Nathaniel Cannon and the Lost City of Pitu No. 10

Cannon had little attention to spare to watch Emma’s progress, focused as he was on his opponents. By yielding ground, he’d managed to keep both his opponents in front of him, and that was the second-most important lesson Emma and Choufeng had drilled into him.

He sidestepped a chop from the Javanese and stepped right into a hook to the body from the Dutchman. He took a quick step back. The most important lesson was “don’t get hit,” and he wasn’t doing nearly as well on that front. The Dutchman straightened, and Cannon saw him winding up for another punch. Rather than duck it, Cannon threw a hook into it that landed beautifully on the Dutchman’s jaw. The Dutchman staggered back, and Cannon blocked another blow from the Javanese. He opened the range with a shuffling step, and with a quick glance toward the table they’d been sitting at, saw Lachapelle stir. “Get your sorry tail in gear and—”

Emma heard Cannon’s voice, and his involuntary whuff as he took another punch to the gut. Inwardly she sighed, shouting, “You’re not good enough to talk!” That comment earned her some laughs amidst the cheering from the peanut gallery.

The tall Dutchman had regained his feet and seized a chair. With a bellow, he lifted it high over his head and charged. Emma rolled out of his way, only to find herself face-to-face with a surprised-looking Eyepatch. His punch caught her unaware, rocking her head back to boos from the crowd. By the time she shook the stars from her vision, the short Dutchman had her left arm and Eyepatch her right. The tall Dutchman turned, chair held before him, and advanced at a measured pace. A diabolic grin split his face.

For her part, Emma didn’t intend to see how hard he could swing a chair. She twisted in the hands of her captors, bringing her left foot up into a side kick toward the short Dutchman’s leg. She missed breaking his knee by an inch or two, but the joint still bent sickeningly inward. He dropped her arm to catch himself as he fell to the ground, shrieking in pain.

The tall Dutchman brought his chair down in a wide arc. Emma fell hard against Eyepatch’s hold, turning him into the chair’s path. The Dutchman’s eyes went wide in surprise and anger, but there was no way he could stop his blow in time. The chair chattered over Eyepatch’s head, showering Emma in splinters. Eyepatch’s remaining eye rolled back in his head, and he fell limply to the ground.

Emma put her left hand out and caught one of the larger fragments of chair. With her right arm, she swept the Dutchman’s cross harmlessly aside, and then she stabbed the splinter of wood deep into his leg. He roared in pain, swung wildly at the space where Emma had been a moment ago, and lurched as his weight came down on his injured leg, falling against a table. The peanut gallery erupted in cheers.

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