I can taste butterscotch, as danger approaches.

I turn half a step, look over my shoulder back to where friends should be, and am faced with the hulking mass of an ogre separating me from the spread out Foxes. Jotun handlers on each side urge it forward, flanking it in a three-versus-one.

I do not like my odds. I would prefer better odds.

Robbie should be at my back; I cannot hear his footsteps or his eager war-cries. We had pressed forward together, but now I have lost him and cannot turn my eyes from danger to search, or to warn him. Are there allies around I can shout to? I cannot tell. The ogre lets out a great bellow, as the warriors that flank it press forward. It is impossible for me to do anything but stand here and fight.

I feel the lack of emotions more acutely now.

Slowly, despite the best guard I can maintain, I am pushed back, first a few feet. Then more. I do not like this. Somewhere inside me, or behind me, there is an emotive briar screaming, trying to push emotions forward as if I could gain strength from them to fight back. She would rather die feeling–feeling pride, and love, and fear. The Jotun to the right manages to catch my knee, steel biting into muscle. They know they have hobbled me; I could not escape now.

This is where I die. I would prefer to not die.

I do not know at which point it happens. Whether the caged briar escaped, whether the desire to live broke free of the taste of butterscotch and the deadening of emotions. But like a flash it is over; one of the handlers I cut down, an ogre stands confused as his weapon is hewn from his hands by my spear. And I am screaming my loudest at the figure suddenly in my eye line behind the danger.

GABRIEL! HELP ME.

I would prefer to live.

***

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