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One Night of Peace

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The soft crackling of a campfire was the only sound that broke the gentle night air. Raina stared unwatching into the inky darkness beyond the fire light, lost in thought and pointedly ignoring the cleric cleaning the gash covering half her back. It had been a rookie mistake, letting that ogre get a swing on her. As close as they were to the cliff it was lucky she hadn't been broken on the rocks as she fell. If she'd paid more attention the party would have made it to Pravoka by now and not be stuck camping below the mountain road. A single night of delay may not cost them much but with how inexperienced her supposed comrades were, she couldn't afford to be the one to hold them up.

Behind her the cleric began to hum, a soft song she remembered from childhood, the ballad of the Crystals. The magical Crystals that held the forces of the world in balance… Til last week she hadn't believed in them. One moment she was betrothed to the Fox Prince, the next she was stealing a dull red crystal and running away to Cornelia to ask for help. The other three had similar stories, she was sure. What a ragtag group they were, a wolf warrior of Alfheim, a dog cleric, the eldest princess of Cornelia, and a rabbit sorcerer. They each held a crystal shard, and as such were charged with saving the world from a threat none of them knew anything about.

She glanced over her shoulder to where the princess sat, regal as ever in the red robes of a battle mage, black feathers shimmering in the light as her hands moved to repair Raina's gambeson. The king had been reluctant to let her go, she didn't know any more than the barest self defense techniques after all. But magic came easy to crows and she'd find a weapon suited for her wings soon enough.

"Well Ser Raina, I think this is the best I can do." The cleric, Darian, presses a cure spell into her back and she has to bite back a bark of pain.

"Thank you. And don't call me Ser I'm not one of your knights." As she pulls away the tingle of healing magic gives way to a sore ache. It was better than nothing, she supposed.

"Of course." Darian rolled his eyes. "If you don't mind me I'll be getting rid of this blood bucket." He hefted the dirtied water he'd used to clean her wound, "And seeing if I can track down that Avery fellow," he added and strolled out of camp, leaving the two women together.

"Good luck," the princess called, "the way he bolted he may not be easily returned to us."

Once more a calm fell over the camp. Unwilling to put any unnecessary pressure on the freshly healed scar and unbothered by the breeze through her fur Raina left herself bare chested as she set about preparing a decent dinner out of their trail rations.

Several moments passed in pleasant silence as the two worked their tasks. "Miss Raina may I ask you something?"

"Your highness?"

"Please call me Thea, we are equals here." Princess Thea smiled softly across to her, "Do you always attend matters with such seriousness?"

Raina's brows furrowed in confusion, her head tipping to the side, "I don't understand."

"You've looked as if you were trying to set the forest on fire all evening." She motioned to the darkness with the sewing needle, "There are no threats nearby so my guess is it has something to do with the battle?"

"Yo- Thea, it's my duty to take the agro. I should have been quicker on my feet."

"You took a hit for Avery." She tied off the final knot and snipped the thread with her beak, "There, not quite good as new but good enough."

"It's my duty." The bloodied gambeson was shoved into her pack, it was already dry and the stains could be delt with later. "No offense but you three are all mages. They call you paper cannons for a reason."

"That's no reason to go risking your life for us." She whispered so quietly Raina doubted she was ment to hear it.

Letting the subject drop they sat in silence til the crashing of underbrush signaled the return of their companions. Darian with a firm grasp on Avery, dragging the red eyed rabbit back to camp by force. Sorcerers were supposed to be the most dangerous type of black mage yet here theirs was acting like a spoiled child.

"Dinner's ready, if you want some." She motioned to her creation. It was barely more than putting the dried meats and cheese they'd brought in bread and toasting it over the fire to make sandwiches, but she was proud of it.

"Why are you topless?" The rabbit's lip curled in distaste.

"Because I wanna be."

"You should put a shirt on."

"Make me!" She grinned, teasing.

Darian stepped between the warrior and the mage with an exasperated sigh, "No fighting. I for one am exhausted."

And so the night passed in good company. The road ahead would be long and fraught with danger, but at least here and now they could spend the night in peace.