“Come an’ get it then you ugly sacks!” Merida hollered at the top of her voice, already grabbing for her bow as she motioned for both Mulan and Red to back up against the wall of the staircase. No sooner had they reached their spot they heard the sudden howl of something monstrous up the stairs, an almost canine sound that had Red ears perked as she stayed flat against the wall. The faint light from the few torches that burned along the walls, set in sconces or down low in modified braziers, barely revealed where they were, but then there was no telling just what senses the creatures that were speeding towards them relied on.

Mulan gave her a cross look that earned a shrug from Merida, but as the sound of clawed feet rushing down the stone steps reached their ears they stayed absolutely quiet, waiting for the first of the beasts to come pounding forward. Merida quickly pulled something out of one of her many pockets, lobbing it as far ahead of them as she could. It clattered and splashed somewhere up ahead in the murk of the underground tunnels, and the monsters that came bounding down the staircase were quick to follow, seeming to be of a single mind as the trio counted no less than nineteen of the misshapen things as they lumbered away.

“Now!” Merida hissed at them, motioning for the stairs. Red and Mulan didn’t need to be told twice as they made their way along the wall and were already ascending the staircase, their footsteps quiet enough thanks to the din caused by the creatures rushing away from them. At the last moment though as Merida was coming up the staircase Mulan looked back, her eyes widening as she saw something just a short ways beyond the redheaded archer. One of the creatures had turned, and had seen her.

Merida didn’t need any more prompting than that as she spun about, arrow already being fitted to string as she lowered herself just enough to take aim, and fire.  The arrow flew from her bow as true as ever, wavering ever so slightly as she was fully ready to reach for another one. She needn’t have bothered however since her aim was just as perfect as ever. The arrow buried itself half along its length into the left eye of the monstrosity, quivering as it sank deeper, tearing delicate tissue and shredding the things brain as it went.

She was already turning and running up the stairs as the thing fell. They didn’t need to see if the creature’s death would bring its companions back any quicker, and they had a door to find and bolt closed.

That thankfully was the easy part as they found a heavy wooden door at the top of the next landing after hanging a sharp right. The three women made their way cautiously through the doorway into a small anteroom with only one other door leading out. They were quick to close and bar the door using a stout wooden beam that was set to the side for presumably just such a purpose. Thankfully the things serving Snow these days weren’t too bright, otherwise the tactics available to them would have been the undoing of their little trio.

“Please don’t ever do that again,” Mulan said as they finished setting the beam. “If I wanted a slow death I’d have married instead of going to war.”

To that Merida could only grin.

(to be continued)

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