“It’s not safe out there,” he said, pulling the curtain closed against the oppressive darkness. A high-pitched wail emphasized his point.
Three figures huddled closer together. One was crying, another consoling him, and the third held the fire poker they’d commandeered as a makeshift weapon.
“And what about Emily?” The second asked. “You can’t expect us to stay here until morning and hope there might be something left of her to find and bury.”
“If I let you out, you’re as good as dead!”
“Well at least I’ll have had the guts to try,” the third one spat. “Step aside!” They strode towards the door, shoving the man aside when he tried to block them. “I’m not abandoning Emily.”
The air outside was filled with high-pitched screaming. Large bat-like creatures flew across the canopy in a blur and the sky was glowing from a large fire not too far off. They forged forward regardless, working their way down the path they knew their friend would have taken before night fell.
Twice, they were assaulted, but they managed to fend off the beasts with their makeshift weapon. Once they nearly turned their ankle as their foot slid down toward the bottom of a gully they had misjudged the location of. There was no sign of Emily.
“Can’t give up,” they muttered, more as an encouragement than out of conviction now.
They eventually came to a thick grove of trees, just outside town, that had dozens of the creatures swooping and screaming at it. None could get past the densely packed branches, though. One spotted them and made to dive at them when it was pierced by an arrow with red fletching. Her arrow.
They wasted little time worming between the trunks that ringed the grove. Stray branches pulled at their clothes and scratched their face until finally there was a gap in the trees.
“Lue! Thank God you’re alright!” A tall figure enveloped them in an embrace, their vision momentarily blocked by the fabric of her robes.
“I could say the same to you, Emily. I thought I was going to find you dead.”
“Not a chance. They can’t get in here, so I’m just waiting for dawn. Or company, I guess. Are you my brave hero?” Her eyes took on that flirty glint that usually sent Lue’s heart crazy, but the effect was dampened by a horrendous screeching from a creature caught in the branches of a tree.
“Huh, holly. Should have thought about that before.”
“I told Eirik they would be weak to that, but would he listen? No. And now we have to hole up in that silly shack every night.”
“I mean, would you rather be there or here, though?”
“At least here there’s fresh air. And I can watch the sunrise.”
Suddenly, the air was filled with piercing shrieks from every direction. Both of them flinched initially, but Emily recovered quickly once she jammed pieces of cloth in her ears. She gestured for Lue to do the same and beckoned them to follow her up a tree. They looked at her like she had gone completely crazy, but followed her all the same.
Rather than being beset upon by the creatures, they were treated to the sight of them all fleeing in the same direction away from the rising sun. It was the most beautiful sunrise they’d ever seen.
“We should head back,” Lue finally stated. “The others are worried.”