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.


13. Chapter 8 (Nala)

My breath quickens in amazement. The open grassland below us, across the river, is filled with mutants and commanding them all is Riley himself. Riley's skin gleams with a certain coldness despite the warm temperature and he flinches whenever the sun hits him directly. He is more handsome in person, I think. His deep brown hair and dark eyes are sharp and they have a certain warmness to them. They way he directs the mutants gives him authority similar to the authority Bella has.
"My goodness how many are there?" Ali breathes with the same wonderment as me. Bella's eyes are on Riley and there is a frown on her lips.
"More importantly, how do we get around them?" Kara directs her question toward Bella. After a few seconds Bella swallows and faces the rest of us.
"We do nothing," she responds and my jaw drops. I am a bandit! Bandits fight for fun and attack the enemy head on, keeping in mind of course that everyday could be my last. But no, Bella who comes from who knows where, is saying to do nothing. Absolutely not!
"I say we make a run across the plain," I suggest and Kara tilts her head to the side.
"And get yourself killed! Be my guest," Bella growls and I can feel her anger in the air.
"She has a point," Ali chimes in making me feel like an idiot.
"They're here to prevent us from crossing that plain. We'll let them come to us. We pick the ground and let them attack us there," Bella explains, calmer. I nod, suddenly Bella is starting to make sense.
"What do snakes hate?" Kara questions and my eyes widen with realization. She is trying to pick the ground.
"The cold," I offer not really sure where it came from. Except, there is no way anything could be cold in this heat.
"The river," Ali supplies. I nod again, the river is cold. A wicked grin begins to grow on Bella's face and my eyes show with excitement.
"Nala, how fast can you shoot an arrow while riding?"
"Are you sure about this?" I question as I sit on the back of my horse with my bow  in my hands. My arrows are strapped to my back for easy use and my reins are tied to my arm. Bella draws two daggers and looks them over carefully.
"Nope," she replies as if she has no care in the world. I frown and lean forward ready for Bella's signal. The river is wide enough to fit five or six horses across and I figure we'll need that much room. Dry grass litters the sides of the river and I find myself thinking that a mutant will jump out. 
"Now, we just wait until Riley sees us. Then he'll sent mutants after us. They'll get in, after he yells at them and all we have to do is run like there's a fire under our back sides. Easy," Bella tells me through a mouthful of her third dagger. I can hear Riley's shouts over the banks of the river and suddenly mutants pour out of nowhere.
"Go," Bella orders still clenching the dagger in her teeth. I immediately find myself doing what Bella said and my horse, Red Willow, takes off running through the water. Beside me, on her own horse, Bella aims her dagger at a low hanging tree branch. I watch in confusion as Bella throws the dagger and it hits the tree branch dead on. The thing sways back and forth and I'm afraid it'll fall on us as we pass under it.
"Shoot my dagger!" Bella shouts over the sound of our horses running in the water. Mutants swarm wildly behind us within an arm's reach. Me, frozen in shock at what Bella suggested, I hesitate to do as she said.
"Shoot the dagger," she commands and I can feel the power in her voice. My arms raise with the bow and my aim is outstandingly straight. I let the arrow fly and it hits the handle of the dagger just as we pass under it. The branch falls, splashing cold water all over the mutants that had been pursuing us. I smile, maybe Bella isn't such a nut head after all. A splash comes from behind and I turn to see Riley clutching Bella's dagger. He spreads his feet and the dagger flies from his hand faster than I thought possible. It hits Bella in the shoulder digging in to the handle. I know if it had been my injury I would have been screaming in pain but Bella only cringes.
"Oh, come on! That's my throwing arm," Bella growls in frustration as we turn our horses to run the stretch again. Bella pulls an herb bundle from one of her pouches and tears the middle out. She gently blows into it until I can see a small flame inside. Then, despite the dagger in her shoulder she still manages to throw the bundle into the dry grass at the edge of the river. It immediately bursts into flames, keeping the mutants on the edge on the plain away and the ones in the water are trapped. I breathe a sigh of relief as we finally make it to the safety of the trees where the others are waiting. Bella picked up my arrow on the way back through and she hands it back. I place it with the others and dismount once we reach Kara and Ali. Bella slides off her horse and leans heavily on him. I immediately go to her and examine the wound.
"I'm fine, leave it be," she growls as I try to pull the sleeve out of the way. I ignore Bella and continue to move the sleeve. My eyes widen in shock as I catch a glimpse of Bella's wound. The dagger went in deep, hitting small veins and muscle. If I just pull out the dagger blood will gush from the wound and Bella would die from blood loss. Frowning I back away.
"We need to build a fire," I announce and Ali leaves in search of firewood. Bella grumbles under her breath but I ignore her.
"If you don't want her to help you why don't you just order her to stop?" Kara curiously asks Bella who lowers her gaze to the ground. I smile slightly, Bella knows she needs help but she doesn't want to ask for it. Typical Bella. Ali returns with enough firewood to burn down a building and she begins making one as soon as she reaches us. Red Willow and Kara's mare stare carelessly at Ali while she strains to make a fire.  As soon as the fire grows I place the metal tip of my sword into the flame heating the metal. Bella cringes as I press the tip against her skin around the wound. I figure if I can get the wound to heal as I pull the dagger out Bella will lose less blood. Slowly I begin to pull the dagger out of Bella's shoulder pressing the tip of my sword to the places where blood gushes. Finally the dagger is out and Bella's wound scabbed over. She mumbles something that I take as a thanks and leaves to get her horse. Sitting down, I watch Riley and his mutants. He is proud, commanding the mutants with pride and control. Admiration flows through my veins for the cold skinned leader yet his snake like eyes that fill with wildness revolts me.
"He never misses," Bella mumbles shocking me out of my daydream. I blink a couple times watching the blond haired ruthless woman I call my leader. Bella seems lost in thought, a million paces away. 
"What?" I mutter, thankful to have a few seconds of peace while Ali and Kara tend to their horses and Riley ordering his mutants around.
"Why do you stay? You left the bandits to join me. Why?" She breathes and I  frown. That is a difficult question with an answer I'd rather not say. But Bella is still looking for an answer so I figure it's worth a shot.
"Well, I was caught," I admitt sheepishly and Bella's eyes widen in surprise.
"You? Never," she exclaims but I nod sadly. I stole from another bandit and he caught me. His black hair and golden eyes tricked my mind into thinking I was home free. Only, he was been okay with it. It was another bandit who saw me that busted me.
"Yeah, I was caught stealing from another bandit and I was immediately exiled. I still consider myself a bandit and I still wear the clothes proudly, without a doubt but I lost my partners, my family, per se," I explain and but Bella's eyes are as icy as ever. It's like she has no feelings at all. I catch a flicker of sadness fly through her eyes but if it that's what it was it left too soon. I clear my throat.
"So, what made you decide to gather us? What caused you to challenge Riley? And how does he know you?" I fire my questions at Bella not meaning to be rude but getting more and more excited with each one. I meant to change the subject, not get carried away. Bella's lips tighten in response but otherwise she remains cool.
"I don't talk about my past," she orders and my excitement is crushed. I lower my head in submission and feel rejected. I watch Bella stand and leave to tie her horse down for the night. Frowning I clench my fist and hold myself back from throwing something. I hate Bella's gift. It gives me no control whatsoever and it means that no matter what the conversation is Bella's always right. And I hate it. It isn't fair. But then again, nothing is. Sighing I pull out my bow and the dagger I stole from Bella and begin to carve into the wood. Ali and Kara join me around the campfire and soon Bella comes back. We sit there the rest of the afternoon in comfortable silence that is filled with the unknown. The unknown of tomorrow. The unknown of yesterday. Dusk light begins to fill the sky coating the trees with a pinkish purple hue. Bella finally stands and I put away my bow. Red Willow, my horse comes over and nuzzles my hand begging to be pet. I cave and rub my horse's neck.
"I thought I told him to stay away," Bella grumbles under her breath and begins to walk away. I look up, confused to see a bright blond haired man strolling leisurely through the trees along the river.
"Hold on, if Bella ordered him away then how is he here?" I ask no one in particular. Ali lowers her head and frowns.
"Because she didn't order him away."

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