“Oi! The Watch, run!”
Kaidyn’s ears had caught it, too—the clinking of steel as a patrol wandered nearby, perhaps attracted by the sounds of their struggle. No others could walk the city streets openly armed, even by day. Not that Kaidyn wanted to stick around any longer than his attackers. He had no wish to be locked up for the night either.
The man directly in front of him seized him by the collar of his shirt. “Something to remember me by,” he muttered, and Kaidyn knew his mouth was open but couldn’t hear his own gasp as he was dealt a final blow. The hit wasn’t in his stomach again, as he’d been expecting, but at the side of his head. It felt like an object struck him, not merely a fist, but something blunt and hard. He felt the blood begin to drip from the base of his skull and trickle down his neck. The world wavered around him as the last of the men ran off. Cowards, all.
Kaidyn took an uneven step, then several more. He tilted toward the ground but did not fall. Luck. Where is Luck? I have to find him, before...
He was still so angry, but his thoughts were leaking out of him along with the blood, the dizziness beginning to consume them. If I don’t hurry...
The stars were wheeling somewhere above him. When did I fall to the ground? He tried to search for a familiar landmark, but his sight was failing him. Kaidyn had either drank too much or been hit too hard.
“Oh!” Kaidyn heard a gasp, but it had not come from him. It wasn’t Luck, either. He tried to get up, to defend himself once more, but his hands met only empty air.
“I’m not going to hurt you, I promise—”
Kaidyn growled, his tone low and furious.
“All right, all right,” the voice soothed him. “I’ll just wait until you’re ready to walk again, shall I?” The unknown person sounded sympathetic. Gentle, even, and impossibly, unbearably kind. But that must have been in his head, because surely nobody who saw Kaidyn in his current state could be anything but disappointed, disgusted, or a combination of the two.
“It’s going to be all right,” the voice continued, and to Kaidyn’s astonishment he felt a cool hand touching his brow, brushing wisps of hair from his forehead. He could not remember the last time he had been touched with such tenderness. “I have you. You’re safe now. I won’t leave you alone here.”
Kaidyn shook his head, forcing his sight to clear. A pair of eyes stared anxiously back down at him and drew him in, as though calling him on from somewhere. But from where? Where...
He had definitely imagined that part, because this stranger, whoever he was, could not have known his name, much less the one reserved for his closest friends.
But he could not think any longer, he was falling, falling... and running again, running away from the pain and the bile rising in his throat, escaping everything but the darkness that finally overtook him to swallow him whole.