The burning inferno.
Their exchanged glances confirmed what Rey feared the most.
And they were in the village.
“Stay here!” Talon ordered her. There was already more of a wolf in him than human. “They won’t be able to find you.”
Rey watched him leave. One part of her wanted to crawl in the nearest hole or climb up a tree, but the other one screamed louder.
Rey was always more of a lover than a fighter, but would she be able to live knowing that while her family was fighting for their lives, she was hiding like a coward?
The answer was simple.
It hunted her all the while she ran through the forest. It didn’t take long for her to see the familiar buildings, now covered in flames.
But worse than the burning inferno in front of her, were the screams of villagers.
Let them be okay. Please let them be okay.
She begged as the images of Brynn, Lia, and S played in her mind over and over again.
They were all she had.
If something were to happen to them because of the decision she made ... It would destroy her.
Rey ran into the village. She passed the burning buildings, doing her best to avoid the humans and werewolves fighting for their lives.
The smoke made it almost impossible to see anything, but she tried anyway.
She tried so hard to find them in the crowd.
Her eyes finally settled on the familiar face standing at the edge of the battlefield. Not the one she hoped to see, but one she knew.
Elaine looked terrified. She was shaking like a leaf, her hand pressed against her mouth.
As their gazes met, Rey understood she was trying to convey a message to her. She watched as Elaine’s hand trailed lower and lower down her body and finally settled in one place.
And at that moment, Rey cursed all the gods she knew.
“Are you crazy?” She yelled as she ran closer to the trembling woman. “You should be hidden somewhere right now. What on earth are you thinking?”
“These are my people. I owe it to them to stand by their side through better and worse.”
“You will not be standing anywhere if we don’t find a way to get you out of here,” Rey stated and grabbed Elaine’s hand.
But she refused to move: “I am not leaving. It is my duty to stay here.”
“What about him then? Does he deserve to die because of your so-called duty?” Rey inquired.
Elaine stayed quiet. It was hard to oppose when the other party was right.
And Rey was right.
“Come on,” she pulled Elaine’s hand and pleaded with her, “we have to get you out of here.”
She didn’t protest this time, but it was still easier said than done.
“Where do we go?” Rey asked as she desperately looked around. “Into the woods?”
She didn’t like the idea.
What if their enemies were lurking there? They would serve themselves on the golden plates right on their table.
“There is a sanctuary not far away,” Elaine said. “It was built to protect everyone unable to fight. Those who were able to run away would be there.”
“Great. Let’s go then.”
“There is only one problem.” Before Rey had the chance to ask, Elaine pointed her free hand in front of them. “We have to get through there.”
There were houses built in the place Elaine was showing her. But unlike the rest of the houses in the village, these were built out of the pieces of wood. And that wood was very much on fire right now.
The forest started right behind them, so it would be impossible to go too far around them without going to the one place Rey dreaded to go. But getting to this sanctuary was their best shot: “Let’s do this then. We can make it.”
Rey set the pace that was enough for Elaine to still be able to follow her. The last thing she needed was for Elaine to fall.
Concerned about Elaine’s fate, Rey didn’t pay enough attention to hers and Elaine pulled her back seconds before a huge chunk of a roof from one of the houses, they were passing, gave in, and fell exactly where Rey was walking seconds before.
Yeah. They totally got this.
“Thanks,” Rey said breathlessly, but she didn’t waste time and kept dragging Elaine away.
They passed the houses, but it was too soon to rejoice.
Another danger waited for them. And this one even more vicious.
Elaine’s scream tore through at the same time as Rey registered the unknown figure that stood in their way.
There was a slight possibility of him being a werewolf or even one of the friendly humans living in the village. But would a friendly human be yielding a spear?
His gaze was trained on Elaine, a victorious smile playing on his lips.
Rey puzzled the pieces together and two things happened in the blink of an eye. The spear flew through the wind and one woman screamed a painful scream.