He tried to remember who had talked him into doing this. Mumbles certainly wasn’t happy about it either. The wyvern, after flying them over the forest in the dark dead of night, had to remain behind as soon as they had landed at the edge of the woodlands. Tarrant had promised the beast that they would be back as soon as possible, but if the humans weren’t back by daybreak, then Tarrant had a feeling that Mumbles would come storming through the farmlands to look for them.
Looking at the amount of crops that had been grown this year, Tarrant was sure he’d get killed by the farmers around the area for letting the wyvern loose amid the food. It wouldn’t be a great way to start a cold season.
“What’s the plan?” Tarrant whispered to Reyna, the archer being just a couple of feet ahead of him.
“Get Kachina out of there,” the girl replied.
“No kidding,” Tarrant said dryly, “but do we have a plan as to how to do that?”
Reyna blinked back at him. “…Storm the place, kill any bandits you find, and rescue Kachina?”
Tarrant smacked his forehead with the palm of his hand. “Seriously? I guess there’s a reason as to why she and Jeharraz are the masterminds behind the mercenaries rather than you.”
“Shut up,” Reyna said. “You have any better ideas?”
“Well, if you had just let me bring Mumbles,” the wyvern rider said, “I could have had him sit on everyone that dared mess with us, but you wanted the element of surprise. Was the element of surprise the best plan you could come up with?”
“Basically,” was the casual response. The least she could do was sound sheepish or apologetic. Tarrant sighed and unstrapped his lance from his back.
“Alright, then,” he said, giving his head a sharp turn left and right so the muscles and bones cracked. “Shall we go?”
Reyna nocked an arrow into her bow. “Yep! You go first.”
“Why do I have to go first?” Tarrant asked. “Why can’t you be the bait?”
“My weapon is a bow,” Reyna said, “a long-ranged weapon, you idiot. I’d get slaughtered just walking up there.”
“Then shoot before you’re close enough to get hit,” Tarrant said.
“That’s what I plan to do,” Reyna replied, “but I can’t find any targets just yet. You need to go up there first and lure them out.”
“This is stupid,” Tarrant said. “We don’t even know what kinds of bandits these guys are. I mean, they took Kachina of all people! She’s one of the toughest fighters on our team, and these bandits still managed to kidnap her. We need a better plan than this.”
Reyna sighed, but nodded her head. “I guess,” she agreed. “Too bad Jeharraz isn’t here… He’d know what to do.”
“Of course he would.” Tarrant leaned against the old barn that the pair were hiding behind. “That’s why he’s the prince and second in command for the Watchers. Was he the one who founded the Watchers, actually?”
“Well, him and Ellery and their mother,” Reyna said. “We all started as a group based out of Perion and—Oh, we don’t have time for a history lesson.” She stomped her foot like a child and glanced back over at the rundown base that the bandits were hiding in. “We need to do something to help Kachina. Who knows what is happening to her in there–”
There was an abrupt explosion from the bandits’ base, making the ground shake and flames flicker out of the upper story’s windows. Tarrant’s mouth and throat suddenly went dry, and Reyna’s shoulders shook. His grip on his lance grew limp, and his mind went blank except with the thought of Kachina having been in there. He placed a light hand on Reyna’s shoulder, about to draw her back, but the archer suddenly pointed forward and whispered, “Look…”
There was a figure that crashed out of one of the upper story windows, one with a dark cloak whirling around it like a dancing shadow, and the figure rolled once it hit the ground, a trick that Tarrant had been taught long ago in order to minimize damage upon impacting the earth should he ever accidentally fall off of Mumbles.
Bandits began filing out of the door, although judging by the screams, there were some that had lost to the flames before they even had the chance. Those bandits that were still alive, however, began to shout and spit curses at the cloaked figure. The bandits circled around the figure, who had drawn out twin daggers from inside the cloak and was twirling the blades around…
“Reyna,” Tarrant said, “that’s Kachina! She made it out!”
Reyna suddenly laughed and shot an arrow at one of the closer bandits. “She probably caused the explosion too! I wouldn’t put past her. Come on, Tarrant!” She dove out from the cover the old barn had provided, shooting a couple of arrows as she did so.
“Reyna, get back here!” Tarrant tried to catch up, moving his lance to the simplest position in order to stab bandits. “You have a long-range weapon, remember? You’re going to get slaughtered!”
As Tarrant and Reyna caught up to Kachina’s side, the old thief turned and smiled at them before returning to the heat of battle. Only once the majority of the bandits were dead or had fled did Kachina begin to berate and thank Tarrant and Reyna for their wayward attempt at a rescue party.