“Sicari.” The centaur stated as he stood. Cool wind whipped at the fire, crackling red hot embers across the ground. They sat huddled together in the bowl of a gulch. Towering buttes cut swaths through a star filled sky. Darkness hemmed them in on all sides.
Chills ran up Mareth’s spine at his words.
“Sicari.”She whispered to herself, knowing what was to come.
Pulling her cloak tighter around her shoulders she stood. Beside her Worn pawed at the dusty red ground, “They’re close.”
“We should not have stayed here.” Mareth spoke, fear eating away at her resolve. She wished none of them had followed her here.
From across the fire an immense form rose. The minotaur grinned a wide savage smile at Mareth.
“It is too late for wishes girl.” Troheim snarled, unsheathing both of his battle axes, he spoke to the night, “We must turn and fight. Enough of this running.”
“There’s not much you can do against a hunting Sicari, Elemental.” Said Gemma, her fur rippling in the breeze. The faun turned to her brother and gave him a kick. With a snort Natus was up, hands already reaching for his bow and quiver.
Troheim gave a snorting laugh, “Lucky for us we have the legendary twins of Parmara to hold our backs.”
Worn stepped around the youth, positioning himself between the oncoming enemy and Mareth. “Prepare yourself, Mareth. Remember your training, open yourself to the world around you. Let go of your fear.”
She tried. Closing her eyes Mareth stretched her awareness beyond the circle of light cast by the fire. White hold energy crackled between beating hearts. Muscles tensed and breathe quickened. Fear pervaded them all.
A spectral yowl filled the sky snapping Mareth back into the present. She looked back to see Icarus getting to his feet. Her own fear shone in his green eyes. She wanted to leap over the fire and throw herself in his arms. It wasn’t fair. It wasn’t right to ask for all of these beings to sacrifice themselves for her, especially him.
Icarus’s hand shook as he unsheethed his long sword. He turned to face the upper lip of the sandy gulch.
The howling increased causing waves of goose flesh to prickle over Mareth’s body.
“Protect the Elemental at all cost!” called Worn, as his double edged broad sword flashed in the firelight.
The twins nodded as they knocked arrows onto their long bows, raising them to the sky.
Mareth looked once more at the twisting flames of their fire, still devouring each piece of wood.
Just as we will be, devoured by this burning darkness.
Now the clawed feet of the Sicari’s mounts echoed in the darkness beyond, beating on rough stone.
As if Worn could read her thoughts, he grasped her shoulder saying, “Take heart Mareth, we are with you.”
A burning warmth spread through her heart. She turned her head to look Icarus in the eye one more time.
“Let them come.” She said to the night and raised her sword high.