“They’re not hunting us,” Afrith said, very quietly. “Look.”

Brynjar did just that, when he finally got his breath under control. He peered around the far side of the tree, and saw not just one, but three darkhounds prowling through the forest, pressed together as though they’d been born from the same womb. Their heads turned from side to side as their massive nostrils flared, blank white eyes searching for something that they could never see.

He held his breath again, not out of fear this time but out of simple caution, as the darkhounds passed them by. They moved with a sense of driving purpose, and Brynjar was almost certain that he saw dark red blood drying on the claws of one, too dark to be human, as they marched past.

Following close behind the hounds, perhaps a dozen paces, was a pair of wytchen thralls. These were not the bloated monstrosities that Brynjar had slain nearly a dozen of during the battle—they were tall, lean, their eyes the same blank white as the darkhounds. In their long, clawed fingers they clutched wooden spears, casting furtive glances as they swept the area, but their eyes never fell on the tree which Brynjar and Afrith used for cover.

“There’s someone else out here,” Afrith said, after the hounds and the thralls had vanished into the trees beyond.

“Someone or something,” Brynjar said.