Nightsong watched young Ephiny run from Eppie's hut and into the woods. She sheathed her sword that she had been sharpening and followed the young amazon. She could feel the menance in the air and knew that the youngster would not be safe. She had felt a presence watching for some time, but with the raiders approching, she had no time to hunt down one individual.
Nightsong quietly stalked Ephiny through the forest, she owed Eppie and besides, it was her amazon duty to watch out for her. Nightsong was impressed with how much the child had learned to hide and a few times Nightsong managed to lose sight of the young girl for a time. The girl came to the river and began to skip across the rocks that acted as stepping stones. Nightsong paused in the branches of the trees, not wanting to let the girl know that she was being followed.
Suddenly, Nightsong's instincts screamed at her and she watched in horror as the water below Ephiny erupted as a raider surfaced and grabbed the surprised and shreaking child.
The raider was in the middle of the stream so there was no cover for Nightsong to ambush the raider from. Though she knew that raiders always traveled in groups and she would be wide open, Nightsong knew she had to charge the raider or the young amazon's life would end here in this river. With a fierce war cry,
Nightsong lept from the trees and charged the surprised raider. With a cruel smile, he tossed the squrming Ephiny into the racing river.
Nightsong didn't hesitate an instant and sheathed her sword and dove into the cold water to rescue the child. She swam to the girl and grabbed her. She turned to where the raider had been and found him joined by three of his buddies, and all with bows readied. "Oh Gods!" Thought Nightsong and she started swimming for shore as fast as she could manage. She couldn't dive for the water was to fast and she couldn't risk losing Ephiny in the current.
The arrows flew and Nightsong cried out as an arrow struck her in the left shoulder. With the rest of her strength, she managed to swim to shore. There she collapsed and tried to get her breath back.
But before she could even attempt to recover, three grinning raiders materialized out of the undergrowth with drawn swords.
Nightsong lurched to her feet and drew her sword, putting herself between the raiders and Ephiny. She turned her head slightly and yelled at Ephiny, "Run! Go to the village and get help, I'll hold them off!"
"But I want to help!" cried Ephiny.
"You can help by telling the village that the raiders are here and where you saw them. Now go!" Ephiny nodded and ran into the forest.
The raiders watched the young girl go and smiled. They then advanced on the shivering and bleeding amazon. Nightsong readied her sword and tried to make the blade not shake so much in her exastion. She could feel the warm blood flowing from her shoulder and knew that she didn't have much of a chance in this fight. She would run, but she had to cover Ephiny's escape at all costs.
As one, the raiders attacked, and Nightsong struck back with her fury. Just as Nightsong was wearing down, crossbow bolts suddenly sprouted from the necks of the raiders and they screamed and fell dead to the ground. Nightsong collapsed to the ground and wasn't surprised to see a very scared looking Lyco approching her.
Nightsong smiled warily up at her concerned wife and whispered, "Thanks" before the combination of bloodloss, hypothermia, and exhaustion made her lose consciousness.
Hearing the young Ephiny running into camp screaming "attack!" led Eppie to run toward the child who was shivering all over. As everyone began to gather around and Ephiny could catch her breath, Eppie realized Nightsong had saved Ephiny from raiders nearby. Eppie walked in the direction Ephiny had pointed and met up with Lyco carrying the completely limp and unconcious Nightsong.
After a gasp and expression of shock, Eppie followed Lyco into hers and Nightsongs hut where lovingly Lyco placed her mate gently onto the bed. Lyco quickly began to attend to Nightsong's wounds and examine her condition.
The noise outside of the hut spelled everyone preparing for a possible attack on the camp by the apparent scattered raiders.
Lyco paused from her healing efforts to glance toward Eppie who had chills run down her spine at the sense of something very strong and fearful between she and Nightsong's wife.
Realizing Lyco more capable than she to attend to Nightsong, Eppie abrubtly left the hut and headed in the direction of those still calming Ephiny.
A wild feeling consumed Eppie with the observation of the relieved Ephiny who had almost been killed twice in less than two moons. The vision of her injured sister, Nightsong became vivid in Eppie's mind as she stormed off in the direction of the attack.
While proceding with caution, Eppie checked that her boomerang and knives were secure but realized she had failed to bring along her compass for direction.
Pixie watched the two leave, "Finally some peace and quiet." she turned again to fletching the crossbow bolts. She had just finshed the last when Ephiny's yell caught her attention.
Nausea and a sudden feeling of disorientation caused Pixie to sit down on the ground.Deirfiur I need you.
She blinked in confusion then stood and grabbed her pouch as she ran out of the door. Looking around she saw Epppie coming from Nightsong's hut, she was shaken and a small streak of blood stained her cheek.
Pixie entered to find Lyco kneeling beside a still and quiet Nightsong. Quickly taking stock of the injury, she sent Lyco out to get hot water and more blankets.
"Well my friend it's just as well that you are unconcious because this is going to hurt like hell." she said softly as she cut the broken arrow out. Then pressing tightly with a clean cloth against the wound to stop the flow of blood she waited for Lyco to return.
She didn't have long to wait, portioning off the boiling hot water into two bowls she added different herbs to them. then used a cloth to strain the greenish fluid. This she used to clean and numb the wound. Lyco for her part laid down beside Nightsong using body heat to warm her up. She was softly fussing about running off alone as she gently caressed her unaware mate.
Pixie finished sewing the wound up and carefully gave Nightsong the second tea almost drop by drop to keep from choking her. "There that should keep her out of pain for a little while as well as help her fight off any infection."
"That's all I can do Lyco. Now we wait. I leave it to you to keep her warm and quiet." Pixie mummer softly as she threw another blanket over the pair.
She left the hut to find a small crowd of worried faces. Shsway and Marty were the first to begin asking questions.....
"Pixie, what's wrong? What happened to NS???" Shsway couldn't see anything past her sister's shoulders as she blocked the entrance to the hut.
Her friend was reluctant to answer, knowing it would be like taunting a hungry animal. But they had to know what was going on.
"As I understand it, little Ephiny was thrown into the river by a group of raiders and NightSong went after her. As she tried to get them both to shore, they shot arrows at her and forced her to fight once she got out of the water. She's got some wounds that need care and she's unconscious."
Shsway bowed her head in worry as Marty spoke up.
"How is she? And Ephiny...did she get away?"
Pixie attempted a half-smile before she answered. "NightSong will be well, no doubts about that. But we are unsure how long she will be out or just how severe the injuries are. let's just pray that the gods give her a quick recovery and leave her to rest."
"Gods be damned Pixie, let me through!" The scout was furious about NightSong's encounter with the raiders, and at the same time terribly afraid of what she'd find in the hut. She tried to push her way past the celtic princess.
"Bantiarna Seabac, control your rage young one. We have many things to do this night and no need for further distraction." The celt could see brown eyes clouded with concern and desperation. It worried her, not to mention Marty, who hadn't spoken another word and whose face had contorted into an almost equal expression of pain and revenge.
"Rionnac, please, let me see her." The scout saw no other way but to plead. She couldn't walk away with seeing what had happened to her mentor. Her friend. The older woman considered it a few moments more, than hesitantly stepped aside. Thanking her with grateful eyes, Shsway entered the hut, followed closely behind by Martman.
They both gasped as they took in the sight of the pale, still form on the bed. Lyco was tenderly wiping NightSong's forehead with a cool cloth, speaking reassuring words to her. The dark-haired woman stepped forward, she regarded her friend's guardian silently, again asking for permission to step closer. Lyco nodded silently, and Shsway knelt next to the bed, peering down on NS.
"You know," she whispered to her friend, "right about now comes the part where I tell you I'm going to make them all pay and go on a rampage." She smiled to herself. "But I know you only want what's necessary to be done. I promise not to kill more than 20 without purpose."
The scout paused in thought.
"Make that no more than 30. Anyway, you'd better be alright when the others and I get back. I know, I know, it's not that bad. But seeing you like this makes me feel...lost. I'm the one who's supposed to come home limping!!!"
She felt a warm hand on her right shoulder.
"C'mon sis, let's go. The village needs every able body and there's no time."
Shsway patted Marty's hand and reluctantly rose to stand up.
"We'll be back Nightie." turning to Lyco she gently offered, "Keep her safe."
She turned to join Marty at the door and they walked out to prepare for battle.
Having arrived at her hut, Shsway was a little disappointed to find Alaya had already left. She carefully assembled her gear for what was to come. From his basket in the next room, Griffin heard her come in. Waking up and stretching, he eagerly bounded over to his mistress and tugged on her boot straps.
"Hi pal, miss me?"
"Rrrrr" he agreed as he nuzzled her leg.
"Well, I've got to go out again in a bit. But there are some things to take care of first."
Shsway quickly strapped on her armor, breastplate and guantlets. Opening a box of ceremonial paints she traced red and blue markings to accentuate angry features. Much to the amusement of blue-grey eyes watching her. Closing the case up again, she picked up her celtic swords and daggers.
"OK, i'm ready." she said to nobody in particular.
"Arroooo!" the cub growled at her, expecting to come along.
"Sorry Griff, this is duty, not training. Let's wait until you've had more experience other than attacking Alaya's boots."
Her companion seemed to understand and sadly dropped his ears, walk dejectedly back to his bed.
"Guard the house Griff," Shsway said with a smirk as she stepped out the door.
Griffin now stood proud again, prowling about the house now that he had a job. He was one happy pup.