He pivoted left, letting the blade pass harmlessly a breath from his ribs, and felt their rage and terror pour into him. More palace guards were entering the courtyard to engage his small crew and their insane battle toward the sea wall. Felix couldn’t manage to laugh as he dodged another strike from the guards. Val had lost half of his stolen guard armor, which was great for identifying him, but possibly a detriment to his protection. Their friend the other guard was busy carrying the now unconscious Shadrian and unlocking things that should not be unlocked. How that person was doing so was not apparent to Felix.
Kate came up on his right and engaged the guards trying to kill Felix. “You know, paying attention and quipping annoyingly would come in handy right about now, Captain,” she said between strikes.
Felix blinked. “I… I’m out of practice.”
“Improvise!” Kate demanded as she disarmed a guard. She kicked the guard’s blade into Felix’s hand and returned to holding the line for the retreat. Felix grabbed the hilt out of habit, and parried mechanically. They weren’t going to make it. There was nothing around that he could use to … to change anything. Damnit, this wasn’t how his final chapter was supposed to go! “I ask again, what in the seven watery realms are the lot of you doing here, Kate?”
She shot him an ‘oh-heavens-not-this-again’ look and continued fighting. A blade got through her guard and nicked her cheek lightly. Felix didn’t know if it was luck or skill that it was so light.
“Seriously, this is your dramatic escape? Try to kidnap a wicked monarch and get murdered on the way to jump off a wall. Toward the sea? Even if we make it, we can’t swim that far.” Felix swatted a guard’s blade away, but wasn’t fast enough to quite avoid the graze to his arm.
“He still complaining?” Val called over the din. “Told you we should have shoved some whiskey down his throat. He’d be better off a tad soused.”
“He’d be a worse swordsman,” Kate called back. She surveyed the field and the crossbowmen setting up on the balconies. “Call Mel, we can’t wait any longer.”
“Works for me!” Val replied. He put his fingers between his teeth and let out a deafening whistle. Nothing happened for a couple beats of battle, then a dark shadow fell over the courtyard. The palace guards slowed their pursuit. The crossbowmen shot, but their bolts all shattered against the scales of the looming sea serpent whose head continued to rise over the sea wall. Holding onto the serpent’s crest for balance was Mel. Mel scanned the ground and spoke to the sea serpent, not that anyone on the ground could hear what she said. Kate stepped back from the conflict, grinning. “Okay everyone. We are going to go join our good friend Dakuwaquan, one of the seven lords of the seas, and as long as no one bothers us, we will leave your royal pain in the ass, right on that battlement. Got it?”
For his part, Dakuwaquan smiled. With teeth. Lots and lots of teeth. The palace guards retreated.
Val, Kate, Felix, and their new friend carrying the unconscious Shadrian all got up to the palace wall below the sea serpent’s head with no issue. At which point, Mel tossed down a rope and Val clambered up. Their new friend followed him up. Kate and Felix had a staring match to determine who would climb next. Felix lost to Kate’s unflinching gaze. While Felix was climbing, Kate leaned down and made sure the unconscious royal pain was secure. Then she patted his head and ascended the rope. Everyone was a little crowded, sea serpent heads were slippery and not intended for booted feet. However, they managed jaunty farewells and Mel whispered to Dakuwaquan.
The sea serpent rose a few more feet, taking himself off the wall and moved away. Slowly sinking into deeper water, until just his head and the people on it, were above the water. Felix watched the palace fade behind them and surveyed the sea serpent and the ocean as they swam further out into the sea.
“Mel,” he said mildly, “What in the stars did you offer our friend here?”
Mel looked up at her captain. “He had a craving for banana bread.”
Felix raised an eyebrow in disbelief.
Val nodded. “Mel made a loaf the size of a house. He ate the whole thing. Took an island’s worth of bananas.” Val continued tossing bits and pieces of palace guard armor into the sea. He ditched the gambeson too. He looked more like Val.
Felix looked over his friends, all stubbornly pleased with themselves. Except… “Hello friend, I’m Captain Felix Garret and I’m usually better at introductions during daring rescues, but I will admit I have never been the rescued before. A pleasure to meet you.” He bowed to the newest apparent addition to the band.
The armored figure waved. Felix looked to Kate who shook her head. “Nope, not enough time for that story.”
“Not in the slightest,” Val agreed.
Mel nodded emphatically.
The armored figure shrugged.
Dakuwaquan nodded in agreement. Those standing on his head all lunged for a hand hold on his crest. Everyone laughed.
“Alright everyone,” Kate said. “The sun is setting, the mood is right, please strike your successful daring rescue poses as we approach the ship and prepare for debarking.”
Val laughed and picked up Mel to sit on his shoulders. The armored figure balanced carefully so as to appear nonchalant and immovable. Kate adjusted her hand hold on the sea serpent’s crest and held out her other hand to Felix. “Captain?”
“Damn.” Felix grinned a bit of his old outrageous grin. “It’s good to be back.” He took Kate’s hand and turned to face the horizon. Dramatically.