Spoils of War 21 (reDeux)

First: Spoils of War I: Surrender

PLEASE NOTE: I WENT BACK TO THE END OF CHAPTER 21 AND AM REWRITING FROM THAT POINT. 

Nikol blinked at him.  “I got us away from the Mountain,” she countered quietly.  Shared decisions? What the hell had she been talking about.

“That’s not a decision, that’s like a rabbit.  You started running and kept running and, whoo, we went through a city, got chased by a slime monster, attacked by giant rats, and then we end up here where a monster tries to eat our brains!”  He pushed up away from her and held himself up on one arm, glaring at her. 

She rolled away enough to glare back properly.  “I got you out, didn’t I?”

“Yeah.  Yeah, you got me out.  Good job. Now can you not get me into  any more fucking death traps? That’s the decision I want.  If you’re gonna give me one, let’s go with that. Let’s go with we stop running like an idiot rabbit.  Let’s go with we have a plan before the Mountain catches up with us.  And let’s go with not running into any more death traps.  How’s that?”  

She snarled quietly.  “Running like a rabbit,” she hissed.  “And what would your plan have been? How would you have gotten us away from the Mountain?”

“Look, if I’d had my way, there wouldn’t be an us.  You’re the one that kidnapped me.  So me, I woulda stolen a horse and-” the steam left him suddenly and he flopped back onto the bed.  “And I don’t know. But maybe we wouldn’t have ended up nearly dead quite so many times.”

“I’ll keep that in mind.”  She’d lost steam as quickly as he had.  “… and consult with you, before we make our next move.  Okay?”

He studied her like he wanted to be angry and couldn’t bring himself to be.  “Yeah, yeah. Yeah, okay… yeah.”  

For a few moments they were quiet.  She was still exhausted.  Aran was still tired and it showed.  She thought perhaps they might fall asleep again, just like that.

Then he cleared his throat. “You know,” Aran murmured.  “You know, I think I know how we could end the Mountain.  We could keep running away…” He looked at her uncertainly. “We could.  Eventually we’ll find a place where nobody’s heard of the Mountain, and we can figure out what we want to do next from there.  But we could – the Mountain is run by, theoretically, people.”

“Theoretically.”  Nikol shuddered softly.  “They’re as much people as – as that thing we fought in the basement is.  Was,” she corrected herself. It was dead.  They’d killed it quite dead. 

“So.  If it’s human like the thing is human, it has a weakness.”

“Everything has a weakness,” Nikol muttered.  “The problem is, the problem is that sometimes their weakness is one square centimeter on the back of one heel, and there’s an army you’ve got to fight through to get to that point.”

“I’m thinking… I’m thinking of not going through the army at all.  Tell you what.” He swallowed, shifted, and seemed to find his confidence again.  “Tell you what. Tomorrow, tomorrow I’ll sketch out this plan for you. And if hate it, we won’t do it.  But if it works -if it works, we can actually stop running.”

“And if it fails?”

“If it fails then we run faster.  Sleep first. Sleep until you know who’s outside, okay?  Then we’ll talk. Because – well, because you need more sleep.  You look like shit. And me… I need more sleep because I feel like shit.”

“Mmm.”  At the word sleep, her eyes were already closing.  “S’what you get for yelling at me.”  She draped an arm around him and pulled him close.   “Sleep,” she agreed.

She could worry about the idea of a plan to kill the Mountain when she woke again.

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