Gul decided that Meleth needed to learn to fight. So every evening while Gul was cooking, Megil would spend an hour teaching Meleth the does and don’ts of swordplay. After several weeks of this, Meleth was quite handy with the sword, and mixed with her magic, she was quite a formidable character.
When they finally reached the Forest, they could all use the sword, the bow, and if it came to it, the dagger, reasonably well.
Meleth used her magic as little as possible on the journey, but still succeeded in destroying trees and rocks all along the way. Once, as they were walking through a mountain pass, she somehow managed to cause a rock fall that, if it hadn’t been for a cave nearby, would have killed them.
The forest itself was quiet and dark. The tall trees swayed in the wind, making the dappled path seem like it was constantly moving. The old man warned them not to stray from the path, and they kept close together, watching for anything among the thick trees.
Suddenly, there was a burst of sparks, and Meleth’s horse took fright, it reared up and then bolted into the woods on the far side of the path, Meleth holding on for dear life. As soon as its hooves left the path, a band of goblins burst out of the undergrowth, each armed with a nasty looking knife and a mace.
The band split in two, one half went after Meleth, and the other surrounded Gul and Megil. Gul shouted for Mergil to go after Meleth, and then began chanting in a strange language, blasting goblins away with flicks of his fingers.
Megil wheeled his horse round, and raced after the goblins, slashing his sword this way and that, jumping over the corpses of the fallen enemy.
When he caught up with her, she was in the middle of a large clearing, sending small balls of fire at the oncoming goblins. Just as he broke free from the trees, he saw her being dragged from her horse and thrown to the ground. A goblin hit her with his bow, and she lay still.
With a roar, Megil leapt from his horse, and attacked the goblins mercilessly, and he didn’t stop until he’d killed every last one of them.
When it was finally over, he was covered in cuts, but he didn’t notice, and as he ran over to her, he left a trail of blood on the soft, green grass of the meadow.
He turned her over. She had a large gash on her forehead, and various other wounds covered the rest of her body. He shook her gently, and her eyelids flickered slightly, but she didn’t stir.
He cradled her in his arms, and staggered to his feet. He carried her over to a pool of sunlight and laid her down in a bed of brightly coloured flowers. Then he collapsed beside her in exhaustion.