The Last Flight

He thrust his hand through a thicket of bushes and pulled himself through. He was scratched and bruised, and ran breathlessly across the forest. He looked anxiously behind him, his pupils dilated in fear, stumbling on rocks and tree roots in his desperation to escape his hunters. Already he could hear the snarls of the hunting hounds, already he could see the gleaming tips of the swords and spears ready to pierce him as the band of masked riders drew closer on his trail. He grappled with wayward branches, running as fast as his tired legs could carry him. He dodged a tree here, jumped over a rock there. He ran for his life...

He knew he was marked for death the moment they laid eyes on him. The Bandits were known for their fearless robberies and ruthless executions. He was making his way towards the village bordering the forest and would have revealed the Bandits' location to the army..

The sun shone brilliantly overhead, creating dappling patterns of light on the forest floor, tricking the eye into seeing a way where there was none. He blindly followed the ribbon of filtered sunshine and caught his foot in an invisible hole. He fell with a scream, his ankle twisted at an ugly angle. His voice echoed briefly in the silent woods. A cool breeze blew gently, fanning his sweaty face. He shivered involuntarily, a chill ran up his spine as he heard leaves rustling nearby. He did not look up from where he had fallen, for he knew he had been hunted down. He kept his head down and waited for the fatal blow to strike him...

The masked rider stood silently before the hunted. She stood over 6 feet tall, her face impassive behind the mask that framed her green eyes and crowned her head. She waited patiently for the man who lay at her feet to raise his head, that he may look into the eyes of his conqueror. One by one, five other hunters from the band emerged into the clearing forming a silent ring around the fallen. He was young, not yet a man..

He looked up with bloodshot eyes, but displayed no fear. He picked himself up off the ground, hobbling on his good foot. He looked unwaveringly into the eyes of the Bandit standing before him. With Death staring at him, he felt curiously light and free. He bowed slightly, a gesture ackowledged by the Bandit with an incline of her magnificent head..

With unexpected lightning speed he flicked open two silver knives, their thin blades shining as though made of white fire. He threw one towards the Bandit and missed. At the same time, he took a sweeping lunge at the nearest hunter with his other hand. He pulled his hand back to attack another hunter, but fell forward on his face, with two white tufted arrows sticking out of his back..

A smile played upon his lifeless lips and his face was peaceful at last. His dead eyes did not see the Bandit brush away a tear from her eyes, now filled with pain, as they looked down upon her slain younger brother...

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