Matheus Taylor didn’t ask to be murdered. Quin didn’t care. A seventeen-hundred old Roman, Quintus Livius Saturnius had a different view of morality than most people. Killing Matheus and hijacking his undead existence seemed perfectly acceptable to him.
Now, Matheus spends his nights running for his life, questioning his sexual orientation, and defying a mysterious new threat to the vampires within his city. Not that he set out to do any defying; he just wanted to be left alone. Unfortunately, that was never going to happen.
Matheus poked at the neat, round hole over his heart.He could just fit the tip of his index finger inside.Faint bruising surrounded the wound;a sluggish flow of blood staining his ruined shirt.He poked the hole again, wincing at the faint sting.He wondered, if he could find a stick long enough, he couldprod the inside of his heart.He opened his mouth to ask Quin, but one look at his face and Matheus’ lips snapped closed.
“I’m not fixing that for you,” Quin said.”It’s your own fault for being so stupid.”
As a small child,Matheus had a nanny by the name of Brigitte.She had broadshoulders and a stout frame, with a mass of nut-brown hair piled on top of her head. Young Matheus had been very concerned, convinced the weight of her bun would cave in her skull.Brigitte possessed no affinity for children, especially boys, and had the empathy of a toadstool.Matheus hadn’t thought of her for years, but now flashbacks plagued his mind.
“Will it heal on its own?” he asked.”Or am I going to be deformed for all eternity?”Sarcasm riddled his tone, but he held his breath for Quin’s response.Dead bodies didn’t heal.He remembered that plot point from several different mystery novels.Then again, unless Quin had been extraordinarily careful for however long he’d been alive, some kind of rejuvenation must be possible.
“It will heal.Faster, if you feed.”Quin shifted, wiggling his shoulders and sliding along the uneven wall. They’d been put in a van, one of those featured in police reports on the more sensational cable news channels.The windows were blackened,and the floor showed marks where the carpet had been removed. Rivets covered the sheet metal walls, bits of paneling stuck beneath them.Matheus sat opposite Quin, one hand clutching a bulge in the wall.Every few seconds they would bounce, jerking side to side as the van rattled along its path.
“No,” said Matheus.”I’m not doing that again.”
“Yes, you are.”A particularly big bump interrupted Quin’s stern glare, and sent the back of his head into the side of the van.Swearing softly, he inched forward until his knees knocked against Matheus’.
Matheus envied his ability to balance.Letting go of his makeshift handle would result in Matheus flying around the van like a seed inside of a maraca.
“Am not,” he said, delivering a tiny kick to Quin’s legs.
“Act your age,” Quin said.
Matheus had the sudden urge to stick out his tongue and give the two-fingered salute.
“You first,” he said.”Oh, wait, you can’t.Because then you’d be a pile of moldering bones.”
The van turned a corner, sending them both sliding toward the double doors.Matheus stuck out a hand to stop himself, a soft yelp escaping as he scraped his palm over an exposed screw.
Quin did not seem anymore sympathetic to this injury than the one in his chest.Instead, he raised his eyebrows, looking down his nose at Matheus.
“That was a bit weak, sunshine,” he said.
“My chest has a new air vent,” Matheus said.”I’m not at my best.”He frowned down at his new hole and couldn’t resist poking it again.Quin let out a sigh, then Matheus felt a thumb brush over his cheek.He glanced up sharply.
“Dirt,” said Quin.
Matheus watched him for a few seconds, but Quin refused to do anything worthy of notice.Vibrations traveled through Matheus’ skull as he laid his forehead on the van door. They’d been in the van when he woke up; who knew how long they’d been moving before that.Hours had passed since Matheus had awoken. The state of the road made Matheus think they’d left Kenderton far behind them.He couldn’t remember the last time he’d been in the country.Matheus preferred to admire nature through screensavers and glossy photos in National Geographic.
“Where are they taking us?” he asked.
“I don’t know.Someplace wooded and uninhabited.”
The van turned again.The bumps increased, knocking them left and right like balls in a pinball machine.Perhaps this was an elaborate meat tenderizer, Matheus thought.He would resemble a Smurf,bruised dusky blue,by the time the van stopped.
“For the hunt,” Quin said.He handled therough ride much better than Matheus, although he couldn’t hide the grimace as his bad wrist smacked against the side of the van.His splintered cheekbones contorted his skin as he spoke.
Matheus kept his eyes on the other side of Quin’s face.
“What is that?”
Quin turned, positioning himself in the corner with his wrist tucked against his chest.He stretched out his long legs, the sole of one foot resting onMatheus’thigh.His other hand rubbed over his head, making the dark hair stand out in tiny spikes.
“Hunters,” he said.”Like to hunt.”
“Profound,” said Matheus.”How long did it take you to come up with that one?”
“They like to hunt us. It’s a game.They release us somewhere away from civilians and try to catch us.If they capture us within three days, they win.If not, we do.”
“That’s twisted.” A chill curled in Matheus’ gut.He stared at Quin.”They’re just going to . . . like we’re animals?”
“That is the plan.”Quin seemed unconcerned.
Matheus wonderedhow many times the roles had been reversed, with Quin playing the part of prey instead of predator. In the back of his mind,the thought occurred to him that the hunters only did what Quin did to humans.He argued with himself that Quin only hunted to survive, but Matheus couldn’t shake the feeling the Quin enjoyed a good chase.
“Why?Why are you doing this?Don’t tell me you couldn’t escape.I saw what was left of that man in the alley.I’ve seen you move.”
“I want something from the hunters.”
“What?” Matheus leaned forward.The van went over three big bumps in a row,then slowed down to nearly a crawl.Too late, Matheus thought.He guessed the van’s next stop would be at a mechanic’s for a front-end alignment and some new struts.He might not be a country boy, but he knew better than to go speeding down a dirt road.
“That’s not your problem,” said Quin.
“Right.I’m not trapped in a van about to be the subject of some undead safari.This has nothing to do with me.”
“I tried to keep you out of it.”
“What the hell was I supposed to do?” Matheus shouted.”You were hurt.You don’t tell me anything.Maybe if I knew my head was going to go all spaz-tastic every time you got a paper cut, I wouldn’t have felt the need to go chasing after you.”
“How am I supposed to tell you things when you don’t want to listen?” Quin asked.
“No, you don’t.You argue and you dig your heels in.You don’t want to think about what you are.You aren’t human anymore.You can’t go back.”
“You’re full of shit.”
Matheus’ shoulders hit the floor as Quin pinned him down.He cried out and shoved at Quin, but he might as wellhave tried to push a granite boulder up a hill.Quin pressed his sprained wrist across Matheus’ throat with a force that must have been agony, his knees digging into Matheus’ sides.Matheus kicked, the heels of his sneakers squeaking over the metal floor.
With his free hand, Quin pried Matheus’ mouth open.
“This is what you are now,” he said, triggering Matheus’ fangs.”Death and blood and the night.Deal with it.”
“I can’t!”Matheus’ tongue slipped around Quin’s fingers, turning his words into mush.He shook, still trying to push at Quin’s shoulders.
“You aren’t even trying.”Quin removed his fingers and braced his hand on the floor next to Matheus’ head.
“I can’t!” Matheus repeated.”I’m a nightmare!”The ragged edges of fear broke through his voice, clinging wet and sticky to his words.
“Matheus,” Quin began.He peered down at him, a strange expression on his face.He sat up, letting Matheus wiggle free.
“How?How am I supposed to . . . ?” Matheus closed his eyes, unable to bear Quin staring at him.He wrapped his arms around his chest, as the memories he fought to suppress clamored for his attention.”I left for a reason,” he said softly.
Quin tilted his head to the side, a tiny wrinkle appearing between his eyes.
What does he know? Matheus thought.Did he know about the foster homes?The constant relocations?Or did he know the truth?
“Left where?” Quin asked.
“Nowhere,” said Matheus.”It doesn’t matter.”He shivered.
The van made a loop before coming to a stop.A door opened in a squeal of metal; the van rocked from side to side, struts squeaking. Matheus tensed, waiting for the double doors to open, but instead, he heard the sound of another engine revving.He had begun to adapt to his altered hearing,learning to ignore the small noises, like the sound of his clothes rubbing together. He had trouble with his increased sensitivity to light, though.Quin kept his house dim, but Matheus couldn’t help the irritation at being blinded by a streetlamp.Not an issue at the moment, what with beingtrapped in the back of a pedophile’s dream van, but realizing he could make out Quin’s features perfectly despite the lack of light still disconcerted Matheus.
“What’s going on?” he asked.
“They’ll leave us here for the rest of the night,” Quin said.”Someone will come along during the day to unlock the door.The hunt starts tomorrow night.”
The sound of the engine faded into the distance.Matheus scooted backward until his shoulders knocked against the wall.Drawing his legs up, he rested his wrists on his knees.He stared into the middle distance, letting the silence grow heavy around him.The quiet sank into him, deep into his chest, filling in the porous sections of his bones like wet concrete.Quin remained still;Matheus had seen marble statues with more life in them.The minutes drifted past, each one longer than the last.Bereft of distractions, Matheus couldn’t avoid thinking about the past.
“I’m terrified all the time,” he said, softly, almost unaware that he spoke aloud.
“Of me?” Quin asked.
Matheus shook his head.
“Of myself.I’m not strong enough for this.I’m weak.I’ve always been weak.”And his father had never let him forget it.
“You’re not weak,” Quin said.He sounded puzzled, the wrinkle between his eyebrows returning.
“Sunshine, you’re too damn stubborn to be weak.”
Matheus let out a snort.Closing his eyes, he shook his head again, unable to stop the small, rueful smile.The longer he knew Quin, the more certifiable he became.
“You keep telling me to accept my new life, yet you call me sunshine,” he said, pressing his fingertips over his eyelids.Bright dots of color flashed in the darkness.
“Well, like I said before, it suits you.”
“Right, because I’m just an endless delight.Joy and light, that’s me.”
“Sunshine isn’t about happiness.”Quin pried Matheus’ fingers loose, tilting his chin up to meet Quin’seyes, only a sliver of amber visible around the pupil.He didn’t blink; he didn’t breathe, and Matheus found he could not, either.”It’s life.Bright and overwhelming and beautiful and harsh and painful.Humans delight in it.Our kind fear it.Everything in this world revolves around it.It dictates all that we are and there is no escape.”
The wind picked up, sending the van swaying like a rowboat on the ocean.Quin’s fingertips pressed into Matheus’ temple, a feather touch firm enough to fix Matheus in place.Matheus had never felt so looked at in his life. Quin’s gaze sank in, fizzing like static under his skin.The cold metal of the van fell away, trapping them both in a strange bubble. The moment stretched into two, then four, then eight.
Finally, the edges of Quin’s lips quirked up.
“Plus, you know, your hair.”
Matheus knocked his hands away, released at last.
“You are, without a doubt, the most insane person I have ever met,” Matheus said.”And really, that’s saying something.”
“It’s so shiny.”Quin grinned.
“Stop talking about my damn hair.”
“Seriously, I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone quite so . . . blond.”
Matheus didn’t understand the fixation with blonds.Many people had blond hair.If nature hadn’t accommodated, the local grocery store sold boxes in shades from honey to ash.Matheus didn’t know when the blond mythos began, but he wanted to find the original author and punch him or her in the gut.If he had to listen to Quin rattle on about his hair for the next hundred years, someone would get hurt.And since Matheus had the athletic acumen of a sea cucumber, it would probably be him.
“It’s going to be sunrise soon,” Quin said.”Can you feel it?”
“Yes,” said Matheus. He felt as though a coil of rope emerged from the center of his chest, the end attached to a winch turning faster as the day approached. Matheus rubbed his palm over his sternum.The sensation grew to the point of physical pain, only five or ten minutes before sunrise.He inched forward, stretching out his legs and folding his arms behind his head.The ceiling of the van had escaped the purge, althoughlong rips marred the plush fabric.Matheus imagined that not everyone captured by the hunters had his and Quin’s docility.
“Quin?” he asked.
“Why did I go all twitchy when you got hurt?”
“You’re mine,” Quin said as though that explained everything.He mimicked Matheus’ pose, his feet crossed neatly at the ankles beside Matheus’ head.
“So I claimed you.”
“That statement is not disturbing at all,” Matheus said, rolling his eyes.
Quin waved his hand, making the same slashing gesture Matheus had noticed earlier.The movement seemed to be shorthand for I’m thinking or I don’t know or even why the hell do you care?
“We’re connected,” he said.”I’ll always be able to find you.I’ll know when you’re hurt, if you need help.”
“So why could I find you?”
“Apparently it works both ways.”
“Well,” said Quin.”I’ve never claimed anyone before.”
“Fantastic,” said Matheus.”It’ll be an exciting adventure for the both of us.”
The numbness that the heralded the day moved through his limbs.Matheus didn’t feel tired; what occurred during the day couldn’t be considered sleep.He thought of switching off his laptop; one by one, his processes shut down.Daybreak threatened, only seconds away. As soon as the sun appeared over the horizon, whatever magic animated Matheus would cease to work and he would die. He tried to push the thought away, but kept circling back, fascinated and repulsed at the same time. Matheus wondered if he would ever get used to being a corpse for twelve hours each day.
“How do you know they won’t kill us while we’re . . . while we’re asleep?” he asked, his vocabulary failing him yet again. Despite the broad reaches of the English language, the concept of temporarily dead hadn’t arisen often enough to merit a new word. At least, not one Matheus had come across.
“That would go against the rules of the hunt,” Quin said.”They’ll keep us safe until sunset tonight.After that, we’re on our own.”He laid his head back, closing his eyes.”Sunrise.”
Matheus didn’t respond.The day had already taken him.
Matheus pretended to be asleep.Or rather, he played dead.He’d been awake for close to twenty minutes, listening to Quin get up and unlatch the doors.The van shook as Quin jumped down, leaving the doors wide open.The fresh air carried the smell of damp earth and musty evergreens.Quin’s footsteps crunched as he circled the van, before reaching inside to slap Matheus on the shin.
“Time to get up, sunshine,” he said.
Apparently, Matheus had not been as stealthy as he had thought.He opened his eyes, propping himself up onto his elbows.
Quin stood in the clearing outside, scanningthe forest.Matheus could see the track the van had taken, an old logging road grown over with grass, only two muddy ruts left behind.Thick ferns covered the ground into the woods. The logging company must have abandoned the site years earlier or never harvested the area.Trees crowded around the clearing. Large canopies of orange and red leaves formed a dome over the tiny clearing, the night sky peeping through.Pine trees, branches poking out of the trunks like a sea urchin’s spines, mingled with the other trees. Matheus eyed the spikes and wondered if running around in a place full of pointy, wooden things was not the best idea ever.
“I hate nature,” he said, climbing out of the van.”Bugs and dirt and things with teeth.”
“You’re a thing with teeth,” Quin said absently.
“So if we get attacked by a mountain lion, I’ll ask it to wait nicely while I find its jugular.”
“You do that.”
“You’re not paying attention to me.”
“Sorry, sunshine, but I have more important things to worry about than your whining.And stop pouting.Anyone would think you were the gay one.”
“I’m not pouting,” Matheus muttered.He dug the toe of his shoe into the ground, jumping back as the residents of the anthill he disturbed launched a frontal attack on his sneaker.He tried to dislodge the ant commander without actually touching using his hands.
“Come on,”Quin said, grabbing Matheus’ wrist.”We have to find a place to spend the day.”He dove into the trees, Matheus whipping back and forth behind him.
Branches loomed up uncomfortably fast, pine needles slapping against Matheus’ face.Black mud soaked into Matheus’ shoes, squishing up through his socks.The ground sloped downward as they ran. He heard running water in the distance.
Quin dodged around trees, ducked under low branches, jumped over logs. He dragged Matheus after him like a child’s pull-toy, pausing only to fish Matheus out of fir trees.
Spitting out evergreen needles, Matheus fantasied about Quin landing face-first into a copperhead’s nest.He tried to shake his arm free, but Quin’s grip tightened until the bones in Matheus’ wrist creaked with the strain. After the fourth time Matheus slipped, he remained on the muddy ground, forcing Quin to stop and glower down at him.
“I’m sorry,” Matheus said, spitting out a mouthful of leaves.”Just leave me here.”He sighed, flapping his hands in an effort to keep the ever-present ferns out of his face.”Maybe a bobcat can eat me or something.”
“Moron.”Quin yanked him upright.He looked at Matheus for a moment, taking in the streaks of mud, the leaves plastered to the back of Matheus’ head.Fishing a handkerchief out of his pocket, he passed it to Matheus.
Matheus held square of silk between two fingers, lips pursed before arching an eyebrow at Quin.
With a noise like Matheus’ old nanny, Quin snatched the handkerchief back, using it to wipe the globs of mud off Matheus’ face.He had the gentleness ofMatheus’ old nanny as well, which wasto say, not much.
Matheus batted him away, trying to grab the handkerchief at the same time, but he misjudged the distance, ruining Quin’s work with a face-plant into a patch of damp moss.
Quin let out a strangled noise.He stood over Matheus, one hand held over his face, his shoulders shaking.After a second, a burst of laughter escaped, frightening some birds into flight.
“Bastard,” Matheus said.
Quin laughed more, reaching down with his free hand to help Matheus up.
“Try and stay on your feet, yeah?” he said.”Come on.”
“Quin, wait.”Matheus held up a finger, silencing Quin’s question.He pointed to their right.”Do you hear that?Over there.”
Something travelled through the woods, slow and deliberate.At the occasional twig snap, all sounds would cease, then resume a few seconds later.Matheus didn’t think the sounds came from an animal.He stared hard through the trees, wishing his new night vision included a zoom function.
“Can you fight?” Quin asked, his voice low.”Never mind, stupid question.Can you climb?”
“What?”The noises moved closer and divided.
“Up that tree.Now.”
“I want to help.”
Matheus wondered who had said that.Not him, because he would never have let something so monumentally stupid leave his lips.He’d always been a fan of the run and hide method of conflict management.
“Help by getting up that damn tree,” Quin replied with a shove.
Matheus fell, hitting his cheek on a rock.He looked at it for a moment, an idea forming in his head.
“Hurry up,” said Quin.
“I’m going,” Matheus said.He pried the rock and a couple of its compatriots out of the ground, sticking them into his jacket pockets.They banged against his hips as he scrambled to his feet.”Don’t growl at me, I’m going.”
As he grabbed the lowest branch, Matheus tried to remember the last time he’d climbed a tree. Close to twenty years, at least.His legs shook as he reached for the next branch.Pale green lichen grew over the wet bark.Matheus flailed, wrapping his arms around the trunk. Muddy sneakers did not provide the grip required for tree climbing.He dug his nails into the bark, silently thankful Quin did not pick a pine tree.A face full of candle-scented needles from the porcupines of the arboreal word did not appeal to Matheus.
“Stop fooling around!” Quin hissed from the ground.
Matheus almost beaned him with a rock right then and there.With a grunt, he hauled himself up to the next branch, digging rivulets into the lichen as the tree shimmied.Nature is evil, Matheus thought.Trees are evil.He made a face at the moss clinging to his palms. Moss is evil.The litany of evil things grew, the higher Matheus climbed.Finally, he reached a solid branch about halfway up the tree.Straddling the branch, he inched out as far as he dared.
From his position, he could see Quin standing, loose-limbed,about twenty feet from the base of the tree.
Three men approached, surrounding him.All wore night-vision goggles and carried crossbows.The one nearest to Quin had a broadsword strapped to his back.He looked big enough to wield it, too, with arms thicker than Matheus’ waist.Aside from the goggles, the men could have been on their way to the local Renaissance Fair.Not one of them had a weapon designed after the Middle Ages. Then again, maybe the hunters didn’t consider a 30.06semi–automatic rifle sporting.
“This is too easy,” said the big man as they circled around Quin.”What happened to your boyfriend?”
“I killed him already,” Quin said easily.He matched the man’s movement, rising slightly on the balls of his feet.He smiled.”Sorry to take away your fun.”
The big man shrugged.The other two edged closer, loaded crossbows aimed at Quin’s chest.
Quin appeared not to notice them.He focused his attention on the big man.
“Ah, he was just the warm-up anyway.You’re the real game,” said the hunter.
“I’m flattered,” said Quin.The hunter to his right took another step forward, a stick cracking beneath his foot.Quin feinted towards him, spinning at the last second toward the big man with unnatural speed.All three fired at once, the hunter to Quin’s right jumping at the twang of his bow.His bolt went wide, embedding into the trunk of an oak.The other two hit home, one in Quin’s calf, the other in his chest.He collapsed as the hunters reloaded with smooth practice.
Matheus crammed a fist in his mouth, struggling not to cry out.
Get up, he thought.Get up, you stupid bastard.
The big man waved the other two back, drawing his sword as he approached Quin’s body.He nudged Quin’s shoulder with the toe of his combat boot, then delivered a solid kick to Quin’s ribs.
Matheus winced as he heard the bones crack.
“Pathetic,” said the hunter.He raised the sword.The blade hovered in the air before swinging downward, but the tip never completed its arc.
Quin shot up, yanking the bolt from his chest and burying it in the hunter’s gut.
“You missed,” he said.
The other hunters fired.Quin twisted around with the wounded hunter, using him as a shield as he dug his fangs into the man’s thick neck.The hunter’s eyes bugged wide as he choked, blood bubbling out of his mouth.Quin’s throat worked furiously as he swallowed all he could.
“Fuck,” gasped one of the hunters, slapping another bolt into his crossbow.
Quin raised his head, a manic grin plastered across his face.Blood smeared over his mouth, down his chin.As Matheus watched,Quin’s shattered cheekbone knit together, forming the sharp ledge to match its twin.Quin grinned wider, digging his hand into the hole in the big man’s gut, then sucking his fingers clean.
“Dammit!” shouted the other hunter.He fired, and Quin spun, the bolt piercing the big man’s eye.
“Tsk, tsk,” said Quin.”Shooting at your allies, that’s just not nice.”Throwing the big man’s body at the hunter, he dove for the other.He tackled him to the ground, the crossbow flying away into the darkness.They grappled among the ferns, each scrambling for dominance.Quin might have speed, but he lacked enhanced strength. At close quarters, he had to rely on experience and skill.He pinned down hands trying to gouge out his eyes, then drew back, delivering a set of savage punches to the hunter’s face.
“Schieβe,” Matheus whispered.The fight was too real.The dull, wet thuds had no music to mask them, no cuts to artistic angles, no graceful, choreographed movements.Blood sprayed into the air, splashing over Quin’s wrists, his face.No art, just rage and violence and the frantic desire not to be the one who end up in a body bag.
Quin didn’t stop.The hunter’s face turned into a mush of flesh and crushed bone, but Quin kept pounding.
The other hunter had disentangled himself, shoving the big man’s body away with a grunt of effort.He stalked over to Quin,and aimed his crossbow at his back.Quin, too distracted to notice, didn’t move.
Matheus pulled a rock from his pocket.His hand shook.He had to get this right.Everything his father had taught him about shooting flitted through his head.Don’t rush.See the target.Breathe.
Matheus threw the rock as hard as he could, striking the hunter on the wrist.With a yelp,the hunter dropped the crossbow.Matheus didn’t need as much time with the second rock.He whipped the stone though the leaves,hitting the hunter on his temple.He staggered, then slumped onto Quin.
The impact jarred Quin into reality.Pushing the body off, he stood.He frowned down at his hands, plucking a bit of bone out of his knuckles before looking up.A pair of nasty scratches marred the left side of his face and a bruise darkened his jawline.
“Matheus?” he called.
In anaction movie, Matheus would jump out of the tree, brush a speck of dirt off his sleeve, and finish up with a witty remark about saving Quin’s ass.He would probably include a pun of some kind.Unfortunately, real life had little in common with action movies. Matheus toppled off his perch, crashed through several branches and landed with a forced exhale of air.
“See,” he said weakly.”I helped.”
“You did,” said Quin.He made an effort to clean the blood off his face, but his handkerchief had reached the ends of its silken limits.With a grimace, he tossed the cloth away, wiping his hands on the tails of his shirt instead.
Matheus could tell the streaks of blood left on the delicate fabric pained him.
“Is he . . . is he dead?” Matheus asked, nodding towards the hunter he’d struck.
Quin tore himself away from mourning the loss of his dress shirt.
“Not yet,” he said, searching through the ferns.Locating the discarded crossbow, he selected a bolt out of the dead man’s quiver and loaded it.With a lazy gesture, he pointed the weapon at the unconscious hunter.
Matheus looked away as the bolt released.
“Now he’s dead.”
“Did you have to do that?” Matheus asked.”He wasn’t going to get up.”
“Better to make sure,” Quin said.”He would have killed you without a thought.”He tossed the crossbow to Matheus, along with the blood-soaked quiver.”Hold on to that.You can throw straight, maybe you can shoot too.”
“Those are the rules of the hunt, sunshine.Everyone who plays is ready to die.”
Quintus Livius Saturninus, Matheus thought.
“I bet you were a gladiator,” he said.
“No, a soldier,” said Quin.He picked up the broadsword, flipping the hilt between hishands.”We should go.We still need a place to spend the day.”
“I’m not killing anyone,” Matheus said as he followed Quin, the crossbow clutched to his chest.”I’m not.”