“Oh, nnno,” Alika warned. “I think you better stop right where you are. If you get too close, I might get nervous and slip.” Trembling for dramatic effect, she tightened her hold on Feather, and slid the sharp blade lightly over her throat.
A trickle of blood ran down Feather’s neck.
“Oops, see what I mean?”
Red hair stopped instantly and held up her hands. “Stop Alika! I get the message. What is it that you want?”
“So like you to cut through the chit chat. You always did like to get right to the point.” Keeping the pressure of the blade steady, Alika reached into her belt pouch with her free hand and pulled out a needle. Holding it out in front of Feather, she smiled wickedly. “On second thought, you might want to come in just a bit to improve your view.”
Advancing steadily, Red hair tried to distract her enemy while she closed the distance between them. “So Alika……what’s your game this time?”
“Can’t you guess?” When Red hair didn’t respond, Alika nudged her captive. “What about you?”
Noting the dark oily substance coating the needle, Feather called out to Red hair. “There’s something on it. I think it may be poison.”
Alika grinned. “See, she’s not as stupid as she looks.” Pointing the needle at Feather’s throat, she smiled menacingly. “You’re right, Feather. It is poison… a most deadly one.”
Suspecting what was to come, Red hair sprinted and launched herself at Alika. But even as she hurled through the air, her stomach lurched from the certainty that she would be too late.
Unable to move, Feather grimaced as the slender needle punctured her neck.
Task accomplished, Alika pushed Feather toward Red hair.
Quickly steadying Feather, Red hair spun to face her enemy. To her surprise, Alika was casually seated on a large rock with no weapon in sight. Sensing no immediate danger, she turned to Feather. Her eyes fell immediately to the long needle protruding ominously from Feather’s neck. “Are you in pain?”
“No, not much,” Feather replied nervously.
“Good, I need you to hold still. I’m going to try to get the poison out.” Red hair bent to retrieve her sleen knife then gently tilted Feather’s head to the side. Slowly removing the needle, she made a small incision over the puncture. Pressing her lips to the cut, she drew hard, spitting out the tainted blood as it filled her mouth.
Light-headed, Feather gripped Red hair tightly.
Finally, knowing further attempts would be futile, Red hair stopped and pulled back. Fearful that she hadn’t acted fast enough, she cast Feather a worried glance. “How do you feel?”
“I… I’m a little dizzy.”
Alika clapped slowly. “My, my that was quite a show. But unfortunately it served no purpose… unless, of course, Feather enjoys having you suck her neck.”
Slamming her foot down on the hilt of her sleen knife, Red hair caught it in mid air and was on Alika in an instant. “What was it?” she demanded holding the weapon menacingly to her enemy’s chest. “What poison did you use……was it Ost?”
Unruffled, Alika smiled. “Such a fuss.” She leaned into the knife, allowing it to press against her skin. “This is rather pointless, wouldn’t you say? We both know you won’t kill me. You’d be sentencing your little panther girl to certain death.”
Fueled by her concern for Feather; Red hair’s anger surfaced quickly. “If you don’t tell me what I need to know, I promise I’ll make you wish you were dead.”
“Let’s just calm down, shall we?” Ignoring the knife, Alika pulled a long blade of grass and casually ran it across her lips. “She still has quite a bit of time. Although the poison is quick to enter the blood, it’s relatively slow acting. I figure she may have as many as three moon’s.” She released a heavy sigh. “Unfortunately, by the second or third moon, I fear she’ll be praying for a quick and merciful end.”
Fury surging,”You’re the one who should be praying for an antidote,”Red hair threatened.
“Hmm, an antidote?” Feigning a puzzled look, Alika tapped her chin with her index finger, then grinned. “Yes, of course there’s an antidote.”
“Hand it over,” Red hair demanded.
The mad female smiled and rolled her eyes. “Come now, it would be rather silly to have it on me. Wouldn’t it?” In a startling transition, she glared at Red hair, her expression chilling. “To get the antidote, you’ll have to travel with me to Gimli. You remember Gimli,” she taunted, a sharp edge to her voice. “Don’t you, Red hair.”
Red hair lowered her blade and growled.
“Why Gimli?” Feather questioned warily. “What’s going to happen there?”
“I’m so glad you asked,” Alika declared as she turned to Feather. “You see, when we get to Gimli, Red hair is going to steal something from the Priestess.” She released a contented sigh. “Then I’ll have what I’ve always wanted… revenge on Briggs.” Grinning wickedly, she elaborated. “I will get what I want and Red hair will get the blame.”