Shooting through the darkness at such a terrifying pace, Leila was caught off guard by the sight of dark shapes suddenly surging in around them. The wolves. One leapt forward, teeth snapping. Jerking her foot back, Leila grabbed the blunderbuss, and when the wolf leapt again she slammed the butt of the gun into its head. Sam shouted something in her ear and pointed. Leila looked up. The light, larger and glowing, was straight ahead. They might make it. Blister barreled on, but the wolves were closing in on both sides. Leila aimed the blunderbuss and fired, blowing a hole through the pack of shadows. Despite the good shot, she felt instant regret. The gun was spent. It would be impossible to reload.
“Lean forward,” Sam ordered.
Leila glanced back, Sam was fitting her arbalet to his forearm. She lay flat against Blister’s neck, so he could turn and aim, taking one creature out just as it leapt at Blister’s hindquarters. As Sam reloaded, a sharp, painful jerk sent Leila lurching sideways off the horse. One of the wolves had got ahold of her boot. She screamed throwing her arms around Blister’s neck. There was a clink and thwap next to her ear, as a bolt sunk through the wolf’s head. Another leapt, but she had regained her balance and hammered the butt of the blunderbuss right down into its gaping mouth.
The light was as bright as a beacon now. Sam was drawing faster. Each thwap was followed by a yelp or yowl, but the only thing truly saving them was the horse’s blistering pace.
Despite the rain, Leila could see they were at the base of a hill, the outline of a small windmill sat, windows lit up and glowing through the rain, but with the slope of the hill, Blister was losing ground to the pack. Sam let our a sudden scream of pain. His body wrenched left, almost dragging both of them out of the saddle. Leila lost hold of the blunderbuss to keep ahold of Sam. He was being drug to the ground, one of his legs firmly in the mouth of an enormous grey-black beast.
Luckily, the arbalet, strapped to his right arm, had hooked around the saddle, caught, and held fast. Sam kicked at the wolf violently with his free foot. Another wolf lunged, but Blister kicked it away. “Hold on!” Leila cried, suddenly remembering her sword. She ripped it from the scabbard near the saddle horn, and turned, but something odd was happening. The wolf had let loose on its own, and was now yelping and hopping about as though mad. Leila yanked Sam back into the saddle, and Blister plunged on. Leila and Sam turned and watched in shock as the wolves, scattered and yowling, disappeared into the darkness.
“Not the Kartivaus?” Sam was slumped forward now, breathing hard.
Leila glanced at Blister, despite the horses heaving chest she appeared calm. “No. I don’t think so.”
She looked at Sam. Rain was running down his face, dripping off his hair and lips. He looked ashen in the darkness. There was blood and water, dripping––draining down the side of the horse. Leila went dizzy at the sight of it.