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The pine trees, laden with their burden, began to bend and bow slightly. Their branchless trunks made the deformation much more obvious. Odd these trees. No leaf or branch until the top, Kahini thought as she burst through the underbrush in an explosion of spotted fur and water.

Like a mushroom, but not. She shook some of the water off, but she knew that being wet was inevitable. That made her irritable. Well as irritable as a Fae could get.

The smell of mud and death filled the air around her. Arrows and bolts, thoughts of murder made real. There was horseflesh too and the overwhelming smell of fear. Kahini knew that in the chaos of battle, even the best trained soldiers knew fear. How they reacted influenced their chances of survival.

To the right of the small clearing were the Scrapi. Their defiance dissipated, fear gripped their hearts tight. Soon to die. To the left were the Bathroy men, well armoured and heavily armed. Their comrades dead or dying, fear clouding their thoughts. Dead but living.

Kahini’s magic flared. It reached out, through no effort of Kahini, and touched those mired in the tumult. It calmed man and horseflesh alike. It rioted the emotions of mothers protecting their young. It made arrows miss and others find their target. It soothed and quelled, raged worse than the rain and touched the hearts and minds of many all at once.

For Kahini the Fae, this was akin to breathing or scratching an itch. It required no concentration or visible effort. In fact, those who looked upon Kahini saw nothing more than a strange, spotted and horned cat cleaning itself.

Varick, Middy, Taysha. Three names brought forth the three individuals. It took them but a moment to enter the fray. But that was Kahini’s magic, more than their own will.

Two work like equal parts of the whole. Kahini the cat began licking at her paws. The other rages, spins and slashes. She paid no heed to the loss of life around her. But then why should she. She was Fae after all.

Her magic touched an old woman with a walking stick. It was brief and subtle, but enough to make her hesitate. She paused, thick stick held aloft and looked into the face of the man she was about to bludgeon. Arrows sprouted from his chest like flowers. His eyes open, but unseeing.

Kahini’s magic rushed into the man. It forced itself into his lifeless body and in an instant he was living again. Of a fashion. Truly dead but living. He bellowed and wailed in tongues beyond the comprehension of those around him. Inhuman and unnatural sounds left his mouth as he made his way to his feet.

A heavy blow from a thick stick did little to slow him. Another did nothing but anger him.

His blade lashed out and blood nourished the dirt.

A girl screamed. She might have been saying ‘Nanna,’ but Kahini did not care. She could not care, she was Fae after all.