::'''Small Worlds'''
::''Chapter Thirty-One''

In a word, Chaos. That summed up the situation pretty well. Bullets were flying, people were dying and Vaniah was in the center of it all, as usual. Zeke was being dragged back, his left knee all but gone, by a group of his men while they let out rapid bursts of covering fire. It was his luck the soldiers weren't aiming or he would have been turned into a bloody mess. Luck as well since their panicked fire was hitting their own men, sending those on their feet running for cover. Vaniah savored it, wasn't every day he had an incompetent foe.

Didn't savor it long of course, he wasn't stupid. He sent a few well placed shots into the soldiers who had kept their composure while calmly falling back. It wouldn't do, to lose his head as well. Gotta keep cool, just like his father had taught him. Aim careful than fire. A wasted bullet meant one more enemy would return to fight another day.

"Werther, get to the trees," he told the girl. She was using a dead man as a shield, quietly breaking down.

"Jesus Christ have mercy, Jesus Christ have mercy," she kept repeating to herself.

Vaniah sighed. "Werther, come on," He kept his attention on the soldiers while he reached doown to grab the girl. A lull had broken out, a moment of calm while the SDF scrambled for cover. The field was a wide broken plain of shrub covered rocks and sparse grass, the soldiers taking refuge amongst those rocks, getting into formation, leaving their wounded out in the open.

Back a stretch Vaniah had spotted a forest, if he could get his lot there, they stood a chance. Out here,once the SDF got their bearings, he was a dead man. He grabbed Werther by the collar, pulled her out from under the corpse.

"Zeke!" he called out, "You still breathing?"

"Fit as a bull you little piss ant!" Zeke replied, his voice thick with pain and rage.

"Good to hear. Got a proposal for you Zeke!"

"Speak it, but my men will cut you down once you're done."

"For the love you bore my father, give us a ten minute head start!"

There was a stretch of silence, all he could hear was the SDF readying their guns. They'd found good ground amongst the high rocks, ready to send a torrent of bullets down on their heads.

"Bringing up your father, you've no shame," Zeke replied, "I'll give you your ten minutes, for the love I bore that man. It'll be the last ten minutes of your life."

"You're a better man than me Zeke, I'd never let me go," Vaniah swung Werther across his shoulder and started running, Visstor hot on his heels. The forest was just ahead of them, a high tangled mess of red leaved trees and ghostly white trunks. Witherwood, it was an ill omen to head into a Witherwood, especially one as thick and wild as the one Vaniah was running into just that moment.

Of course if it was ill-luck for him it would be ill-luck for them too. Fair trade as far as he was concerned.

"I'm convinced you're insssane," Visstor said, matching Vaniah's long stride easily.

"Only just figured that out? Thought you were sharper than that," Vaniah's feet flew across the ground, a mad laugh ripping from his lips.