Ian watched Robin pause and look at the tree tops. She frowned. His guide never frowned when she looked at her forest. He unsheathed his sword. Reginald and Hunter did the same.

“Someone–” Robin said.

Bandits erupted from the sides of the rode just in front of them. They were outnumbered by the bandits three to one. Ian made his horse back up and swung his sword as they came at him on foot.

An arrow thumped into Reginald’s chest. It stuck in his leather armor, and the energy of the bolt knocked him off his horse. Ian heard his curse as he went down behind his horse. Ian swung away and took down three bandits before one got to his horse and hamstrung him.

“Monsters! Whore-sons!” he yelled as he went down with his horse. He jumped at the right time and rolled away so he wasn’t pinned beneath his steed.

He heard a scream to his left and his head whipped round, but he couldn’t see Robin. He jumped over his horse and bashed a bandit in the face with his sword hand. He still held his sword, so the man’s face was a wreck. He was in too close with these hellions to use his sword properly. He ran through the bandits, trying to reach where the scream had come from.

A short and wiry bandit dodged his fist, and as Ian recovered, he felt an icicle slide between his ribs. He brought his sword down on the bandit’s shoulder and cleaved him collarbone to sternum.

Ian put his hand to his side and felt his blood pulse through his fingers. He took a breath. That was good. The bandit had missed his lung. He sank to his knees. That was bad.

He saw Robin hissing and spitting and swinging a branch at one of the bandits. He laughed as another bandit grabbed her from behind and lifted her off the ground.

“Robin,” he croaked. “I’m coming.” Ian fell to his side.

“They’re all dead,” he heard a bandit say. “Take the woman. She’s part of our payment.”

“No,” Ian whispered. He couldn’t move. He watched them bind Robin and tie her behind one of their horses.

“She’ll be more friendly tonight once she’s walked off her willfulness. We can all enjoy her friendliness then.”

They all laughed.

Ian was tormented by the sight of her fighting the rope as they pulled her along.

“I’ll come for you. As long as I breath, I’ll come for you.”

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