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westcorphotels > Dead Rivers - Freedom\'s Gate > Part 28
Then again, if she didn't, how obligated should I feel to free her? If I made a good faith effort and failed, how many times did I have to try again? For Nika, I'll have to try again. She wants it. If she doesn't manage tonight, it's because something kept her. But what about the others? What if the man who'd wept so bitterly now balked at the risk? How many times did honor demand that I return if someone was indecisive?

I'll burn that bridge when I come to it.

The window was opening. I moved over to it just in time to see a pair of soldiers rounding the corner.

d.a.m.n it to h.e.l.l. I pushed the window shut again, hoping that Nika would get the message, and shrank back into the shadows; the soldiers continued past without stopping. My heart beat in my chest like a smith's hammer. I waited for a few moments to be sure that they weren't coming back. Then I started to knock on the window, but realized that I could hear the murmur of voices again. And d.a.m.n again. Well, at least the soldiers hadn't walked past as I was helping Nika and her daughter climb out the window. I waited, clenching my teeth and knotting my hands into fists.

The window opened a crack, then swung wide. "Here," Nika said, and swung a small body out the window. I took the little girl in my arms. She was surprisingly heavy. Nika climbed out after her. With a day's warning, she'd also found a way to have cloaks for both her and the child. "We'd better run, they'll be back in minutes," she said. She took Melaina back and swung her up against her shoulder.

We ran. Prometheus and Arachne, keep us from running into those soldiers again. Melaina clung to her mother, not complaining, and we made it to the wall without incident. I scrambled up first, took Melaina and gave Nika a hand up; then I jumped down, she lowered Melaina to my arms, and dropped down after me. "There are horses," I said, and we found our way to Tamar.

"You did it," Tamar hissed, her eyes wide. We helped Nika up onto Tamar's horse, and handed Melaina up to her; we'd lead the horses until it was light enough for the horses to see well.

"We got them out. We still need to get away. The Greeks have horses, too."

"They sent only one person after me when I ran before," Nika said.

"If she comes after us again, we'll kick her a.s.s," I said.

Nika sucked in her breath and looked down at me from her seat on Tamar's horse. She hadn't looked at me closely before: the light had been poor, we'd been in a hurry. Now she really looked at me, full in the face, for the first time, and I saw fear in her eyes.

Tamar reached up and clasped her hand. "Trust us," she said. Nika looked down at her, and Tamar's hand tightened on hers. "If that person-the person who came after you before-if she turns up, we will kick her a.s.s."

Nika tightened her arms around Melaina and nodded once.

Once the sky lightened to gray, Tamar and I mounted as well; Nika was small enough to ride double with T

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