After the whole dagger incident, I just could not get those things out of my mind and was daydreaming about fighting with them as we started walking again. You know the exhilaration! I am carrying a stick and swinging it around like I just killed a whole army with those sharp, little things!
Naturally, Baruk was mad at me. He had been sort of keeping up the rear of the group, but now he kept up with Baruka and me. At one point, they get pretty far ahead because I could just not keep up. The air was getting so thin, and I needed to slow down. How much more up-hill could we go? When I finally caught up enough to see them, I noticed that there is a fork in the road, and the two of them are arguing in front of it. Baruka is pointing one way, and Baruk the other.
When I got close enough to make out what they were saying, they looked at me and then fully stopped talking altogether. Baruk just storms off to the left, but Baruka hesitated to go with him. I asked her, “What’s the matter?” but she was watching Baruk and did not answer. Instead, she took my hand and started walking very slowly. Very, very fully slowly! Slow enough that the others caught up to us and eventually passed us. Now we were at the end of the line.
I was trying to get her to talk, but Baruka just answered everything with a nervous laugh. Now I was starting to get nervous too! Soon, I could see we were basically alone. The path curved up ahead, and I could no longer see any of the other men. At that moment, Baruka grabbed my arm and stopped me.
“What is going on?” I asked her, but she was crying! Have you ever seen a grown woman cry? Oh, it is the worst thing in the world. I thought my stomach was going to explode, and I might have reflexively let off a little gas because of it. I begged her to stop.
Finally, she did. She wiped the tears from her eyes, and as I’m asking her to tell me what is going on, she loosens her robe again and pulls out this dagger. This one I am holding right here. It is lovely, isn’t it? Look at that engraving! It is a thing of pure craftsmanship. I always keep it right there in my boot, and I can’t use it without thinking about her.
She handed it to me, then holding her robe open, she placed my two fingers on her chest- to this spot on the left. That is right above the heart. Here, I will show you on your chest. Right there. Can you feel your heart beating? I could feel her heart was pounding hard- harder than yours is now. “There,” she said. “I want you to stab me right there.”
I sputtered and took a step back. “What is wrong with you? Are you crazy? What in the world would I do that for?” I asked her.
“Because of what I am about to do,” Baruka insisted. “I am about to betray my brother. I cannot live with myself!”
“Then don’t!” I spit out, trying to hand the dagger back.
“No, I must. Baruk plans to kill you all! We are no longer headed to Mesu. At the end of this trail is one of our villages. He will signal the men there to attack as we approach. Now you understand; our love can never be! Jax, do what you must. I cannot live without you!”
Then she fully kissed me right on the lips! She grabbed my face, tilted my head straight up, and plants one right on me! I was confused, standing there with this dagger in one hand and unsure what to do with the other hand. It was not what I expected my first kiss to be like, but it was lovely! I mean, it tickled a little because of… well, never mind. It was nice!
Baruka suddenly lets me go and is now holding her robe back with her chest puffed out and her eyes closed, waiting for me to finish her off. I just started laughing my head off. She was not amused. “What is wrong with you? Are you crazy?” she yelled at me. “What in the world would you do that for?”
“No, no!” I explained. “This is perfect! Captain wanted to speak to your leaders. Will they be there?”
“Some of them,” she admitted, “but what good will that do you if you are dead?”
“We won’t be, of course!” I assured her, but we had to hurry. We had to warn Captain!