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A Forest Cat, Chapter five: The Shadow Joins, part 1

Shane drew a ragged breath and pushed the limp body of his attacker from him. Gaell looked at him triumphantly, a large rough stone still clutched in her hands. She looked from Shane’s face to the upturned face of Danash and a vengeful gleam shone in her eyes.

“Murderous bastard,” she muttered and brought the stone up once more. With a quick action Shane came to his feet and stopped her hands on their way down.

“Gaell, stop! What do you think you’re doing?” He called out angrily, wrenching the stone from her hands.

“He wanted to kill you, didn’t he?” she answered, still looking with vindictive intent at the unmoving body.

“He obviously does not have that intention now.” Shane answered dryly but threw the girl a worried look. “Let’s bind him. I want to know why he has been tracking us.”

Gaell shrugged and then sat down near her conquered victim and studied his face. “Do you know him, Shane?” she asked suddenly, remembering the last surprised word the man had uttered.

Shane was busy binding the man’s hands and feet and refused to meet the girl’s eyes.

“Shane? What was it that he said? Itha something?”

Shane closed his eyes, momentarily unsure what to answer and cursing her inquisitive nature inwardly. “Itha’is,” he finally answered reluctantly, tying off the last of the leather bonds that held Danash’s hands.

Her inevitable question followed: “So what’s that?”

He threw her an empty water bottle and nodded in the direction of a little stream, slightly to the left of them. “Fill up,” he commanded curtly. Gaell pulled a face and opened her mouth to protest but when she caught Shane’s eyes, she shut it abruptly and turned to obey his command with little grace.

With fresh water from the bottle, Shane cleaned the gaping wound at the back of the man’s head and as he worked, a soft groan escaped the man’s mouth. His head turned slowly and the eyes fluttered a few times before they opened, staring unfocused up into the air.

“Don’t try to get up,” Shane warned him softly, “you’ll only blank out again.”

The eyes blinked again and his head turned as he tried to focus on Shane’s face. The movement caused him to wince and the eyes closed once more. But the man did not black out again. He shifted and tried to bring his hands to his head. The eyes opened once more when he realised that his hands were bound securely. His effort to focus on Shane finally paid off and he looked at Shane with brooding suspicion.

“I’ll not harm you, Itha’is. Untie me.” Danash told him with some difficulty.

“See, he knows you.” Gaell pointed an accusing finger at Shane. “So who is he?”

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