“You’ll carry everything. And you’ll do as I say.”
I nod because those conditions are already met! Sword Witch possesses nothing but the sword at her hip, the clothes on her back, and the armor under it. And, as a hero of the age, it’d be my honor to assist her in any way she suggests.
She walks off again. I follow.
Still walking. Sword Witch’s every action contains a martial efficiency. Even this walk through Xichang is more like a march. We’ve made several turns down alleys and side streets now. It seems random, but she moves with such powerful intention that I’m convinced she knows the way. I couldn’t hope to retrace our route. Xichang turns into a maze the moment you leave its main thoroughfares.
“It occurs to me that we’ve been walking deeper into Xichang this whole time.”
“Yes,” she says.
“That’s probably the worst way to leave town.”
“We aren’t leaving yet,” she says.
“Oh. Where are we going, then?”
“This way,” she says.
An excellent point, but a more philosophical answer than I was hoping for. I shall try again: “While cartography was not the focus of my studies, I must confess this way seems to be the most indirect route to get anywhere.”
“We don’t want anyone from Bottomless Zhao’s following us,” she says.
“Would any dare to follow you?”
“A few,” she says.
“But you defeated twenty stalwart foes without a single stroke!”
“First, they were more drunk than stalwart,” she says. “Second, anyone who is still breathing is not defeated. Third, most of them were useless cowards. But a few had ability, so I reminded them about sharing the reward with the rest to keep them at bay. Since it won’t be so bad to share the bounty only a few ways, those few with ability are already after us.”