A Defense Defect

Chapter 3 – I did WHAT?


"Uh, we seem to have a problem." I looked up from observing the bread and saw Talen rummaging through his money sack. Please no. Please don't tell me...

"I'm out of money," he declared, "Sorry, but I can't afford all this food."

My eyebrow twitched in annoyance. "You idiot!" I screamed at him, not caring that the baker was looking at us with interest. "Why did you have to spend all the money on horse supplies?"

"Hey, you weren't complaining when I was getting them."

"That's because I thought you'd be smart enough to leave some money for food! Now what? We're going to starve to death!"

Talen didn't look the least bit remorseful, which made me want to choke him to death all the more. "No, we're going to find a job," he stated practically.

A job? A JOB?! I had to get a job because of HIS stupidity? "But it'd take days to find one and I don't have the time to spare. I need to get to Vera!" I protested.

"Well, we don't have to look. I know where there's a job right now." He grabbed my arm before I could say anything else and guided me through the streets before stopping outside a dirty building. I gazed at the wooden door and stone steps leading to the entrance. It looked like any other building on the streets. But then my eyes wandered to the sign above the door. "Sleazy Inn."

I felt my eyes widen in horror. No. Way. "I'M NOT WORKING THERE!" I screeched.

"Calm down. It's not what you think - "

"Not what I think? The sign practically says sleazy inn. Are you trying to tell me that this is a blacksmith business?"

"But Kari! You said yourself we needed money. And this is the only place I know that is in consistent need of workers."

"I wonder why. Has it ever occurred to you that this place needs workers because no one else wants to work here?" My rage was still in full force and Talen finally started to realise that my rage was serious.

"It's not anything too bad," he tried to reassure me, "all you have to do is kiss a few people. It's not like you're giving yourself to them."

I glared at him with all the negative energy I could muster. "Then why don't you go in there and kiss the men?" I hissed, "It's your fault we're out of money."

"What?" he spluttered. "I'm a man! Those men won't want to touch me."

"Well-" movement behind Talen caught my attention and I froze in mid sentence. It was them! Why were they here? And he's here too! Rage turned to panic and flooded all my logical sense. All that went through my mind was that I had to get out of visible sight NOW. I roughly grabbed the shirt of Talen and dragged him into the nearest building...


One minute she was screaming at me and refusing to go into the inn and the next minute, she's practically dragging me in there. Women. I'll never understand them.

I didn't see what her fuss was about. It was a good paying job – 100 silvers a night. If she accepts, we'd be out of this town in no time.

"Finally come to your senses?"

"I'm not working here."

"But then why did you drag me in here?" I hissed in annoyance.

"I needed to get out of the sun. It was annoying me."

"Oh yes. We can't have you sunburnt can we?"

"Look, I still think my idea would work. I mean, you're pretty good looking for a guy."

"Thank you, but like you said, I'm a good looking "guy".

"From what I heard, men going to these places are always looking for some new experiences."

Were my ears working correctly? I stared at the female in front of me. My image of an innocent maiden had just been totally shattered. "You're really adamant about this aren't you?" I finally said.

"Aren't you a smart boy? I wonder what gave it away." I decided to ignore her sarcasm for now. Starting scenes in sleazy inns isn't exactly the wisest thing to do.

"Fine. We'll just have to find work somewhere else." A perfectly good opportunity for making money and she refuses to take it. I started to exit, but felt her pull me back.

"Wait. There's - "

"Hey you two! What're you doing standing in the doorway? Either get in or get out. No loitering." A woman with a big chest stepped out from behind another door and glared at us.

"We were just leaving," I said stiffly while trying very hard not to look at her...distracting...heaving...okay, I really have to get out of this place.

"Wait-" Kari started again, but I tugged her out into the open. No way was I staying in the same room as that big-chested woman.

After safely exiting, I turned to face my "employer." "Well since you refused to work there, we'd better go find a job somewhere else."

"Uh. I've changed my mind. Let's just get out of here now."

What? I looked at her in confusion. "But we have no supplies."

"It doesn't matter. We need to get out of here 'now'."

I shook my head. I already let her have her way with the sleazy inn. I was not going to let her convince me to continue travelling with no food. "Have you lost your mind? We'll starve out there."

"I'd rather take my chances out there in the woods than in here with people trying to kill me."

People trying to kill her? Oh yeah. I tensed in anticipation. "You mean...they're here?"

"Oh no. I was just kidding. I just wanted to convince you to get out of town for fun." I think she resorts to sarcasm when she's stressed or something. I can't say I like it.

"But you've got me! You've got nothing to be afraid of." She looked at me skeptically. "Talen, I know you're confident and all, but you cannot possibly take on these men. They're not like the bandits you saw in the woods the other day."

Why was she always doubting my abilities? "I will take them on," I said confidently. "Watch me."

She looked at me skeptically again. "Let me rephrase what I said earlier. You can't possibly take on those men and SURVIVE. How's that?"

I felt my last ounce of restraint snap and whirled on her. "Are you saying I don't have the ability to protect you?" I was fully aware the effect my anger had on her, yet I continued to vent my frustration. "Are you telling me that I don't have the skill? I've been practicing you know. Practicing so hard! And NOONE is going to tell ME that I'm not good enough to protect you. Ever since - " I broke off. Damn! I nearly gave away my secret to her. Close one. Must control temper.

I quickly turned to hide my face from her. The memories from the past were still painful. I had to fight off tears whenever they resurfaced.

"Talen?" I heard her say timidly. "I'm sorry. I didn't mean it like that...I was just worried about you..."

Worried about me? That was the lie of the day.

"Don't – Let's not talk about this anymore. We'll do as you say. We'll leave town." Anything to get her to shut her mouth.


As Talen made his way over to saddle his horse, I kept my gaze on him. Our argument earlier had transformed him into a totally different man. I've never truly felt fear when I was around him, but that moment when he whirled on me, I was scared. I've never seen him like that before. But the moment passed and now he's sullen, unlively – dead. This is all my fault. I don't know what I did wrong, but I shouldn't have doubted his abilities. I've heard stories about men and their pride. I never expected to experience it first hand. I hope I never have to experience it again.

We began to walk out of town in silence, but just as we crossed the city gate, there was a shout. "There she is!"

Ah! In my preoccupation about Talen, I had forgotten why I insisted we leave in the first place. "Talen! Quick! Make your horse go faster!" But instead of listening to me, he merely hopped off his horse.

What was that idiot doing? "Talen! Get back here and move this horse!" I screeched. Now was NOT the time for him to prove his masculinity.

As the men came closer, I saw Talen baulk in surprise before unsheathing his sword. That stupid stupid STUPID idiot. Please let nothing happen to him. I've already had people suffer because of me. Please don't let him become one of them.

I watched helplessly as more guards arrived and piled onto him. He was able to fend off most of them, slashing and stabbing, but he was severely outnumbered and if I didn't do something soon, he'd be annihilated.

Another cut appeared and more blood dripped onto the gravel floor beneath his feet. This is all my fault. All my fault...


The men immediately stopped attacking. Wow. Did I really have that much power? Oh. Wait a minute. It wasn't me who called out. It was...

A tall man with a bushy white beard appeared. "You imbeciles. You've got the wrong person."

"But Lord H-"

"I know what Lord Hector said! He said that I was in charge of this mission. You are to listen to me and I say you've got the wrong people." He looked meaningfully at the soldiers and one by one and they slowly backed off. Once all of them left, the man walked up to me and smiled. "Kari."

It couldn't be. "Dalus! I never thought I'd see you again!"

"Now now deary. No need for tears. You're safe for now. Those men won't be coming back to bother you." His face grew serious, "But I cannot guarantee that some other troop wouldn't attack."

"There are more troops?"

Dalus nodded. "I'm afraid so. Lord Hector really wants you back and he's doing everything in his power to find you."

Lord Hector...Talen! "Dalus. Help me off this horse please. I need to see if Talen's alright."

"Oh. So that's the stupid man who tried to take on the soldiers?"

"I know he's stupid, but he did it to save me." Dalus helped me off and I ran over to my protector. Ex-protector...NO! I mustn't think these thoughts.

"Talen?" I gently nudged his splayed form and heard him groan in pain. He was alive. That stupid idiot was alive. I felt my suppressed energy leave me, making it a hard task to keep standing.

"Is he your guardian?"

"Yes. He's going to accompany me to Vera."

"You're serious about going through with this?"

"Of course I am. That's why you decided to help me." I stood and turned to face my old friend before enveloping him into a huge hug. "I'm so glad you're safe. I thought that..."

"Hahahaha. No. I'm more elusive than that. They haven't found out that I was responsible for freeing you... yet."

"No. And they never will. When I return to Vera, I will come back to rescue you."

"Stop it!" Dalus ruffled my hair affectionately and I hated it when people do that. "I cannot stay long Kari. They'll get suspicious." He handed me a small pouch and I looked at it curiously. "I know you'll be needing it," and with that, he was gone.

I peered curiously into the pouch and had to shield my eyes because of the glittering pieces inside. It was a money pouch. Oh Dalus! How can I ever thank you? You've done so much for me. I turned to my guardian and felt myself smile. Served him right for not listening to me.


Ooooh. My head. My arm. My leg. My chest. Ooooooh. Pain. The pain. Where was all this pain coming from? Oh yeah. I took on those men. I opened my eyes and gazed at the canopy above me. Was this heaven? Nah. This place is too green to be heaven...But that must mean...

Ha! Take that Kari. I took on those men and SURVIVED. I'm in a lot of pain, but that's okay. I'm still breathing.

"You're awake." I tried to turn my head towards the voice, but the pain prevented me from moving. "It's just me, Kari."

It's funny how the world works. Just a few days ago, she was the one unconscious and I was looking over her. "I survived."

"Yes, but barely. I TOLD you not to take on those men. I hope this incident has knocked some sense into you."

"But I survived."

"But you could've died."

"But I didn't. I survived."

I heard her growl in frustration. "Just shut your mouth and drink this!"

I tried to do as she told me to, but... "Uh...I can't sit up."

Another sigh of frustration before a pair of arms started to drag me into a sitting position. I've been cut a lot of times during tournaments but I can safely say that I have never been beaten so badly. And now this callous girl was trying to pull my arms out of my sockets. "Ow. Ow. OW. Gently please. In case you haven't noticed, I'm in a lot of pain."

"It's your fault you didn't listen to me," she retorted, "You could've "died"." Ah. So that's why she was so grumpy. I tried preventing those men from taking her away and this is the thanks I receive? She was so not worth it.

She pressed a warm bowl of liquid to my mouth. "Drink."

I took a sip and nearly died from the taste. It was disgusting! "What - "

"Just drink your medicine."

One look at her stern face and the rest of the medicine was down my throat in a few seconds. "Hey, where'd you get that medicine anyway?"

"I crushed up random fungi I found in the forest."

She didn't...For all I knew, those fungi could've been poisonous. The look on my face must've betrayed my thoughts for she suddenly burst out laughing. She looks very pretty when she laughs. "I got it from the pharmacy in town."

"Pharmacy in town? But..."

"In case you thought that YOU saved me, think again. Some other random mercenary came to rescue me and gave me some of his spare money. You just lay there unconscious the whole time."

What? It wasn't me who saved her? All that pain and some other man comes to takes away MY job. It better not be the same man who beat me in that tournament...And did she have to make me sound so wimpy?

"But cheer up. You're not fired."

"Thank you," I muttered. I must've looked so stupid lying in my own pool of blood. I wonder what she thinks of me now. Am I still the image of a hero in her eyes?

"Here. I bought some ointment as well. The doctor said it has to be rubbed on your wounds every day before you sleep."

I grabbed the jar off her and proceeded to rub it onto the wounds on my arms. How did I get so hurt that I fainted? FAINTED. That was definitely not called for. I must've looked so idiotic.

"I'm sorry for dragging you into this Talen. If you want, you can cancel our agreement-" Her apology was unexpected, but I did not hesitate in my answer.

"No. I will not give up on you. I will make sure you get to Vera safely." There was a momentary pause.

"I saw you recognize those men who attacked you. Yes, they were the Zenobians."

The Zenobians...troops of Lord Hector, one of the most powerful and influential lords of the country. What did she do to have such trained troops chasing her? Questions swirled in my mind, but I kept my mouth shut. She still wasn't ready to tell me and I would not force her to tell.

I don't care if they were the troops of the King. I'll protect Kari until we get to Vera. And then...then I'd have finally found redemption.

A/N: Thank you to all those who reviewed chapter 2.

Janiko: Hope there was a lot more showing than telling. I still don't think I've perfected the skill though. Some parts sounded weird, but I have no idea how to make it better. Any suggestions?

Valoria Gilden: Hope you enjoyed this chapter too.

Sara Kay: Was Talen fainting excting enough? hehe. Maybe not, but never fear. More action to come and mysteries revealed. And it's NOT what you're expecting either. That I can guarantee.

unbridledfear: I tried pumping this chapter out as soon as possible Had my exams and all so yea.. must put them first. And then there's"Turst Me." But I'llprobably get this story done soonerjust because it's shorter.

Zanna Avons: I'm very glad