wrong around 6 times out of 10. It did depend on the magic, though.
A stick was not a useful weapon. Bertram’s use of the pins and needles charm was what had the two platypi leaving the area to try for another day, when the female realised that her partner, and brother, was hurt in some way. That was the one problem they’d always had working together. If one was hurt the other would often decide it was time to leave, because they cared about each other, but they didn’t often end up in that position. Normally the illusion would give them enough time to kill their targets without either of them being in danger and, of course, those targets weren’t Moonjumpers with friends who chose to use the magic of the world he had found himself on instead of trying to use his own. Lucille could easily have chosen to kill the female, but made the choice to help Bertram back to the bed and breakfast, as there was no reason for her to focus on the enemy any longer. Not when her friend was hurt.
“How bad is it?” Lucille asked, sounding as though she didn’t want to know the answer, when they were less than a street away from safety.
“I won’t know for certain until someone checks it out,” Bertram replied, looking as though he was blinking away unwanted tears, but I have a feeling I won’t be using it again for a while. From the sound the bones made I might not ever be able to use it again.”
Lucille shook her head. “Surely one of the healers will be able to fix it.”
“Bird wings are something that aren’t easy to heal, even by the best healers, and the platypus didn’t want me to be able to glide away to get help. We were lucky that you had a charm in your pocket that dispelled magic, otherwise we would have both been dead.”
“No, it wasn’t lucky, it was planning, Bertram, the same way making you carry charms that you could use was planning.”
Mirrored from K. A. Webb Writing.