Hoof beats pounded in our direction. Pulling my terrified eyes from the warg droppings took a lot of will power, but I did, in time to see Athor riding toward us, his horse in a lather.
“Ride,” he screamed. “Ride!”
Just as we had kicked our horses into a gallop we were stopped by a wall of wargs. Their tusks gleamed in the scattered rays of sunlight that fell through the leaves. Each held a nasty-looking weapon: axes, broad swords and spears. And the drool…pretty disgusting tendrils of drool hung from their mouths as if they were anticipating a good meal. Which would be us.
Rather than being dinner, I rolled off my horse as silently as I could and slid under a log, just like in the children’s tales that I’d loved as a little girl. I was pretty sure that no one had seen me, which meant that I was in a great position to keep an eye on what transpired and possibly try what magic I had to protect my partners.
One of the wargs grabbed Colwen by the head, lifted him off his horse, and then dropped him into his mouth. Drool poured from its mouth as he crunched Colwen, bite by bite.
Athor, Doughty, and Little John fought valiantly. They danced around those wargs, slicing at legs and then dashing away. I was so proud of them! I tried sending protection wards over my companions, but since I have yet mastered that talent, I didn’t think they worked.
Perhaps Little John and Doughty’s small size helped in the fight, for the injured wargs screamed in anger and pain as my companions rushed their legs over and over again.
When one warg fell to the ground and couldn’t get up, the rest ran away, cradling slashed arms or limping on injured legs dripping blood. Only then did I crawl out from my hiding place, find my horse, and rejoin my companions.
“Mount up quickly and quietly,” Doughty growled. We complied, then headed in the opposite direction of the wargs even though we knew it would lengthen our journey home.
An hour passed of silent riding through the flat forest. I was glad when Athor called a halt along a slow-moving stream for my backside was tired and I was extremely thirsty. “I heard the wargs coming,” Athor said after we’d drunk and watered our horses. “That’s why I rode back in such a hurry. I hoped to warn you, but the wargs moved faster than I.”
“It’s okay,” Dolwen said. “We made it through with just a few cuts and bruises, and even though Colwen lost his life, none of the rest of us was taken as hostage.”
Athor brushed his dirty blonde hair out of his eyes. “Do you think they’re gone now? I’m too tired to fight another battle.”
“Quiet.” Little John cupped his right hand around his ear to amplify his excellent ability to hear, and sat completely still. Seconds went by. “They’re gone, but not too far from away. Let’s ride out before they find our trail.”
We were too exhausted to talk and there was little to say anyway. We all carried the image of Colwen being eaten alive. Our horses seemed refreshed, so we hopped on. Muffled our weapons to reduce sound, and continued toward home.
An hour later the forest opened up and we were at the edge of a rather steep cliff. Down below was the River Siln. Athor saw a deer trail to our right, so we followed it down, single file. To our right, nothing but a wall of granite. To our left, a sheer drop. I stared straight ahead, trusting my horse to get me down safely.