Island of the Kahts 21
Three hours later, Bart woke up.
“Savadra's not very happy with you.” I told him. “Well, to be honest, I don't think anyone is right now. Except for Wulv, maybe.”
“Where are we?” His voice was hoarse.
“Back at the orchard. Wulv led your thugs right to us. Only he says they're not your thugs anymore and...after today, I'm inclined to believe him.”
“Captain?” Wulv whispered hopefully.
Bart attempted to move his head in the direction of his soldier's voice but cringed and stopped. “Wulv, my boy; don't ever do that again.”
“But Captain, you ordered me to do so.”
“Fine. Don't ever let me let you do that again.”
I smiled. “Good to have you back, Bart. Your boy did a fine job of murdering you, by the way. He's a good man.”
“Yeah, well, that's the reason I made sure he was the one to stab me.”
I laughed despite myself. “Try not to move or speak too loudly. Han wants your head on a spit and I'm not sure how much of a recovery he wants out of you before he gets the job done.”
We were all quiet for a minute.
“Shut your mouth.”
I glowered at him. “I think I'm going to forgive you this one, Bart you nefarious gentleman, but I'd prefer you don't ask for it right now because a part of me means what I told Han earlier.”
“What did you tell him?”
“That I would doctor you up so he can properly torture you to death.”
“Oh.” He went silent.
“Good. Now. What's our plan?”
“Oh, you mean bandaging my wound and getting caught by Han and convincing him to give us slow and painful deaths is not the plan?” Bart asked. “Because as far as plans go, that one's working out smashingly.”
I hadn't thought far enough to see what Han's plans for Wulv and I were. Bart couldn’t be too far off the mark. “We'll call that Plan A, Infiltration. Now we need Plan B, Escape. We'll probably need to wait until nightfall—”
“We might be in need of another plan.” Wulv offered.
“Well, it's just that after you ran and we lost you, we saw the Kahts again. The big black-and-white one, and three others.”
“Three? He left the battle with two.”
“The third one had a limp.” Bart spoke up. “If it was recovering from an injury, it wouldn't have gone on the hunt.”
“So there's only three of them left? That's no problem.”
Bart shook his head. “The Kahts surrounded the camp the night after you left. We never saw them, but their tracks were there in the morning. A scout spotted them sunbathing on some rocks that afternoon. Three of them. Not a care in the world.”
“And they came back last night,” Wulv added. “That's why it took me so long to get away. We'd just got back to camp to tell Han that the captain was dead, but the Kahts were already there. I thought for sure they would kill me when I left the camp, but I must have just missed them.”
I felt a shudder go down my spine. Were the creatures even now prowling the jungle around us, watching our moves? “You said they were intelligent,” I muttered. “I didn't think you meant it like this.”
“They seem to be learning from us and from their own mistakes.” Bart said. “I'll wager these last three are the smartest of the bunch. Even with one injured, they won't be easy to take down. Han is no hunter, and those men who are still don't know what they're dealing with.”
I was trying to think. “They've watched the camp two nights already, how long will they wait before they attack?”
“The nights have been clear so far, with too much light for the men to use to their advantage. The Kahts will have the advantage the darker it is.”
“Well,” I said with some relief. “At least the skies are clear today. There's bound to be a lot of moonlight and stars shining tonight.”
I just had to go open my big mouth again.
The clouds moved in that evening and even I could tell that they were bursting with rain. At least, I thought, trying to console myself, the Kahts hate water. It soon became evident that the clouds that promised rain were not overtly zealous about keeping their promise and we stayed dry as the sun sank deeper in the sky.
Volny returned with more water, which this time he had been instructed to give to all three prisoners. He took pleasure in spilling most of it on us rather than into us.
Bart pretended to still be unconscious. The soldiers had bound his hands together, but he wasn't tied down to anything and his legs were free. I couldn't think of any way an almost-dead man would be able to get up and run, but it did give me hope. And the longer we kept up pretenses, the longer we had before Han decided to execute us all.
I'd rather expected the cavalry to show up by then and was disappointed when my companions failed to materialize out of the trees. All the other times in my life, when I was truly in need of help, my friends had arrived like miracles in battle armor. That night, there was nothing.
Nothing, that is, except me tied to a stake, with a traitorous captain recovering from being stabbed by his last friend in the world, that self-same friend, a whole encampment of enemies wanting to kill us, and the Kahts circling in from every corner.
It wasn't long before the creatures announced their presence.
*Author's Note: I really am going to wrap this story up soon...Finding suitable endings has never been my strong point. ;)