Ateal landed hard on his hands and knees as the magic loosed it's grip on his body. Everything was spinning, his ears were ringing, and his skin was alive with a dance of unseen energy. Disorientated and confused he fell down onto his back, and nearly cried out in desperation as the hand of the young woman who'd brought them here left his own.

Dawn was breaking over a wooded hilltop to his left... or was it right? He closed his eyes and drew in several deep breaths, reveling in the darkness his eyelids offered him. When he once again opened his eyes, the dizziness had eased some. The apprentice was standing over Rokhan, her hands extended over his body and glowing a soft white-gold in the morning sun.

The young captain struggled to his feet as his Rethonian companion finished her healing, when abruptly she jumped backwards, crashing into him and sending the two of them back down onto the grass as the huge bearded warrior Rokhan jumped back to his feet, swinging wildly and bellowing in a confused rage.

Ateal tried to wriggle his way out from underneath the young woman, but slipped in the damp grass and mud, and only succeeded in further entangling himself. By this stage, Rokhan had calmed from his crazed rage, and stood fists clenched and breathing heavily. Eventually, his gaze swung down to the entangled pair. He stared at them for a long while.

Then burst out with a hearty laugh.

"Lek'Tan Carthean!" he boomed, "Not only do you fight well, but are quick about your business with the women too!" 

He wiped his bearded face with the back of his hand, and turned his gaze back to the surroundings. 

"What is this then, Lek? Where are my brothers?" Silence met him. "This is not our battle field." he rounded on the young pair, only now managing to untangle themselves. 

"The battle was lost," choked the young woman. "We were overwhelmed, your brothers fell." A sudden weariness took her then, and it seemed that it was all she could do to stay on her feet. She stumbled, and almost fell. Ateal went to help her, but Rokhan gripped him gently on the shoulder. 

"You are barely strong enough to carry yourself, Spear-Warrior. Let me carry the girl."

Ateal couldn't argue, and Rokhan knelt down before the Rethonian Teen. In his rough, heavily accented words he asked her her name, to which she replied 'Jessica'. He smiled at that.

"My second Daughter is named Jesingka, similar, no?" she returned his smile wearily, "She is a brave girl, my daughter... but only six. But enough of my family, will you let me carry you brave mage-girl?" 

Jessica nodded silently, and as the tall wolf-warrior lifted her, cradling her light figure against his chest. "You need to sleep now, girl." he told her, "but before the dreamwolf takes you, know, mine own name is Rokhan, and this Carthean over here is Ateal. But we call him 'Lek', no?"

"No" Jessica mumbled in agreement. "I mean, er- yes, or no, or..." she trailed off into sleep.

Rokhan turned his gaze then to Ateal. "Upon the dusk I will need to sing my prayers for my brothers. Until then, we walk for the border." Then, putting the sun on his left shoulder, the Giant bearded Lok'Rathean began the march north, with the young Carthean captain in close tow.

The End

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