Donavan returned to the attic early to prepare materials. Once he had finished laying out all of his equipment, he dragged a large bucket of water over to where Niles still lay. Donavan kneeled down next to him, lifted his head roughly by the remnants of his ponytail, and pushed his head into the bucked, completely submerging it for a few seconds before jerking it back out, letting Niles fall backwards, coughing and sputtering back to consciousness.
Niles coughed violently, falling forward against the hard floor, his head banging against the wood with nothing to buffer it; his bound wrists were suspended at the chain's length a short distance above the floor. He struggled to regain his breath; he had inhaled quite a bit of water when he had initially come back to consciousness, and he couldn't quite seem to catch his breath. Finally, he managed to breathe properly, and slowly remembered where he was. The feeling of hopelessness sunk back into him with the sharp throbbing in his back, and he wished desperately that Donavan was planning to kill him sometime soon and just get it over with. He remained crumpled on the floor, lacking any will to move, knowing that anything he did now was completely worthless, anyway.
“Welcome back,” Donavan smirked, getting to his feet and pulling on the chain again so that Niles was dangling again. “I hope you’re feeling rested.” He said snidely as opened a bottle of alcohol. He took a quick swig from the bottle as he walked around behind Niles. Donavan pressed his hand against the remains of the flesh, tracing the gashes carefully with his fingers. Withdrawing his hand, he upended the bottle over Nile’s back and watched as the liquid gushed out over his skin.
Niles let out a yelp as he was once again yanked to his feet, but this time made no effort to try and stand; he knew he would just be knocked off his feet again. He felt something wet pour over his skin and, a second later, let out another cry of pain as the alcohol burned in his open wounds. His body writhed, trying to do anything to ease the pain, but nothing worked, and after a few moments, he returned to the limp, dangling position he had been in a moment before. He couldn't take it anymore, he was desperate for a way out, and so, for the first time, sought eye contact with Donavan. "P-please," he managed hoarsely, his voice strained from screaming, "Just kill me, please..." He looked pleadingly at Donavan, hoping for even the tiniest bit of mercy.
Donavan laughed coldly, staring back into Niles’s bloodshot eyes. “No,” he said simply. “It doesn’t behoove you to beg, Niles.” That question always came, but Donavan didn’t believe in sympathy, and he certainly didn’t want to waste any of his victim’s lives with a simple death. He hurtled the now-empty bottle across the room and walked slowly over to the shattered glass, stooping to retrieve a sizable shard. He wrapped one side of it in his handkerchief and returned to Niles. “It’s so easy to take a life…” He murmured as he pressed the rounded part of the glass to Niles’s neck. “So many people die all the time…I get tired of death—it boars me now.” He ran the edge lightly over Niles’s skin, purposefully not drawing any blood, and brought the glass down to his chest, increasing the pressure he applied abruptly and leaving a deep cut. “Dragomir was my bodyguard, you know. My top man. He would have killed anyone for me, and he would have died for me without hesitation… Do you think he’d do the same for you?” Donavan jerked his hand up abruptly, leaving a deep, fresh cut. “I doubt it.”
Niles's heart fell when Donavan turned down his request, and he went limp again, allowing Donavan to cut his skin without more than a whimper of pain and a quiet sob as hopeless tears returned to his eyes. He didn't respond to Donavan's question; after all, how could he? He and Donavan knew the answer was no, and it hurt to think about it. He tried to push Dragomir out of his mind, to push any sort of comforting or pleasant thought far from any fiber of his being, so that this punishment would be easier to bear. As Donavan cut deeper, he let out a small, choked cry, and did nothing more. There was nothing left to hope for, not even a quick, easy death. He would let Donavan do as he wished; what else was there to do? Once he had endured it, he'd at least get to die, no matter how painful or horrible it was.
Donavan heard a noise downstairs and cast the fragment of glass aside. He took a quick step back and removed his pocket watch, checking the hour. “It’s almost time.” He said quietly, more to himself than to Niles. He then looked abruptly back at Niles and smiled with a fake sweetness. “Do your arms hurt?” He asked, sounding almost concerned. He unlocked the chain that suspended Niles, and removed a small key from his pocket. He then unlocked the padlock that held Niles’s shackles to the chain hanging from the ceiling, and allowed him to fall forward. “There, I bet that’s better.” Donavan laughed and kicked Niles in the chest, smirking with sadistic satisfaction as he fell backwards painfully onto the open gashes on his back. Donavan took a small box off of the table before kneeling and grabbing Niles roughly by the arm and pulling him up. “Poor thing. I’ve put you through a lot.” Donavan said with a slight nod. “I doubt you can take much more…though I’m prepared to prolong our fun for as long as possible.” He jerked Niles’s arm forward suddenly, pulling Niles’s limp body a little closer. With a flourish, Donavan dipped his hand into the box and scooped out a small handful of salt, which he poured onto Niles’s back before rubbing the tiny crystals into his open sores. “There, there.” He soothed, rubbing Niles’s back and pressing the salt in deeper.
Niles dropped limply to the floor, crying out when Donavan kicked him in the chest. He hit the floor with a whimper, but did not move, and he remained limp as Donavan jerked him around by his arm. He was beyond doing anything, beyond trying, because there was nothing to try for. Still, when Donavan poured the salt onto his back, he screamed again, new tears forming in his eyes as Donavan ground the salt into the wounds, shrieks once again shaking his body.
Donavan lifted his hand slowly off of Niles's back and wiped the remaining salt and blood on Niles's knickers. He took Niles's hand gently in his own and brought it to his lips. "You see, you really have nothing. And at least now you can die knowing how truly worthless you are." He kissed the hand again and closed his hands around it. "No one will miss you. You mean nothing." Donavan adjusted his grip and snapped Niles's index finger, breaking the delicate bone just above his knuckle and savoring the scream before moving to break the next, and the next, one by one.
Niles cried out shrilly as he felt the bone in his finger snap, the sharp pain biting horribly at his senses. As Donavan slowly worked his way down his hand, Niles screamed and cried unrestrainedly, writhing in pain. Donavan was right, he was completely worthless, and he just wanted to die. He immediately gave in when he felt darkness fogging his vision, and Niles hoped desperately that the world was fading out for the last time.
Dragomir worked to keep his gait steady as he walked carefully towards the brothel. It was only a quarter to five, but he didn’t care and he couldn’t wait any longer. Lt. Colonel Delancy had gone home to change clothes before the operation, and would be arriving shortly. He knew he probably should have waited for her, but things would be better this way anyway. He had to pretend he was still planning on making the deal, and in order to keep up that act, he had to be alone. He refused to disarm, however, and that was where the problem lay. Dragomir and the Lt. Colonel had arranged a strategy to recover both Niles and Viorica, but Dragomir knew that they’d both require armaments to pull it off. It was Dragomir’s idea simply to kill anyone that tried to take his weapons, and as far as he was concerned, it was the only way to go. He didn’t think the Lt. Colonel agreed with him, but at least this way he would also create a diversion for her.
Dragomir was only a little way off from the brothel now and he looked up at its decaying structure. The sight of the building made him sick with unwanted memories, and he could scarcely keep himself together for fear of what was going on inside now. He had an aching suspicion that Donavan had Niles in the attic, and Dragomir was desperate to get to his side as quickly as possible. Without any further reflection or hesitation, Dragomir strode confidently to the building. He knew what he had to do to save Niles, and his resolve was firm. He wouldn’t show his weakness, and he’d channel all of his fears and emotions into rage. Dragomir would do whatever it took to rescue Niles, and he knew he could count on the Lt. Colonel to save his sister.
When he approached the door, it swung open, revealing a dark interior. He no longer had any use for caution; he could feel his muscles already twitching in anticipation, and he knew he’d entered the heightened state of awareness that always enveloped him before a large confrontation. He took a step inside and heard something move to his right. His hand shot out immediately, taking hold of the collar of a presumably Berceuse Malheureuse man and yanking him forward into the light from the open door.
“Where’s Donavan?” Dragomir demanded, somehow managing to keep his voice even. There was the sound of scuffling behind him, and Dragomir smirked as he felt a man slip an arm around in front of him and press a knife to his throat.
“Let him go,” the man said from behind him. Dragomir released his grip, and his former captive stumbled back quickly.
“He said you’d come early.” The man behind him said with a chuckle. It appeared that had suddenly realized how heavily armed Dragomir was, and his voice grew stern and serious as he barked into Dragomir’s ear, “Drop all your weapons to the floor right now, or I’ll cut your throat.”
Dragomir reached for the sword at his belt and detached the scabbard from it slowly, allowing it to fall loudly to the floor. The man started to say something approving, but Dragomir silenced him quickly as he removed his dagger from his holster and slipped it into the side of the man behind him. He cried out and Dragomir jerked the knife from his fingers as he tore his own blade from the already falling body. Dragomir then threw the knife he’d taken, and it hit the other man in the throat. Sheathing his dagger as he heard men draw swords behind him, Dragomir slipped his toe beneath the guard of his rapier and flicked it upwards, catching it by the handle and unsheathing it as he spun around.
Dragomir’s eyes were at last adjusted to the light, and he could make out eight other men, all standing at the ready. He took to his en guard, and waited to see how they’d react. Before any of them had a chance to initiate an action, a muffled scream sounded from above them. Dragomir felt his breath catch in his throat and the hilt of his rapier almost slipped from his fingers as his palms grew sweaty. He was too stunned to react as four men jumped at the opportunity to take advantage of his weak guard, rushing forward and looking to fleche.
Still dazed and unable to focus, Dragomir withdrew his pistol and caped two in the head before they’d gotten across the room. Panic was evident in the eyes of one of the remaining rushing men, and he slowed his pace to a halt. The other however, continued full speed, and Dragomir caught him in the side with a lung before his blade was close enough to strike. The combined force of his rush and Dragomir’s lunge was enough to run the sword straight threw his gut, and he gurgled, falling limp against Dragomir. He caught the body, pulling it against him as he tried to force himself to focus. He knew it had been Niles who screamed; Dragomir could only imagine what horrors Donavan was doing, and could hardly keep his footing. Dragomir stumbled slightly with the weight of the body and the crushing weight on his heart as he struggled to breathe again. His eyes burned and tears threatened to fall, but he somehow managed to hold them in check.
The man who’d stopped mid-fleche had drawn a pistol and took aim. Shaking himself back to his senses, Dragomir shifted quickly, implementing the corps as a temporary shield as he darted around behind one of the pillars. Dragomir knew that if he was to do any good, he’d have to kill each and every one of these men, and knew death was more then they deserved. Dragomir had knew he to work quickly; he didn’t know if he could bare to hear Niles scream again.
Disposing of the dead weight of the body, Dragomir darted out from behind his cover and shot for the other armed man. He missed by a hair and cursed as he retreated back behind the pillar. It appeared the other two men still alive didn’t have firearms, and Dragomir was relieved. He hated firefights, and couldn’t stand to be delayed any longer then he had to. He was desperate to get to Niles, and couldn’t afford to waste any time. For all he knew, Donavan could have killed Niles the instant he heard the shots go off, as they signified the obvious end of negotiations. With that thought, Dragomir was gripped by another fierce wave of anger, and cursing loudly, he burst forward, taking a pop-shot at the armed man and hitting him square between the eyes. The remaining men froze for a split second before they snapped back to attention and dashed behind various decaying objects to use as shields.
Dragomir caught one retreating man in the leg and he cried out loudly in pain, dropping his sword in favor of clutching his wound. Dragomir strode forward until he was at point blank range and pressed the barrel of the to the man’s forehead, only averting his eyes from the whimpering Berceuse Malheureuse man to flinch back from the spray of blood. Dragomir was resolved to offer only an iron façade until he had Niles safely in his arms; these men deserved death for all that they’d done, and he’d spare them no mercy.
Dragomir then turned on the last man with a growl. Raising his sword, the other man prepared to defend himself. Dragomir didn’t give him the courtesy of preparation and lunged forward, catching the man’s blade in his guard and disarming him. The sword flew across the room, and Dragomir turned back to the stunned man, regarding him for only a second before stabbing him cleanly in the chest. The last man crumpled to the floor and Dragomir flicked his blade to remove the blood as he rushed towards the stairs.
After Dragomir and she had come up with their plan of action, Corinne rushed home to change clothes. As much as she was in a hurry to save Viorica, she knew she would be useless at fighting in her petticoats and skirt. Besides, this would give Dragomir valuable time to get in before she arrived, making it seem as if he were going to negotiate. Dressed now in knickers and a vest and fully armed with her pistol and rapier, she hurried to the location Dragomir had given her.
The building was decaying and decrepit and sent shivers down her spine; she didn't want to think about Viorica being inside that wretched place. Her determination set, she confidently took hold of the door and stepped forward into the dark interior, any fears pushed aside at the thought of rescuing Viorica. Her eyes took a moment to adjust to the poor lighting, but, as she tried to navigate through the room, she almost tripped on something soft. She realized grimly that it was a corpse; Dragomir must have already been in this room. She squinted at the scene to realize that Dragomir must have killed all the men he came across; bodies were strewn across the floor leading up to stairs upstairs. Figuring that Dragomir must have gone up, she decided to go down, heading towards the stairs which appeared to be leading to the basement.
Dragomir arrived at the top of the stairs and went directly to the door to the attic, kicking it down before rushing inside. He located Donavan, leaning casually against the opposite wall, fingering his already unsheathed sword. Dragomir raised his pistol and took aim. “Where’s Niles!?” Dragomir heard his voice crack but did care. Donavan didn’t have a firearm anywhere in sight and he had the advantage.
“You’re empty.” Donavan smirked and stood upright. “I counted the shots.” Donavan started to walk slowly towards the middle of the room and Dragomir edged inside, keeping his eyes fixed on Donavan as he tried to review how many bullets he’d used. He pulled back the trigger, and sure enough, nothing happened. Dragomir swore and dropped the weapon, transferring his rapier into his left hand. “You should be more observant.” Donavan chided with a chuckle as he came to a halt.
Dragomir immediately tensed and glanced around the room for any signs of a trap, and he scanned the floor for only a second before he caught sight of a lifeless, bloody body. It felt as if all the wind had been knocked out of him, and he stumbled backwards, tripping over his own feet and falling against the wall.
“I trust this is what you came for?” Donavan prodded Niles’s battered and broken body roughly with his foot and turned him onto his back. Dragomir dropped his sword and sunk down to his knees as his heart seemed simply to stop beating. He’d already failed, he’d been too late to save him…and now nothing seemed worthwhile. Dragomir shook violently and dropped to his hands but couldn’t tear his eyes away from Niles’s crumpled body. His throat was dry, but he couldn’t swallow. He couldn’t bring himself to do anything. He vaguely heard Donavan laughing, but it seemed as if he existed in an entirely different world, a world where life still mattered to Dragomir and where Niles was still alive.
Niles felt as if something was happening outside his dazed state of semiconsciousness; the fact that he felt at all made his heart fall; he was still alive after all. Still, he couldn't really figure out what was going on. He heard voices, and Donavan roughly moving his limp body, but he couldn't figure out who the voices belonged to or why. Then Donavan laughed, a chilling laugh, and Niles forced his eyes open, to see what exactly was going on.
What he caught sight of, he couldn't believe; it was Dragomir, Dragomir had really come for him. He didn't believe it; it must be a dream, a fantasy in his dying mind, but what else could he do but believe? He opened his mouth, but no words would come out, so he looked longingly at Dragomir for a second before he felt everything fading out again. He looked at Dragomir for as long as possible before the graying edges met in the centre of his vision and everything was gone again.
Viorica squirmed when she heard a shot go off overhead, and tried to shift back further into the corner, away from her two guards. She was bound tightly, both at the wrists and ankles, by a thick rope, and her arms were suspended above her head by anther rope fastened to a large metal hook in the wall. Viorica was grateful for the fact that she’d been tied in such a manner that she could sit on the floor, but even so, her arms still felt strained from being held in place.
She knew it had been well over five hours that she’d been confined to this spot in the corner of an unknown basement, and she wanted desperately to at least know why she’d been kidnapped. Viorica couldn’t imagine it was for a ransom, as her family had absolutely nothing of value. She figured it had to do with the Berceuse Malheureuse, and in particular, Donavan and Dragomir’s relationship, but she still had no idea what they wanted with her. Neither of her two particularly filthy low class guards had said anything on the matter, and as she was gagged, she couldn’t ask them herself.
They’d both been playing cards the whole day, and she was sick of watching them. The both cheated with every hand, and it was a wonder neither of them picked up on it. Viorica wasn’t particularly skilled in cards, but she could at least tell when they were stacking the deck or putting cards up their sleeves. She was impossibly board with their stupidity, and had been wishing all day that at least something would happen to ease her boredom.
However, when Viorica heard the gun go off and saw both of her captors go ridged, she realized that she actually quite preferred the nothing that had been happening before. It was especially unnerving when the shot was followed by another, and both her guards turned to her.
“He mus’ be tryin’ to bust in.” One said gruffly to the other. The other nodded, and neither of them took their eyes off of Viorica. She shifted uncomfortably under their gaze and looked down at the floor.
“Ya know…” The other one said slowly, “He said that if anything went not according to plan, we gotta kill her.” Viorica jolted upright and stared at them wide-eyed. They couldn’t just kill her, could they? The man laughed at her reaction and leaned forward. “But ya know what I been thinkin’?” He asked with a wicked grin. The other man shook his head slowly, grinning as well. “I’m thinkin’ it’d be a right waste if we just killed her, ya know what I’m sayin’?” He knudged the other in the side sharply, and his cohort seemed to arrive at the same conclusion with the aid of the stimulation.
“I gotcha.” He nodded knowingly. “And I think yous is right. We wouldn’ wanna waste such a pretty girl…” He edged forward slowly and Viorica shrank back from the craven look that had overwhelmed his features as she realized what they intended to do. She pushed her self as close to the wall as she could and put up her most defiant face. Viorica knew there was really nothing she could do against two men, tied up no less, but she refused to give in. As the man came closer, she lifted herself up using her bound arms as leverage, and kicked him hard in the face. He fell backwards, clutching his face and unleashing a string of curses.
The other man remained undaunted however, and grabbed her feet, pinning them to the ground and pressing his full weight against her. She could have wretched from his putrid smell, but she was too busy trying to scream through the thick cotton gag. Viorica squeezed her eyes shut tightly, and wished with all her heart that somehow, someway, Corinne was there to help her.
Corinne moved quietly down the stairs as quickly as possible, shifting her weight gingerly to avoid the rotting wood from creaking. She stepped carefully onto the dirt floor of what she assumed was the basement and peered around the corner, hoping she was still undetected.
The room was large and relatively empty, with only piles of large crates strewn in various places around the room. She carefully scanned the room for any signs of people, and was about to give up when she noticed two filthy men huddled in the far corner. She took a few steps forward, trying to figure out what they were doing, before she saw the third person: Viorica. Though she was elated to see her alive, it made her heart wrench to see her bound and gagged in this disgusting place. As she got over the initial emotion, however, she suddenly came to the realization of what was going on. One man had Viorica pinned against the wall, while the other was in the process of pulling her skirt up. Corinne was overwhelmed with rage, and drew her pistol, aiming for one of the men's heads. "Don't you fucking dare touch her, you filthy bastards!"
The men started and looked back at her, surprise and confusion playing across their faces. She assumed that they were expecting Dragomir, and really, they didn't seem like much of a threat at all. Still, she didn't lower her gun or change her hardened expression. "You heard me. Get away from her, or I won't hesitate to kill both of you."
The men got to their feet, but made no movement away from Viorica. "Well, what've we got here? This girly thinks she's hot stuff." He sneered, obviously not taking Corinne seriously. "Try and shoot us, girly. You can't while we're still with your friend here. You wouldn't wanna hit her instead, would ya?" He grabbed Viorica by the chin and pulled her up, still sneering at Corinne.
That was the last straw. Corinne, with absolute confidence in her aim, fired a single shot. The man only had a second to look stunned before the bullet went straight through his head and he dropped to the floor."
The other guard looked positively frightened now, and shrank away from Corinne. "Holy hell, this girl means business," he said to himself as Corinne aimed at him next. Corinne approached him, not changing her aim or her cold glare. "Did you touch her?"
"I-I swear, I didn' do anythin'!" The man proclaimed, waving his hands in front of him defensively.
"But you were going to," Corinne countered coldly.
"No—I—" Corinne didn't let the man finish; she didn't have time for this. She had to get Viorica out of here now. Firing another headshot and killing the man instantly, she then hurried over to where Viorica was bound. Her anger melted into worry as she knelt by her side and untied her gag. "Oh, god, Viorica, are you all right?" she asked concernedly as she withdrew a dagger from her jacket and cut through the thick rope which bound Viorica's wrists and ankles. "Did those wretched bastards do anything to you?"
As soon as Viorica was freed, she threw her arms around Corinne and buried her face against her shoulder. “I’m-I’m all right,” She gasped, quivering slightly and squeezing Corrine tightly. “I-I was so afraid…I didn’t think anyone would come!” Viorica sniffled, trying not to cry, as she continued to shake. “Corinne!” She finally cried softly, “I love you so much. Thank you…Thank you!”
Corinne held Viorica tightly, stroking her hair softly. "It's all right, darling, it's all right," she murmured, trying to calm the shaking body in her arms. "I'm here for you, everything's all right." She comforted Viorica for a moment more before noise coming from upstairs reminded her of the urgency of the situation. Gently putting her arm under Viorica's legs, she swept her off the ground and held her tightly. "But for now, I need to get you out of here. Hold tight," she ordered softly, then hurried back up the steps and out the door of the brothel, picking through the bodies strewn around the room. Once they were out into the sunlight, she set Viorica down on her feet. "My automobile is a few streets away. Can you walk, or would you like me to carry you?"
“I think I can walk…” Viorica’s voice was a little weak but she managed to keep it steady inspite of the gruesome sight they’d just come threw. She clung to Corinne’s arm and looked up at her, knitting her brows. “Corinne…What happened in there? Why did they want me?” Viorica was almost afraid to know the answer, but she didn’t think she could stand to be left in the dark. “How did you know where to find me…? I-I didn’t think anyone would come…”
"I'm taking you to my house. I want to make sure you're all right." Corinne didn't say it as a question, she knew she wouldn't be able to rest until she knew Viorica was really all right. She took Viorica's hand in hers comfortingly and began taking long strides away from the horrible place behind them. "You brother is what happened in there," she replied grimly, looking at Viorica for a second. "As far as I know, they took you to get at Hirlea...they took Christian as well. They were trying to make him decide between you two...I really don't know that much. I think, though..." she trailed as they approached her automobile, partially because she had to unlock the door and help Viorica in before getting in and starting the engine, and partially because she really didn't want to think about what she had to say next. As they pulled off down the street and sped towards Corinne's home, she swallowed, then cleared her throat. "I just want to warn you, though. As far as I know, it was a delicate situation, and you saw what Hirlea did...I just don't want you to be too upset if...if Christian doesn't make it."
“What?” Viorica Lurched forward in her seat and looked at Corrine with a horrified expression. “I don’t believe it…” She leaned back again slowly and tried to calm herself down. There was no way Niles was going to die; she knew Dragomir would never let that happen. If he’d killed all the men downstairs, Viorica trusted that he did what he did because his had to, and she knew he of all people knew best how to handle the Berceuse Malheureuse. Still, the fact that Corinne would warn her meant the situation was very bad. Viorica wiped her eyes with her sleeve, willing herself not to cry, and took a deep breath. “How did this happen?” Viorica whimpered. She knew Corinne wouldn’t have the answer, but couldn’t keep her anxiety to herself. Viorica was afraid for the lives of both Niles and her brother, and scarcely knew what to do. It felt like her whole world was crumbling around her, and all she wanted to do was curl up in Corinne’s arms and wait till it was all over. She reached feebly over to Corinne, touching her lightly. “Thank you for taking care of me…”
"It's not a problem. I want to make sure you're all right. You can spend the night if need be." She was just pulling up to her house now, and she wanted to hurry inside so that she could fully take care of Viorica. She could tell the girl was shaken and upset and needed comforting, so as soon as she parked the automobile, she told Viorica to stay put as she hurried to the passenger's side and lifted Viorica gently out, carrying her inside the house. She went directly to an upstairs guest room and set Viorica softly onto the bed before moving to sit beside her. Pulling her into a tight embrace, she murmured comfortingly, "Everything will be all right, and there's nothing you can do. It's not your fault. Everything will be okay." She had dealt with death and trauma many times before, but never had it hurt this much. She felt Viorica's pain as her own pain, and she knew, though she was trying to convince Viorica that everything would be all right, she was also trying to convince herself.
Dragomir was still shaking as Donavan took a step towards him, but made no effort to look up. His eyes remained riveted to Niles’s face; Dragomir felt detached form everything around him, everything but Niles’s body, as if it were the only thing left in his whole world. Dragomir looked past Donavan, even as his enemy came within striking range. He didn’t care anymore what Donavan did to him, nothing mattered. And yet… as Dragomir continued to stare, it almost looked as if Niles’s eyes were opening. He couldn’t believe it was anything more then a deception, the product of his desperation, but as Niles slowly opened his mouth, Dragomir knew it to be the true. He felt his heart hammer against his chest as everything around him seemed to come back into focus. Niles was alive! Dragomir kept eye contact for as long as he could, doing everything he could to somehow convey to Niles that he would get him out of there, no matter what.
When Niles’s eyes fluttered shut again, Dragomir looked up abruptly at Donavan and glared. Donavan had already brought his sword point to Dragomir’s neck, but Dragomir couldn’t be bothered to care. Niles was alive, and the only thing he could do now was do whatever was necessary to kill Donavan and get Niles out of there as soon as possible.
In Dragomir one action, Dragomir grabbed hold of Donavan’s blade and yanked it forward, passed his own body, as he lashed out with his dagger. Dragomir had caught Donavan completely off guard, and Donavan only managed to hop back enough to prevent the cut from slicing down to his skin. Donavan jerked his sword roughly out of Dragomir’s grasp and skipped back again, completely out of range. Dragomir growled savagely as the blade cut his hand, but ignored the pain, and grabbed his sword before springing to his feet.
Donavan looked down at his torso and touched his left hand to the blood that was seeping through the slashed cloth of his shirt and laughed. “I didn’t think you had it in you to fight me, Dragomir.” Donavan grinned, looking almost as if he were excited.
Dragomir said nothing and raised his hand onto guard, pausing only a split second before he lunged forward, planning a second intention. Donavan saw through his move however, and caught his blade in a disengage, landing his counter attack on Dragomir’s wrist. Dragomir let out a hiss of pain and pulled back to reestablish the measure, bringing his dagger up to guard as well, intending to fence Florentine.
Donavan smiled curtly, and jumped forward with a balestra, sliding his blade along Dragomir’s in a flawless coupe as he sought to penetrate Dragomir’s guard and strike his torso as payback for the cut he already bore.
Dragomir took the hit and winced as the blade bit into his skin. Dragomir was beyond rage, and he felt as though his mind was in a state of clarity. It was a feeling he’d scarcely experienced before, but somehow he knew what he had to do to win and save Niles. For once, it wasn’t beating his opponent that mattered, or getting through the duel unscathed; now all that mattered was ending it. He was doing everything for Niles’s sake, and Dragomir felt imbued with a sense of clear propose. He’d taken the hit, but he now had Donavan’s blade. He changed his line of attack and moved his point, striking Donavan’s unguarded left shoulder as he lunged forward with his dagger, cutting Donavan across the face.
Dragomir knew the cut on Donavan’s cheek would do nothing in the long run, but that hardly mattered. He knew Donavan would take it as an insult, and hoped he’d react rashly in response.
Donavan jumped back with a yelp as the blade hit his shoulder, and wiped his face with the back of his left hand, wincing as the wound in his shoulder stung. Dragomir smirked with satisfaction. For once, Donavan had no witty criticism of his technique. Everything was going better then he could have possibly imagined, and he glanced down at Niles as if to say “it’ll only be a little longer now…”
Donavan took advantage of his momentary distraction and swept his blade in an envelopment. It was a flashy move, the like of which Donavan preferred; he generally implemented his movements with such precision that it was very difficult to disengage. However this time, Dragomir saw an opening and through displacement, avoided Donavan’s engagement, and used a simple attack to hit Donavan on the hand. His blade flew from his grasp, and Donavan jumped back immediately to avoid a flow up attack from Dragomir’s dagger. Dragomir had him pinned and he relished the feeling as he brought his point to the level of Donavan’s neck. Donavan kept his expression neutral as Dragomir took a step closer, and waited until Dragomir was almost in striking range before he darted to the middle of the room and yanked up Niles roughly by the arm. Donavan supported his weight against his body as he reached for a small knife, which he quickly pressed to Niles’s throat. “Drop your weapons!” He ordered, pressing the knife to Niles’s skin just enough so that Dragomir could see the slight dent.
Dragomir froze, fear overpowering his feeling of clarity of mind. He dropped both his sword and his dagger immediately and scarcely dared breathe. Donavan smirked and started edging his way toward the door. “Don’t even think of moving, Dragomir, or I’ll kill him.” Donavan hissed. He was almost at the door now, and Dragomir was back to shaking. As Donavan reached the thresh hold, he quickly pulled back his arm and pushed Niles forward into the room, bolting down the stairs as fast as he could. Dragomir threw himself forward with a start and caught Niles before he fell.
He pulled Niles’s limp body into his arms and wept with relief. He knew there wasn’t time to spare, however, and curtailed his tears, scooping Niles into his arms and staggering down the stairs and out the door. They had to get somewhere safe, and Niles’s wounds desperately needed attention.