Rakesh and Jason ran from the alley into the streets, fleeing the sound of gunfire. Others screamed and shouted as the shots echoed from the alley, and soon there were more than just the pair of men running.
As they turned into a side street, Jason couldn’t be sure if the firefight had ended or if they were simply too far away to hear further shots. He wanted to think of Yulevi’s safety, but his mind was overtaken by a need for self-preservation and a desire to be home.
Already tired from the day – the sparring gym, the flight from Auburg after Aurok’s death, and now their own close call – Jason’s gait slowed to a shuffle.
Seeing his companion’s lethargy, Rakesh brought them to a quick walk.
“We’ve placed a good distance between us,” he said between heaving breaths. “We can afford to walk some. Walking won’t draw attention.”
Jason was too busy drinking in air to reply.
“Now if only I knew where to take you,” Rakesh said.
“Safe house?” Jason rasped, his breath slowly returning to normal.
Rakesh shook his head. “I don’t know where it is, and it’s not an option to ask around.”
“Ironhaven, then,” Jason said. “Like Yulevi wanted.”
Rakesh turned quickly to face Jason, tears still showing in his eyes. “Absolutely not!”
Jason was surprised by the emotion in his friend’s voice, though he knew he shouldn’t be. The iron elf had had a rough day, first losing Aurok and now Yulevi.
“Kesh,” Jason whispered. “I’m sorry.”
Rakesh let out a heaving sigh, as if he had been holding his breath. “Just don’t mention Ironhaven to me again.”
“What’s your issue with Ironhaven, Kesh?” came a voice from behind them. Both men turned to face the source, and found themselves staring at another iron elf. He was broad in the chest and shoulders like Rakesh, and in fact bore a striking resemblance to him.
“Good to see you too, brother,” the man said when he was given no answer. “And nice to see you’re making friends with a gold elf.” He spat the last words and narrowed his eyes at Jason. “Care to introduce us?”
Jason’s gaze flicked back and forth between the two men, unsure of what to do or say. He had felt useless since being thrown into the Red King’s prison, and that feeling had returned in force today.
“I assure you this is no elf, brother,” Rakesh finally said. He spoke slowly, choosing his words carefully. “His name is Jason, a human, and my friend.”
The brother’s face showed no sign of emotion, not even surprise, as Jason was introduced.
“And Jason,” Rakesh said, turning to the young man. “This is my brother, Ronsher.”