He never made it. The Aielman dropped from the sky, landing upon the thug with Cuerainaâ€™s dagger in his side, the wet sound of a snapping neck broadcasting the grimy-faced thugâ€™s sudden death. The Aielman never hesitated, landing multiple swift and sure strikes into the scar-faced thug even as he landed. Scar-faceâ€™s sword dropped from his hand even as he fell lifeless to the ground. The Aielman turned to face a third opponent, and Cueraina found herself surrounded on two sides by corpses that had been living men less than an eyeblink earlier. She took advantage of the fact that the thugs were busy with her two would-be rescuers by trying to retrieve her dagger from the grimy-faced thugâ€™s corpse. She knelt down to pull the dagger free, watching the combatants closely as they fought. The Aielman and the Shinaran were outnumbered, but were much more skilled than the thugs that they faced. Both moved with a grace and ease that spoke of years of training and practice, each a skilled practitioner of a deadly art-form.
The dagger was still not coming free. She looked down to try and work it free, not wanting to be unarmed when so many combatants were so close. A gap-toothed thug suddenly leapt at her, grabbing her by the hair and yanking her cruelly to her feet. She did not know what he planned, but she had no intention of being his victim. She spun around and twisted behind him, trying to avoid the short sword that he carried. His grip remained firm as he clutched her hair, causing her to wince as he yanked at her, trying to pull her in front of him. He turned about in an attempt to get a better angle on her, attempting to force her to stand between him and the other combatants.
She struggled to get away from him, trying to get her hair free from his grasp. A spearhead suddenly bloomed from his neck, and he sank to his knees gurgling as blood fountained from the wound. The spearhead disappeared as the veiled Aielman pulled his weapon free, turning to find another opponent. As he turned, another of the thugs came at him from his blindside, wielding a curved dagger. Cueraina yelled a warning, but before the Aielman could twist to meet the threat, the thug was upon him, swinging at him with his curved dagger at very close quarters, too close for the Aielman to effectively bring his spear to bear on his opponent. The Aielman parried his opponentâ€™s attacks with his buckler, ducking and dodging with incredible speed. The Aielman tried to step back far enough from his opponent to use his spear more effectively, but every time he did, his opponent would press in, trying to find a hole in the Aielmanâ€™s defenses.
Suddenly, the back door of the tavern burst open, and a powerfully-built Andoran jumped into the midst of the battle. Running through a nearby thug with his sword, the new arrival took advantage of the chaos and confusion to plant himself between Cueraina and the rest of the combatants, offering himself as a shield against further attackers. Standing on guard a brief moment to take stock of the situation, the Andoran jumped to the assistance of the Aielman, yet still managed to keep himself between Cueraina and other would-be assailants. The thug, his focus diverted by two separate opponents, quickly fell victim to the Andoranâ€™s blade. The Andoran was already reassessing the situation, trying to determine if the Aielman was a threat or an ally.
Giving up on her dagger, Cueraina instead picked up a short sword that had been wielded by one of the thugs. She looked around, noticing that all the thugs lay dead or dying, but her three would-be rescuers were eyeing each other in silence, unsure if the other two were threats or not. The Shienaran paid the closest attention to the Aielman, who remained veiled. She noticed that somewhere the Shienaran had lost one of his blades, and was keeping the other trained on the Aielman. The Andoran seemed to at least be more interested in keeping the peace than in picking another fight. The silence grew thick between the Aielman and the Shienaran, each fingering their weapons, waiting for the other to make the first move. Cueraina knew that if she didnâ€™t intervene, another battle would ensue. She tossed the rusty short sword aside and turned on her full Domani charm, gliding between the two men.
â€œIt was certainly brave of youâ€¦â€ was as far as she got before the Shienaran quickly moved forward and grabbed her arm, pulling her out from between the two of them.
â€œGet back!â€ he yelled, never taking his eyes off the Aielman, â€œThese darkfriends are dangerous!â€
The Aielman leapt forward with spears ready upon being called a darkfriend. He obviously regarded such an accusation as an offense to do battle over. Cueraina managed to wrench herself free as the Shienaran focused his attention on the attacking Aielman. As the two moved in for the attack, she managed to get her hands on both of them, trying to keep them apart.
â€œNO!â€ she screamed, and pushed with all her might. The feeling of power once again surged through her, bringing with it its momentary clairity. The Aielman flew backwards about ten feet before striking a wall hard and landing in a heap of broken pallets. Similarly, the Shienaran flew backwards about twenty feet, landing back in the street near the front of the tavern. Cueraina gaped as she looked from one man to the other, and then looked down at her own hands. Surely SHE wasnâ€™t that strongâ€¦ it simply wasnâ€™t possible.
The Andorman, forgotten by Cueraina and the others, backed slowly away from her, his eyes widening. Apparently he had no intention of intervening now.