Owin closed his eyes and forced his body to relax. A moment later, pain radiated from his cheek and across his face. The meaty fist of Simon, Mark’s son, knocked his head back, though he remained on his feet, mostly with the help of the two men at his sides, each with their claw like fingers digging into his arms through his linen shirt.
Owin kept his eyes closed. He knew the next blow was coming by the tension the two men suddenly exerted on his arms. This one landed higher, more on his temple. Owin hoped the gold ring on Simon’s finger bent from the impact; the curse the boy issued indicated the blow hurt both of them.
The man holding his left arm loosened his grip, trying to gain a better grasp. Owin dropped his weight and the skinny man lost his hold, allowing Owin to slam into the legs of the larger man who still held his right arm.
Twisting to his right, Owin rolled upward. Indecision filled the large man’s face. Owin did not hesitate; he rammed the palm of his left fist into the heavily muscled man’s groin. A moment later Owin was free.
Rolling left to avoid being pinned under the man; he slammed into the skinny man’s legs. Simon’s shouts had finally started, but the young man’s voice was nothing more than background noise.
The skinny man tried to kick Owin in the groin, but his leg absorbed the blow. Grabbing the ornate dagger the skinny man had sticking out of his right boot, Owin jabbed the blade all the way through the man’s calf. Blood and screams erupted from the man. Wrenching the dagger free, Owin swung his legs around and rolled into a squat and then a crouched stance.
The heavy-set Simon had a three-foot sword drawn, but was still on the other side of the two thugs he had hired to help him. The big man remained on the ground, doubled over and on his knees. The skinny one was still screeching as he tried to hold the blood in his ruined calf.
“You’ll die for this!” Simon said, the tip of his sword dancing erratically from side to side.
Owin relaxed and stood fully erect. He wiped the corner of his mouth with a clean spot on his left sleeve. The borrowed dagger he held confidently in his right hand. The iron smell of blood rose from the gore that covered his right arm as well as the floor at his feet.
Simon was big for his age, at seventeen, the boy was already Owin’s height and he weighed at least thirty pounds more. However, regardless of his mass, the boy’s fear dripped from his brow with the beads of sweat that had formed since Owin freed himself. “I know your father is not responsible for you being here. He at least knows that trying to beat me will not make me get him what I promised any faster.” Owin licked away more blood from the corner of his mouth and wiped his bloody brow; he could not afford a priest to heal the cuts in his mouth, so he resolved himself the eating bland food for a while. Lifting his gaze from his hand to meet Simon’s eyes, he continued, “Since I know he still wants it, I really don’t think I’m in any real danger.”
Simon’s blade dropped eight inches before rising again. “But he’s not a patient man. You don’t get it soon; he’ll have you killed anyway.” The chubby boy smiled, “And when you do give it to him, I’ll kill you since you won’t be needed anymore.”
Owin chuckled. “You really know how to motivate a person.” Owin did not shift his gaze, but he knew the large man was now kneeling. He did not know this one’s name, but he would have to make sure to avoid him later. The man was practically a giant, a full head taller than Owin and with arms twice as big. Brute power did not impress Owin; instead, he preferred to be quick and nimble. However, two on one, even if the second one was a coward, was not a fight he wanted to pursue at the moment.
Moving around the skinny man, who was now simply moaning, Owin walked across the room. Simon kept his blade turned toward him the whole way. Although Owin had never been in this small workshop before, he assumed it was close to the docks. Even with the outside door shut, he could smell the dampness of the air coming in through an opening in the wall just above the door. The hinged and water-damaged panel was propped open with a twisted bit of scrap wood. The opening let in light while allowing the warm humid air a place to escape the building.
Seeing his sword and long dagger on a worn workbench next to the door, he moved closer to them. Fortunately, they were still in their scabbards and attached to his sword belt. Carefully he picked up the weapons and fastened the belt around his waist. His weapons were worn and the hard leather of the scabbards stained and nicked. Compared to the highly polished steel Simon was wielding and ornate bronze handle of the blade he had removed from the skinny man, his weapons were disgraceful to the untrained eye.
Hefting the skinny man’s dagger, Owin judged the weight and balance. Frowning, he shifted the bloody blade to his now sticky fingers and flung the weapon into the far wall. It quivered in the wood for a moment, and then gradually drooped before tumbling to the floor with a thud. “Look at that, not even I can get that piece of junk to stay in the wall.” Shrugging, Owin opened the door behind himself and slipped out of the workroom just as the large man had regained his feet.
Outside the door, Owin found himself in an alley littered with debris and refuse. It was not one of his normal haunts, but he recognized the long row of weathered buildings that dominated the area from both sides. Most of these were a single story high and lacked any windows someone might break open. Wiping the blood from his face once again with his left hand, he felt the back of his head with his right. Both places ached. While not positive, he suspected the skinny man had knocked him over the head with a bit of scrap wood. The thud of wood against bone for some reason still echoed in his ears.
“Well, the calf injury is sufficient compensation,” Owin said as he moved away from the workshop. If the skinny man approached a priest for healing, it would cost him a lot of money. The big man he hoped would be sore enough for a while that he would not seek out his own compensation.
Turning out of the alley into a slightly wider lane, Owin headed toward his favorite public house, The Last Clipper Ship. He was halfway there when he glanced down and noticed his pouch was missing. “Damn, it.” While the loss was only a few coins, it meant he would have to wait to wash the blood out of his mouth.
Hi there, this is a new web series I have started. It is set within the same world that Stephenie, Kas, Henton, and the others live. However, Owin’s story is separate from theirs. I hope you will enjoy it. My intention is to publish sections of this story each week (assuming I can keep up with all my other responsibilities).
Let me know what you think and since I will be writing this from week to week, if you want to see something specific, send me a message or leave a comment, and if it works with the characters, I’ll try to work something in for you.