“Wait a minute.” Quill scrambled to catch up to Flynn, who merely paused to glance back at him. “You’re not going alone.”
“You don’t even have your sword.” Flynn’s tone was infuriatingly patient. “I’m not planning on just bursting in there and taking down every last thug with my spear. I’ll sneak in, release the horses, and come right back during the confusion.”
Quill blinked. “You’ve done this before.”
“Only once,” Flynn admitted. “Woke up tied to a tree one morning with Canvas and the caravan gone. Once I broke free of my binds, I tracked the bandits down, which was simple enough since Canvas seemed to have been fighting them the whole way. There were plenty of hoof prints stomped into the ground for me to follow. I waited until nightfall to sneak in and free not only Canvas but all of their horses. Canvas and I busted out during the confusion and booked it back toward the village. It was on the way back from the market, so I didn’t feel too guilty in leaving behind the caravan–”
“You’re lucky you weren’t killed,” Quill said.
“I thank the fates for that every day.” Flynn readjusted his grip on his spear. “You going to let me go now?”
“No, I’m still going with you,” Quill said. “I can be a lookout or something.”
“It’d be much easier for you to wait here,” Flynn insisted. “I’ll come right back with the horses–”
“I’d rather be where I can make sure you’ll be lucky again.” Quill stared at Flynn and was thankful that Flynn was the one to break eye contact first when he sighed and shook his head.
“You stay behind me, got it?” Flynn’s words booked no argument, and Quill could only nod in response to the other’s hard tone.
The pair crept ever closer to the bandits’ hideout, using the dusk’s shadows and the rocky terrain as cover, eventually climbing up a short plateau. They communicated silently, with Quill doing his best to interpret Flynn’s gestures and signals, and it worked for the most part. Until, of course, Quill misinterpreted a signal that meant go back for one that said push that rock. Quill’s stomach dropped to his toes when he noticed Flynn’s wide-eyed, jaw-slacked face of bafflement and horror as the small boulder tumbled down the plateau to crash into the side of the hideout.
Bandits streamed out of the crude structure with angry and puzzled shouts, and Quill could hear some horses neighing in concern. His shirt was suddenly tugged backwards and Quill almost stumbled as he turned to follow Flynn down the plateau’s makeshift path. Once they reached level ground again, Flynn pushed Quill against the wall.
“Stay here.” The man was off before Quill fully comprehended the command. Once he did, Quill berated himself for his stupidity and tried to peek around the wall in order to be sure that Flynn was still alive.
From what Quill could see, Flynn was darting in and out from behind the larger stone structures by the hideout, using his spear occasionally to trip and knock out various bandits. A few other thugs were starting to get the hint that the rolling stone was no accident, and some were even quick enough to pick up the trail of attacked bandits. It wouldn’t be long before some caught up with Flynn.
Quill looked around, trying to find something useful to do, and scrambled up another nearby plateau. He surveyed below him, waited until Flynn was out of range, and then chucked more rocks down at the bandits. He clonked one on the head and Quill prayed that he hadn’t outright killed the bandit, but the air of confusion it created gave Flynn enough cover to dart around the hideout. Quill held his breath until he saw a charge of horses burst out from behind the building and it was only until he noticed Flynn riding atop Canvas did Quill climb off of the plateau.
True to his word, Flynn and Canvas reached Quill’s hiding spot, and Flynn reached down to give Quill a lift onto the back of his horse.
“Sky?” Quill croaked out as they galloped away from the scene.
“Didn’t see her,” Flynn said over the rush of wind. Flynn directed Canvas toward the general direction of the rest of the horses, leading the gelding in and out of the crowd, but Quill saw no sign of his mare.
He did see some bandits catching up to their own horses, though.
“Let’s get out of here,” Quill said. Flynn’s head moved as he tried to look back at Quill, but Quill said, “We need to leave. Sky will find her way home.”
Wordlessly, Flynn tugged on Canvas’s mane to direct the gelding away from craggy landscape.