-lonely drums her fingers on the tabletop, straightening her glasses- Ah. There's not much to say, wot.

Chapter Three- Uncovered

"Wow," Ora said, for the fifth time in as many minutes. "That's one sad story."

She was sitting beside Weylin on an old, rotting log, in front of a tiny fire. The forest still loomed over their heads, allowing only a few feeble rays of sunlight to fall on the ground. It was the cold, gloomy sort of morning that makes most people want to crawl back into bed and sleep the day away. However, that wasn't exactly a choice anymore.

That night, they had slept for only about three hours each, taking shifts, and now they had stopped to rest again.

Weylin didn't even know why he had told Ora anything—but now, unexpectedly, he felt better. Ora was strong, and clever, and she was not the type of person who would laugh at such things. She was kind, and cheerful, and she understood. Or at least she acted like it.

"Do you love her—Drysi, that is?" Ora asked, tentatively, like somebody prodding a sleeping tiger.

Weylin didn't even have to think. "Yes."


"I'm not going back," he said quietly.

"Bummer," Ora stated, staring up, through the dense greenish-brown foliage, into the clear sky. Then, after another pause, she added, as if trying to change the subject, "It must be very nice today, outside of this stupid forest."

A squirrel scampered across the clearing and vanished once more into the undergrowth.

"Yes," Weylin said, sighing, "I suppose it is."

"'M hungry." Ora looked around and then jumped up, not being the type of person who could sit in one spot for a long time. "Really, really hungry. You think there's any food around here?"

There was no reply. Weylin stared intently at the ground—looking at the fallen, reddish leaves but not seeing them. He was a quiet person, and often lost in thought. It showed most when he was troubled—like now.

"Fine then," Ora grumbled. She pulled a leaf from one of the trees and put it in her mouth, sucking on it thoughtfully. Then, she swallowed and said, "Nice."

"You eat that?" Weylin asked, blinking.

"Of course." With that, she jumped up onto the log. Then, with another leap that seemed almost impossibly high, she grabbed onto an overhanging branch, and began to swing, her feet grazing the wood every once in a while. She laughed—and it was so contagious that Weylin laughed too, in spite of his sad thoughts.

And then Ora gave a sharp cry, and the branch tumbled to the ground, with her underneath.

The tree's limb fell for what seemed like several minutes in Weylin's imagination, and then it finally met the ground with a crash—only it met him first. The tip hit his right shoulder, making tears spring up in his eyes. He knew that it had broken his skin—he was just glad that he hadn't seen what it looked like yet.

Ora was lying underneath the branch, perfectly still. Blood trickled down her thin face from a cut on her forehead. The bough itself was lying across her chest, pinning her down to the wet ground.

Weylin jumped up and, ignoring his throbbing arm, pulled the branch away. It was even heavier than he expected. It was about as thick as his wrist. He dropped the thing in the leaves, and then kneeled beside Ora.

She moaned, and shifted slightly, her eyes coming open. "Ow…"

"Are… you all right?"

"I doubt it," she muttered, licking at the blood that ran down the corner of her mouth. She pushed herself upwards with shaking arms, and stared at Weylin. Her eyes seemed huge—wide and terrified. "That was magic. I'm positive."

"Who—" Weylin began, but he was cut off by a series of sounds—the cracking of twigs, and then, very close, jeers and muffled shouts.

Ora jumped up with amazing ease, though she was still shaking all over. She took Weylin's arm, and ran. They ran for hours, it seemed, and when they stopped, they were alone again.

"What was that?" Weylin whispered, breathing heavily, as Ora sank down onto the ground.

Ora stayed silent for a while. She looked drained. Her clothing was torn, and through the holes in the fabric Weylin could see the bruises on her arm. She was breathing quickly and hoarsely, and there was still blood on her face.

"I'll kill them… leave my friends alone…" she whispered, clenching her fists. Then her eyes widened, as if she was looking at Weylin for the first time. "Oh… they were… pirates. More or less. And mages too."

"And they want to kill you why?" Weylin asked. There was a short pause, and he looked at his shoulder—there was a deep gash there, and the fabric of his clothing was stained with blood.

Ora looked hesitant, as if she was arguing with herself whether or not to tell him, but then she gave in. "I stole something from them—well, it wasn't me really, only it was—and that… thing… was quite important. And when Iwas me again, I chucked it into a river. And… they… erm… aren't happy?"

Weylin blinked but said nothing, confused by the way she spoke. The only thing that he really understood was the fact that they were being hunted down. Well, Ora was being hunted down, but they were friends now… and he wouldn't let them kill her that easily. Whoever they were.

Drysi only woke up in the late morning, not being used to having so little rest. Her feet and legs were already sore from walking, but she stood up anyways, groaning.

"Goodness," she muttered, stretching her arms. Her dress was already torn and dirty.

She was standing in a wide, sun-lit clearing. Branches intertwined and cast soft shadows on the ground below, which was covered with fallen leaves—golden, orange and red leaves. The sky was clear and, as Drysi reflected dreamily, it looked like the purest blue she had ever seen.

Then she snapped back to reality. There's no time for daydreaming, said the dutiful voice in her head. It was right, of course—she still had to find Weylin. And at the same time she was wondering whether she would find him at all—how could she be positive that he was even in this forest?

"I need help with this," she muttered, tearing a strip of fabric from the edge of her skirt. With this, she tied back her long golden-brown hair in a ponytail, and then looked around, pondering about what to do next.

"I'm doomed. Doomed, and lost."

"No, milady," said a sly voice. "It's worse than that."

"I'm still hungry," Ora muttered, tying the ends of the makeshift bandage. "There, that's better, isn't it?"

Weylin nodded—his shoulder did feel better now. "I think… that is, you need to rest. You were really hurt…" There was endless concern in his eyes.

Ora gave a drained, sad sort of giggle. "You would care for a hurt flea, wouldn't you?" She smiled, and sat back down again.

They both stayed silent for a while, exhausted and shocked after what they had been through today. Then, surprisingly, Ora spoke what was on Weylin's mind, "I wonder where that Drysi of yours is right now…"

Drysi, to put it lightly, had been in better situations.

"What—what do you mean?" she called out, as bravely as she could.

"Well, you see," said the voice's owner, steeping out from behind a tree, "you happen to be a lost, defenseless young lass, while I happen to be a pirate. Even you can figure that out, milady, if you'll excuse me saying."

Drysi let out a little scream and backed away from the tall, rough man. He was dressed in torn, stained clothing, and his belt nearly bristled with swords, knives, and other weapons. He leered crookedly, his dark eyes glinting wildly.

"What now, what now?" the girl whimpered, terrified.

Kick him.

Drysi followed this advice without further ado. The man howled as the pointed toe of her shoe struck his shin, and she darted past him – straight into the hands of a second man, who was pudgy and short and smelled of rotting meat.

"Let go!" she screamed, flailing and kicking and squirming for all she was worth.

But the man didn't seem to have any intentions of obeying…

To be continued.