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The girl ran through her pain while Rune clung to her back and she placed an arrow in her bow, racing towards the screaming. It wasn’t long before she found a girl half her age with her ankle caught in a bear trap, left by some careless hunter.

The young girl spotted the other and froze for a moment as the older girl sprinted towards her.

“Are you ok?” the older one pressed as she knelt beside her younger while she shook her head and the older one glanced around. “It’s ok, I’m going to help you,” she assured the young girl while setting down her bow. “I’m Allura, what’s your name?” she spoke, trying to distract the girl from the pain while she attempted to pry open the jaws of the trap.

“Fl-Flora,” the young girl whimpered.

“Nice to meet you, Flora.” Allura smiled through pained clenched teeth.

“Y-you’re hurt!” Flora gasped, noticing the bandages under Allura’s shirt and the blood that seeped through them.

“I’m fine,” Allura hummed assuringly. “Let’s focus on something else while I get you free, ok?” she smiled weakly and the girl nodded with tears in her eyes. “How old are you?”

“Six,” Flora answered quietly.

“Where’s your family?” Allura pressed as she continued to struggle with the trap and the girl shook her head. “I see… Wanna meet my family?” she offered as Flora gave her a questionable look, “Say hi, Rune.”

“Ehnhh,” Rune greeted while slowly popping his head over Allura’s shoulder.

“Wha-what is that?” Flora questioned in bewilderment.

“He’s a sl-sloth,” Allura grunted as the trap gave ever so slightly, and a low growl rumbled through the forest, “Shit”

“You shouldn’t curse,” Flora teased with a pained expression.

“Well, you shouldn’t be alone,” Allura smiled before glancing over her shoulder to see shadows of creatures moving between the trees of the dense forest.

“I’m not alone, I have Usko,” Flora smiled, and Allura gave her a questionable look but as another growl sounded she quickly shook her head, focusing back on the trap.

“So, once I getcha free and all, how ‘bout we be friends?” Allura offered and the girl nodded, but as the growls grew louder she placed her hands on Allura’s.

“I’m really scared,” Flora whimpered while looking down at their hands.

“Me too, but-”

“But you should go,” Flora interrupted, looking up to Allura with tears staining her cheeks, and Allura fell still.

Allura pulled her hands from Flora’s and the small girl closed her eyes, not wanting to witness her abandonment, but they flew open as she felt Allura’s hand on her head.

We will get out of here Flora.” Allura declared, and she quickly began working on the trap again.

“But… But you’ll die,” Flora whispered as tears began falling down her face.

“That’s only one possibility,” Allura replied as she grunted in pain while desperately trying to pull open the trap without noticing the shadows pooling beneath them.

“No… You have to get out of here!” Flora exclaimed as she placed her hands on Allura’s shoulder, and she tried to push her away but she was unmovable.

Allura clenched her teeth, prying as hard as she could while tightly shutting her eyes.

The world fell almost silent to Allura, she knew Flora was yelling at her to leave but the words did not reach her ears, all she could hear was the sounds of the predators’ feet slamming into the ground as they rushed to attack.

Allura breathed deeply as she poured all she had into pulling open the trap, and just like that, the trap effortlessly ripped open.

“What the hell?” Allura breathed as she opened her eyes to see the trap broken in two, but the sounds of the encroaching danger snapped her back to reality.

Allura quickly grabbed her bow from the ground, and spun, swinging it to bat one of the predators away before swiftly drawing an arrow and firing it at the threat.

“Shit… Not more gravase,” Allura breathed as she saw several more surrounding her.

Flora looked in horror at the wingless, dragonesque creatures that surrounded them. They were similar in size to dogs but infamous for their relentless ferocity.

“Don’t look at them, Flora,” Allura stated as her voice wavered, and Rune slid off her back before slowly crawling onto Flora. “Look at Rune.” she ordered gently as she listened to the young girl begin to hyperventilate, “We are going to get you through this.” Allura promised as she loosed an arrow and it landed perfectly between the plates of one of the gravase, killing it, “But if things start going bad, take Rune, and get yourselves out of here, ok?”

“Enhhhhh,” Rune squeaked at Flora while she clutched him to her chest and the sloth reached back to Allura.

I will not let you die,’ Usko’s voice echoed in Flora’s head as the shadows crawled up her.

Allura released another arrow, but as it collided into the gravase, it bounced off its armor plating.

“Shit,” Allura breathed while the beast ran at her.

She quickly swung her bow into the beast, shattering it as the beast was knocked back.

“That’s not good…” she muttered as she tried to swallow her fear, and drew an arrow from her quiver. Sweat from pain drenched her brow as she buried the thoughts of death. She could not fail Flora. She saw the girl needed someone. She would not let any endure the pain she had, so she swallowed her fear and forced herself through the mind-numbing agony to protect her. Another gravase barrelled into her, earning a burdened cry, but her grip tightened around the arrow. “I’m going to get us through this,” she growled as her voice shook with fear, unaware of the shadows that were dancing around Flora.

“Save us,” Flora whimpered, and she slowly fell still as the shadows inked her carnelian eyes. The shadows wrapped around her injured ankle, aiding her to stand while she watched Allura ram the arrow into the Gravase’s neck, keeping its snapping jaws at bay.

“Us,” Usko’s voice echoed with Flora’s while looking to Allura, “I will save us.

Flora’s hand swept towards Allura, and the shadows took over the Gravase, swallowing it whole.

Allura’s eyes darted about as the gravase vanished before she looked to Flora to find the young girl’s eyes darkened by shadows. She watched as Flora swung her hand towards the sky, where the gravase reappeared. Allura’s eyes widened as the beasts started to fall from above, and she quickly rolled out of the way.

The gravase landed heavily on the ground with their limbs snapping beneath them from the fall, leaving them to whimper on the forest floor.

“How?” Allura breathed in disbelief while looking to Flora before shaking her head clear. “Are you okay?” she called out and the shadows slowly left Flora’s eyes.

The young girl fell to her knees and Allura scrambled to her feet, rushing to Flora’s side before wrapping her arms around her, holding her up.

“Wha-what happened?” Flora stammered as she slumped against Allura.

“I’m not sure… But I think you saved us,” she answered quietly before a pained cry from one of the gravase filled the air. “Just sit down for a moment, okay?” she suggested while lowering Flora.

Allura slowly made her way to the gravase while drawing another arrow from her quiver. She fell to her knees next to the broken gravase and bit her lip to keep it from trembling.

“I’m sorry… May Viserus reclaim you,” she breathed while forcing the arrow between its plates, releasing it from its pained existence.

 

“You were worthy of saving…” the forest god praised, “My children thank you.”

 

A gentle breeze swept through the forest, caressing Allura’s skin as she moved to the next gravase, killing it and wishing it serenity before doing the same to the rest.

“Are you ok?” Allura asked as she made her way back to Flora, “Can you walk?”

“Ehnhhhhh,” Rune called while sitting and reaching up to Allura, and she gently lifted him before placing him in her sash. He slowly reached up to hold onto one of her locks of hair.

“I think so,” Flora answered and Allura offered her a hand with a warm smile.

“Good, that makes things a bit easier.” Allura chimed, and a faint blush warmed across Flora’s cheeks. “Once we get there, we will get you healed up and figure out things from there, ok?”

“We?” Flora asked hesitantly.

“Yeah!” Allura chimed. “We are friends now! Right?” she asked as Flora’s eyes widened and she nodded with a deep smile. “Then let’s go.” she hummed, and Flora took her hand.

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