Landon awoke to a world of raging storm clouds on a windy mountain bluff. The branches of the pines were being tossed to and fro with a howling wind, and the tall stalks of yellow grass moved as if from the presence of a ghost.
Landon scrambled to his feet, using the boulder he'd been slumped against as an aid. Then he climbed the boulder for a better view. The treetops stretched forever into the distance, following the slope of the land even to the distant mountains that edged the horizon.
Then there was a distressed cry, tossed out into the clearing on a wavering gust. "Ollie?"
Landon's heart quailed as he turned frantically to see. And as his eyes adjusted to the jumping shadows, he felt a tug of fear as the grotesque shape of a mutilated airplane came to life out of the darkness. He threw a hand to his temple. He could almost remember the crash.
He rushed to the scene, his eyes wide and searching as they passed fearfully over the wreckage. The voice called again--a soft and troubled voice that made Landon's heart go weak and stumbling. He was soon tearing pieces of the plane out of the way, desperate to recover his trapped loved one.
"I'm coming," he cried.
Finally he found a soft and gentle hand, searching for support. He gripped it hard and pulled the Companion from the wreckage. She came out smoothly and fell into his arms with a rush. He began to smother her with kisses, but it seemed she was too weak to respond.
Finally she managed to say, "Ollie, I'm fine."
Landon stopped and pulled her gently to her feet. "The plane crash," he whispered.
Her eyes were wide, staring into his own wild eyes. She nodded her head. "We're both lucky to have survived. But I think it's only just begun. If I'm not mistaken--" she was whispering now and Landon had to move his head an inch from hers to hear her above the storm, "--these mountains are home to a fierce native tribe. What if they find us? What if they heard the plane crash?"
Landon frowned. "I will not let them hurt you," he said.
Liz blinked. His sincerity and passion was astounding. But when it came to actually acting on his words, Liz didn't expect him to hold up very well. She turned her head slowly and dramatically, and then said, "Landon...look."
Landon looked. A line of figures were materializing at the top of the bluff, emerging from the tree line like ghosts in the night. They had giant head dresses of broad leaves and spiky feathers, and their spears cut the background with glinting malevolence.
Liz was caught in sudden surprise as Landon gave her a single knowing look and then turned to face the approaching tribe. He did not even flinch as two horses came thundering out onto the bluff from either side. He paced evenly to the center of the clearing and then stopped.
The tribesmen stopped several feet away. They seemed unsure and there was a suddenly awkward moment. Then finally a native hefted his spear and pointed it directly at Landon's heart. Landon held his ground without wavering. And so the scene held its ground. Nearly twenty seconds passed and the storm continued to rage overhead.
Slowly the tribesmen began to seem less and less intimidating as Landon stared them down with an unflinching courage. Landon soon had more control over the scene than they did. And then he acted on this, his hand flashing out to grab the spear from the nearest native. Then as the natives jumped to stances of surprise, he took a solid step and the spear took a whistling arc as it spun around his form with a controlled power. And as Landon approached, the tribesmen faltered and began to stumble backwards, their influence entirely gone.
Landon gave a cry and lunged forward, the end of the spear whistling as it cut the air. The tribesmen split and began to flee. Liz remained where she was, watching with an astonished fear, coupled just as strongly with, though she didn't wish to admit it, a particular amount of admiration.
But Landon's next move was even more unexpected. He lunged with another cry, and it was followed by a thwack as a horseman was knocked from his horse. Then Landon swung himself to the back of the animal as if he was a trained horseback rider, the spear still moving with a blur to hold back the cowering natives.
Liz continued to watch with a giddy admiration until, with a jolt of fear, she realized the horse was now making for her. Before she could even cry out, Landon had reached down and swept her from her feet. She landed on the back of the horse with a cry of excitement, grabbing hold of Landon from behind as the horse escaped into the night. Her eyes were a dazzle as she felt the beating life in the man in front of her, and her heart laughed as she was taken away into the wild, away from the foolish, distraught people behind her.
And for the first time, she was entirely taken away by the adventure, in heart, mind, and spirit. She let out a laugh and wrapped her arms tighter around the man in front of her. The dark trees danced around her and the horse escaped into the real world with a powerful gait, tossing its head and racing the wind. And they were gone.