We reached the camp about three hours before sundown. Maya was excited to find the rest of her group alive. She tried to run off the second the camp came into view but I held her back because I wanted to make sure her group was actually inside it and that they weren’t under attack.
I wanted to avoid her group seeing me after last night. There’s no telling what Logan would do to me if he found me. I climbed a tree near the camp giving me a clear view inside the camp and keeping me mostly out of sight. I was about fifteen feet off the ground and I was close enough to hear the conversation inside the camp.
“We have to accept the fact that Maya might be dead, Michael.” I recognized Logan’s voice. After last night I could never forget that sarcastic as-
“No! I can’t accept that Logan!” Michael shouted at Logan.
I looked down at Maya who was staring up at me in the tree. She had an anxious look in her eyes and seemed like she would charge into that camp any second now. I waved down at her signaling for her to go ahead just as Logan and Michael exited a dark-blue tent. Maya’s eyes lit up and she ran right to them.
“Michael, Logan!” Maya yelled and threw herself into Michael’s arms. He staged back and winced most likely from his hurt leg but didn’t let go of Maya.
“Maya! We were worried sick about you!” Michael said and it looked like he was blinking back tears. “Where have you been!”
“Sissy!” A small voice called out from the other side of the camp.
Zachary came rushing out of a tent and threw his arms around his sister.
“Where have you been!?” Zachary demanded.
I was quietly climbing my way back down the tree when I heard Maya’s little voice call out to me.
“Ella!” I let out a curse, I should have told her not to mention me. “Ella! Where are you going?”
I looked down from my tree branch and found Maya’s whole group looking up at me. Michael and Logan drew their weapons and pointed them up at me. Logan had the same knife as last night and Michael had a bow and arrow.
“Whoever you are, come down here, slowly,” Logan called up to my tree.
“No!” Maya yelled at the two older boys. “Don’t hurt her! She helped me when I got lost!”
“Is that so?” Logan told Maya without taking his eyes off me. “Then why is she hiding in a tree ready to ambush us?”
“Ambush you?” I called down to them whale pushing myself into a sitting position. “Please, why would I want to ambush a pathetic little group like yours?”
“Is that so?” Logan called back up to me flashing his perfectly white teeth in a sarcastic smile. “Then why don’t you throw your weapons down and climb out of that tree?”
“Whatever you say, pretty boy,” I called back down to him while taking my daggers out of my holsters. I threw them off the branch aiming for the spot right at Logan’s feet. They hit about two inches away from his boots and to my surprise, he didn’t even flinch. I jumped down from the branch next and was careful about landing on my good leg. I hit the ground with a large thud and the force of the impact knocked me to my knees. Pushing myself back up and dusting off my knees I returned my focus to the two armed boys pointing their weapons at me.
“Very good, now don’t move and tell us what you’re doing here,” Logan said with a smile tugging at the corner of his lips.
“If I told you,” I said with a half-smirk of my own. “You wouldn’t believe me anyway.”
“It’s either that or we kill you right now.” To my surprise, it was Michael that spoke up. He has been mostly quiet threw this whole encounter. “Now tell us the truth, did you kidnap Maya?”
I let out a sigh and filled my voice with venom. “Did you hit your head or something? If I wanted to kidnap Maya why would I bring her back to her group?”
“She’s got a point there Michael,” Logan replied, still not taking his eyes off me. “However that still doesn’t explain why a scavenger would return a lost little girl to her family. In this world, everyone looks out for themselves. Why would you help us if you were not expecting something in return?”
“Can’t you just believe I did it from the kindness of my heart?” My voice was full of sarcasm but it was the truth. I felt bad for Maya for some reason and decided to help her. There’s nothing more to it.
“She’s telling the truth, Logan!” Maya yelled running up to Logan and latched onto his leg. “I didn’t ask her to help me, but she said she would. She didn’t ask about a reward and she didn’t try to rob me when I was asleep. She’s a nice person and you’re being a meanie!”
Logan seemed to ponder this for a few moments then lowered his weapon and gestured for Michael to do the same. He looked down at Maya, who was still holding his leg, then back at me.
“If you are trying to trick us you will regret it,” Logan said with a threatening undertone in his voice. “Thank you for bringing Maya back to us. Now then, off you go.”
I turned and was about to leave when I heard Maya’s voice rising up behind me.
“No!” Maya ran up and threw her small arms around my waist. I felt her bury her head in the small of my back. “She can’t leave! She saved me, can’t she join us!?”
I turned back around and pried Maya off my waist. She turned back around and looked Logan in the eyes.
“We just lost half our group!” Maya said to Logan and I think I saw him flinch. “We could use more people and Abby helped me when I was in need! If you send her away I will never forgive you!”
“I think it’s an alright idea,” Michael said. “We just lost our leader and Sara. We could use more help.”
“Alright!” Logan yelled after a few moments. “We will take you on trial, but if you so much as breathe the wrong way I will have you kicked out of this group. Is that clear?”
I was shocked, first, they were threatening to kill me. Now they want me to join their group. Why would they trust me all of a sudden? Should I trust them? Nothing is stopping them from running a sword through my chest the moment I go to sleep.
I looked down at Maya, who was holding my hand and smiling up at me. I can’t explain why, but I feel drawn to this little girl. I haven’t traveled with other people in over five years, but it might be nice to change things up a little. I looked up to Logan and made my decision.
“Then I suppose I will have to tread carefully.”