A dozen naga were positioned on the opposite side of the river, all holding spears and carrying deadly sabres at their hips. One naga slithered to the front of the others and planted the butt of his spear in the ground. "Running isss usselessss. Give usss the girl and we jussst might sspare your misserable livesss!"
"Over my dead body!" Tristan shouted back before taking off into the air, Demetri right on his heels. They flew as fast as their wings would take them, away from the spear-chucking serpents.
"Boss," called Demetri after several minutes, "I don't think my wings can hold out much longer."
"There's a copse of trees just past that ridge, we can hide there."
The two landed amongst the tightly knit roots just as Demetri's wings gave out. He spent several minutes hacking to the side as Tristan laid Cynthia on some soft moss. That was when he realized that the both of them were soaked to the bone.
"Hey, Demetri," he called to the boy just recovering from his coughing fit.
"I need to go collect some firewood, do you think you can look after Cynthia for a while alone?"
"As long as my willpower holds out, we should be fine. But try to come back with some fresh meat, I'm not sure how much longer I can go at this rate."
Tristan left Demetri guarding the still unconscious Cynthia. A few minutes later, she began to stir.
"Nn, Demetri? Where are we? Where's Tristan?"
"He went to get some firewood. He should be back soon. How do you feel?"
"Like I was hit by a car," she replied, placing a hand on her still swollen stomach. "How much longer is this going to go on?"
"I can't say. You have at least four more eggs left."
"Ugh! Curse the snake that did this to me! I hope his corpse rots in a ditch somewhere and his soul burns in hell. Ouch!"
"What's wrong? Is the next egg ready?"
"Yeah, and it's coming quick. Ooh! Where's Tristan?"
"He probably won't be back for another few minutes. You'll have to do this without him, I'm afraid."
Cynthia couldn't reply, she was too busy trying to lay the egg. She didn't have much time to relax, however, as the next egg was already on its way. "If I ever see that snake again I'm going to . . . aaaagh!"
"Just calm down and focus, Cynthia. You only have two more eggs to go." That's what Demetri said, though he doubted whether that statement was true. Judging by the size of her stomach, she looked like she had at least twice that many yet to be laid, probably more. He didn't want to alarm her, however, and simply added the two newest eggs to the collection he'd carried with him for reasons even he couldn't fathom.