"Move!" Raven ordered with a tremor to her tone. "Behind the trees." I almost dropped the orb to her order. Opening the strap to the compartment, I shoved the silent orb inside and went for cover behind one of the trees. Luckily, its width was enough to cover me and my cloak. Raven had to stand tall with her posture erect. The stiffness of her stature caused her to shake. Either that or she was as scared as I was. It made me think what those Jackals could do. I have never seen one up until now. Maybe they were anti-infantry or anti-building with their ability to climb. With some faith left in me, I hoped that they weren't good listeners – I couldn't control my breath. Neither could Raven and I could hear her from ten feet away.
A low green light illuminated some of the grass and soil mounds near the trees we were up against. I held my breath and listened carefully for any footfalls. Nothing. The light grew stronger, and so did my reflex to gasp for air. A leg longer than half a metre trod lightly at the base of my tree and my lungs longed for a release. At first, I thought it wore nothing, but then I noticed that the armour he was wearing was the same as his skin colour. The material, as I guessed, was leather or something fairly weak against blade. There was no plate on his person, which I found slightly relieving. I glanced at his face and saw that his lips were stitched with white string. No blood. They weren't fresh stitches. His white eyes showed no signs of pain or torment, only focus and devotion for bloodshed. Another lanky leg joined parallel with the first and both became passive. Just as my lungs contracted, a tree rustled further in the forest. The Jackal registered and with a swift snap of his neck, he bolted towards the tree that rustled. In a second, he surmounted the trunk, and a second later, he came down with a Ze submitted into his gangly fingers. The Ze squawked and squabbled with wings all a flay, trying to get the Jackal's hand away from its neck. The Jackal showed no signs of falter as the Ze began to calm down. Eventually, its wings fell like a stone to the ground.
He killed it.
The Jackal removed his hand from the Ze's neck and examined its stiff body. He ragged it from side-to-side like a child moving a toy car across the floor. Its fur was smothered in mud and blended into it. The Jackal groaned and stood straight, his long neck and head dangling towards the Ze. He was at least four times the size of me. Even his arm was taller than me, I deduced. He punted the Ze's wing, possibly to make sure it was dead. His foot shook from the stiffness of the body.
Then it became silent. I only just realised that my breathing was loud again and before I could control it, the Jackal heard. His head snapped up as if saluting and craned his neck slowly towards me. His white piercing eyes stared daggers at me and began a cautious approach. My heart drummed fervently against my chest. There was no way I could attack someone that tall. I only came to his knee. Like a playground swing, his slender fingers made for my head. In retort I lifted a muddy hand. Nothing hit me. Instead the Jackal moaned and I felt a shudder under my feet. "Cassandria, stab his chest!" Raven instructed. I removed my hand and saw the Jackal down on one knee, his hands around Ravens body. Her daggers were slicing through his leather gear, pouring and sopping glistening red blood. I primed my daggers and glanced at his height once more. There was no chance I could have stabbed him. He was too tall. "Cassandria! Stab—" Raven was cut short from a hand slapping her cheeks.
I had to throw my knives. With my finger tips at the edge of my blade, I allowed the dagger to settle its weight before I threw it. Then I lobbed it. The dagger swirled and danced and glinted in the green light.
His hand blocked it. The blade tore a deep fissure in his hand. Blood spurted and bone splintered out. The Jackal groaned in agony. His eyes flickered in agony. Yet he remained determined to get Raven from around his neck. With my other dagger in hand, I only had one chance left. I exchanged the dagger to my good hand and threw again at his chest.
The blade punctured his leather and like a stream, red liquid spilled into his leather armour. The Jackals eyes widened to their full extent and a muffled scream came from his throat. He grasped Raven's arm with his unscathed hand and yanked her away. She dropped both her daggers into the mud nearby and made choking sounds. "His... head—" she breathed. I dashed to both daggers and took them out of the mud. Pleased with their weight, I jumped back and quickly threw one to his head. The handle of the dagger thumped his temple. He overbalanced and staggered back with Raven still in his hand. "Cass—" she squealed. I readied the next blade without thinking and threw it. The blade sliced his eyes. Green gloop and blood gushed out of the sockets. Raven was dropped into the mud below and the Jackal stumbled side-to-side, his hands covering his eyes.
Then he stumbled towards me and dropped above me.
My only thought was: move.