Breanna surged forward. Attacking the unready woman.
It was a blind, flailing, attack made with nothing but fury and fear.
The soldier, skilled as she was, could only deflect the random swiping blows of the Fenner blade as novice woodlander’s fury grew.
Breanna gained ground as the woman stumbled back, wounded and tired, and it gave her a surge of confidence. She put all her force and weight into a strike but with a sudden crack, Breanna’s blade snapped.
Her Fenner knife was mere bone against the glinting bronze of the soldiers’ master weapon.
But Breanna barely blinked.
She launched herself at the woman pushing her to the ground and holding the jagged Fenner knife to her throat.
The dark slate eyes of the Druid soldier looked at her. Unblinking.
“I’ll do it!” Breanna shouted through gritted teeth.
But she hadn’t done it.
The sharpened barbs pressed against the flesh of the warrior’s throat until bright pinpricks of blood escaped staining the white of her knife. Still, Breanna did not make the kill.
The woman stared with an unflinching gaze. Then gently lifted her chin, exposing more of her neck. Taunting Breanna with the chance for a clean kill.
Breanna could slice through, rip open that throat in an instant.
The soldier would bleed to death.
She would be gone, finished… dead.
The woman who’d wounded her brother would pay dearly for what she had done.
He was a few feet away. Laying on the ground, dying and alone.
The woman let out a whistle and her mount trotted toward them, shaking its head with a snort.
Still, Breanna did not make the kill.
When the woman dragged herself from the ground, Breanna shifted away. The fight had gone from her. They were both exhausted and weak.
The warrior hauled herself to her feet then leapt onto her mount, but rather than stop her, Breanna backed away edging toward her brother.
The two women looked at one another for a long moment, before the warrior turned and took off after her companions down toward the valley floor.
Broc moaned, and she rushed to his side letting go of all thoughts of the woman.
“You’ll be alright,” Breanna said quickly. He was clutching his chest. The blood already stained his clothes and seeped through his fingers. “Leasha will save you,” Breanna dashed to the edge of the cliff, hoping to see Leasha clambering her way back up. But the blood drained from her body as she stared down at the empty valley. “Leasha!” She screamed the name but knew she wouldn’t come, knew she couldn’t come. “Leasha!” Mim was gone. Leasha was gone. What was she to do?
“Bree,” Broc whispered, he swallowed hard, “we have little time-”
“No,” she shook her head determined, “no, she’ll come back, she’ll save you, Leasha will-”
“Listen, Bree,” he reached out to her, “listen, please?”
She shook her head, but the tears tightened her throat, silencing her arguments. She didn’t have strength enough to stand and instead crawled unsteadily toward her brother.
“You are… the bravest-”
“No, please-” she took his hand in her own, then the rest of him. Clutching him into an embrace. Uselessly trying to hold him closer, trying to stop him leaving her.
“You’re the bravest soul I’ve ever known, Bree,” he pushed his axe into her chest, “take it,” he coughed, “you earned it today. You earned it the day you followed me… from the forest.”
“Don’t go,” she whispered, but she knew he had little choice.
He reached up with a bloodied hand to wipe a tear from her cheek. “I’m so proud-” his hand fell and his head rolled back.