“Hey, Shay, did you know that Veron has scale mail on his helmet?”
Evanlyn’s stern, and commanding voice came from what Shay assumed was a bush only a few paces to the right from where she and Nevin Westmont fell, after the chain binding them broke. Shay’s vision wasn’t clear enough to be sure exactly where Evanlyn was standing, but she could definitely see the glint of sunlight off the tip of her arrow. She was too astonished to respond.
Nevin slowly began rising from the turf.
“That’s far enough, Westmont.” Ul’vade called from somewhere to Shay’s left.
A third ranger from directly behind them loosed an arrow into the oak tree a foot above Nevin’s head. The quivering arrow embedded deeply in the bark of the old oak was marked with Danaskel’s unmistakable fletching. Nevin was all too familiar with the colors, he lay back down, quickly.
Evanlyn spoke again more slowly, and very clearly, demanding an answer, “Shay, did you know that Veron has scale mail on his helmet?”
There was a subtle change in the glint off Evanlyn’s arrow, and Shay realized it was now pointing directly at her. Evanlyn was not messing around. Quickly Shay replied with as much enthusiasm as she could muster, “What? He does? No way! When did that happen?”
Evanlyn lowered her bow slightly, angling it away. She let out a sigh of relief, and with deep concern in her voice she asked, “Shay, are you alright?” Bow strings all around eased their tension and the click of arrows returning to their quivers was audible.
“More or less.” Shay answered, “Please, don’t shoot. I’ve had enough already.” There were a few chuckles from various invisible sources around them.
Two Terrasylvan Rangers melted out from behind trees so close to them that if Shay had reached out she could almost touch them. They took charge of Nevin Westmont. Shay could not see what they were doing, but she could tell he wasn’t fighting them. Then Evanlyn was at her shoulder crouched down and looking her over, checking for injuries or harm.
Shay was so relieved she began laughing again, a little too much and a little too loudly. Tears were leaking from her eyes, and she was shaking. She lay back on the turf and let all the pain and stress of the last two weeks overtake her in an instant.
Evanlyn opened a full canteen of fresh water and helped Shay to a drink. Then she gently poured the water over her forehead and through her hair, helping to calm Shay’s feverish reaction. It helped, yet still Shay was shaking uncontrollably. She kept her eyes tightly shut.
“Evanlyn, please take me home.” Shay asked through gritted teeth so quietly the other Rangers couldn’t hear.
Evanlyn bent down placing a hand firmly on Shay’s shoulder. Respectfully whispering in return, “Shay I need to ask you one more time, did you know that Veron has scale mail on his helmet?” This time there was a hint of pleading in her voice.
Shay opened her eyes and looked at the hazy face hovering over her, she could tell it was Evanlyn but her expression remained undefined. The tone of voice she had used however, was perfectly clear. Something was wrong.
“What? He does? No way! When did that happen?” Shay said one more time as evenly as she could.
There was a gentle squeeze on Shay’s shoulder from Evanlyn’s hand, an acceptance of that answer, then two or three other blurry faces hovered into view. They conversed quietly for a moment coming to a quick conclusion. Shay couldn’t be expected to move in this condition having suffered from exposure, hunger, fatigue and wounds still healing.
Shay tried to assert that she was fine, but a vile of something sweet and metallic was pressed to her lips, anyway. She drank, and within moments her vision started to fade to black. Edging on unconsciousness, and with blurry uncertainty, she caught a glimpse of Nevin Westmont on a litter, some five or six Rangers in their mottled green and gray cloaks, and what looked like a Kane shaped figure conversing with another blurry figure who Shay supposed to be the current Speaker for the Rangers. The order to move out was given, and Shay slipped off to sleep completely confused. She knew no more for some time.