She was very still and very white, where Oatey wasn’t drenched in blood. There was bruising over her eye, purple and angry. Her face, otherwise, was a blank, it would have seemed peaceful save that she lay amidst so much slaughter. And it still looked like she’d been moved.
Lugh’s eyes flicked over the undergrowth around where she’d turned to fight. In the wild tangle he hadn’t seen what happened, how she was taken, and thank the All Maker for that. He’d seen the monster begin to swing at the girl and seen his arrow strike home, too late he’d thought. Then she was swallowed up by the last rush of monsters.
Lugh scanned the underbrush for any motion that might betray an attacker. Had one or more of the cowardly things returned seeing that there was only one man to oppose them? All was still, not even flies had found the corpses yet, but they would be gathering soon, and then all the other things that delighted in death would come. Lugh knelt and reached out to feel Oatey’s white cheek. He snatched it back, horrified that his bloody hand marred even that little bit of her that was left unblooded. Exasperated, he shrugged out of his fine woolen cloak and wiped his hands on his liene.
This time his fingers groped for arteries in her neck. He didn’t dare to hope, but there beneath his fingers he could feel the slight throbbing of her life. If the axe swing had connected, this little remaining life was only false hope, and with this much blood, surely it had connected, crushing the back of her skull.
So it was in fear to find confirmation of the blow and the back of her head shattered, that he slipped his fingers into her hair and felt for ruin he expected. With growing relief, Lugh’s probing fingers met firm resistance everywhere and surprisingly the back of her head was dry, free of blood. As hope built in him, Oatey’s eyes fluttered open. Lugh watched as serenity turned to anger.
A shocking jolt sent him sprawling back into the dust.