I had been amassing an arsenal to fight the fae when the time came, and liked to spend my time cutting arrows at the training grounds. It had been peaceful when no one was there, but now Corin visited every day, trying and failing to hit the bulls- eye of the target with an arrow. Sometimes he failed to even hit the target itself. I had found it amusing at first, but now it drove me insane. He was going to get us all killed if he didn’t learn right. I showed him tricks, but I didn’t want to get close to him again and feel… whatever I had felt in the woods. I didn’t want to see that look in his eyes again.
I cursed as the knife slipped and cut my skin. Throwing my thumb to my mouth to suck the blood away I glared at Corin.
“What do you want?” I repeated.
“Jem says you are to get the Hawk ready for a fight. She went in the forest; the patrol was attacked and two of them are still fighting.”
I sprang in to action and away from him.
“Get six of your best men and meet me back here.” I hurried towards the tents and found Kiara walking with Griever. “Kiara I need you to grab Kennedy, Mia, Tom, and Laya. Tell them weapons, we have to go and save some of the patrol, they were attacked.
“Let me come.” Griever said immediately as Kiara hurried off.
“I can fight.”
I rolled my eyes at him but there was no time to argue.
“If you die on your head be it.”
“That’s the usual state yes.”
I smirked then saw the others coming back, weapons being strapped to their waists as they did so.
“Follow me!” I called and we all headed back to the practice field. To my chagrin Corin had beaten me to it; he and his men were ready. I glanced at him briefly as I strode to the front and found him looking at me carefully, like one does something easily breakable. I glared at him again and felt the pinch of my finger where blood still lingered. “We head to the forest; stay together, weapons ready, be alert. They could come from anywhere. Follow me.”
They all nodded, grim faced, and I turned to the forest. Alright then you monsters. Here we come.
We slipped in to the forest, the soldiers making noise behind us that made me cringe. Stupid men, stupid armour…
I heard a scream come from our left and diverted immediately. Breaking in to a jog, I heard everyone following, even more loudly.
We came upon Jem, fighting, Norida behind her on the floor, covered in blood. There was a boy in front of Jem with sharp teeth, and I realised he must be a shape-shifter. Like Norida. He looked over Jem’s shoulder at us and took off in to the darkness, scared by our numbers. Kiara hurried past me to Norida.
“Jem.” I muttered and she turned around. Her eyes were wild, her hair whipped around her face and covered in blood. I didn’t know whose. “Are you hurt”?
“Head.” She murmured. Kiara was getting two of the soldiers to carry Norida back to the camp. The others were lining round them for protection. Jem staggered over to me and I brushed her hair away. She looked like she’d been hit by a stone.
“Kiara, Jem’s head is bleeding badly.” I called and Kiara came over.
“We need to get you back. You might have concussion.” She said and looked around. Griever appeared next to Jem and despite her protests, picked her up gently from the ground and began to carry her behind the procession that held Norida. Kiara followed. I brushed past Corin to do the same and heard him take an intake of breath before following me. I gritted my teeth. Despite my pact that I would avoid him I seemed to be spending an awful lot of time with a-
I stopped. The yellow eyes to my left blinked, and then it appeared. A wolf - like creature, like the ones I had heard other patrols describe, came in to my path. I saw the others hurrying on ahead, unaware of the situation. Eyes like the glowing embers of a fire, teeth like the bleached bones of a corpse except dripping with blood, this creature prowled, salivating, in front of me. It snarled, and shuffled as if to pounce. And I reached for my sword. I would not go down like this. It leapt, and I was pushed out of the way. I fell, sprawling in the leaves, my blade flung from my grip by the fall. I rolled over expecting to be attacked. But then I saw Corin, pinned beneath the wolf, attempting to keep it’s snapping teeth at bay with his sword which he was using like a staff; the only barrier between his face and death.
For a moment, I wanted to run. But I couldn’t leave him, no matter what the past. He was the reason all the guards worked so tirelessly to become as good as we were. He was the reason we had help. I scrabbled for my sword and, in failing to find it, I grabbed at a rock I found on the floor and flung it at the beast.
“Corin run!” I screamed as the creature was knocked to the side and shook its head, momentarily stunned. Corin scrambled to get up but the wolf was moving and suddenly its jaws were wrapped around his arm. He yelled out and struck the beast with his sword. It yelped and released him and I grabbed at him to pull him away…
“Watch out Kate!” He cried as another of the beasts appeared. I flattened myself against him and reached for my knife. The handle slipped in to my hands easily and as the beast dove towards us through the trees I prepared myself. It leapt and I threw my knife. The blade buried itself in the creature’s neck and its flight was cut short as it plunged in to the ground and rolled over its own head. I heard Corin finishing off the other wolf and went to take my dagger back from the other. I reached down and grasped the handle, pulling it from the wolf’s body. It moved, so suddenly I didn’t see it coming. Teeth loomed in front of my face and then, right before my eyes, a blade sliced straight through its skull and out of the bottom of its jaw. I stared, wide eyed, as its dead mouth gaped at me, and then it slipped from the sword and fell dead to the floor. I looked up and found Corin staring down at me, the bloody sword in hand. I gulped.
“Come on.” He whispered, and put his hand out hesitatingly. I stared at it, covered in a black leather glove. Slowly, I put my hand out and let that grasp enfold my hand. He helped me up and for a moment his hand lingered upon mine, and then it was gone and we were hurrying back to camp.