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They passed the rest of the day in near silence. And the night. Mila couldn’t help keeping an even closer eye than normal on her companion, searching for any kind of hint as to what he was hiding from her. It was only fair, she reasoned. Why should he be able to keep his secret when hers was now out in the open? But her silent searching was fruitless.

As they set off the following morning it started to rain, gently at first, but then more and more ferociously. Rumbles of thunder began to sound in the distance. Mila retrieved her cloak from her pack and wrapped it around her grumpily. In the cold and wet the bruising to her throat, jaw and up her back felt even more uncomfortable. The fact that Caelan seemed as at ease as ever despite the weather didn’t do anything to improve her mood. 

The forest had grown gradually more sporadic, turning slowly but surely into rocky, mountainous terrain. By the afternoon of the second day they were navigating a narrow pass between two cliff faces. There wasn’t room for them to walk side by side and Mila found herself glaring determinedly at the back of Caelan’s head.

They were nearly through the pass when several small stones were dislodged to bounce down the cliff face just to Mila’s right, and she looked up. That was when it all happened.

There were five of them, all dressed in dark clothes, all armed with rough looking knives and clubs. Mila barely had time to shout a warning to Caelan before they had dropped down from their perches on the cliff edge and attacked.

One of them, tall and built like a bear, grabbed at her arm, nearly dragging her off her horse. Mila went for her knife, but found empty air. Of course - that was the knife that Hazel still had. She didn’t have time to reach for the other, she was already slipping down. She kicked at him and his grip relaxed enough for her to tear herself away. 

In front of her, Caelan was still on his horse and fighting as best he could, but she knew he wouldn’t be able to fire his gun without a very clean shot and risk the bullet ricocheting off the rocks around them. She saw a flash of metal and felt a jolt in her stomach. No, she told herself - Caelan could look after himself. She had other things to worry about.

The bear had produced a knife. She was also vaguely aware of a smaller man behind her other shoulder - probably trying to get her pack. Mila reached up for her sword. The handle was cold and wet with rain but she gripped it tightly, drawing it and aiming her swing at the bear. He ducked, lunging forward himself. Brave, she noted. Pretty stupid though. She caught his upper arm on her return blow just as he managed to aim a slash at her belly. The knife cut through her jacket but it wasn’t sharp or deep enough to break the skin. Now he stumbled back, clutching his wounded left arm, and she turned her attention to the man behind her. He was riffling through her bag, fingers cold and fumbling. This was why she kept her money on her purse. She brought the flat of the sword down hard on the top of his head, knocking him to the ground. 

“Mila!” she heard Caelan shouting.

She turned back. One of the men he was fighting was down and out, but the other two were looking quite dangerous.

“Just go!” she yelled back.

“But - ”

Go!” she screamed, simultaneously kicking her horse forward. He reared slightly and the bear, who had been coming back for another go, was knocked back again. A moment later they were racing forward, and she could see Caelan in front of her doing the same. 

After a few minutes the rocks started to draw back and Caelan slowed slightly, allowing Mila to ride up next to him. 

“Are you ok?” he asked. There was a shallow gash on his left cheek and he was breathing heavily.

“Fine,” she said shortly. “You?”

He nodded. “Bloody bandits,” he spat. “The mountains are crawling with them.”

If anything the rain had intensified. “We should keep going,” Mila pointed out. “There might be more of them.”

That was when the first arrow thudded into the floor less than a metre away from them. Lightening fast Caelan whipped around and Mila followed his gaze. A lone man was standing on the rocks above them, already loading the next arrow. 

Almost immediately they were off again, flying along the path which was getting wider and wider. 

Finally Mila saw a glint of green through the rain. They were nearly out of the mountains…

A mass of black swarmed into view, blocking the way. Four riders, all presumably armed and dangerous. Mila felt her heart sink - the previous attack must have been to tire them out and so they would be already weaker when the other group ambushed them. 

Vaguely she heard Caelan shout, “Keep going!”

“Ok!” she yelled back.

Only a few seconds later they were there.

Another arrow from behind missed Mila’s arm by a hairs’ breadth. She was still holding her sword and she swung it at the dark figures around her, but rather than a cry of pain she was answered with a clash of metal on metal. A gunshot rang out from beside her, echoing through the valley, then another. She saw one of the riders fall. 

And suddenly they were free. A wide plain of grass opened up before them - a dark mass of forest in the distance to their left, and to the right, just on the horizon, a town. The smell of the rain saturated grass surrounded them. Mila’s fingers were starting to go numb and she returned her sword to its sheath before urging her horse faster.

Thumping hoofbeats told her the riders were on their tail, although how close she wasn’t sure and wasn’t eager to find out. By now her horse was about level with Caelan’s and she briefly caught his eye before turning back to focus on the landscape in front of them.

Until a red hot pain shot through her side. Mila heard herself gasp and struggled to keep holding on to the saddle for a moment as the pain spread through her body like a virus. Vision slightly blurred she looked down, becoming vaguely aware of the shaft of an arrow and a dark river of red before she had to look away, bile rising in her throat. 

She thought she heard Caelan shouting her name, but she couldn’t be sure. Everything was fading, turning red, then black.

She felt herself slipping…

 

 




Submitted: May 24, 2016

© Copyright 2021 Amy R. Beckett. All rights reserved.

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Comments

MissGangamash

Not much to say here, another good chapter :) Left some icomments for you.

Mon, June 13th, 2016 3:30pm

Author
Reply

Thanks for reading, and thank you so much for all your feedback - your attention to detail and helpful constructive criticism is really appreciated :)

Mon, June 13th, 2016 10:50am

Eruscupcake

Goodness, they sure have many obstacles to get through and so much danger. I love the action you have portrayed in this story. I feel for them though because they can't catch a break. Loving the story a lot.

Tue, June 21st, 2016 12:08pm

Author
Reply

Thank you!

Tue, June 21st, 2016 8:38am

Sylvermyst

Awesome chapter with a lot of action.

Fri, July 1st, 2016 2:49am

Author
Reply

Thank you :)

Thu, June 30th, 2016 11:58pm

A. K.Taylor

Another good chapter, action-filled as the other commenters have noted and intriguing in the fact that bandits are now a part of the equation. So much seems to happen to Mila though. You must enjoy putting your main through a lot of pain, lol.

Don't worry, I know it helps build the character but it's quite a lot for her to go through so soon without those miraculous werewolf healing powers some other stories seem to attribute toward them. Of course, not all of them do it but I've read a few that do, especially since silver is their primary weakness.

Sat, January 12th, 2019 12:26am

Author
Reply

Haha yes - I think I just wanted to make it more realistic than her escaping everything without a scratch on her. She definitely has some healing powers, they're just a little more subtle...

Sat, January 12th, 2019 3:01am

TheresaVan18

A good chapter. I found a few awkward sentences or grammar things I pointed out. I wonder if Caelen ever gets hurt or if it's only Mila who gets all the bad luck. ;)
I enjoyed it through.

Thu, January 31st, 2019 1:20am

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