Book 2 chapter 33
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Amethyst sat on a large stone rubbing her bare feet. The week-long walk through the wilderness had been uneventful for the most part, physically at least. Mentally however, Amethyst was having a small problem.

One would think she was nervous about the request, the prospect of killing another person, or anything else from her ever growing list of problems. 

Her own spiritual guild, her ascension to sainthood, their rapidly approaching trip into Ecrein that was now just under a year away, the war in the north, the heroes that she was sure they would need to face eventually, her older brother’s defection to a hostile nation, her sister’s predisposition for annoying the gods, the list goes on. 

Amethyst let out a long sigh as she thought of all her problems, the young woman just now a few months into being 14 sat on a rock in a peaceful clearing as the sudden weight of the world seemed to press down on her. 

She watched her three companions set up a tent. Well Ethan set up a tent, Mira and Fiori both offered words of encouragement as he grew increasingly frustrated. 

Amethyst’s eyes wandered over Fiori’s back, a sudden embarrassment washing over her as she quickly looked to the forest behind them as she tried to resume her watch duty. 

I bet if you asked, she would share a tent with you. Her sister chuckled in her mind quickly replacing the embarrassment with annoyance.

It’s not like that. Amethyst growled as she scanned the tree line.  

My dear sister, in the past week you have all but memorized her every curve. Honestly, I’m getting a little tired of all the cat tails popping up in here. Just ask her if she needs help grooming her fur, bet she would let you give her nice…

I have a boyfriend! Amethyst screamed internally quickly banishing whatever image her sister was trying to conjure up in her mind. and it’s not like that.

Then what is it like? Because from here it looks a lot like cat scratch fever. 

it’s just… I don’t know… Amethyst pulled her knees to her chest.

Hecatolite was silent for a long moment as her sisters’ emotions fluctuated. Annoyance, confusion, embarrassment, shame, all swirling around in her mind as she sat with her face buried in her knees as if hiding from the world. 

You know there's nothing wrong with it, right? Hecatolite’s own soothing calm emotion slowly seeping into Amethyst through their bond, doing little to actually quell the uncertainty that filled her mind. Even if you like her…

It's not that. it's… I have Applejack, it's wrong…

Wrong? To be attracted to someone? Or is it because she’s a girl? Amethyst yo…. Her sister's voice stopped abruptly as an alarm bell rang in her mind.

If it had been half a year ago Amethyst would have died right there as an arrow slammed into the wide brim of her hat, the force of the projectile dazing her as it knocked her back off the stone but not piercing her protective headgear. 

One thing her mother had insisted on training Amethyst on was surprise attacks, thankfully leading to Amethyst being no stranger to getting shot at from an unknown location. The training had been… stressful, but she had learned several important lessons. One, was to never take your head protection off, it is the main target when attacking someone from a hidden location. Two, and quite possibly the most valuable, never look up when threat detection goes off. 

Hecatolite may not have meant for it to work out like this, but the ridiculously wide brim of her hat was more than sufficient at stopping attacks from being fatal. It didn’t completely negate an attack, often leaving her with nasty lumps on her head, but it was a lot easier to heal a broken nose than an arrow in the eye.

Well, that was rude! Hecatolite growled as Amethyst slammed into the ground, the wind being knocked from her lungs as her vision wavered. 

She tried to call to her party, but it came out as a rasping breath as she struggled to suck in air. She could just barely make out Ethan charging towards her as Mira fired an earthen spike into the trees.  

To her shock Ethan didn’t even slow down, passing right by her without even glancing down, as he jumped the rock she had been using as a perch before vanishing into the tree line.

She struggled to sit up when she heard the faint chime of bells. She was roughly pushed back down as Fiori appeared beside her. 

“You let your guard down,” The woman smiled as she held Amethyst down to the ground, several more arrows flying overhead towards Mira as she brought up a wall of dirt for cover. “Take a second to catch your breath,” Fiori patted her on the stomach as she leaned against the rock Amethyst had fallen behind.  “They probably think they got you with that first shot… gods they really clobbered you huh.” She chuckled as she looked at Amethyst's now blood covered face, having taken the full force of the arrow to the bridge of her nose.

Amethyst rapidly blinked her eyes in a desperate attempt to clear the building tears as she ignored the throbbing pain of having her nose fractured. 

“I… I didn’t see them.” Amethyst groaned, as she raised her hand to her face. The cold metal of her gauntlet helped sooth the pain somewhat as the world seemed to spin around her.

She had been hit in the face before, hell she had been hit harder while training with her father, but she saw those attacks coming.  It's amazing how much just being aware of a strike helped mitigate the damage. 

We should definitely eat the guy who shot that. Hecatolite grit her teeth in Amethyst's mind as if to punctuate the point before stopping. Why is the world all fuzzy? Did they get our eyes? 

Amethyst didn’t answer her sister, though the intrusive thoughts did help her focus slightly as she tried to push the pain from her mind. Slowly the world came back into focus only to notice Fiori had left, probably to support Ethan in the fight. 

Amethyst didn’t foolishly sit up, instead rolling onto her stomach to look back to see a wall of dirt that was peppered with arrows, the assault seeming to have stopped though Mira did not brave poking her head out to check. 

Amethyst nodded to herself before cautiously poking her own head out, ready to drop down at any sign of danger.

“Looks clear.” She spoke no louder than a whisper, knowing Mira was definitely too far to hear her yet the confirmation comforted her as she snatched her greaves from atop the rock and dropped back down into cover.

She grumbled to herself as she slammed her bare foot into the cold metal armor, Hecatolite not missing the chance to say she had told Amethyst to not take her armor off.

“Ok, what should we do now?” She asked cautiously, peeking over the rock again, looking for any signs of Ethan or Fiori. “Should we chase them or stay with Mira?” She looked back to the wall of earth.

Check on the scaredy cat then we hunt the guy that shot us and eat him. Hecatolite answered, causing Amethyst to scoff.

“We aren’t going to eat anyone, Hecatolite.” She said before sprinting to the makeshift cover, sliding around the wall finding Mira sitting calmly picking her nails. “You, ok?” She asked, confused by the sight.

Mira looked to Amethyst, her eyes going wide as she inspected the girl. “I’m fine, you however look like hell.” She said with a grimace as she conjured a small ball of water and dabbed a cloth into it. 

Amethyst was stunned as Mira carefully wiped her face; the cloth quickly being dyed red as she did. “shouldn’t… shouldn’t we help them?” She stammered as Mira shook her head.

“They started running once Ethan got to them, oh sorry.” Mira stopped as the cloth brushed Amethyst's nose, the motion causing her to jerk her head back. “He’s just checking the area now, Fiori is tailing one that got away, likely trying to find their camp.”

Amethyst brushed the wet rag from her face as she looked quizzically at Mira, “how do you know all that?”

“Mana sense… did… did you not check the area before standing up?” Mira shook her head before gently tapping Amethyst on the head with her knuckles. “You should always clear the area before leaving cover.” She scolded Amethyst for five full minutes before Ethan returned.

In Mira’s defense she was right, it had been foolish of Amethyst to not use mana scene before standing up. Mana sense was the simplest detection spell that anyone could perform, simply pushing out a small pulse of mana to get a vague feeling of how many mana signatures were in an area. The massive drawback being you were just pumping mana into the air. Anyone with even a little bit of mana control would notice the spell meaning one typically did not use it unless they didn’t care about revealing themselves. So once the first arrow was fired there was no point in hiding, meaning Amethyst should have checked the area to be sure no one else was hiding around waiting for her…

“You, ok?” Ethan asked bluntly as he sat beside the downtrodden Amethyst.

“Yea,” she replied, glancing up at him causing him to flinch as she did. “Is it really that bad?”

Mira slapped him in the arm as he quickly attempted to recover, “no, I wouldn’t say…. it's just….” He sighed as he hung his head, “you’ll definitely want to get that looked at once we get back.”

Amethyst couldn’t help but chuckle as Mira slapped Ethan again. the worries from earlier fading away as she leaned back against the dirt wall. Even with what was clearly a horrifically broken nose, she couldn’t help but relax a little as she watched Mira chastise Ethan as they waited for Fiori to return.