In the dim light Kelly could barely distinguish the diagonal striped markings on the yock. "A female," she thought, estimating her chances of surviving a battle.

"Fight." The word in her brain was so clear she feared the yock might have heard it. "Better to go down fighting." Grasping the knife firmly in her right hand she drew it noiselessly from its sheath.

"THWANG!" "Thwang!"

As Kelly stepped forward to engage the beast, she heard the sounds of multiple arrows loosed from the trees surrounding the little clearing. A second volley. A third. The yock roared and twisted, trying to bite away the sudden pain. Then, below the roar, Kelly heard hoof beats and voices.

Four huge centaurs galloped into the clearing, swinging maces at the screaming yock, their bows hanging loose from their saddles. Frozen, Kelly watched in amazement as the centaurs pitched a practiced battle and brought the beast down.

Breathing heavily, as though it were she who killed the yock, Kelly dropped to her knees, resting her head and arms on the stump. "You did well, child." The voice in her head, again, as the nearest centaur extended his hand to her. And then, speaking aloud, he repeated, "You did well, child. You have a warrior spirit! Come, celebrate and feast with us. No one will be hungry today!"

Kelly blinked in astonishment. He offered his hand again, and she watched her arm as it reached out to grasp his. Amazed, she realized she had no fear of him. His hand was warm and calloused, and strong. She stood, and he drew her up further, to stand on the stump.

"It is a long way. Let me carry you. There will be time for introductions later." Quickly the warriors rolled the yock onto a narrow travois and they entered the forest, joining three females and several young centaurs who waited there.
1 Comment
3 Votes

This is fantastic! I wrote the preceding chapter, and actually found myself tearing up, glad to know that Kelly was OK. I can't wait to read what happens next. Thank you!

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