Dureil pulled her mount to a sudden halt, reaching for the reins of Alanna’s to force hers to do the same. She nearly fell from the mare’s back, and let out a surprised shriek. The older woman looked at her apologetically, but then hissed “Get down, doma!”
Rafel and Alen were already riding ahead, towards the approaching figures, with weapons she didn’t know they had gripped in one hand. Alanna slid out of the saddle, trying to look around the great beast to see what was happening. When Dureil drew a sigil in the air she watched curiously. It seemed to be visible for a moment, a shimmer like she used to see over the glowing coals in the blacksmith’s workroom.
She was distracted long enough that she didn’t see the two men leap from their horses, which raced back towards Alanna and Dureil. Neither did she see Alen’s hasty transformation into a massive wolf-creature, nor Rafel’s equally rapid shift into a huge toothed cat. She tried again to get a glimpse of the confrontation, but the horses tramped around herself and the older woman restlessly and she could see very little.
Alen reached the approaching band first, snarling savagely as he hurtled head-first into the fray, Rafel only moments behind him. There were half a dozen men, armed with crude spears and daggers and armored in patched leather and chain. The enemy seemed unconcerned when the men they had seen suddenly became terrifying beasts, as if they expected it, but that didn’t matter to Alanna’s two protectors.
The battle was swift, the feral forms of Alen and Rafel making short work of the small band of raiders, leaving not one of the men breathing. Convinced the danger was dealt with, Rafel loped towards a boulder with Alen not far being, the two reclaiming their human forms; As they walked back across the rocky plain they hoped Alanna had not witnessed their transformations, that Dureil had managed to keep her distracted.
The look in her eyes as Rafel approached her revealed their hope was in vain. The older woman looked to her brothers apologetically, and Alen shook his head. “She will have to learn sometime.” he growled, once more mounting his horse. “We have lost time,” he said, then looked to the sky. “And there will be more.”
Alanna frowned, keeping a somewhat wary distance from Rafel, which saddened the younger man. He nodded, and gestured for Dureil to help her into her sadlle again, while he did the same. “What are you?” she asked.
“There will be time for questions when we reach home, doma. Until then, it is best we ride.” Alen’s voice was coarse, but there was a hint of worry in it.
Alanna sighed, falling silent then. She didn’t flinch when the magic that sped their travels enveloped her, but she also didn’t so much as look to the others. She retreated into her thoughts, trying to process the events of the last day.
Rafel watched her sadly, but kept his distance, he and his sister riding a little behind the young girl now, talking to one another in quiet tones.
“She will understand, Rafel. It is in her blood.” Dureil smiled kindly at him. “You have felt her use magic already. It is within her.”
He nodded, looking to Alanna with a faint smile.
“And if she has any sense, she will not turn you away because you are a changing one.”
That comment drew color to the young man’s cheeks and he shook his head. “I hope only to see her safely home,” he said, trying to make himself believe it as much as Dureil.