Technically it's past midnight here, so I'm posting this week's Story a Week. I've had it done for a couple of days, but took the time to reread it a couple of times and did a little rewriting.
So, enjoy the story!
Meentha pulled the last arrow out of the minotaur's stomach. She looked it over and nodded to herself. She was able to save several of the arrows that helped take the beast down. She glanced around. She saw the dwarf, Cuddlington, digging through the minotaur's pouches.
He pulled a wand out and tossed it to the half-elven sorcerer, Melbrid. "Figger this out," the dwarf said in his gruff voice.
Meentha looked over to where Rixi was standing. The girl was staring blankly down at her blood-covered short swords. She didn't particularly like the little elf rogue, but she could see that the girl was troubled. She glanced back at the dwarf and half-elf, but they were busy with other tasks. Meentha sighed to herself and cautiously strode over to where Rixi was standing.
Rixi looked up when she felt Meentha's presence and put a weak smile on her face. Meentha asked, "How arre you doing, Rrixi?"
Now Rixi smiled in earnest as she said, "I like the way you say my name. It sounds more exotic."
Meentha started to feel slighted by the comment about her accent, but then she realized that the girl was trying to be nice. Meentha smiled back at her. "Arre you okay?" she asked again.
Rixi's smile diminished a little, but she nodded. "I've never killed, nor helped to kill, another humanoid before," she said.
Meentha nodded. "I thought as much," she said. "Do not worrry yourrself, little one. Minotaurrs are notorriously evil crreaturres. The worrld is a betterr place with the death of this one."
Rixi nodded. "I guess so..." she started to say.
Cuddlington interrupted their conversation by saying, "Lasses, ye all ready to move on?"
Meentha glanced at Rixi, who was nodding to the dwarf. Seeing this, Meentha nodded as well. Cuddlington waved the two of them over to where he and Melbrid were standing.
Meentha started to walk over to them, but Rixi's hand on her arm stopped her. "Thanks," the rogue said.
Meentha smiled and nodded back. When the four of them were all standing together, the dwarf nodded to Melbrid. The sorcerer mumbled some mystical words and waved the wand over their heads. Meentha closed her eyes as the spell grew around them.
When she opened her eyes she was startled to find herself crouching in a dense forest. She quickly glanced around and recognized her surroundings as part of the forest near her old village. She tensed when she heard a noise in front of her. Ahead of her were a group of a dozen or so armor clad soldiers plodding through the dense forest. She recognized them as soldiers from the Bortan Empire.
Now Meentha was thoroughly confused. She glanced around again more carefully and noticed and recognized several other pantheron near her. 'Oh, my dear Ehlonna, I've been transported back ten years!' she thought to herself.
She looked back at the soldiers and saw that they were beginning to make camp for the night. She then noticed several of the other pantheron looking in her direction. She nodded to herself and signaled that they should back away. She pointed to the nearest scout and indicated that he should watch the soldiers.
When the rest of the scouts arrived, Meentha spoke in the pantheron language, "We will sleep in the trees tonight and have a standard watch on the soldiers."
The other pantheron nodded and dispersed to hunt for their dinners. Pantheron preferred to have their meals freshly caught, but Meentha pulled a large chunk of jerky out instead of hunting with the others. She had a lot to think about. Why had her goddess, Ehlonna, sent her here? Is this a test of some sort, or is she supposed to fix the wrong that would happen tomorrow?
Before long it started to get dark out and the hunters started returning. The group bedded down in the trees for the night. Meentha knew she could trust her team to keep the watches, so she tried to sleep. She did sleep, but fitfully. Her current situation and the events leading up to it plagued her thoughts.
She awoke before the dawn returned to the forest floor. The youngest in her team, Perrkrrid, was already awake and sitting on a rock near the base of the tree that Meentha had chosen for her bed. When he saw her land on the forest floor, he stood up and respectfully waited for her to address him.
Meentha remembered the youngster from the last time that this had happened. He had just reached the age of ascension last week and his father, a friend of Meentha's, had begged her to take him on this mission.
Meentha nodded to the youth and said, "You have something to tell me."
Perrkrrid nervously said, "Yes, Scout Master Meentha. Do you have a few moments to spare?"
Meentha remembered that she had rudely put him off last time, but that he had been persistent so she let him speak. This time she said, "Of course, what is it?"
Perrkrrid was still nervous, but he said, "I had a vision last night. A horrible, troubling vision."
Meentha knew what he was going to say, but she still said, "Please, tell me about your vision."
The young warrior looked about, but the two of them were alone. "My vision showed our return to the village," he said. After a short pause he continued, "It...it was destroyed."
Last time, Meentha had utterly dismissed his vision as a nightmare of a youth. He had argued that it seemed very real, not like a dream, but she was stubborn. This time, "Yes, Perrkrrid. I believe in your vision. We will act accordingly."
The youth seemed to perk up when Meentha said this, but a thought troubled him still. "What if we are too late?" he asked.
Meentha placed a hand on his shoulder. "We will not be," she said. "Wake the others; I must speak with the watcher."
Perrkrrid nodded emphatically and practically jumped up a nearby tree where a warrior was fast asleep. Meentha raced to where the soldiers' camp was. It took her a few moments to spot the watch, but she was glad to see that it was Yerrn, a warrior with as much experience as Meentha had. She quietly approached his position.
He saw her coming and flashed a smile in her direction. "Their watch fell asleep an hour ago," he whispered to her. "I could have killed them all without waking a one of them."
Meentha put a hand on his shoulder. "We are returning to the village," she whispered back.
Yerrn looked confused, so she elaborated, "Perrkrrid had a vision of the village being destroyed in our absence. I believe in his vision."
Yerrn, Meentha knew, was a very spiritual individual. He nodded. "This is wise of you, Meentha. I know that you do not have perfect faith in such things."
Meentha almost got angry at that remark, but then she remembered that up until today, she hadn't been a true believer in Ehlonna. The day's events would have changed that. Now, she knew what was going to happen, so, hopefully, she could change the outcome.
Yerrn was watching her, as if trying to read her thoughts. She said, "Things change, my friend. Also, the possibility is too much to risk staying with these fools and not going back."
Yerrn nodded and gestured in the direction of the sleeping soldiers. "What should we do about them?"
Meentha's visage turned stonily cold as she said, "Kill them all."
Yerrn nodded and stealthily crept towards the camp as Meentha returned to their sleeping place. The entire scouting group was waiting there. Meentha confidently strode into the center of the group and addressed them. "We are returning to the village." Several pantheron started whispering amongst themselves, Meentha ignored them. "Perrkrrid has had a vision from Ehlonna that we cannot ignore. If we continue this mission, our village will be destroyed." The whispers turned into gasps. Several warriors started talking at once.
"Silence!" Meentha growled. The entire group became quiet. "We will leave as soon as Yerrn returns."
"What is he doing?" one of the warriors asked.
"This group of soldiers is merely a distraction by the Bortan so that they can sack our village while we are gone. Yerrn has gone to kill them all while they are still sleeping." Meentha glanced around for any dissent, but saw only nodding faces. She had the group’s full support.
It was at that moment that Yerrn strode into the group and up to Meentha. "It is done," he said.
"We move!" she shouted and ran in the direction of their home village.
Several hours later Meentha signaled for the group to stop to take a short rest. Everyone growled in unison to keep going. Proudly, Meentha nodded and signaled for the group to keep running.
Another two hours passed before the group arrived in the village. The villagers were surprised to see them return so soon. Meentha ran up to the chieftain’s hut, but as she arrived a flaming arrow struck the hut not five feet from her head.
Meentha quickly turned to see a dozen Bortan archers fit another volley of arrows to their bows. "Ambush! North of town!" Meentha yelled as she drew her own bow.
Meentha quickly fired off several rounds into the archer group. She wasn't sure she hit anyone, but she saw a couple of the archers fall before they let fly their next volley of flaming arrows. The remaining archers melted into the forest. Meentha heard an unintelligible shout come from the forest, then ten mounted warriors came charging out of the forest into the village. They were followed by at least thirty men on foot.
Meentha knew then that there wasn't much hope for the village. Glancing about, she saw several huts on fire and only her few warriors were ready to defend the village and they were exhausted from their sprint back to the village.
Meentha fired off a round into the nearest horseman, then grabbed the nearest pantheron she could find. "Get the Chieftain and Warmaster! We must organize the defense!"
The older female nodded and ran into the chieftain’s hut. By now, several other warriors had joined hers in the defense of the village. Meentha noticed the archers returning to their positions, so she started picking them off, one by one.
The Chieftain, Herran, came up beside her, wielding his own bow and firing at the archers. "Why have you returned?" he asked in between volleys.
"A youngling in my group had a vision foreseeing this event last night. I knew that we would be needed," Meentha replied.
Herran, who knew of her imperfect faith in Ehlonna, looked at her doubtfully for a moment. He fired another shot at an archer, then nodded at Meentha. "I am glad you heeded the vision," he said. He looked around at the village and sadly remarked, "Of course, there might not be much of a village left after this attack."
Meentha was about to reply when one of the horsemen charged the two of them. Meentha dropped her bow and quickly drew her scimitar. She easily dodged the charging horse and, in the same movement, sliced the poor creature's front legs. The horse immediately dropped to its knees, throwing its rider forward.
Meentha quickly ran over to the man and, before he could recover, dispatched him with a quick slice to the back of his neck, nearly decapitating him. She turned back to where the melee was occurring and saw that the chieftain was lying on the ground near the horse. She ran to him, but saw that there was no hope for him.
"Meentha..." he whispered. Tears stung her eyes as she tried to keep him from talking. He shook his head weakly and groaned. "I'm..." The chieftain would never speak again.
Angrily, Meentha rose. She grabbed her discarded scimitar and ran, growling, into the melee. After several minutes of frantic fighting, the remaining soldiers retreated into the forest. Meentha, clutching one of the wounds she sustained, surveyed the damage.
All, save one, of the huts in the village were burning. Many of the villagers lay on the ground, unmoving. She counted five of her own warriors among the dead, leaving just Yerrn and Perrkrrid alive. Meentha hung her head in shame and guilt. She'd come back instead of continuing the pursuit of the diversion and it hadn't changed the outcome by much.
Her sadness and exhaustion caught up with her and she fell to the ground and started weeping. After a few moments, she noticed the sounds around her and grown quiet. Puzzled, she opened her eyes and saw the wizard, Yif, standing in front of her.