Chapter Thirty

The bandit leader’s hands on Nisa’s hips felt like fire and every part of her wanted to squirm away or hit him where it would hurt the most. But there was no way of knowing what he would do to the others, especially Oliver, so fear held her back and kept her silent.

Oliver grunted. “If you touch her, I swear—“

“You’ll do what?” The leader smirked and gestured for one of the bandits on his right. That man went over and slid the energy from around Susie and dragged her by her hair.

Chris screamed and cursed as he thrashed but the magical energy around him stayed firm. “Susie! Stay away from her!”

The bandit threw Susie to the ground beside the leader and he smirked. “Alright, alright. Enough of my teasing, I suppose. Why don’t you ladies make us a fine meal?”

Cook it yourself, Nisa wanted to snap at him. But if he let them out to cook something, then maybe he would let his guard down and she and Susie could find a way out of this. Slowly, she nodded, gripping Susie’s hand. “Where’s the food and the fire?”

The leader pointed a thumb to a fire behind him, on the other side of the camp. Several bandits gathered around it, but some of them marched this way to see the “new prisoners.” Swallowing deeply, Nisa led Susie over to the fire. Strands of meat hung on ropes from tree branches, so Nisa reached for one and used a stick to place it over the fire. Meanwhile, Susie grabbed a pot and used a canteen one of the bandits handed her to pour boiling water in there. That same man kicked a crate. “Stuff for soup’s in here, darlin’.”

“No one touches them until I do.” The leader said, glancing at the two women over his shoulder with a smirk. His eyes traced over their bodies and it made Nisa shiver.

As Susie started pouring in ingredients—most of which, neither of them knew about—into the makeshift soup, Nisa used sticks to hold up the meat over the fire. Fortunately, she knew how to make a spit and the basics of camping, so that at least helped her. One thing she did notice was that the fire here wasn’t silver, like magical fire. Nor was it orange and red, like fire on earth. This fire was violet and sometimes had shades closer to lilac and other times shades that more closely resembled a dark violet.

“How are we going to escape?” Susie whispered.

Nisa shook her head. “I don’t know. Maybe once they’re all asleep, we can get the binds off. You notice how all they did was slide their hand across it?”

Susie opened her mouth to answer, but clamped it shut as one of the other bandits walked to stand in front of them. “You’d better make the soup good…” He sneered down at her.

Susie swallowed deeply with a shiver. “I—I’ll do my best.”

The bandit grunted and then walked toward the other side of the camp, where the leader was in front of Oliver and the others who were all bound.

“How are we supposed to free them all, though?” Susie whispered.

Nisa stepped back away from the fire and found a ladle of sorts—or a wooden instrument that looked close enough to one—and started stirring the soup. “After they’re all asleep. We—we can go around and take them all off.”

Susie frowned. “Won’t they post guards?”

Nisa ran her hands through her hair, feeling tears burning her eyes, but she shoved them back. “Likely. I—I don’t know how we’re supposed to get out of this…” Panic made her heart race in her chest so much that it made her entire torso ache.

Nisa took another step back and knelt on the ground. As she did so, her knee brushed up against something round. Quickly, she grasped it in her hands and slid it into her pocket. It was a potion jar, but filled with powder instead of liquid.

“That’s a vial of sleeping powder. Put it in the food to knock all the bandits out. I’m getting control of my binds. When I do, we can work together to free the others, tie up the bandits, and take over the camp while they’re out,” a voice murmured in her head.

Nisa’s eyes widened but she quickly made her expression impassive.

“Nisa, are you alright?” Susie whispered.

Nisa glanced over to where Vanmor was bound to a tree on the opposite side of Chris, Oliver, and Ena, leaving Kor’ok on the opposite end.

Vanmor winked at her.

Fortunately, the leader and bandits had all been turned away from them. Two men had grabbed Aelyr and threw him down on the ground in front of where the leader stood in front of him.

Aleyr stared up at him but didn’t seem the least bit intimidated. “Brother. I take it you aren’t going to sell me off, then?”

The leader shook his head. “No, no. I’ve got special plans for you. Be ironic if you drowned, wouldn’t it?”

Aleyr frowned. “Just a bit. Yeah. What…? Still jealous that I got to meet our father and you didn’t?”

The leader clenched his fists and slammed one of them into Aleyr’s jaw. He reeled backward but laughed about it—Nisa could hardly believe how crazy this pirate was. “At least I managed to make something of my life without him,” the leader said. “You practically followed him around like a lost puppy—a puppy with no one to lead him.”

Aleyr sat back up on his knees and for a brief moment, Nisa saw his jaw twitch. That last part the leader said had finally gotten to him. Ignoring the rest of what was going on—especially since it seemed the leader was all too eager to beat Aleyr—Nisa gripped Susie’s hands and glanced around to make sure they were away from all the other bandits. “Vanmor gave me something.” Carefully and slowly, Nisa slipped the bottle out of her pocket and then poured half of it into the soup. The rest of it she used to season all the cooking meat.

To be sure, Nisa looked around for any alcohol the bandits might have or whatever drinks they might use, but most of them had bottles open already. Hopefully, each of them would eat.

By then, the soup and meat were mostly finished cooking. So, Susie and Nisa searched the camp until they found the wooden bowls and plates that had been scattered. In the back of her mind, she couldn’t help but be disgusted by the place—some of them had just been lying discarded on the forest floor. Susie poured soup into each bowl and Nisa tore off the meat and placed it onto the plates. Fortunately, it was extremely tender and easy to tear—she doubted they would give her a knife, although it would be nice. The leader didn’t seem to be that stupid.

“The food is done,” Nisa called.

The leader glanced at them over his shoulder where he towered over an unconscious Aelyr. The pirate had blood pouring from his nose and mouth and his breath came in shallow pants. “Ah, bring it to me, my dears. Why don’t you lovelies serve us? Since that’s your place in this world—servants to your betters.”

His words chilled her to the bone, but Nisa grabbed a plate and bowl and walked over to him. Susie did the same, but she handed her bowl and plate to another bandit.

Nisa held hers out to the leader who grabbed it with a sniff. “Smells delicious. Feed me and then tonight, you and I can get… better acquainted.”

Oliver growled, but Nisa met his gaze and shook her head. The last thing she wanted was for him to make the leader mad and to end up like Aelyr.

The leader sat back down on his comfortable pillow and blanket so Nisa knelt in front of him and desperately tried to hold back a cringe as she fed him. Every part of her felt like gagging, throwing up, or running away, but she forced her body to remain perfectly still and obedient.

The leader chewed his bite and gazed at her intently. “Boy, you sure know your place. No fight in you at all. Is this not your first time at a place like this?”

Nisa swallowed deeply and offered him another bite.

The leader snatched her wrist and leaned in so that his fowl breath stung the skin of her face. “Answer me.”

“No,” she lied. “It isn’t.”

It most definitely was, especially considering all the details of their circumstances, but he didn’t need to know that. As she continued to feed him, she took brief, careful glances to make sure Susie gave the rest of the bandits their food. From what Nisa could tell, it looked as if each and every bandit had a plate or bowl of food in their hands.

The leader swallowed his last bite and leaned back on his pillow with a contented sigh. “Ahhh… might have to wait to see more of you in the morning….” His voice trailed off as his eyes fluttered shut.

All around the camp, the bandits were slowly drifting off to sleep. Several of them fell straight to sleep leaning against crates or trees, even the ones guarding Oliver and the others—those fell asleep on their feet.

Slowly, Nisa rose to her feet and met Susie’s gaze. She sprinted toward the other half of the camp and then nodded.

Nisa turned to Vanmor and nodded her head to signal him.

Closing his eyes, Vanmor’s skin glowed and right before her eyes, the shield binding his body to the tree slowly began to disappear, as if it was being dragged into his skin.

Oliver’s eyes widened. Even Kor’ok seemed surprise. “How are you doing that?” Kor’ok asked. “These stop magic.”

Vanmor breathed heavily and stood to his feet. “One of my friends knew how to do it, so I only learned in theory. You know me; I always want to try new spells. That’s what took me so long. I’ll free the others. Nisa, you and Susie go around and tie up the bandits. The others will join you as I free them. They’ll all only be out for about ten minutes.”

Nisa nodded and together, she and Susie sprinted toward the other side of the camp, filled with wagons and crates full of supplies. Nisa leapt up into the wagon and found one full of weapons and gold and jewels, and then finally, thankfully, in the back there was one full of rope.

Meanwhile, Susie had untied some of the food that had been hung up on tree branches and used those ropes. Nisa started on the far side of the camp and started tying each man’s hands and feet. If they weren’t careful, they would run out of rope, so she tried to go sparingly and at the same time, tie it tightly so that none of them could escape.

By then, Oliver, Chris, Bea, and Kor’ok joined them. Vanmor stood in the center of camp, using his magic to form something out of energy but Nisa couldn’t quite tell what it was.

“I need more rope,” Nisa said to Bea.

With a nod, Bea sprinted to the other side of the camp, away from where the leader still lay passed out. With the last of Nisa’s rope, she darted to the leader’s side and made sure his hands and feet were completely secure. After that, while she waited on Bea to find more rope, she went back around and took away all the bandit’s weapons.

Kor’ok, Oliver, and Chris took some of the bandits and used the magical binds to pin them so that they couldn’t move. Nisa also found several magical devices so she immediately took them away, along with the other bandit’s weapons.

Bea returned with the rope so they split it between them and finished off the last of the untied bandits. Some of the bandits began to stir, including the leader.

Vanmor sagged and fell to his knees.

Nisa finished tying a man’s feet and hands and darted to Vanmor’s side. In front of him were several cages. “Put them…” he panted, “in the wagons… We can… drive them… to the next… village… under… arrest.”

Kor’ok, Oliver, and Chris rushed to lift the cages onto the four wagons that the bandits had. Bea, Nisa, and Susie cleared them by quickly tossing off crates onto the ground. As soon as the wagons were clear, they placed the cages on there and then each of them dragged the bandits inside the cages. The men, of course, were able to do it on their own, but Bea, Susie, and Nisa had to work together. Vanmor used his magic to grab two bandits at a time. The leader was the last one thrown in just before the entire group of bandits slowly started to wake.

Aleyr groaned and sat up, eyes meeting the leader’s. “Wh—what happened?”

The leader cursed, throwing his body against the cages. “What have you done? What have you done?”

Nisa’s lips pulled up into a huge smile and gratefulness to God for getting them out of this potentially terrible situation filled her. “We just outsmarted you.”

Joanna White

I'm a Christian author with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Creative Writing for Entertainment. I love God and my family and am passionate about writing Christian Fantasy. I'm a total nerd; I love Star Wars and video games and many other TV Shows.

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