Martha was on the move before Sarah could look up. Having gathered her skirts over one arm, the woman ran toward the sound of her son’s screams. Sarah set her plant down gently and quickly followed. She stopped as soon as she saw what was going on and stepped back into the shadows of the trees.
A man was holding Ryan tightly in his grasp. Greg lay sprawled at his feet. It was barely perceivable, but Greg’s chest rose up and down, indicating he was alive. Martha stood behind her other three boys who looked ready to attack. The problem was the knife at Ryan’s throat. Sarah moved as quietly as she could, hoping to circle wide to get behind the man. His focus was on the boys. Sarah tucked her skirt up in to its waist band as she moved.
“What has my son done to deserve the wrath of the Gods?” Martha demanded to know, her voice near tears. “Why not take me, instead of him?”
The man’s voice grated on Sarah’s ears. “It’s not what your boy has done, it is the one harbored in your house hold. My liege has a grudge against her.”
“Liege?” Martha exclaimed, clearly shocked by this statement. “Since when did the Nigiri owe allegiance to a Lord?”
A twig snapped under Sarah’s foot and the man’s attention whipped around to her. An eerie smile spread across his face, sending a shiver down Sarah’s spine. He immediately flung Ryan at his mother and attacked Sarah. It was all she could do to stay on her own two feet, he came so fast. Still she managed, hampered by clothing as she was.
They struggled, back and forth, Sarah barely keeping an upper hand. Suddenly he whipped around as Martha screeched. Ryan ran towards them, a large stick held tight in his fist. With a forceful backhand the man sent Ryan sprawling to the ground, unconscious.
That act gave Sarah the fury and the moment she needed to do what had to be done. Grabbing the man’s shoulders as he turned back to her she brought her knee up, full force, into his groin. He doubled over in pain. Sarah stepped back, quickly readying herself. As the man stood she placed a well aimed kick to his knee. Crack. The sound of bone breaking made her cringe. Sarah jumped back as the man fell forward.
He looked up at her, his eyes full of hate, “You may have gotten away from my Liege, but you will not escape me.”
Sarah continued to back up. The man had pulled a dagger from his boot. But before he could throw it, Greg gave him a massive wallop to the head with a log. The man fell forward into unconsciousness. Greg stumbled and Sarah quickly came to his aid.
“Boys,” Martha broke into the stunned silence. “Go gather the bags we left over there.”
She shooed Ralph, Travis and Trevor off to where she and Sarah had been working. Ever so gently she picked up Ryan.
“Thank the Gods he’s still alive,” she whispered as they made their way to the cart.
“Shouldn’t we,” Sarah began as she looked back to where the man lay unconscious with a broken knee.
“Best to let the Moyther and Fayther handle it. Till then you just best not stray from the Scout Command Center,” Greg stated.
The twins and Ralph were waiting for them nervously at the cart. Sarah helped Greg get in. He had sprained an ankle, so he sat in back holding Ryan. Sitting up front Sarah couldn’t help but study the prone figure of the man. His clothing made him blend into the fallen leaves on the ground. Martha had used the word Nigiri, and that was close enough to ninja for Sarah to make the connection. Her thoughts were interrupted as the cart jolted into motion.
Martha urged the pony to go as fast as she dared. She didn’t slow down until they reached town. They came to a stop abreast of the Scout Barracks on the other side. Sarah clambered down and helped Trevor, Travis and Ralph out of the back. Ryan looked at her with bleary eyes.
"Did we win?" he whispered.
Greg immediately hushed him with a harsh word before Sarah could answer. Martha cracked the reigns and the cart quickly sped off down the road where, Sarah hoped, there was a doctor. She and the boys, in a much more somber mood than the morning, walked between the houses and the barracks. She kept them as busy as possible while planting her herbs, hoping to keep today’s incident out of their minds, including hers.