Crouching down I wiped the blade of my sword against the stiff leather of my chaffs which were by now caked in a thick, dark layer of blood. Looking up I saw my fellow fighters. Elowyn stood breathing heavily, fire glinting in her eyes. Meredyth sat slumped against the base of a tree, exhausted, her blooded hand resting on Tunya's equally crimson head. Sunelya dragged the body of a Voxanian mercenary across the forest floor. Turning to the right I saw Aven standing, leant against a tree, a deep gash across her cheek. I rushed to her side and examined the wound.
"I'm fine" she laughed at me. I kissed her pale forehead and gently brushed her dark hair out of her beautiful green eyes.
"You should still clean that cut" I replied.
"Alright, alright. Give me a hand would you" she said playfully and I laughed. We sat at the base of the tree and she drew out a small fabric pouch. From it she produced a variety of herbs and began mixing them into a thick paste. She handed me the bowl and I began to apply the paste across the open flesh.
Suddenly there was a cracking of twigs from behind us. I spun round to see another mercenary, who had obviously hidden whilst the others fought. Deftly I drew a knife from my belt.
"Equaelis" I whispered. The steel blade flashed from my fingers and soared between the branches until with a sickening crunch it embedded itself in the mercenaries back. With a yell of pain he dropped to the floor.
"Make that thirty-two Faeth!" I called to her, and she laughed dryly. I finished cleaning Aven's cut and sat back against the tree, feeling my energy drain away slightly. Aven leant against me and I put an arm around her. Carla glided down to us and alighted on a tree root by my side. A mouse was clasped in her beak which she proceeded to devour.
"I hope she knows that that's disgusting Darl" Meredyth called over.
"You'd better get used to it for when Tunya starts bringing lunch back with her!" I laughed. I reached out and stroked Carla's golden head, then she flew off and perched on Sunelya's back.
We all lay back to rest, clutching at the few moments of peace we all knew would not last.