A week to go. We'd been riding for a few days and by the landmarks I knew there was about a week to go until the boarder. We'd passed the first of the first of two villages we were going to pass; there was now a long stretch of only forest until the next village. It had taken Draven and I three weeks to find our way through the forest because we had no idea where we'd been going... this time it would take only four days.

"We're ready to go," Draven told me. It was dawn, but we start off early every day. We ride until the heat becomes too much for the horses then rest until the mid-day heat wears off, then ride again until the sun goes down. It wasn't the quickest way to travel, but we couldn't have the horses dying on us either.

"Alright," I yawned. Horse riding and being on guard every day was exhausting.

I tacked up my horse and strapped my things to his back. These horses were strong. They could ride all day with us and our things and be ready to do it again with only a few hours rest in the day and sleep at night. I patted his nose, slipping him a carrot from my supply. I knew my brother wouldn't approve of giving our food to the horses who ate grass, so I was sneaky about it.

When I went back to his side to mount, I tripped over a root. For the first time in a long time I was caught off guard and fell. Flat on my face. And it hurt. I swore nastily, pushing myself up.

"Are you alright?" Draven asked in shock.

"Fine," I yawned again.

There was an irritating throb in my left arm and something warm running down my cheek and left arm. I looked at the left arm. It had caught most my body weight when I fell and was now sporting a lovely stick. Damn that was going to hurt to take out.

"Come with me," Tyce appeared at my side with the small medical bag.

I stared at him for a minute then nodded.

"One second," I told my brother, showing him my impaled arm. "Business to attend."

He swore at the sight of it. "That might scar Es."

"Fine by me," I shrugged.

I followed Tyce to the stream near where we'd set up camp. Without a word he cut my sleeve off up to my elbow and assessed the damage. He grimaced at

the sight of the stick poking out of my arm. I sighed. This was going to hurt.

"And here I thought you were always careful," he managed a weak smile as he pushed my arm underwater. I hissed through my teeth. "Yup, this is gonna

hurt."

"I guessed as much."

"You have to be careful too," he said, gently pulling my now numbed arm out of the freezing water. "That could get infected easily."

"I know," I sighed. "Just pull the stick out."

He nodded and yanked it out before I could even blink.

"DAMN IT!" I yelled into the sky. That ****** hurt. A lot.

"Just relax," Tyce murmured. "Almost done."

"What?" I stared at him in alarm. "There was only one stick!"

"And a ton of wood chippings and leaves and forest rot. We have to take it out. There's your face too, it's bleeding and God knows what is in that gash," he

looked slightly pale.

"What the hell did I fall on?!" I muttered. "How is my face gashed?"

"Rock," Draven informed me, coming out of the forest. "That was a hell of a shout, are you alright?"

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