(Hmm, maybe I should do a post about it sometime...) (I'd also just like to say that last night our cabin had a crazy unplanned online party that left some late comers with 219 notifications xD)
Well, with seven votes for option 3 and only one for 2 (and none for 1) I'm pretty certain which one won. :) But I'm hoping that everyone should be satisfied: for the people who voted option three, here it is! And for Clare, don't worry, things aren't about to start going good...but at least Eumin and Leonora are back.
Hope you enjoy!
“Louise! You’re safe!” Leonora hugged me violently, both of us staggering several paces to keep our balance.
My throat caught and I couldn’t force words out. She was alive! Pulling away, I turned anxiously to see Eumin standing over my rescuer’s unconscious body.
“Oh, is he alive?” I burst out, suddenly worried.
“He’ll be fine,” Eumin snorted, “And when he wakes up he might think twice about kidnapping people next time.”
“But he was the one who rescued me.”
Leonora and Eumin stopped short, looking from me, to each other, then to the guard on the ground.
“He…rescued you?” Leonora asked eventually. “That’s awkward.”
I nodded. “I don’t know who he is but he was pretending to be my guard and now we’ve got a whole bunch of wolves after us and we don’t know how to get away and—”
Eumin put a hand on my shoulder, interrupting my desperate babbling. “Calm down, you’ll be fine now.”
“But running would be a good plan,” Leonora added as a howl rang down the valley.
“What about him?” I gestured to the ‘guard.’
Eumin pushed me forward. “I’ve got him, just go.”
I hesitated, not wanting to leave them both behind again like the day before. Leonora grabbed my hand and started running, leaving me no choice.
The way twisted every few paces and Leonora led the way, ducking around rock outcrops, slithering deeper into the ground down a grass speckled slope. How long could we keep doing? How long would we need to?
The passage ended in a fork, leaving two ways open. Leonora paused, uncertain which to take. Eumin caught up in a moment and shrugged, as well as one can shrug while carrying a grown man over one shoulder.
“I don’t think it matters either way,” he said grimly.
“When in doubt, go right,” Leonora replied philosophically. “If you go left there’s a fifty-fifty chance you’ll be wrong, but if you go right, it’s guaranteed you’ll be right even if you turn out to be wrong.”
“Huh?” I frowned but Eumin was already setting off down the right hand way. Leonora smiled wanly and followed him.
Behind, wolf-dogs howled at the rising moon.
Not wanting to be left alone, I jogged forward, scrambling around one bend after another. I stumbled on a loose stone, falling flat on my face. The harsh rocks scraped against the palms of my hands, tearing the skin.
A snarling howl jerked my head around just before the wolf-dog leapt at me. Death came hurtling through the air and my limbs turned to ice. Move! I screamed at myself, but to no avail.
I had hoped to live a bit longer than this.
Shutting my eyes, I wondered vaguely what it would feel like.
A massive weight fell on top of me, crushing the air from my lungs at the force. I waited for the teeth to start tearing but nothing happened. Air! I screamed in my head, choking on nothing in my desperation.
The wolf was lying on me. Very dead, with Leonora’s sword shoved firmly into its head.
I gasped in relief, finally able to breathe again.
Leonora jerked her sword, straining for a moment before it slipped out of the massive creature’s head. “The only good doggie is a dead doggie in these things’ case,” she grunted, pulling me to my feet with her free hand. “These deranged doggies are disturbing my digestion.”
I stared, panting heavily, my heart racing from the near encounter.
“Run, girl,” Leonora said. “I’ll guard the rear.”
The narrow valley walls rose up on either side, hiding any number of dangers. Stones slid and clattered under foot, restricting the pace to a blundering stumble.
Eumin forged ahead, I could see his chest heaving with exertion, the unconscious guard slung over his shoulder.
The dim light cast eerie shadows across the path and I almost ran into countless boulders and thorn bushes. My hands stung, and everything hurt, but I couldn’t stop running.
I collided headfirst into Eumin, stumbling away and sprawling onto the ground. Picking myself up I realised the passageway had ended in a looming wall of stone.
The only way out was backwards.
Leonora stumbled up, blood dripping from her arm onto the ground. “They’re catching up,” she panted. “We need to keep…” she trailed off, realising why we’d stopped. “Oh no.”
“How close are they?” Eumin asked.
She shook her head. “We can’t go back.”
We were trapped.
The guard groaned, stirring slightly. Eumin bent and dropped him to the ground. “I guess we fight then,” he said, his face set in grim lines.
I looked from Leonora’s sword to Eumin’s dagger. Against those killing machines of dogs they didn’t stand a chance. But what other choice was there?
Seven dogs leapt into view, charging down toward us with chilling howls.
Halfway down the slope the leading wolf-dog jerked strangely, tumbling and sliding down the hillside to come quivering to a stop in a ball of fur at the bottom, a long arrow buried deep in its flesh.
The other animals fell rapidly, arrows raining from above.
Leonora jerked me to the rock face away from the path of the arrows. “Keep back,” she hissed, shoving me behind her.
The last wolf-dog fell still with an arrow wedged behind its left forepaw. Stunned silence descended over the valley.
A rope creaked above us and I spun around, scrambling away from the cliff. Five men dropped down from the rocks above, landing easily on the rocky ground. Each held a bow, the fletching of arrows visible above their shoulders.
1. Before you could say out of the frying pan, into the fire they all had arrows on their bows at full draw. All pointed at us.
2. “Don’t mention it,” one waved a hand at us. “It was our pleasure.”
3. “Hand over your belongings and weapons, and we might let you live,” the leader drawled, holding one hand out as if waiting to receive them.
Well, that was a little shorter than normal but it just seemed a good ending so I stopped. Hopefully that's allowed. Sorry if you were hoping for a nice happy story, it'll get nice eventually I guess...for a couple of paragraphs. :)