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ArWen the Eternally Surprised
Author: Ria Time: 2007/11/22
Arwen encounters a strange monk and gains a little extra time.
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The Clash of Worlds: The Three Paths
Submitter: Date: 2011/10/30 Views: 390
Chapter 3

They were back in the foothills of the mountains and had been climbing steadily since early morning. Tosh was glad that she'd not been walking, because she couldn't have kept up with their rapid pace, and she shuddered to think what they would have done with her if she hadn't been able to. When night fell, the whole group came to a stop on the edge of a scrubby wood, where some of the Okrani set about chopping down dry trees to build a fire.

Owen rolled onto his back from where he'd been dropped unceremoniously and smiled at her. "Maybe we should have listened to Jack after all."

She smiled back and reached out for his hand, squeezing his fingers tightly. "I hope they're alright."

"They will be." Owen bit his lip and tugged on her hand, pulling her closer to him so that he could wrap his arms around her. "We'll look after each other, okay?"


"No talking over there," the lead Okrani snapped. "Griphut, get them apart."

The one who'd been sent stood up, grumbling, and grabbed Tosh's arm, digging its sharp, filthy nails into her skin as it lifted her bodily and dropped her on the ground a short distance away. She yelped in pain and curled into herself, failing to avoid a kick. Close by, a smaller Okrani was sharpening its crude blade, and poked her with it. "We've not had fresh meat in days. Would the Master really miss a leg?"

"They are to be delivered alive and unspoiled," the leader snapped. "Unless you want to be the one to argue with him?"

"I bet they play well," a smaller one cackled from behind the leader. His laughter soon turned into a snarl of anger when he was cuffed. "Don't touch me!"

Tosh curled up tighter and whimpered as the disagreement turned into a full blown fight over her head, feeling stray kicks striking against her arms and shoulders. An engine roared loudly in the darkness and the rest of their kidnappers reared up, dragging Tosh and Owen back towards the woods and standing against the shots now coming from the direction of the engine noise. Their hands were bound, and they huddled together against the tree, unarmed and wishing they were back at Torchwood, where everything was so much more simple.

The remains of the fire smouldered on bare rock, a safe distance from the dry, scrubby woodland that led into the greater forest. Even in daylight it looked tangled and unwelcoming, a dead dry fringe to a dark and impenetrable maze of trees and coarse brambles. Rick dragged his gaze away from the forest and regarded the pire. "Looks like you were both right."

Martin didn't blink. "I was trying not to think that, thanks Rick. Where..." he sighed. "Where do we start?"

"We make sure we're wrong." Orlando answered for him. "Find how they got away, because I am not going through that unless I know they're in there."

Rick yelled and kicked at a rock, swearing when it just hurt. He glared at Orlando's expression and shook his head. "Orli, no offence, but stand exactly where you are. Martin, you done much tracking?"

"Not a lot," Martin sighed, shrugging off his bag and dropping it by Orlando. "But enough. I can track down grouse, if that's going to help?"

"Well, even Tosh is bigger than a grouse, so one would imagine so." Rick tossed his bag to Orlando as well and crouched down. "Race you to them?"

The ground was hard rock with dry grass growing in cracks. Sword blows and bullets had struck chips from the rock, and running feet had ripped the grass and scattered it on the rock. Rick shifted a clump of grass and lifted a knotted rope, severed between two knots. "Say, Martin, you think they were tying each other up?"

Martin got to his feet and joined him, approaching from behind. "What they get up to in their own time is their business. But I think you're probably right. Look at how small the loop is... that's not Okrani wrist size. Tosh, maybe?"

"I think so. And Owen... maybe they burned it." He shrugged. "One thing about war, it brings out the violence in everyday people. And Hell's Angels aren't what you'd call ordinary people. Well, some of them. Some are lovely. I dated a Hell's Angel once..."

"Rick, focus!" Orlando snapped. "You sound like Jack."

He coughed and nodded. "Right, on it. Ianto."

Martin laughed and joined him, creeping forwards with their fingers on the ground, searching for fresh clues. Bare rock wasn't easy to read, but it gave up its secrets eventually. A human handprint in a patch of soil, a smear of red blood against a white rock, grass ripped out by the root. "Someone tried to stop them."

"Someone failed." Rick pointed out a smear of black blood close by, and the barely-there trail leading into the woodland. "They got away."

Orlando jogged over to join them. "They got away?"

"Looks that way." Martin sighed. "I hate woodland. Cities are easier."

Rick went back for their bags. "Well, we can't leave them now. Bear Gryls, eat your heart out."

Tosh sagged against a tree and choked out a sob when Owen wrapped his arms around her, running her over for injuries and shielding her with his body. "What is it? What's the matter, Tosh, are you hurt?"

"I'm fine," she assured him. "Really. Are you okay?"

"Yeah." He sniffed and looked back over his shoulder. "Let's keep going. If they break and run for it, I don't want to get caught."

"I'm coming." They started to pick their way through the brambles, having to tug their clothes free of the thorns. "Are you armed?"

"Not in the slightest." He helped her over a fallen log and caught her when she stumbled. "I tried to get one of their knives, but no luck there. Where's Jack when you need him?"

"Saving the world, I hope." She smiled weakly at him and opened her mouth to speak again, but was cut off by a crashing through the bushes. "Come on!"

They pressed forwards, not having time to cover their trail, but not knowing how to get rid of their pursuer without doing so. They were already gaining when they burst into a clearing and found themselves trapped by impenetrable undergrowth on every side of the clearing. Owen gripped Tosh's hand and looked at her sidelong. "One last stand."

"No." She pulled her hand back and picked up a heavy branch. "Not this time, not like this."

He nodded and joined her, wielding a large stone. "Try not to go down fighting?"

A lone Okrani burst into the clearing and snarled at them. It was badly injured, one arm hanging uselessly and a deep gash across its stomach, but the other hand clutched a jagged blade, smeared with the dark blood of the Okrani's companions. Tosh took a deep breath and regretted it when she caught the stench that they'd so recently escaped. "No one's going to save you now," it jeered, lurching closer. "I'll take my fill and feed the rest to the maggots."

The wind came from nowhere. Leaves and twigs whipped at their faces and caught in their hair, and Tosh was nearly blown off her feet before Owen dragged her to the floor, into the lee of a fallen tree. The Okrani was well and truly trapped, and its sword was wrenched from its hand by the fierce winds. Tosh buried her face in Owen's shoulder rather than watch its own sword turned against it and sobbed as the wind besetting them intensified.

"Strange things strange." The voice was sing-sing and cruel, suspicious and unwelcoming, and the face of the being that stepped out of thin air matched it, full of childlike innocence and ageless cruelty. "You are earthlings, but do you come in peace? Little children, will you play?"

"What the hell are you?" Owen snapped. "We just want to get away from them."

"Away away," it sang, leaning forwards over them and touching their faces. "Away with the fairies. Come with us. Are you friend or are you foe? Like as not, the Lord will know."

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