Finnbogi moaned slightly and his eyes flittered open then closed again. Good, he was starting to come to. Wynefrede scooted closer to him and poked at him with one of her feet, then looked around. The two commandos who were guarding them had automatic rifles in their hand, and were scanning the compound for threats.
She scooted a little further. “Come on, wake up,” she said. Her former boss moaned again and opened his eyes.
“My head hurts,” he said. A round of gunfire erupted from somewhere behind the temple and he winced.
“You’ve been shocked a few times,” she whispered. “Can you sit up?”
Finnbogi closed his eyes again and lay still for a minute. She was about to poke him again when he opened them again, and, with a grunt, rolled over to his side.
She looked around. The metal frame holding a large cast-iron bell was directly behind them, with the temple entrance not far away. If they could run around the side of the temple and avoid the gunners they might be able to get to the woods and find rescue.
She helped Finnbogi sit up then pulled him over to the bell, then leaned and waited for a quiet moment between rounds of automatic rifle fire. “I’ve got a knife,” she said. “I’m going to cut your hands and feet free. Make a run for the woods. The Royal Season is out there somewhere.”
“The Royal Season?” He looked up at her, confused.
“It’s a dating app,” she said. “They hold fancy dress parties… You know what, never mind.”
One of the commandos, the bald one, walked in front of them, then stopped and glanced back at where they were sitting.
“Help! We’re here!” Wynefrede screamed.
“Shut up.” The commando held his gun up and pointed it at her.
“What are you going to do, shoot us?” she asked.
The commando lowered his gun. “No,” he said. “Just knock you unconscious.” He stepped towards her, then kicked her in the side with a combat boot. She felt a rib crack and toppled over onto Finnbogi, screaming in pain.
The commando tilted his rifle so that the butt was now pointing at her and swung it back as if he was about to hit her with it. She bit back her screams.
“What’s going on?”
The other commando came around to the front of the bell.
“She was just making noise,” said the bald one.
“Well, at least they’re both conscious. If we’re lucky, they won’t croak before we get them through the gate.” The other commando glanced up towards the temple entrance. “How much longer is it going to be?”
“Any minute now.”
Several more rounds of gunfire came from multiple directions, and the two commandos stepped away, rifles up.
Wynefrede tried to push herself up, then whimpered in pain. Finnbogi helped her sit back up. She hid her wrists behind him, then twisted one hand around until she could pull the knife out from her sleeve. It fell to the ground between them. She looked up. The commandos didn’t notice. The bald one was a few steps in front of them, rifle ready to shoot down anyone who appeared from between the buildings. She craned her head around. The other one was to their left, pointing the gun at the orchard. She picked the knife up again with both hands and sliced through the tie holding Finnbogi’s wrists together, then he took the knife and sliced through the tie around his ankles. He tucked his feet under the hem of his robe then turned to her feet.
“Hey, what are you doing!”
They both looked up. The bald commando had stopped and turned. Finnbogi swung his knife out and held it in front of him.
“Run!” Wynefrede yelled into his ear. “They can’t shoot you.”
Finnbogi got to his feet, holding himself up against the frame of the bell, knife out in front of him.
Wynnefrede pulled at the tie holding her ankles together. Finnbogi had cut it almost all the way through, but it was still holding. The movement hurt. The tie around her wrists was cutting into the skin, and she was starting to bleed. She couldn’t get enough leverage to break the tie around her ankles.
Finnbogi tried to make a break for it, darting to the right of the bald commando in front of them. But he was wobbly on his feet and was falling even before baldie stepped forward and struck him on his head with the stock of his rifle.
“Let’s take them inside,” the other commando said, then walked over and wrenched the knife from Finnbogi’s clutched fist. He tucked the knife away then bent down again and put two fingers against Finnbogi’s neck. “He’s still alive.” He pulled two more zip ties from a pocket and secured Finnbogi again.
“I’ll take the girl, then guard over both of them, and you can keep watch out here.” Baldie leaned down and grabbed Wynefrede’s arm. “Just don’t let them bang their heads against the wall.”
The other commando grabbed Finnbogi under his armpit and dragged him over the grass then across the stone path and up the three steps to the temple entrance. They both disappeared inside.
Baldie looked down at Wynefrede. “Whatever you’re thinking, don’t try it,” he said.
The other commando came back outside. “The gate’s ready for them,” he called back. “Just be careful with the chick. You might have broken her rib when you kicked her.” He raised his rifle and looked around. “You’re clear.”
Baldie slung his gun back over his shoulder, squatted down, and picked Wynefrede up like a baby, one arm under her knees and another supporting her shoulders. She twisted her head around and tried to bite him on his upper arm, but her teeth couldn’t make much headway through the thick fabric of his shirt.
He stood up, holding her in his arms. She twisted around, but he held on tight, and carried her into the temple.