With a huff, Mara stopped looking at the hateful sight of Tubal's back. He turned his
glare downwards, and closely watched where Tubal's feet were landing. Mara noticed
that Tubal didn't stomp flat-footed like he had been doing, but rather stepped softly with
the ball of his foot first. Mara was half-hopping to reach those spots where Tubal was
stepping, but he tried the same trick with the next hop. Mara went up, and as he came
down he flexed his foot and landed on the ball. A little heavily, and Mara almost pitched forward, but he righted himself and kept going. A grin snuck onto Mara's face. The steps weren't perfect, but they were much quieter now. He could learn fast, and this was just
the beginning. On this hunt, or perhaps the next, Mara would show them all. A stray
band of sunlight pierced the red canopy and blinded Mara for a moment, turning his world
into a meaningless blood-colored haze.
Kaze hovered in an anxious whirlpool around Mara. Joshua had answered Kaze's summons,
and came quickly, now kneeling beside her. He reached out his hand and let it rest on
Mara's brow, then removed it. Concern knit his eyebrows together in a knot as his eyes
noted her shallow, slow, uneven breathing. Joshua could see the moonlight reflecting the
sweat that covered Mara's body, which lay there in the same position it had fallen, still
unmoving. Joshua closed his eyes, letting his head fall slightly, and looking for all
the world like he was praying. Joshua opened his eyes again, and the green orbs
never left Mara's face as he crouched over her and lifted her up into his arms. He
cradled her close to his chest, then began walking downhill to the cave entrance.
Joshua would take care of Mara, but there was little he could do to wake her up. Mara's
mind was gone, and it had taken most of her soul with it.