Bravery and Ignorance

Chesa pushed herself up from the ground. The battle was drawing to a close; spidflies buzzed away or skittered into the forest on their remaining legs. She pulled one of their feathered claws from her coat and tossed it away with a frown. Another inch and she would have been twitching from the venom. Others had been less lucky, two warriors, though not hers, were in their death throes, vomit coating their mouths. A bookish looking older woman had been torn nearly in two by the brood.

            She took it all in, her company was intact, though Garrett looked a little scratched up. Tien was slowly extricating herself from the bramble she’d hid within during the fight. They all were dusting themselves off and looking to the man approaching Chesa, the other Venture captain.

            “That was a nasty turn.” Chesa said, keeping her smile small. The man had just lost half his company after all. His goods were still intact, barrels and sacks slung over his horse’s backs. He couldn’t be too upset. “Good thing we heard the commotion, largest brood I’ve seen yet.”

            The gun he leveled at her face was not the thanks she’d expected.

            Chesa looked at him incredulously, smile still half stuck on her face. “Well that’s hardly fair turnabout.” She said. Around her Garrett and his men had their weapons, already out from the fight with the spidflies, up to bear. Even Tien glared at the other venture Captain, pale yellow eyes narrowed.

            “Sorry Captain. But we’ll need your packs.” His hand shook. Chesa wondered if it was from nerves or maybe some lasting venom. He had a nasty gash in his left arm. “And your food and take.”

            She stared at him then reset her smile. “Everything?” Chesa asked. “By any chance did you forget the circumstances that our companies met? Gigantic monsters, pleas for help, heroic rescues…maybe less then fifteen minutes ago. It’s vivid in my mind at least…though if that was a ruse, bravo, it was rather convincing.” She ignored her own men behind her. She could hear them shifting, waiting for the opportunity. The small gun in the Venture Captain’s hand shook worse.

            The man grimaced at the mention. “We are–we needed the help. And we need more now. Tell your people to hand your horses over.” What remained of his own company stepped unsurely forward.

            “Poor memory and mathematical ineptitude. How did you ever get to be a Captain? We are more than double your number.” She said and yawned. The golden afternoon sun glinted off his weapon.

              He looked at her like she was speaking gibberish. “I am pointing a gun at you. I’ll shoot you.” He sputtered.

            “And then my men will cut you all down. I fail to see how you shooting me helps anyone. Except maybe my second, her promotions far off right now…so I guess you would be doing her a favor.” Chesa said, cocking her head to the side and put a finger to her lips.

            He just looked at her over the small barrel.

            “Oh, just put that silly thing away. You are not going to shoot me.” Chesa turned her back and walked to her horse, patting the russet fur under its muzzle. “Though–” She looked over her shoulder at the man still staring at her, gun now drooping. “I can help you. I notice the casks over your animals backs, Saffron wine, from over river if the labels right. You’ll need that space for your wounded. We’ll take the wine, leaving space on your horses for your dear company members.” Chesa grinned at his stupefied expression, then even wider when Garrett’s fist connected with the other Captain’s jaw. The man crumpled.

            “Leave everything but the wine, they’ll have a hard enough time getting back with that idiot in charge.” Chesa laughed and swung on to her mare’s back. “It’s gonna be a merry trip home.” Her people moved to obey, what was left of the other company let them, their stares going between their fallen captain and the grinning Chesa.

 *********

              The sun had just set and they were well away from the broken company and the spidfly clearing. Chesa sipped at her wineskin and smiled to herself.

            “How did you know he wouldn’t shoot?” Tien’s soft voice asked beside her. The woman had brought her own gentle gelding next to Chesa’s..

              Chesa swallowed the mouthful of wine. “Didn’t. Guts, pure and simple.” She smiled broadly and set her shoulders back. Next to her Tien watched and politely waited for the real answer. It was one of the reasons Chesa finally let the girl join the company. She was sharp, more so than any anyone else Chesa’d ever met. Chesa sighed. “The gun, it’s called a revolver. They only carry six shots, which he used during the fight with the spidflys. I counted, his threat was a bluff.” Chesa raised the wineskin to her lips.

            “There were eight.” Tien corrected softly.

            “Hmm?” Chesa paused mid swallow.

            “The ridges on the round, fat part of the gun, that’s where the shots go?”

            Chesa gave the smallest of nods, waiting for Tien to finish.

            “There were eight. I counted.” Tien said.

Chesa lowered the wineskin to her lap, hooking the handle around her saddle. “Oh.” The Captain was silent for a moment or so before the smile appeared again. “Well I suppose that was rather brave of me then. Good for me.” If possible Chesa looked to be in a better mood than she’d been in before. Tien chucked and let her horse fall backwards, letting Chesa take the lead.

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