Day Twenty-Seven

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She awoke Maeve's voice, and a tap on her shoulder. She cracked open an eye and groaned as a headache greeted her, sharper than the night before. Maeve held something out to her, and her eyes widened. She drank it in a heartbeat. 

"We found water," she said, offering another canteen to Rance. "More than enough." Her eyes held sharp and firm as she looked down at Raina. "You looked pretty awful last night." 

"You went without water, too," Raina pointed out. 

"Except I didn't go sprinting through sand with a wrecked ankle and bruised body. Not your finest thinking, I have to say." 

"Probably because I wasn't thinking," Raina said. She sat up. Beside her, Rance moaned as he drank the water in small sips, spilling some in his tremors. She put a hand on his shoulder. 

Maeve pursed her lips. "Is he--" 

Raina's head whipped up. She gave it a small shake, her face grave. Maeve nodded and took the canteen back from her, offering to refill it. 

Raina lay back down, rubbing a hand on Rance's back, careful to avoid the worst bruising. "I still can't believe you lost a finger," she said. 

He wheezed, but she heard a smile in his voice. "Guess I can't pinky promise you anymore." 

"Why, did something happen to your other one?" she asked. "Don't tell me those little monsters ate your hand as well as your leg." 

He chuckled. "They tried. Never thought I'd be grateful to see a rifle again. Although in the woods, Niska did use her gun to kill one of those big ones."

Raina's smile faltered, and she squeezed his shoulder. "When I thought I lost you, I lost my mind. I was so close to crossing into something I wouldn't come back from. Rance, I can't live without you." 

He said nothing, only placed a hand on top of hers. 

"Please don't give up on me." 

A gunshot split the air. Raina's head snapped up. Then another. 

"She's hunting," Kieran said, approaching with another canteen. He split it with her. "She wanted to go alone."

It did not sit well, using the gun on animals, but she doubted they had much choice. Not when her stomach gave another stab, and she grabbed it, sucking in a breath. 

A light drizzle had begun by the time Maeve returned, her arms dripping with blood. "It's not mine," she said by way of greeting. 

Rance looked at her through fevered eyes. "You look awful," he got out. 


Raina leaned Rance against the tree and got up to help as they set up the wood for a small fire. Niska had shown them the most efficient way to spark one, but it still took ages, and Raina's hands blistered by the time they at last saw the first trail of smoke rise from their kindling. A tremor shook the ground, and they heard the rumble of another landslide on the mountain. Raina saw that blue eye again, and blinked it away, focusing on the task at hand. 

Maeve skinned the creature, already unrecognizable, and began to roast it. "I had to cut off the part with the bullet," she said, offering an explanation. I didn't know what kind of metal it was, if it could contaminate it.

"What did you even hit?"

"I don't know. It was decently sized, and it moved, and I shot."

"Twice, from what we heard," Rance quipped nearby. 

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