303 – “So Little Time” – Shylai’a

Does Shylai’a flirt?

The bright sunlight momentarily blinded Shylai’a as she stepped through the narrow door into the street. Shouts and the screeches of drakes echoed from her left, grabbing her attention. She squinted, breaking into a run behind Korr. It was easy enough to focus on his legs and feet for direction as her eyes adjusted. 

Muscular legs. Nice. 

Not that she hadn’t noticed before, she just hadn’t let herself stare at him. Not too much, anyway. She had found herself feeling awkward when she encountered him in the house. What was she supposed to do, make small talk? 

A loud blast exploded just beyond a turn in the road, followed by screaming and more shouts. She pushed ahead, drawing her sword. 

Korr rounded a corner of the street, and Shylai’a followed, stopping short. Terrified people ran out of the front door of an inn a few buildings away from her, trying to scatter. They held their heads low to avoid the flaming debris falling into the street from the inn’s upper level. Some dashed across the street, others into other doorways or alleys, trying to find shelter. 

A tall woman in a red and black robe stood in the street with her arms raised. She was flanked by two large drakes, one red, one green and white, and surrounded by a dozen other cultists and soldiers of the Dragon’s Flame. She laughed and shouted and the others lept to chase the fleeing people. “Catch them! They will bow to their Dragon lord!”

Illariel appeared next to Shylai’a and suddenly stopped to stamp out a strange rhythmic pattern on the cobblestone. She also whistled a few quick chirps. Shylai’a raised a confused brow at her.

“Let’s go!” Eddiwarth shouted, rushing past them, “Protect them, Illariel!” 

Illariel swept her hands low in front of her, just barely over the stones. The ground rumbled and a wall of rock and dirt rose up out of the street between the oncoming soldiers and the citizens.

Shylai’a shifted her sword and followed behind Korr. She ran to the left of the new wall, lunging at one of the soldiers, who parried her thrust and jumped aside. He counterattacked, but his balance was unsure, and nearly fell. She pressed the advantage, stepping inside his sword range and driving the pommel of her own blade into his face. He dropped with a grunt and a bloody nose. 

She smiled over his unconscious form for just a moment. Sparring with Korr sure paid off!

Another soldier with a bushy beard moved up, so her moment was cut short with the need to parry a swinging blade. He snarled and pushed her back, their blades ringing with each strike.

Screams and roars sounded from her right and she jumped back, glancing away. A large drake stood on top of Illariel’s wall, shrieking down on the fearful refugees fleeing beyond it. A soldier shouted and his sword flashed toward Shylai’a’s face. She ducked and swung her hand to block and his blade bit into her forearm. 

She winced and pulled away. The soldier immediately pressed his advantage, jumping at her with a flurry of stabs and swings. She continued to retreat, drawing him away until she settled hard into a stance that Korr had shown her. Her feet and lower legs felt like stones driven deep into the street. Her attacker suddenly pulled up short, mid-slice, surprised by her immobility. 

Shylai’a smiled and leaned into him. A swing of her sword cast his blade away, clattering across the cobblestones. She dropped under his guard with a quick upper thrust and caught him in the ribs. He gasped and fell back off her bloody sword.

She didn’t take long to gloat. She had retreated quite a way down the street. She jumped over the moaning soldier then ran back toward Korr and the cultists he was fighting. A loud screech from the large drake on the wall was interrupted by a hissing stream of chittering as Ari jumped from a nearby roof onto the drake, toppling it onto the street. 

She reached Korr just as he spun to kick the face of a cultist, rolling him to the ground, unconscious.

“Hey!” She smiled, “I was going to get him for you.”

Korr had dropped back into his stance, his eyes sweeping the area. Eddiwarth was trading blasts of flame with a couple of cultist wizards from behind a large overturned wagon. The cart had caught fire but still provided some cover. Parith was raining arrows down from the rooftop. “Don’t worry,” Korr said, “there are plenty more.”

Just as he spoke, two drakes snaked through the air past the wagon toward Korr and Shylai’a. Flapping their wings, they twisted around each other as they sped along. 

Shylai’a smiled and joined Korr in a ready stance. “Aren’t you the one named ‘Dragonfighter’?”

Author’s Note: Tonklyn: Flirt While Fighting?

Recently, I spoke to a group of authors, a part of the League of Utah Writers, whose chapter is made of all romance writers. I am NOT a romance writer, naturally, so any skill that I might have in that area has been the result of much research, reading, and advice from my wife, who loves reading action romance.

Fortunately, I wasn’t there to teach about writing love, but about my method for plotting a story. After my presentation, I turned the tables and asked for their advice. How do I make my own romance arcs better? I got lots of good advice, from the first flirt, to the slow burn, to the first kiss, to the first argument, etc…

Now, Shylai’a, here, is a tricky one. She distrusts people, and men in particular, but Korr intrigues her. So, here, she’s starting to flirt with him, but the only way she really knows how is to flirt while she’s fighting. I hope it’s not to overt, here. I don’t think that’s her style, even in the middle of a fight.