She was running through the forest again. Centaurs chased her as arrows raked through the air past her head. Richard ran in front of her. He looked back and smiled. She smiled back.
He stopped running at the edge of a cliff.
An arrow flashed past her and struck Richard’s heart.
“No!” she screamed. Richard slipped and fell over the edge of the cliff. She heard herself screaming. Hooves thundered behind her.
“Richard!” she screamed as she looked over the edge of the cliff. Richard was falling, back first. His lips moved in words that she couldn’t hear, but she knew what he was saying.
I love you.
“Katie,” came a distant voice. “Wake up.”
Her eyes came open. At least, she thought they came open. It was so dark that she wasn’t able to tell if they were opened or not. She pushed herself up in unstable arms. She was shaking.
“Are you okay?” came the voice again. She looked up to see Ridley leaning over her, his face masked mostly by the darkness.
“I think so,” Katie said, lightly touching her cheeks. They were wet.
“You were shouting in your sleep,” he said. Katie dismissed what he said and asked something that was on her mind.
“Richard or Brianna?”
“Haven’t seen them yet,” Ridley said.
“How long have I been asleep?” she asked him.
“Nearly two hours,” he answered, sitting down next to her. “What were you dreaming about?”
“I...” she hesitated. “I don’t remember.” Ridley nodded. “What did I shout?”
“Something about Richard,” he said. Katie nodded.
Katie looked around. She couldn’t see anything. The darkness was so thick it was almost tangible. The quiet sound of crickets filled her ears.
Katie stood. She feared that Richard had slipped in the darkness and got hurt. And Brianna was probably running around, terrified.
“Why didn’t you start a fire?” Katie asked Ridley. “Richard and Brianna would be able to find us better.”
“As would other people,” Ridley said, standing too. “People we wouldn’t want sneaking up on us.”
Katie nodded. She understood what he meant. He feared that if they set a fire, a soldier or guard would find they easier. She only wished that they would be able to make a fire so Richard would be able to find them easier.
“Katie--” Ridley began. The sound of crunching leaves made him spin around and pull his sword free.
Katie grabbed the dagger she had placed on the ground next to her. She sidestepped Ridley and stood next to him.
“Who’s there!” Ridley shouted. The sound of the crunching leaves came closer. “Show yourself!”
Katie lowered herself into a crouch. She would be ready.
“Lower your weapon,” came a familiar voice.
“Richard?” Katie asked, standing straight and lowering her weapon.
Richard and Brianna came clambering through the trees.
“Richard!” Katie shouted. She took a few steps towards Richard. “Where have you been?”
Richard came forward and placed his hands on her shoulder. He didn’t appear to be hurt. Brianna was worse for ware. Her hair was in a large tangle and her shirt was ripped at the shoulder. In the dark, Katie could see that they were covered in dirt.
“We decided to stop after we lose the centaurs, not far from here. When we heard voices, we came to investigate,” he answered. Katie smiled and leaned in for a hug. He returned the hug.
“What happened?” Ridley asked Brianna.
“They caught up with us,” she said, smiling. “They attacked us. Richard was amazing! He fought two of them before we took off running again.”
“Really?” Katie asked him. He nodded, not smiling. “Wow!”
“It was nothing,” Richard said.
“Are you okay?” Katie asked Brianna. She nodded.
“I’m amazed that you were able to take the centaurs on,” Ridley said, glowered at Richard.
“It was scary,” Richard admitted. Ridley watched him for a moment, then broke out in a grin.
“You would have to be the first person I have ever met that took a centaur on and lived!” he said.
“It was nothing,” Richard repeated.
“If you say so,” Katie whispered.
“You look tired,” Ridley said to Richard and Brianna. They nodded. “Do you have blankets?” he asked.
Richard pulled his pack from his back. “I have a few in here.” He reached in and pulled two out. He handed on to Brianna. She nodded her thanks and sat down next to Katie.
“Are you hurt?” Katie asked her.
“No, thanks to Richard,” she said, smiling. Katie returned the smile.
“I’ll take first watch. You should get some rest,” Richard said to Ridley.
“If you would rather that,” Ridley said, sitting down near Brianna. “Wake me in a few hours for my watch.” Richard nodded.
Ridley handed Katie something before sitting back down. “For your protection,” he said before he rolled onto his side. Katie carefully opened the bundle and found a short sword inside. She placed it by her side as she wondered where he had gotten it from.
Richard glanced around and saw a rock near the edge of the clearing. He walked over to it and sat down. He had a clear view of everything in the clearing. Katie watched him for a few moments before setting her head down on the ground again.
She looked over at Brianna and saw that she was already asleep. She rolled a few feet away from her. Katie smiled to herself. She was glad that they were all together.
With those happy thoughts, she closed her eyes was fell asleep.
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