As the oncoming centaurs approached, the stamping of their hooves echoing through the night, the only other sound that the trio could hear was their own blood pulsing in their ears.
As they once again readied themselves to fight, Juliexus sighed, knowing that as the youngest, she was the least bloodthirsty, and would have done almost anything to avoid confrontation, as necessary as it was. Granted she had said only hours ago that the blood of many outweighs the blood of one, but... She preferred the more diplomatic approach.
However, as the centaurs edged ever closer, the Trinity noticed that a few of them had no weapons drawn, and this brought a sigh of relief and a small smile of curiosity to Juliexus' face. Mexii looked over to her and caught her eyes. Both were still on edge and prepared for battle, but they slowly considered the declining necessity.
As the approaching centaurs made their way closer and closer, most of them seemed to slow, with only around a dozen continuing at the typically fast centaur pace. Juliexus saw that most of them were pulling back - turning around. Who were the mysterious trackers?
The centaurs - twelve of them now, Mune counted, eyeing up her chances - stopped dead in front of the Trinity and formed an orderly line from right to left. In the middle stood the centaur that seemed to be the leader, and so Mune addressed him.
'If you wish to take us back to the forest, you shall have to drag us there, or kill us here, for we do not abandon our quest so easily.'
'Little ones, we do not wish to fight,' came the booming reply from the leader. He and his men were dressed in red armour, which, from what Mexii could remember, was not the official garment. 'We come to offer a truce - peace. We intend to help you in any way we can. We will die for you. We understand the importance of your mission, and we want to see you succeed.'
'Why are there only twelve now, when we estimated a hundred at first?' Mune questioned.
'Escorts. These are dangerous lands, young ones, and although we intend to protect you, we needed some protection of our own. This is a risk for all of us - we shall be exiled for helping you. Few wish to risk the wrath of the High Judge, and that explains our few numbers. However, as you can see, we carry weapons, food, water and other equipment that can help you.'
The three females were stunned - they had planned to do this all alone, and, well, they had done very little planning. They could use allies and the equipment. They shared a glance, and another centaur spoke.
'We have expert trackers and navigators among us, and we are experienced in difficult battle circumstances - we are not afraid to die.'
Mune got to her knees, as did Juliexus. Juliexus spoke graciously:
'We will thankfully accept your help.'
A smile spread across Mexii's face.