((A combination of exposition and chat logs edited for tense))
Eirikr did not even try for subtlety as he led Eruviel up the stone staircase to the second floor. His low voice boomed throughout the hall as he called for his brother.
A strained, thin voice came from the west wing. Eirikr took the stairs two at a time as his brother called back, “Eirikr? Eirikr, it is okay. Go away! I-I do not want to go with you, all right, brother?”
Eririkr paused on the landing and listened carefully. He held up a hand to Eruviel as she opened her mouth to speak. In the unsettling quiet that fell, Eirikr heard the faint melody of a bell. The sound was not heavy and threatening like the bell his father used to summon his guard. A haunting plea sounded in the gentle rustling of the metal.
Tinkle tink tink
Quick as a jackrabbit, Eirikr bounded up the stairs and rushed to the closed door at the end of the hall.
Abion had taken over his brother’s space when he moved to Esgaroth with his wife. The parlor was small, but spacious and opened to a larger bedroom with soaring windows. The heavy drapes concealed the pale blue sky reflecting off the waters of Long Lake. The boy lived in a world of darkness to hide him from prying eyes. His weak muscles and bent limbs could be concealed with loose fitting garb and a pleasant smile, but his shuffling gait could not.
Now, as Eirikr stared with eyes burning with low rage, Abiorn sat in the stuffed chair, a dagger point just drawing blood from his neck. In his hand he clutched the tiny silver bell with trembling fingers, but the practiced calm of his face was betrayed only by his terrified eyes.
Eruviel looked past Eirikr to the boy, her eyes wide as glanced from him to the stairs, and back.
Eiriikr ‘s fingers flexed around his bow. His eyes leveled with his father’s as he demanded, “Let him go. He’s a child.”
Kolrson shook his head. “You bested four guards, hm? The fact you made it back at all astounds me. Gregor was right. I did not give you enough credit. But I will not allow you to take this son from me as well.”
Eiriikr kept his gaze steady, though the veins of his forearm showed from his restraint. “You would rather see him dead then free?” Behind him, Eruviel gripped the hilt of her sword as she glared at the man, waiting, listening.
He raised the hand resting on the back of Abiorn’s chair. “I do not give away anything for free, son. You should know that by now. If you and your sister insist on freedom, a price must be paid.”
Eiriikr shook his head, his red hair grown long from the journey. “This is madness. You would kill your own son or daughter just to have your own way!” He motioned subtly with his free hand for Eruviel to move in closer. She stepped forward, giving him the faintest of nods.
Kolrson noticed the movement and grabbed Abiorn by his auburn curls. “Don’t come any closer, She-elf! What are you really, Eirikr, bringing one of those with you for protection?”
Eiriikr kept his eyes on Kolrson and raise a hand at his hip to Eruviel. “I thought you liked Elves, Father.”
He sneered, “I like their gold, boy.”
Eruviel smirked. “I can leave, gwador, if you think it best.”
Eiriikr managed a tight smile. “I prefer you watching my back, systir mine.” He rolled his shoulder. “How fast is your draw lately, systir?”
Eruviel’s fingers tightened around her bow. “My draw is far faster than yours, brother,” she snickered, her eyes still locked on Kolrson.
Eiriikr raised a brow. “Oh, you believe so? I recall you complimenting me on my skills several times on the path here.”
Kolrson tensed as he watched the exchange. With wide eyes, Abiorn looked up at his father and then at the two across the room. His hand tightened around the bell in a fist. Tinkle tink tink Finally, the man sneered, marring his already severe features. He barked out with impatience, “Stop chattering! What is wrong with you?!”
Eiriikr laughed mirthlessly. “What is wrong, Father?” The word ‘father’ dripped off his tongue like poison. “Not the center of attention?”
Eruviel ‘s shoulders relaxed as a wry smile curved up her mouth. “Do not make me eat my words. I would hate to have to let you win.”
Eiriikr grinned. His white teeth glistened in the firelight. “He can’t dodge two, I don’t think. Not a soft old man like him.”
Eruviel nodded once. “We will not know unless we try.”
Abiorn sank lower in the chair only to be stopped by the fist in his hair. He looked on at Eirikr in terror. He wouldn’t shoot…would he?
Eiriikr nodded, still grinning. He motioned a countdown with his fingers. Three…two…one…
As Kolrson watched the obvious countdown, his eyes grew wide. As Eirikr counted down to one, he attempted to duck behind the chair. Eruviel whisked out an arrow, and anticipating the cruel man’s flight, knocked and fired without hesitation. The man screamed as Eruviel’s arrow penetrated his calf. However, it was a feint! As Eruviel shot, Eirikr charged and tackled Abiorn right in the chair. The entire seat moved back, checking into Kolrson and knocking him over. The force of the chair crashing into him knocked him to his side and he lost hold of the dagger tipped with Abiorn’s blood. Eruviel lept forward and snatched up the dagger before it could be recovered.
Abiorn let out a shout that was abruptly cut off by the force of his brother’s full weight. As he toppled backward, his frail arms and legs flailed about and tried to catch the landing that never came. Eirikr rolled away from the pile-up, dragging his brother with him. He shielded his brother with his body as he looked over toward the chair and fallen man. “Eruviel!” he called out, motioning for her to take hold of Kolrson before he could manage to recover.
Eruviel ran over to grapple Kolrson at Eirikr’s command, dropping her weapons to the side. Bleeding profusely from the arrow in his leg, Kolrson attempted to manipulate Eruviel to the ground. As he rolled her over, his momentum carried him back on to his back where she suddenly had the advantage. He cursed and grabbed for his dagger.
Eiriikr looked down at Abiorn. The boy was fighting back tears and clutching his arm. “Are there any other guards? We faced four downstairs.” Abiorn shook his head yes. “Where are they?”
Eruviel grabbed his reaching hand as she pulled her other arm back to throw a punch. Her fist connected squarely and he sputtered as blood spurted from his nose. He howled in anger and threw his weight toward her to knock her off balance.
Abiorn answered softly, “He probably sent the back guards after you. Most are on leave until the evening. Wh-what are you doing here, Eirikr?”
Eiriikr shook his head. “We are leaving, brother. Your arm?” He frowned down at him and touched his arm gently.
Abiorn shook his head in dismissal. “It is nothing. Sore.”
Eruviel’s eyes widened in surprise as the man threw her. She tumbled over and attempted to scramble back to get a hold on him. Kolrson pushed her away and tried to crawl on his hands and knees, leaving a trail of blood on the floor toward the door. She fell back but rolled, grabbing at the man’s foot to pull him back as she braced her feet to right herself. He kicked weakly as his leg was latched onto by the Elf, shouting out in pain.
Eiriikr nodded and looked over to the two struggling. He grinned at Abiorn as he helped him sit up. “Should I help her?”
Abiorn looked alarmed for a moment and then relaxed into a grin. “You might just get in the way.”
Eruviel dodged Kolrson’s kick and grabbed his free foot with her other hand. Quickly rising to her feet she pulled, hoping to drag the man further back into the room. He flailed his legs, but the injury was too much. Bending at the waist, he grabbed at her hands, but his rather rotund belly got in the way.
Eiriikr grinned back at his brother and strode over to Eruviel and Kolrson. He grabbed the man by the front of his robes and lifted him with one heave so he can punch him in the face. Kolrson used the opportunity to punch Eirikr in the gut. He crashed back to the floor and kicked out at Eruviel again hoping the inertia of his fall would assist him in gaining his freedom. Eruviel batted away the kick and grabbed for one of his feet as she attempted to draw her sword with her free hand.
Eiriikr doubled over and gasped for breath. He drew his sword as he struggled to catch his breath. His father growled as he was denied and grabbed at the Elf’s sword. Stepping forward, Eirikr lowered the sword to Kolrson’s throat.
The older man stilled and looked up at his son from his back. “You wouldn’t kill your own flesh and blood, would you, son?” he sneered.
Eruviel’s hand grabbed her sword and she froze, still holding on to Kolrson. “You filth,” she growled. “You are one to talk.”
Kolrson kicked out at Eruviel just for spite. “I’ve not killed one of my own,” he said before stilling as the cold metal of Eirikr’s sword touched his skin. “So, what now, boy?”
Eiriikr growled, “You may not have killed any of us, but the damage you set upon us is proof enough: you don’t deserve life, old man.” He went in for the kill, but a sound of alarm from Abiorn stayed his hand. He glanced back, the sword tip wavering.
Seeing the moment of weakness in his son, Kolrson reached up to grab the sword from his hand. Eruviel swiftly drew her blade as Eirikr looked behind them, but Eiriikr turned around in time to see him grab at the sword. He took a step back as he pulled away, and Kolrson reached out to trip him.
Eruviel thrusted her blade down, hoping to parry Korlson’s movement, stabbing him in the arm in the process. He laid back and clutched his wound, glaring at the two.
Eiriikr redirected his sword to point at Kolrson again. To Abiorn, he said, “Abbi. Go. We will follow.”
The boy nodded and edged around the room for the door. Once he reached it, he slid out reluctantly.
Eruviel glanced back to the door. “Should I stay or follow him, brother?” she asked quietly.
Eiriikr shrugged. “He said the only guard is in the front now. We shall thus exit the back.” He walked around his father slowly and nodded for Eruviel to leave. “Take Abiorn to Ninim. I will raid my father’s safe and then we shall leave. A small restitution for the suffering his actions have caused, I think.”
Eruviel shot a withering glance at the wounded Kolrson and nodded curtly as she turned for the door. “I will see him safely there. Don’t be long, Eirikr.”
Eiriikr nodded, his eyes on his father. As Eruviel left, he said simply. “Don’t send anyone after us. They will die, or end up like the men you’ve hired downstairs. Don’t try to find us, as we are better off without you. Sten is dead. You could be, too. Be thankful I am nothing like you, Father.”
Still clutching his arm as it bled, Kolrson glared up at his son. “You won’t have a single night of peace. I heard Sten gave your wife a present, didn’t he?”
At those words, Eirikr stopped in his tracks and turned. He grabbed his father by the robes and slammed his fist into his face. Without a word, he followed Eruviel out, heading for the safe and leaving his father dazed and bleeding on the floor.