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.


5. Chapter 2 (Nala)

I groan as Kara slides me off my horse. Red fills my eyes blocking my vision. 
"Nala," Ali calls. I sink to my knees again and bury my head in my hands. Blood pours out of my wound and I'm the only one who knows anything about fixing it. I breathe in the freezing cold air, thankful that I don't have to spend a night against a post with spikes digging into my back. I shiver at the thought of Bella having to spend the night there. 
"Nala?" Ali repeats, louder this time. My eyes flicker and I force them to stay open.
"Remind me, never to challenge them again," I mutter as a wave of pain shakes through my body. Kara snorts in disbelief and leans against her black mare.
"I didn't think you'd challenge them in the first place," she comments to no one in particular. I smile, I know something they don't. I reach for one of my pouches and struggle to open it. The strap loosens slightly and I pull out a roll of paper.
"Oh, you should be glad I challenged them, if I hadn't, I wouldn't have gotten this," I announce as I show them the paper. I stand shakily, and wrap my arm around my red stallion's neck for support as I watch their reactions. His reins are lying on the ground but Red Willow makes no move to walk away. It seems he's already attached to his owner. This thought makes me smile a little and I stroke his big head lovingly.
"Is that what I think it is?" Kara questions in shock. My eyes sparkle mischievously. Of course it is. They shouldn't expect any less from such a talented bandit such as myself.
"A paper?" Ali fills in, confused. I crack a smile knowing I'm the only one who can get away with this.
"This isn't just any paper," I explain as I unfold it. Colored marks litter the paper and dark hand drawn lines mark borders. My eyes show with proudness as Kara's eyes light up.
"You stole a map of Riley's armies?" Ali exclaims in surprise. I smile like a maniac, proud of what I did. The map shows the mountain and the places where Riley's armies of mutants are stationed.
"What else did you steal?" Kara interrogates. I frown, but nevertheless painfully reach into the pouches attached to my belt. I've spent most of my life running from officials and traveling from town to town stealing. It started when I was little, I lost her parents when a group of bandits ransacked our town. I watched in amazement, the people of the town had both respected and feared them. I envied their power and followed them after they damaged my town. I proved to the bandits that I was worthy enough and they let me come along after they gave me the black clothes of a bandit. They taught me the tricks of stealing and soon it become my life. Now, it's like breathing to me, it comes naturally. So, of course while I was in town I stole a few things. I pull out my new bow with  10 arrows. As I sit them on the ground I run my finger along the curves of the bow, admiring its craftsmanship. I reach into a pouch and pull out a cloth that's folded multiple times. Needles stick out of the pure white fabric and beading lines the sides.
"Nala! That must have come from the best seamstress in the town! How on earth did you buy that?" Ali exclaims as she fingers the silk. I look back the way we came. I can imagine the penalties I'd have if I'd been caught. But who said anything about getting caught.
"Who says I bought it?" I mumble darkly as I dig for the last thing I stole. Five bunches of herbs roll onto the dirt as they spill out of my pocket. Immediately I scoop them off the ground and brush them off. I place them gently onto the ground after making sure they're okay.
"What are those?" Ali questions as she smells the gross combination of herbs.
"Homemade bombs, they're one of a kind. Set them on fire and you have two minutes to run before it blows," Kara says with realization. I nod and shove everything back into my pouches. A twig snaps in the distance and I arm my bow in milliseconds. Ali and Kara stand back to back and we wait for whatever made the sound to come out. A loud hissing sound fills the air surrounding us. A bush shivers and my aim wavers when another shakes. My red stallion, Red Willow, sidesteps into Bella's horse who bares his teeth at the bushes. Whatever surrounds us spooked the horses too. A foot pokes out from underneath a bush and I shoot it as soon as it appeared. The thing squeals in pain and runs off through the bushes but another takes its place.
"These are snake mutants," Kara whispers in realization. I nod as I scan the bushes. One appears in the distance and I see its snake head attached to a human body. I shiver in disgust.
"All the mutants have different percentages of snake in them. Weak spots will be where the snake part of them touches the human part of them. Do not get bitten. Their venom is very poisonous, if you get bit and don't get the poison out you're done. Understand?" Ali announces under her breath just loud enough for the us to hear. I nod, my bright green eyes show with determination. A snake mutant bursts out from around a tree and I gasp. It looks...human. It has arms and legs and a face. But the eyes, the eyes are dark and narrow. They seem to stare right into my soul and it let out a loud hissing sound. I pull up my bow and get ready to shoot but before I can do anything the snake mutant is gone. I lower my bow and meet Ali's confused gray eyes. Kara takes a cautious step toward the bushes and pokes it with her sword. The bushes come alive with action and the snake mutant springs from its hiding place. My arrow flies from my  hands with a slight whoosh at the same time Kara back flips kicking the mutant in the jaw. The arrow slams into the mutant's chest but it's not done. I watch as it dives back into the bush and silence fills the air like a death sentence. Ali takes a step toward the bush but Kara stops her with her sword. 
"Leave it," she orders. I nod in agreement but Ali still protests.
"Someone else will suffer because we didn't kill it. Isn't this what we're fighting for?" She challenges angrily. Kara turns to glare at her.
"I protect no one but myself. If someone else runs into this thing it's their problem for being so far from town," Kara retorts with equal anger as she grabs the reins and mane of her pitch black horse. I grasp my own horse's coarse hair and reins and swing myself painfully onto his back. My horse, Red Willow, snorts and circles as we wait for Kara and Ali to get on their horses. Kara pulls a rope from around her waist and ties it carefully. I secure my bow and arrows to my horse and catch  the rope just as Kara throws it. 
"I'm just wondering if the thing's edible. I'm starving and that seems to be the only living thing nearby," I grumble as I spin the rope above my head and let it fly. The rope lands squarely around Bella's golden stallion's neck and I pride myself on my aim. He tosses his head defiantly but nonetheless follows when I tug at the rope. I tie his reins to my own horse's so I can control both horses at the same time. Kara trots her horse after me but Ali stays behind.
"What about Bella?" She demands impatiently to me who and I sigh  frustratedly. Kara halts her horse and I turn mine. Bella's horse stomps his foot impatiently.
"What about her?" I mumble as I struggle to hold Bella's horse back. I'm glad I can hold him back with not only his reins but also the rope Kara tied.
"Aren't we going to wait for her? She is kind of our leader," Ali reminds us as if we didn't already know. Kara lets out a short breath of annoyance and I tug Bella's horse in harder.
"I'm not waiting, she can take care of herself and she's only our leader because one, no one else volunteered and two, she has a gift," I explain with a short-temper. I pick up a fast trot and make  Bella's horse canter circles thinking he might wear himself out.
"And I want to get away from the mutant before it decides we look like nice targets," Kara adds as she spins her horse around and walks away. I slow the two horses and leave too, giving Ali no choice but to follow. We travel on for paces until we finally stumble upon an area with a tight circle of protection from trees. The sun disappeared hours ago and the night brought cold weather with it. I clutch my side and Bella's horse, jump off my horse and pull back a few whimsy trees with thin trunks for the others to pass through. As soon as they get through I walk between the trees and collapsed in exhaustion. The bandits taught me never to fall asleep in an unknown area but I'm just too tired and my eyes are already closed. A yell rings out but I figure whatever happened I can deal with it in the morning. Whatever it was it can wait. I mumble something, not really understanding what I said. Half sleeping I hear a scream and something pinches my already hurt side. My shoulders droop and I black out.

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