“Hopefuls to the Prince. Shield him NOW!” Sergeant Deer’s voice cut through the noise.
“Use your packs as shields,” Sarah yelled as she grabbed hers.
Finding herself shoulder to shoulder with Marcus, Sarah raised her pack as another volley of arrows rained down upon them. Someone cried out in pain. It happened again and again; a rain of arrows then cries of pain. There was no way they could win if the playing field wasn’t evened out. Sounds of hand to hand combat began. Sarah remembered the damage one archer had done in the skirmish Phoenix Troop had been in. Jason would have died if she hadn’t...
“I’m going for the archer. Protect the Prince with your life,” she hissed to Marcus.
Thrusting her pack at the Prince, Sarah crouched and began to make her way out of the circle. She knew where one archer was. She kept his position fixed in her mind as the rest of her fought hard. More arrows volleyed into the fray. Sarah stuck to hand to hand moves, not daring to draw her sword in the tight quarters. And then she was out and un-pursued.
Sarah didn’t dwell on why no one was following her. Instead she kept herself low, trying to stay out of sight. Making her way through the tress she searched for the archer. Suddenly the beady eyes of a wolf appeared before her.
She stopped and, praying it was one of Wolf Troop, spoke, “Archers in the trees. Fighting at camp site.”
The Wolf nodded and moved on, howling into the night. It was answered by others. Then the silence was broken by the sound of crunching leaves. Spinning on her heels, only instinct kept Sarah from being skewered by the man’s sword. He advanced upon her and she found she’d drawn her weapons without thought. Their weapons clashed as the man attacked with the clear intent to kill.
Fighting with all her might, Sarah tried to keep her doubts of being able to kill him at bay. He was one of the archers, she knew that for sure. The bow and quiver made that clear. As long as he was fighting her he wasn’t shooting arrows at the others, but how long could she last. Suddenly she found herself backed against a tree, her weapons torn from her hands. The man grinned ready to deal the killing blow.
Sarah snapped. A primal yell, began deep within her throat escaped as she lost all thought. Action to reaction, she was fighting for survival. His sword thudded to the ground. It was quickly followed by his body. Not allowing herself to think about what she had just done, she seized the closest weapon and sprinted back to the main fray.
Jason would kill her if she failed to protect the Prince. The General’s men had the upper hand. They surrounded the tight circle of Hopefuls and Scouts. The worst cries came from a section where the enemy had broken the Scout line and were attacking the Hopefuls directly. Yelling again with that same primal anger as before Sarah dispatched a man who was about to kill Hopeful Jeremy. Suddenly she was beset upon by two men and Sarah now fought for her own life.
The Prince, her mind thought over and over. She was supposed to protect the Prince. Her eyes darted here and there locating the Prince and then… Sarah’s mind froze trying to register the familiarity of the face and costume of the man who had appeared. A sword struck hers breaking the spell.
“THEO!” Sarah thrust forward struggling to get through. “ASSASSIN!”
Time slowed down as Sarah watched the man in black lunge for Prince Theodoso, his knife glinting in the moonlight. Sarah dodged and parried blows as she fought her way across.
“NOooooo!” Marcus screamed as he flung himself in front of the Prince.
The dagger plunged into Marcus’s shoulder, instead of the Prince's heart. The Hopeful staggered backward into the Prince as the assassin pulled his dagger from the body.
“You cannot escape that easily,” the man hissed right before Sarah bowled into him.
They rolled on the ground together tussling back and forth, but he was as slippery as soap and she could not keep him pinned. Once free the assassin posed for attack and Sarah readied herself for it. Suddenly the howling of wolves filled the air.
“RETREAT!” the assassin yelled as he turned and fled, Sarah right on his heels.