Carissa scrambled toward her discarded sword, and Elon’s heart stopped beating. She was headed toward the rest of the men, but if he wanted to help her, he’d first have to dispatch this one.
He grabbed the man’s wrist, twisted it until he released his sword, and knocked the hilt of his dagger against the man’s temple. He went limp, and Elon rushed to help Carissa.
Just before she reached the men, she dove toward where her sword had fallen. The archer released an arrow that would have pierced her chest had she not fallen to the ground. The tightness in Elon’s chest loosened. The future where she’d been struck by an arrow had nearly been inevitable before Elon had knocked her sword down. Thus far, everything was going according to plan.
Carissa rolled to the side as a man lunged toward her and parried his next swing. Elon rushed to engage two other men, keeping the archer in his peripheral vision. That man was still the greatest threat to Carissa’s future.
Rain water hung heavy from his clothes, dripping from his hair into his eyes. At least it similarly hindered the other men.
Carissa grunted, and Elon tossed a glance her way—at first to ensure that she had the situation handled. Then to admire the way her face flushed from exertion, how the rain water glued her clothes to her curves, her eyes fierce and—
A dull thud hit Elon’s arm, and he snapped his attention back to the men. Were he a normal man, the arm would likely be severed. He couldn’t let Carissa distract him again. But after the fighting, there would be plenty of time for distractions…
Elon had just rendered the second man unconscious when his ears pricked with the sound of a bowstring being drawn taut. He tossed his dagger aside, lest he cut her, lunged toward Carissa, and fell with her to the ground, tearing her away from her opponent.
The arrow slammed into Elon’s back before falling away. Elon rolled over just as the man’s sword descended on them. Elon caught the blade of the sword with his fist. The man’s mouth dropped open, and Elon used his lapse in attention to wrench the sword away from him.
Then he leapt to his feet and threw the sword as he would a spear. It landed in the tree limb right next to the archer’s own limb. “Should you shoot at us again, the next one will hit your arm.”
Once he sensed the archer wouldn’t shoot again, he turned toward Carissa, his hands skimming for injuries. She flinched when he touched her upper arm, and Elon immediately released her.
He could have used his foresight, but a part of him had needed to reassurance of touching her. Especially tonight. “We’ll heal it when we settle down for the night.”
She nodded, and he swung to face the men.
Three were unconscious, thanks to his work. The man Carissa had been fighting was unarmed. The archer was quaking from his perch in the trees.
“There were six of you that attacked us—one approaching me and five from the forest. Tell me: where is your last companion?”