“You won’t be leaving this town alive.”
Finishing her next step, Jennika came to a slow stop, and made an even slower turn back to look down at the man. As far as threats went, it wasn’t very articulate. It wasn’t at all clever, cutting, or funny. And it sounded especially unreliable. It was difficult to be impressed.
The man didn’t look at her. He wiped blood off his bottom lip with the back of his hand, then spat more onto the ground to clear his mouth. Braced on one elbow, he hadn’t even moved to get back to his feet.
She was beginning to regret punching him. He clearly hadn’t known how to carry the fight he picked.
Behind Jennika, Jasen shifted. He had put his hand on the hilt of his sword a few minutes ago, his shoulders, arms, hands, purposefully loose. He had told her once that that was the best stance, feet apart and directly under his shoulders, relaxed and ready. She felt it, felt him behind her, like a rock wall at her back.
Kynbessne cut a more brilliant shape ten feet back over her other shoulder. Her long, red hair was braided in a perfect line down her back, pulled free around her face by the harbor breeze. Her shoulders were squared, her spine a graceful, powerful line. Her dark coat hung around her elegantly, with a thousand promises and threats hidden inside. And she met Jennika’s eye, less stone and more steel, ready to move when she called for it. More promises.
Kessa’s blonde hair was just a flash in the shadows beyond the two of them. She was as invisible as she could be, without using her little trick. Silent and steady and sharp as always.
They hadn’t always been there.
The last time Jennika had gotten such a dull threat, they definitely hadn’t been. Or the time before that. Hearing the same words now, it was easy enough to place herself on older streets, to feel the old echoes, and remember the sensation of standing alone. Thin-skinned without them, and somehow, she had left every town without bleeding too much.
Gently, she smiled to herself. There was nothing thin about her when she could hear the three of them breathe, rustle in their coats, shift around her.
Tilting her head just to one side, eying the man pleasantly, Jennika shook her head. “Actually,” she told him. “I probably will.”
She nodded the others toward the main street, and they turned together, falling into their usual strides.