The early rays of a red dawn twinkled on the wet, tepid cesspools of the marsh. Heavy, gray clouds hung bleak and silent overhead. Arrows, sharp and deadly, fell like soft rain. It was the kind of morning that sent you back to bed.
The warrior fell into the mud, not the best kind of bed but one which cushioned her fall while the tall reeds provided cover from the steady stream of projectiles. The quiet burbling of the muck could scarcely cover the heavy breathing or soft clink of armor yet the arrows seemed to fall short of their mark and fell whistling like casual watchers as they hit the ground behind her. Not afraid to dirty her armor, she dug in further and stayed low.
At first glance neither the mud nor her current predicament seemed at odds with her well-worn armor and battle gear. From the breastplate to the casing around her ankles, her armor had obviously seen better days—a nick here, some dents there, a couple holes which apparently no smith had bothered to repair. The sweaty, thick tunic underneath soaked up the mud but seemed less smelly for it. Her sheepskin boots were wrapped once and then once again in outer layers of leather to hide the many holes they had accumulated running into a fight. She wore her hair cropped under a helm that had blocked one too many blows. Had she tried playing dead she had the outfit for it.
However a closer observer would note her eyes, which gave a sense of cunning and knowledge gained at great expense to the body. In the morning's glow they caught the reflection off even the smallest brown pool and shone with the light of a warrior's soul. Her skilled hands held a crossbow that unlike the armor had been kept polished and practiced, its double-edged lethalness shining in the early sun. A warrior's braid, strung with bits of flesh from the bodies of her enemies, ran down the length of her left breast and glinted red as if woven with blood. Anyone mistaking this woman for dead could quickly find themselves in the dirt instead.
Another volley struck behind her as she regained her breath and peered through the reeds. The archers stood outside the scope of her vision, standing just on the edge of the swamp and shooting further and further into its depths. The arrows would begin hitting more painful notes in a moment but until then the warrior rested and considered her options.
Option one: She could die.
She pondered this option briefly as she had covered it quite often and felt it did not need further reflection.
Option two: She could be captured.
This option had also been rejected, however hard it tried to appeal as less painful than option one.
Option three: She could hide.
A quick glance around the flat, dead landscape did not make option three seem very sound. While the reeds grew tall they would hardly mask her entire body for much longer. The arrows preceded riders who would be high enough to see down into the underbrush. The riders presented the real threat. The archers were simply their introduction.
Option four: She could run.
This option had been working so far, but was quickly losing its luster. As she checked her progress she knew she had barely outrun the horses, losing hers in the process, and eventually their animal muscles would outdo her weary ones. It would not be an option for much longer.
Breathing more softly now, she thought for as long as seemed safe. The peaceful sounds of nature were interrupted by squawking to her left as some of the marsh's inhabitants protested the morning's deadly weather. As they flew away hoofbeats drew closer from their direction. Option three looked even worse now.
As her choices narrowed the moment called for some quick, new thinking. Or to wing it.
Wing it. Option five it was then.
With a deep breath, she dove into the tall grass, seeming to swim in the muddy stems until like her limited options she quickly disappeared.