“You are no immortal.”
Barret barely had time to react as Van’s sword came down on him. There was a clash of metal on metal as Barret whirled around blocking Van’s sword at the last instant with his pistol.
The swordsman wasn’t phased though and stepped up his attack on Barret, swinging again and again, driving Barrett back with each blow.
Barret tried to hold his ground, surprise mixing with rage on his face and he blocked or dodged each slash of Van’s sword. Leaping back, he tried to take aim with his pistol at close range as Van kept up, closing the distance between them.
The crack of Barret’s pistol going off echoed through the street.
Van angled his sword deflecting the shot with the flat of his blade at the last instant, stepping in and spinning around, catching Barret off guard. The blade of his sword sliced into Barret’s clothes at the hip and cut upward at an angle, slashing along Barret’s torso.
It was all Barret could do to stumble backward, throwing himself away from Van’s attack as his blood spattered his clothes and the ground in front of him.
“Gaah!” cried out Barret in pain. “What the hell is this?!”
Van stood, sword at the ready, staring down Barret with a hard gaze. “This is where you face your opponent with honor,” said Van, his voice steady.
Barret locked his gaze with Van, his eyes narrowing. Holding his own stance ready, he flicked the release on his pistol. The barrel and chamber flipped forward. The moment the empty casings were ejected from their chambers and started to fall, he tensed his muscles, sliding a single round into the pistol and flipping it back into place in an instant.
Van lunged in that same moment as well.
The shot rang loud in the street and there was a bright spark as Van deflected the shot with his blade.
In that brief second though, when Van focused back on his opponent, Barret had vanished.
Van stopped, standing at the ready, looking around. He surveyed the area, looking for the other man, but there was no sign of him in the street. There were few onlookers left. And even though they were standing out of range of the destruction wrought by the fight, they were close enough for Barret to slip between and escape unseen the crowd.
Van lowered his sword as Grace bolted past from the hole in the bar wall, over to where Aaron lay crumpled on the ground.
She collapsed to her knees at his side, her hands hovering over him, unsure what to do. A bruise was swelling up on her face and her clothes were spattered with blood.
Turning Van came over to Aaron’s side as well.
“Is—is he alive?” she asked.
Aaron rolled his head groggily and coughed up a mouthful blood before trying to speak. “I’m— not dead yet…” he ground out, his voice gravely. He looked up at Van. “What took you so long?”
Van gave him a small smile. “We need to get you out of here. The authorities will be here soon.”
“You can’t move him like this!” cried out Grace. “They can help.”
Aaron shook his head slowly, wearily. The movement sent pain up his neck and back.
“No. Van—take me to my ship…”
Van nodded, sheathing his sword and coming down on one knee to get a grip on Aaron’s torso.
“I’m not leaving you,” said Grace defiantly.
“You— have a guy friend to think about…” ground out Aaron as Van hoisted him up into his arms. The pain nearly overwhelmed him right then and there. It took all his focus to keep from passing out. It helped that the curse was hanging on to his consciousness as well, keeping him awake.
“That’s not— I can’t leave you like this!”
“Then follow as fast as you can,” said Van staring off, Grace trailing behind him. “We’re out of time.”
He started into a run toward the end the street that would take them back to the dock. The remaining onlookers parted, not wanting to be anywhere near them.
Grace stayed as close to Van as she could, keeping up with him.
They rounded the bend just as they heard shouts from the other end of the street. The authorities had arrived and were going to be on their tale the whole way.
“Grace— if you come— with us…”
“I’m not leaving you,” she said firmly, between heavy breaths.
Van was keeping a steady pace. They’d emerged onto the docks. “I’m assuming you want me to take off?” said Van.
“Yeah…” ground out Aaron. “Just set— me up by against the mast.”
Van dashed out onto the onto the docks and straight for the airship despite the odd looks from the people nearby the and the shouts from the security force following behind them.
Van’s booted foot hit the wooden deck of the airship and Aaron could suddenly feel himself being put on the ground. The moment his back touched the mast though it sent a wave of pain up his spine.
Somehow he found the strength to endure it and then weakly raised his arm to point. “Loo—loose those ropes and take—take those over there. If you can—take us out behind the city. Just follow—at a distance.”
Van nodded and headed to work, silent.
Grace knelt down beside Aaron, he could hear her heavy breathing. Van had set a fast pace and after what Barret had done to her, he was surprised she’d kept up.
He tired to raise his other hand up to put it on her arm, but with his blurred vision he missed and she caught his hand instead in her own.
“D—don’t worry. I’m just gonna rest,” he tried to reassure her, his voice weak. With his last words though, he lost focus completely and the world around him faded into blackness.