Brianna nearly tripped over a fallen log as she entered the forest. She splashed through large puddles as she raced past the damp trees. A loud crash from behind told her that men were pursuing her. She pumped her legs faster, ignoring the pain in her wrist.
Lightning flashed overheard, lighting the sky for a moment. Brianna really didn’t know where to find Richard. She knew that he had been scouting the forest all weekend and he was suppose to be to the South tonight. Would the fires behind her bring him to the village?
The men had attacked the village. It was probably in ruins now. Even with the rain pouring away, the fire would rage on all night until there were nothing else to feed it. The village would be destroyed before anyone could really do anything about it.
Brianna tried not to think about it like that. Her best friend was in trouble and she was thinking about her house. What was the matter with her?
She heard shouts from behind her. They were getting closer and gaining on her with every minute. If Richard wasn’t close, then she would be over-taken before she could warn him. At this time, that was all that mattered to her.
The night was cold in the autumn air. Her breath came out in white clouds with every pant. The rain fell at a slant, towards her eyes. She tried to run while shielding her eyes, but it did no good, it only slowed her down. The rain was blinding her. She ran as fast as possible. At times, she had to slow lest she trip over unseen objects on the ground.
The forest grew denser. The light from the fire started to fade. She had to carefully pick her way through the trees now. The darkness made it hard for her to see anything. She thought about stopping and climbing a tree to get away from the men, but decided against it because she had to find Richard.
“This way!” a voice shouted, alarming close. “These are her tracks!”
Brianna pushed herself to go faster. She mentally guessed where Richard said he would be. He had said that he would be to the southeast. Brianna guessed that she was going roughly in that direction.
The bushes directly in front of her moved. Brianna came to a sliding halt, terrified that it were probably a wild boar. She gasped for air as she carefully went over her options. She didn’t have her knife anymore, so she had no protection against a wild creature. She quickly looked for a tree to climb.
“I think I see her!” an excited voice shouted, probably twenty or so feet from her. Brianna decided that she wouldn’t wait where she were and rushed through the bush, taking the risk.
She came directly to the point of an arrow.
She froze. As her gaze followed up the arrow shaft, she slowly rose her hands up, above her head. She knew that any fast movement would cost her everything. Her eyes rolled up powerfully built arms and a torso. She looked up into blazing brown eyes.
“Richard,” she whispered, relieved. His hair was slick and plastered to his face. His breath came out in small white puffs. The arrow moved away from her and to the place where a man’s voice came from.
Brianna backed up and stood behind Richard. She remained silent, almost fearing to breathe. Her hand curled around the golden bracelet around her hurt wrist. She watched as Richard’s arrow carefully aimed at the sound of footsteps. Even though the rain was falling hard, it was easy to hear the clumsy steps. Moments later, a man stepped through the bushes.
Without hesitating, Richard released the arrow. The man silently fell to the damp ground. More voice came closer. Brianna lightly touched Richard’s shoulder.
“How many?” Richard whispered to her so quietly that she wasn’t sure if she had actually hear him. When she saw his eyes dart to her for a moment, she knew that she had heard him.
“At least five more,” Brianna whispered back. She had quickly counted them as she ran. She had seen six, including the one Richard had killed, but she knew that there were more.
“Do you have a weapon?”
“No,” she responded.
“Take this,” he whispered, pulling free a dagger and handed it to her. Brianna took it and held it tightly in her uninjured hand.
The men slowly came closer. A few shouted things, but Brianna couldn’t understand what they were saying. She wished that they would somehow miss them. She feared to fight them.
A man stepped through the bushes, followed by four others. Richard released an arrow. The moment it was free of his bow, he threw the bow aside and pulled a sword free of the sheath at his waist. The ring came out sharp and loud in the pouring rain.
The arrow penetrated the man’s skull. Richard swung and was taking down another before the first man had even hit the ground. Brianna feared to do anything. She wanted to help, and yet she didn’t want to get in the way.
Two men slipped past Richard and charged at Brianna. She shrieked as they let out battle cries. Brianna thought that they were going to try and capture her. But it seemed like they were more intent on killing her.
She leapt back as a sword whistled its way towards her soft middle. She clutched the dagger like a lifeline, and tried to ignoring the pain in her wrist. She knew that it was broken, but she couldn’t let it bother her at the moment. She had more important worries right now, like her life.
They went to opposite sides of her and swung at the same time, one high and one low. She dove out of the way, narrowly missing the sharp blades. They charged after her again. She brought up the dagger and, thinking quick, flung it at one of the men. She had never been good at aiming, but the dagger met true.
The other man took her momentary distraction and kicked her stomach. Her air left her in a whoosh and she buckled over, gasping in sudden pain. The man shoved her to the ground and raised his sword above his head. The blade started to descend.
“No!” Richard shouted. His sword swept around and cut the man nearly in half. Brianna shielded her eyes as she gasped for breath. The man fell down next to her, his innards spilling all over. She quickly moved away from the dead man.
“Are you okay?” Richard asked, giving her a hand up.
“Yeah, I think so,” Brianna whispered. She cradled her wrist.
“What happened to your wrist?” Richard inquired.
“Richard, we have to go! Katie is in trouble!” Brianna shouted, ignoring his question. She grabbed Richard’s arm with her good hand and starting to pull him back to the way she had come.
“What’s happened?” Richard shouted over a loud clap of thunder. He ran along side her.
“The village was attacked and I think they were after Katie,” Brianna shouted back. “They burnt it down!”
They ran for nearly a minute before the village started to come into view. But that wasn’t the only thing that came into view. When Brianna looked back to make sure Richard was keeping up, she bounced off something a little soft. The last man, the leader, stood right in front of Brianna with a sneer on his face. He had come out of nowhere.
“So the other bitch decided to come back to me. I knew you would,” the man rasped. He reached out and grabbed Brianna’s injured wrist and twisted it behind her back. Brianna cried out in surprising pain.
“Let her go!” Richard shouted. He raised his sword above his head and took a swing. The man shoved Brianna to the ground and pulled free his own sword. He parried the blow and spun into a counterattack.
Richard slammed his sword into the man’s sword and threw him off balance. He kicked the man’s hand that held the sword. The man’s hand opened and his sword flew out. Richard swung his sword and set the point directly at the man’s throat.
Richard stood panting as the cold rain splashed around them.
“Kill me!” the man shouted, water ran off his face.
“No,” Richard whispered, barely audible over the thundering rain.
“I would have killed you. What stops you from doing the same to me?”
“You’re knowledge,” Richard said. The man smirked. “Tell me what they wanted with Katie.”
“You might as well kill me because I won’t tell you,” the man spat.
“No, I think I’ll torture you first,” Richard said. Brianna stood behind him, watching with wide terrified eyes. The man had stiffened at his words. “Then maybe I’ll skin you alive and leave you to bleed to death.”
“You should just kill me; I won’t tell you anything under any torture,” the man said, regaining his composure.
“I think you will,” Richard said.
“Richard, just kill him. We have to go!” Brianna shouted at him. They weren’t far from the village, but Brianna didn’t want to be too late.
“Fine, if you won’t tell me, I’ll just kill you and torture one of your men. They will tell me,” Richard said, raising his sword.
“They won’t tell you anything!” the man shouted. Richard stared at him for a moment.
“Richard!” Brianna shouted. Richard looked over at her. The man lunged as he turned his head. Richard saw his mistake at the last moment and swung his sword. It made contact with the man’s chest. He crumpled to the ground, dead.
Richard turned to Brianna. She was starring into the woods. Many torches were lit not far from where they stood. It appeared that there were about fifty men grouped together. They moved fast, but did not appear to be in any kind of rush. The torches hissed in the rain.
“Katie,” Richard whispered. He took a few steps at a run. Brianna reached out and grabbed his arm, pulling him to a stop.
“What are you going to do? Fight them all?” she asked.
“I have to,” Richard said, pulling away from her. She held even tighter.
“Richard, we need to think of a plan before you start chasing a bunch of men. They may all be tired from the battle at the village, but they will stop at nothing to kill anyone in their way,” Brianna said. She feared that he would waste his chance on these men and probably get killed.
“What do propose we do?” Richard shouted at her, still watching the lights from the torches. They were moving away.
“There is nothing we can do here,” she said. “We should get a Knight or villager to help.”
"No time!" Richard shouted. He ripped his arm away from her grasp and took off at a run. She shouted at him to come back, but he didn't even look back. His only thought was to rescue Katie.
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