Before she could even get the sword out of its hilt, Sebastian attacked. Ana jumped back just in time to miss the tip of his sword slice through her tunic. She darted to the side as she blocked his sword on another attack, then managed to thrust her sword at him. There was no time to lament that he had already put her on the defense. She had to find a way to gain the upper hand.
But he was pushing her closer to the edge of the clearing, where the belua had appeared. She knew what waited for her in the darkness. The belua had made a truce with Sebastian’s people. They would not attack his people, and in return they could have anyone else they wanted. And what they wanted right now was Ana. She could hear the thing growling and grunting not far beyond the edge of the trees. Belua could talk, but Ana assumed this one would not bother with that. She found herself beginning to panic. Sometimes she felt as though her sword guided her, but it didn’t do so now. She was skilled, and she had fought Sebastian before, but she sensed that, up until now, he had merely been toying with her. He thrust his sword yet again, but now his technique was a bit wild, as if he was getting desperate to finisher off. She bent back, his sword just centimeters from her ear, and when she straightened herself, she struck in a figure 8 motion, her sword seeming now to move of its own accord. Soon it was a blur of itself, forcing Sebastian back further and further until he tripped clumsily over the circle of rocks where Ana had made her fire.
“You’re lucky I had already put that fire out, Sebastian,” Ana said.
“Luck had nothing to do with it,” Sebastian retorted.
To this Ana said nothing.
“Ah, you have your father’s penchant for silence,” Sebastian said. “Or is it that you often can’t think of a retort?”
He was goading her, she knew, but she forced down the wave of anger that rose in her chest. Better to channel it for future use.
“Are you going to kill me or aren’t you?” he said.
“Yes,” she said. But as she said it his eyes darted over her shoulder, and in that moment Ana knew the belua was behind her. She turned, her sword at the ready, only to find nothing. When she turned back to Sebastian, he was gone.