War Heart

"Now wait a second," Alex grumbles still half asleep. Dylan stops speaking so Alex can continue.
"I missed the first part. So there are all these girls and they are trying to do what exactly?" He questions. I sigh, it pays to pay attention.
"There are only 4 girls, Nala the red headed bandit, Kara the fighter, black hair comes from Kilren where there are orange dyes, Ali the sword expert who was Dylan's best friend and Bella the leader with the unique ability to order people things and they have to do it. The four of them are trying to defeat Riley and his mutants because he somehow built a mind control system," I sum up for him. He takes in the information and slowly nods.
"So the red head, the fighter, the sword expert and the leader are going up against a vampire with a wicked talent to cause trouble," Alex shortens my summary. I frown at him.

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21. Chapter 16 (Ali)

"Got any other ideas?" Dylan yells to me as Nala distracts the beast from attacking me. I am in shock. I can't believe I was wrong. I'm never wrong!
"Why don't we just ask it?" Kara suggests sarcastically as I rush to help Bella, who is struggling to stay on her feet. She glares at me but doesn't say anything as I support her with my shoulder.
"Oh sure you just want to walk up to up it and be like 'hey buddy, haven't seen you in a while and uh, while you're at it why not tell me how to beat you' because that's really going to work out well," Nala retorts with the same amount of sarcasm as she helps fend off the thing.
"Well I don't see you coming up with any better ideas," Kara shoots her sarcasm back at her. She growls at Nala and points her sword at her.
"Actually, I did," Nala spits, her anger fills the air mixing with Kara's. My sword collides with the sharp nails of the beast and Bella makes a weak attempt to help me.
"Really," Kara sneers and I snap out of my trance as the beast's claws smash into my sword.
"Hey! We don't exactly have time here," I growl as I use my smaller figure to confuse the beast.
"Dylan said it lives in the woods and rarely comes out, which I might add it is very dark. It's also cloaked," Nala explains and I duck as it jumps over my head. 
"Where'd it go?" I ask searching wildly. Kara gasps and I turn around to find Bella trying to fight off the beast. She's on defense though and struggling. She swings her sword without strength and her usual speed is gone. She manages to hold her ground but with each of her pained gasps the beast takes pleasure.
"Give up, my dearest Bella," it hisses and her eyes flash with fury. 
"Never," she whispers half heartedly but I can tell she's losing hope. I step forward to help her but Nala holds me back. I know what she's thinking. She wants to see Bella get out of this. Bella stumbles backward and the beast jumps. I rush forward to help but Dylan gets there first.
"I hope you're right," he mutters to Nala as he flings himself at the beast. He dives over it and in one fluid motion he pulls off its hood landing protectively over Bella who is clutching her sides on the ground. The figure screams in pain and turns to run away. I watch it run screaming back into the woods.
"Hey Dylan, what was the legend?" Nala asks putting her sword back in its sheath. He gets off Bella looking embarrassed and whistles for her horse.
"I'll tell it as we ride to the town of Berin," he caves and I smile. Dylan always likes telling a good story. He lifts Bella carefully and sits her on her horse. She groans but still remains conscious. I admire her strength, she's not only fighting the poison but also her shoulder injury. Dylan freezes for a second and I call my horse. Looking over at Bella I notice her shirt is turning red on the sleeve. I turn to Nala to see if she noticed but she's busy examining her side wound which has reopened. Before I get a chance to tell Dylan he lifts her sleeve to reveal a cut. It only scraped the surface but it bleeds freely.
"We'll have to make this a quick ride," Dylan announces as he mounts. I grab Annie's mane and swing my body on. Dylan sets the pace at a slow canter and we head out toward the town.
"Ok, so, it starts a few years ago when Riley was just starting to terrorize towns with his mutants. Before the mutants were mutants they were humans. Legend has it one of his mutants fell in love with a girl named Zahara. Riley was furious because he made the mutants to have no emotions. He sent his second in command to find out more. She-"
"Wait his second in command is a she?" Nala interrupts in disbelief. I frown as I remember when she was in command. Her and Riley ruled over a piece of land near here. They weren't together but they were close.
"Was. His second in command was a she. I heard she ran off with a bunch of wackos," Dylan answers Nala's question as he steadies Bella. We're close to the town now.
"You don't think," Kara starts nodding in Bella's direction. I understand her unspoken question. She thinks Bella might be the former second in command. Nala and I look at each other and burst out laughing. Not possible, Bella never would have conspired with Riley.
"Nah," I smile and Nala snorts while laughing.
"Well, go on," she prods Dylan.
"Right, so he sent her to get more information on them. She found out the two had a child. A baby boy and it looked nothing like it's father. It was completely human. When Riley heard the news he was enraged. He caught the mutant and had its face cut off. Zahara was so upset that one night she broke in to Riley's headquarters and stole the mutants face. The mutant was so ashamed he ran into the woods never to be heard from again," he ends and I frown, such a horrible story. Usually Dylan finds a moral to tie in and it makes the story more relatable. We make it to the gateway of the town and there seems to be no one in sight. Dylan jumps from Storm Runner's back and helps Bella down. She looks horrible. Her face is very pale and she is struggling to walk. I slide from Annie's back and hand her reins to Kara who is taking the horses to the town's stable. Before I get a chance to help Bella, Dylan swings her into his arms. 
"Put me down," she growls under her breath right as I get to Dylan's side. Nala jogs ahead to grab us a room at the inn.
"Your not exactly capable of helping yourself at the moment, love," he pants and my jaw drops. He just called her love. I cringe, Bella's not going to react well to this. She stares into his teal eyes and I see the confusion. Once she gets over her shock she breathes out what sounds like a weak laugh.
"If I had the strength I'd slap you but I don't so I guess I'll have to wait on that one. Now put me down before I find the strength to do some damage," she threatens with a small smile on her lips. I breathe out my concerned sigh of relief for Dylan. He smiles wider then I thought possible and sets her on her feet. He supports her on her left side and I rush forward to help support her right side. Even before we reach the door to the inn I can hear Nala arguing with the innkeeper. 
"What do you mean you have no spare rooms?" Nala shouts at the man and he cowers behind a desk. A young girl, a few years younger than me holds her ground.
"Why did we send her to get the room again? It sounds like this is an interrogation," Bella murmurs to me and I smile.
"It's just that. We've no rooms to spare, bandit," she breathes shakily as she eyes the bow and arrows slung across Nala's back. Her speech is so formal that I suspect this town is under direct order of Riley himself. Before Nala gets a chance to say anything Bella stumbles forward. The girl's eyes widen and she rushes to help.
"My Lady, you've arrived. Come, we have a spare room," she says excitedly as she half catches Bella. My eyes narrow in suspicion, why did the girl call her my lady?
"Don't call me that, Mary, we just need a room and food," she mutters to the girl under her breath and Dylan wraps his arm around her to support her again.
"Yes, My Lady. I mean, follow me," she stutters as she walks back into the hall. Nala throws her hands up in defeat and follows us back the corridor. The girl opens a door and gestures inside.
"Will this do?" She asks Bella and my suspicions grow. What is going on here? 
"It's perfect. Thank you," Nala answers and the girls nods before leaving us. Dylan and I lead Bella over to the bed she moans as she lays down.
"You need to get out," Nala tells Dylan while pointing to the door. I can see confusion in his eyebrows, worry in his eyes and stubbornness on his lips. 
"I don't think-"
"I don't care what you think, I'm telling you to leave," Nala interrupts him and Bella lets out a ragged breath. Her condition has only worsened since we got here.
"I can help," he pleas but Nala herds him out the door.
"Yes, you can help by giving Kara a hand with the horses," she tells him as she closes the door on him. I pull Bella's sleeve down to look at the bite and find a black liquid slowly oozing out of the wound. She tries to hold back her moans but it proves worthless. I tear a strip of cloth  off the bed and wipe the black poison from her arm. I can hear Dylan pacing outside the door. Bella slowly falls into a light sleep but her wound keeps oozing.
"We'll have to put a guard for her so they can make sure she doesn't sleep too deeply," Nala mutters and I look closer at her. Her red hair is definitely intimidating and her green eyes could be deadly if she wasn't constantly making sarcastic comments. Her serious expression is new, one I don't think I've ever seen her wear except when she's losing a fight. And that only happens when I fight her. She looks striking in her black bandit clothes and with her bow strung across her back I can see why the young girl was daunted by her. Nala's the kind of bandit that I'd expect to jump off a cliff just for fun.
"Did you even hear what I said?" She invades my thoughts and I blink rapidly.
"What?" I ask and she sighs in frustration. 
"Why do you think the girl called Bella, My Lady," Nala questions thoughtfully and I frown. I was wondering the same thing.
"She is clearly known around here but what bothers me more is that the girl said 'you've arrived'. She said it like they've been expecting her," I share my opinion and Nala nods in agreement. We sit for a few minutes watching Bella sleep fitfully before Nala finally gets up.
"We'd better put Dylan on first watch otherwise he'll break down the door," she jokes and I smile, shaking my head. That certainly sounds like something he'd do. I open the door to find him pacing back and forth through the hall. When he notices me he stops.
"They have food for you two," he announces quietly and I gesture toward the room. He sighs with relief and brushes past Nala and I. I smile at how much he cares for her as we walk into the main room. I know he'll take care of her.

 

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