It was the dirtiest fight Leta had ever seen.
From the far end of the room, she clasped a shaking hand over her mouth and watched, transfixed, as Fiearius somehow tore himself free from the three men that held his torso and then threw himself at Ludo like an uncaged animal.
The sight sent an icy tingle down Leta’s back. Fiearius had no sense of self-preservation whatsoever, he was practically animalistic, almost suicidal in his attempt to throw himself at the fight.
But somehow, Ludo was ready for him.
Broad and burly as he was, he was surprisingly agile — graceful, even — when he slid to the side, seized Fiearius by the back of the neck and slammed his forehead onto the edge of the bar with a sickening crack. A second later, Ludo’s men grasped Fiearius’ shoulder and lifted him, allowing Ludo free reign to push up his sleeves and slam his fist into his Fiearius’ jaw over and over, making blood smear over his mouth.
A horrified yell erupted from Leta’s throat, but it was lost in the chaos: all around her, panic was unfolding as people circled closer to the fight in excitement or rushed to the door in fear.
In the chaos, Leta was pressed up against the wall and had to fight her way forward. In the jostle, she glimpsed the fight: Fiearius, outnumbered as he was, still managed to slam his elbow against one of the men and freed himself a second time. But this time, as he lunged at Ludo, he seized a bottle off the bar and crashed it against Ludo’s temple, shattering glass over the screaming crowd.
Ludo let out a yell as Fiearius shoved him against the wall and raised his fist, fury in his eyes. Before he could swing his fist forward, one of Ludo’s men sliced a knife across the flesh of his shoulder.
Fiearius’ raw growl of pain reached Leta’s ears even from twenty feet away and it made her heart grow cold. He was so outnumbered, it was as if he was fighting a whole army himself. Panic gripped her chest as she pushed herself into the fray — she had to get to Fiearius, she had to help —
Leta flung her hand toward her hip to get her weapon. Horribly, she felt nothing there. Her gun was missing, where was her gun?
Fear plunged through her as she wheeled around in horror. In her peripheral she could see Ludo’s men shove Fiearius to the floor, one of them raising a rifle overhead like a bat. She searched the floor for her gun and heard Ludo laughing; she could hear him say “Do you think they’ll miss you? Do you think they’ll miss you when you’re gone?”
And then, Leta saw it. In the far end of the room, a patron, looking horrified and fearful, held up a handgun, moving it between Ludo and Fiearius in confusion. He wanted to end the fight but didn’t know how. For Leta, it was as though the commotion slowed down and she was afforded an eerie moment of perfect clarity.
Time sped up once more, and before she could think, she advanced toward him and grasped the man’s wrist. With all of her strength she twisted his hand toward the ground, so his gunshot exploded into the floor, making screams erupt all around her.
But that didn’t matter; the gun was hers.
Wheeling around, she cried, “Fiearius!”
Three men were forcing him down to his knees, his arms pulled behind his back, when Leta threw the gun. The weapon skidded under the tables, across the floor, and in one last burst of anger, Fiearius lunged for it.
Ludo’s men went after him, struggling, raising their weapons, but in the next moment, a decisive gunshot cracked through the bar. Screams flew through the crowd before the whole bar suddenly hushed, quiet and still.
Leta stopped breathing, gripped in horror. It was only when she elbowed her way forward to see the aftermath that breath returned to her lungs.
The body of Ludo was sprawled across the floor, lifeless and limp as a ragdoll. Blood pooled and pooled from his head, but Leta did not wince. She did not even blink.
It was over.
Ludo’s men stepped away, backing into the crowd, while Fiearius didn’t move. He stood above the body, his chest was heaving, the gun still pointed at Ludo’s head, a mess of red laid on the floor at his feet. His expression was empty. His eyes were stone. All that fury and rage that had brought him here was gone and his struggling over. Now, he was still. Slowly, he lowered the weapon to rest at his side.
Movement rippled through the room. Ludo’s men were looking around in alarm at one another, deciding what to do, if they wanted to defend Ludo after his death. Anxiety rose in Leta’s chest: they had to get out of here. They had to leave.
But before she could make her numb limbs move, a confused voice arrived in her ear.
“What the hell is –“