Movement flitted in Taryn’s peripheral vision. Silent creeping gave the raider away and she swung her bow to the right. The loosed arrow whizzed over the back of Mathias’s horse, just past the councilman’s shoulder, and landed in the chest of her target.
Mathias jerked forward over his horse’s neck. “What the hell?” He shot her another scathing look, but then followed her gaze to the slain pirate five feet away. Even in the firelight, some of the color drained from his face.
Taryn pursed her lips. “Lexa’s a good teacher.”
“Incoming.” Tobiah swung off his horse and faced up the street where four raiders poured out of the inky darkness.
Mathias drew his sword. Taryn hoped the councilman really did know how to use it. From Lexa’s stories, she hadn’t thought very highly of the man’s skills in combat. Taryn strung another arrow and raised her arms. The raiders lumbered toward them.
A high-pitched whistle pierced her eardrums as a cannonball shot through one building, cutting across the road in front of them and imploding the building on the other side of the street. Splinters and chunks of wood whipped through the air on the crest of a wave of fire.
Storm screamed and reared. That and the force of the explosion threw Taryn to the ground. Her elbow smacked against dirt and debris pelted her body. She threw her arms up to protect her head. An intense ringing drilled a hole through her ears into her skull, dulling her senses. Taryn blinked her eyes open and saw multiple sets of hooves running away. Striking white bobbed up the street and out of sight; she hoped Storm was okay.
Taryn forced herself up. Chips of wood ran down her neck and she brushed them away. The entire street was awash with blazing orange and scarlet. Where were Mathias and Tobiah? She twisted around, frantically searching the scatter of rubble.
Movement ten feet to her left caught her eye as a hunched figure pushed a panel of wood off his back and stood. Taryn saw the blue armband near his shoulder.
“Tobiah!” She coughed as smoke and dust attempted to clog her throat and nostrils.
The man stumbled toward her. A spurt of flame in the building’s wreckage to their left illuminated his face and Taryn’s eyes widened. That wasn’t Tobiah.
Splinters stuck out of the raider’s gnarly beard. A nasty gash cut across his temple and streamed blood over one eye, but he seemed not to notice. He staggered toward her, hollow eyes gleaming an unearthly yellow in the reflection of the firelight.
Taryn scooted around on the ground. Where was her bow? She reached out a hand instinctively, expecting to summon a new weapon as she would in the dreamscape, for a moment forgetting that in the waking world, battles didn’t work that way.