We’d gotten – not comfortable – but okay with the quiet, even in the few weeks it had been. We’d started to become accustomed to the lack of aerial fights, to the lack of strange semi-human people attacking us, to the way the world stayed the same – ruined, barely habitable, but the same – from day to day.
And then this half-dead… elf limped into our shelter. She was muttering under her breath, things we could barely tell were magic, and she was bleeding from at least seventeen places. Her stone-like skin was cracked, split, and burned, and underneath, she was bleeding red like the rest of us.
We froze. I froze, at least. Around me, the others shifted, reaching for weapons we no longer kept at hand. The god was barely over five foot tall, a tiny girl, but we had been less terrified of muscle-bound bikers with shotguns.
I saw the minute she noticed us, her tiger’s-eye eyes going wide. She ducked her head in what, in a human, I would have thought was an apology.
“I saw your fire,” she croaked. “I…”
And then she fell over. Sticking from her back was an arrow shaft; they hadn’t even bothered to strip all of the thorns off of the hawthorn before shooting it.
We spent a few minutes arguing. Quite a few of us wanted to dump her off the roof or, preferably, another roof, further away. A couple wanted to cut her head off, just to be sure that she stayed dead.
But Marie and Donald, who had been a paramedic and a school nurse before the world ended, they checked her pulse and found her still among the living, and that made everything more complicated. We didn’t so much talk about it as we shared a twelve-pointed look.
Then Kingfisher pulled out his filleting knife.
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