A Levani scout desperate to bring news to her people is caught by her foes just short of the border of her land.
The Levani sharpshooter pressed a hand to the stitch in her side, a spasm with fangs and claws tearing into her ribs and lungs, and willed her burning legs to move faster. Her ragged, stentorian breath couldn’t mask the thunder of the knights’ horses closing behind her, but their half-wolf trackers were almost impossible to locate by ear.
Idiot! Iranna Mirinifer thought bitterly. Scouting so far into Freeland without escort and then trying to cross the border in broad daylight! Now my report will never reach Emberland.
She leapt over a rotting tree trunk, stumbled, then regained her stride. She reached down into what little was left of her ego-strength to pull a defensive concealment charm around her. Hide in plain sight. Veil in hues of trees and grass. Blind them to-
A half-wolf crashed into her. She kept her footing, but before she could draw the long sword from its scabbard on her back, another canine body-slammed the backs of her knees and she fell backwards. Desperately, she rolled, stood in a defensive crouch, and drew the curved dagger from her belt. More half-wolves appeared, snarling and snapping from every side of her but leaping clear of her dagger. On her knees, she snarled back at them and twisted, lashing her dagger out at any that lunged too close.
A blunt-pointed morning star mace struck her left cheek, tearing a line of searing pain across her face. Dazed, she looked up and focused on the Adami knight. I could have taken you down, knight-any Levani man, woman, or child could in fair combat.
The half-wolves drew back as the other knights dismounted from their horses. Four strong men disarmed Iranna of her dagger, sword, bow, and quiver and then pinned her spread-eagled to the ground. She thought the knight who had hit her might strike her dead out of vengeance; she had emptied her quiver felling a dozen of his comrades. His helmet hid any expression except narrowed eyes. His mace tumbled to the ground and his hands dropped to his belt. Horrified, helpless, Iranna watched the knight unfasten the buckle.
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