The noise startles the creatures, dragging their attention from the girl. The girl, herself, jumps at the sudden battle cry, too startled to move.
Brádach’s arrow finds a target.
One of the creatures rears, a painful groan rumbling through the night air.
Brádach advances. With his crossbow useless, he drops it and draws a sword from his belt. He wields it high over his head, charging the injured creature.
His battle cry still rings in his throat.
“No!” The girl scrambles to her feet, spraying frost-covered leaves in every direction. She dives forward.
The sword bites into the injured creature’s shoulder. It digs through the mass of fur, the tough hide, and into the muscle below.
Another piercing roar streaks through the night.
The girl slams into Brádach.
Dropping to the frozen earth knocks wind from Brádach’s lungs. He coughs and gasps. Yet, one glimpse of the creatures sparks his adrenaline and he shoves the girl off him. His head snaps around in search of his sword.
The creatures advance on him and the girl. Their eyes narrow. Their teeth bare. Snarls vibrate the air around the two humans.