1. A ghost of a smile crossed her lips. Lips he had the sudden urge to kiss. He felt his body tense up with the memory of the past few months. Their wild, uninhibited need to copulate because of Atty's surging hormones, and the lure of her out-of-control pheromones emitted during that first trimester of her pregnancy, often left them exhausted but elated. Fortunately, with her in her second trimester, that would no longer be an issue.
2. Renken gestured at the lodge around them. “We can't assume this summit is going to be all sweet cakes and puppies. We can't assume this Highcliff character is looking to fill his docket with both sides, hoping they'll either come to blows or end up signing off on a new set of treaties.” He threw his knife onto the table, the hilt swaying gently upon impact as the blade sank into the wood. “Call me a pessimist, but what if those battle lords who hate Mutah far outnumber those of you who don't? And I'm talking big odds, like four to one, or maybe higher. What if those anti-Mutah bastards' intent is to gather all the pro-Mutah leaders together in one convenient package? Draw us in nice and neat in the center with them forming a bloody donut around us?”
3. There was a flash of brightness as the ex-mercenary moved out of her line of sight to fetch her weapons from where they were strapped to the saddle. Atty stood and turned to face where the blood red light was emanating. Her hands grasped the long bow and quiver that were thrust into her hands, looping the container of arrows over her neck. Notching a shaft was automatic, done without thought until she realized she was armed and ready.
4. She tugged on Renken’s tunic, pulling him along with her. She heard the almost silent silvery whine as he drew his sword from its scabbard. He reached behind him with his other hand and touched hers tugging on him. Her shoulder bumped into the wall…and it gave way. Hastily, she pushed it open further and retreated inside, almost dragging the ex-mercenary with her. The two strange men passed them less than a heartbeat later as they stood just inside the doorway. They heard the footsteps stop not too far down the hall, then a door opened and closed, leaving them in absolute silence once again.
5. He couldn’t breathe.
6. “D’Jacques.” The tone was gentler. Coaxing. Yulen turned to the battle lord. “It’s not too late to change your mind.” Highcliff held out his hands like a man giving a benediction. “You are an excellent soldier and a brilliant strategist. But, somehow, you traveled off the beaten path. That woman must have beguiled you to make you this way. Perhaps she used some sort of potion or Mutah magic. But it doesn’t have to be that way anymore. Just turn your back on those monstrosities and join my ranks. Come back to us, Yulen. Make your father proud, and help me wipe out the last of that diseased race. Believe me when I tell you, the last thing I want to do is make a martyr out of you.”