“I seriously don’t understand how our phones don’t need to run on batteries.”
“I don’t think anyone really does. The technology was made in the North, and everyone knows how stingy they are with their advancements.”
“No one likes those bastards anyways.”
Azura frowned slightly at her dirty blonde friend. “Kaelin, I thought you said you were going to stop cussing so much. You were doing so well, too.”
Kaelin shrugged. “Old habits die hard, I guess.”
“Hey, we were on a roll,” Roselyn interrupted. “It’ll be easier to remember things if we stay on track.”
Sky blue eyes looked to the clouds above as Azura sighed. “Fine. Where’d we leave off?”
“Our parents,” Kaelin said, eying Roselyn closely. She hadn’t forgotten Roselyn’s apprehensive question about their parents and was looking for answers.
“Right,” Azura continued. “Our parents all know each other from the Resistance, which Roselyn’s dad seems to be in charge of. Your dad is in charge of the special task forces and my parents are the top intelligence officers. It’s hard to believe that the fact that our parents are all leading officers in this Resistance is just a coincidence.”
“But don’t forget how nearly useless the Resistance is. They are able to slow down the chaos, but aren’t doing anything to stop it entirely,” Roselyn countered. “They focus their attention on the Cardin and ignore Gwydion. He sits happily in the South, reigning terror on the rest of the continent, and the only beings that pay the price are his Cardin and us. Even the North has declared allegiance to him. The Resistance is separated and just about useless.”
“Northern bastards are only loyal to people who pay them, and that might be giving them too much credit. They’ll slit your throat in a second as long as they’ve already been paid.”
The young blonde blinked. “You have some serious hate issues.”
“Well, I can’t say that you’re helping, either. I seriously think that – Holy shit!”
Kaelin quickly side stepped. A black blur passed centimeters in front of her, leaving the rotten scent of carrion in its wakes. Roselyn and Azura had experienced similar assaults and the trio suddenly found themselves surrounded by more than two dozen Cardin. They were small for Cardin, about the size of an elk on all fours.
“Was that necessary?” Azura asked.
“The Cardin ambushing us or me cussing?”
“I don’t think this is the right time to be discussing Kaelin’s trash talking,” Roselyn hissed.
“Oh really? I failed to notice that. Does that mean there’s no picnic today?”
“Kaelin! You can be sarcastic when we get out of this alive.”
Four of the monstrosities closed in and pounced. A sudden gunshot pierced the air and two of the Cardin were shot in midair. The other two were quickly relieved of the hind legs. Jay and Broderick had arrived, and not a second too soon. Fresh black blood dripped from Broderick’s massive war axe as he stood before the three. Jay held a pearl-white handgun in each hand and stood tense, her muscles coiled and ready to spring into action.
“You three, catch.” Broderick tossed each of them a different weapon. Azura received a wooden bow and quiver, Kaelin a bladed staff, and Roselyn a rusty chain whip. “Use them. You all know how.”
Broderick looked at the trio seriously, his enormous axe casually resting over one shoulder. “Old habits die hard.”
“We’ll explain later,” Jay snapped. “Trust yourselves and we’ll make it out alive.” Her words were tense, but her eyes danced with the thrill of the fight. She leaped high into the air and fired her handguns into the nearest Cardin. Broderick was quick to follow, being unnaturally fast for a man his size carrying an equally large axe.
Roselyn, Kaelin, and Azura glanced at the weapons in their hands, the Cardin they needed to rid themselves of, and then at each other. “First to ten?” Kaelin said with a streak of black humor.
They exchanged a silent nod and leapt straight into the fray, trusting their ancient, battle-hardened souls to guide them.
Old habits die hard.