Chapter 26 - Hard Tidings at Fairgriffen
Back in Fairgrifen, Midori stood and watched one more fight. Brin and Shaya, the Pan couple that Midori had met on her way to the HiddenPebble, were in the thick of it all while she and the others contributed from a distance.
Indeed, two more had joined their group, a male Jun archer and, oddly enough, a female Fea who was some kind of spellcaster.
They had spent the whole night awake, alternating between fighting and running, all because the HiddenPebble had already been destroyed by the time they had found it.
Overrun and burning, they had found themselves at a loss as to where to go. Looking for signs of a scout that could lead them to a secondary position, they ran into Jeen.
He had been sitting against a wall in an empty room in an empty house, without armor or shirt, with a deep wound in his left leg, a sick expression on his face, and a steady aim with his bow. There were four bodies littering the entrance to his room, arrows in their heads or necks. And it was no wonder that he looked sick, the wound had already been showing signs of festering.
They had since tourniqueted his wound with the left leg of his trousers, to stop the bleeding, and had been carrying him since because the most he could do was limp. All the fights they had after that, Midori, who was carrying him, would watch over him while he shot arrows, contributing only with her musical magic, mostly to soothe his pain, and boost his aim. He had short light blue hair and maddened cyan eyes.
The Fea was a mercenary they had run into and seemed to have no other motivation other than to profit from the whole situation, sure that she was, that FairCloth would not end up winning that little war. She planned to ask money out of the victors.
She had long purple hair and pink eyes and dressed in a very dark purple robe to enhance her stealth. She mixed stealth with spells she used to sicken and poison her foes, magic which had an almost evil purple hue to it.
Midori did not like her.
Despite it all, for them to have a chance at attacking from the enemy’s blind and weak spots, these spots had to appear. Brin mostly made sure of that. He was still using just his shield because his left arm was practically useless, so it made it easier for him to harass and hassle the enemy soldiers; he’d bash and clash into them, to stagger, confuse and taunt. His girlfriend was actually his fiancée and she fought fiercely to keep the soldier’s attention on them, and to keep Brin safe. Her name was Shaya, the Fea mage was named Nylie and the Jun archer Jeen.
Shaya had lost some portions of her blue-streaked hair, and inherited some bruises and cuts here and there, but the real wounded ones were Jeen and Brin, by far.
Midori, though fortunately unscathed, was tired and worried. She didn’t really think Jeen would make it, and the more time passed, the more she feared for her own safety, and in turn rued the moment she had decided to stay. But she kept focusing on what was happening, as well as on her hope that things would eventually take a turn for the better.
The sun was rising then, and with it, resistance was beginning to fade. The sounds of battle were already dying out all around them as their specific fight came to a close, with the last two of the guards tumbling over to the sound of Brin’s exhausted sigh and Jeen’s coughing.
Jeen did his better to hold it together during his archery, but the moment it seemed safe, he started coughing and sneezing.
Midori knelt over to pull him to sit straight, realizing then that he was running a fever.
“Are you okay?”
“Very far from it,” he answered in pain, amidst heavy coughing, “we—we need to—find shelter.”
“Easier said than done,” Brin said, approaching with Shaya by his side, “but this wandering around isn’t exactly working out either.”
Jeen had not been a scout with knowledge of a secondary location. He had just been a wall guard who was a reserve, the last surviving member of a minority of loyalists, what Midori was calling those against Faircloth, staying at a barracks.
Midori helped Jeen to his feet, trying her best to ignore his obvious struggle with death which he seemed to be fighting using nothing but grunts and coughs. His hands gripped tightly though, both the bow and her shoulder. He still had life to him.
“House,” Jeen spat out.
“They’ll track us,” Brin stated.
“I can hang back and clear the tracks,” Midori suggested, “if one of you can take Jeen.”
“I can do that,” offered Nylie.
“What if we can’t find anyone who’ll hide us?” Brin asked.
“Then we’ll be persuasive,” Shaya said in an impatiently violent tone, emphasized by gripping one of her daggers.
“I can be pretty persuasive,” Nylie nodded in agreement, a wicked smile showing across her lips.
“Alright, let’s not waste any time,” Brin decided, “be careful, Midori.”
She smiled back at him to comfort him.
If I was, I wouldn’t be here.
She passed Jeen to Nylie and watched them leave with a sigh of regret. It wouldn’t be hard; most of the tracks were just the blood trail they were leaving. Cautiously, she took a flask of water from one of the guards and ripped some clothes off them as well, to scrub with. And she started scrubbing.
She followed their own trail, wiping and washing the blood as she went, following up until she ran into a door. She knocked. Brin opened the door.
“Almost,” she told him, taking off her shoes, “hold these.” She scrubbed the last of her own tracks, and then made her way back. It would be too obvious to leave a trail of scrubbed floor so she spent the next hour scrubbing a lot of ground, in a lot of directions.
She felt fortunate no patrol showed up meanwhile to bother her, and at the end of it, even though her back started aching badly, she was content with her work.
When she returned to the house, she found out it belonged to a pan couple who had wished to cooperate and help them out by hiding them in their attic. Nylie argued, though, saying that’s the first place they’d look.
“If they look -- they’ll look everywhere,” Jeen stated, impatiently and weakly at the same time.
“True, we’ll just have to hope they’ll be too busy today to search random houses,” Brin said.
Jeen had been set down over a sheet, over the dinner table. They had replaced the cloth and put a cold, wet towel on his forehead, but other than that, there was nothing they could do. Brin himself was sitting in a chair while Shaya finished tying another make-shift bandage over the wound on his arm.
“Man, now that I’ve stopped, this thing really hurts…” Brin admitted in complaint.
“Don’t be a baby,” Shaya shot back.
“Shhhh!” the couple reacted together, nervously looking out the window.
“What now?” Midori put out. “How do we contact Breem?”
“We can’t go out looking for trouble, I think,” Brin said.
“Is he even alive?” Nylie asked.
“Of course,” Shaya said, “if anyone survived, he did. He’s a very powerful wind sorcerer. He has no other particular skills, but he’s invested a lot into that one specialization. He’s really strong.”
“And they are really very many,” Nylie gave an easy shrug, “we need info.”
“We need a break,” Brin put.
“Yes,” Jeen painfully agreed, his eyes already losing color, “a rest…”
Everyone glanced at him with pity in their faces, knowing what was coming. That he was going.
But not Midori.
On impulse, she grabbed his hand and squeezed. His eyes flickered, the irises expanding again in a sign of struggle and frustration.
“You can rest later, Jeen. Once you’re healed.”
“We can’t leave,” Shaya forced the issue, “it’s better if we hold out and wait for something to happen.”
“We won’t leave,” Midori agreed, “I can do a potion that’ll reinforce his body, I just need a few ingredients. I’ll go really quick and get them.”
“No, you can get caught.”
“We can all get caught,” Midori argued, though smiling optimistically, “except for me. I won’t get caught, I promise. I can save you, Jeen.”
Jeen looked at her with earnest hope in his eyes, but ruined it when he coughed up blood.
“Well that’s new,” Nylie said, gesturing at the blood, “and not in the good way.”
“Do you want me to try?” Midori asked Jeen.
She wasn’t one to leap into danger, but once she was in it, she hated to stop and wait around. The worst thing to do when you’re in danger is to wait around for it to get worse. Also, Jeen had heavily impressed her. Despite the wound and pain, his shots had been steady and to the mark, and even now, he gripped her for every ounce of life he still had within him.
She wasn’t used to such strength and she didn’t want to witness it wither away. Especially if they were really about to face yet more fighting.
“Ye-es!” He clearly stated, through coughing.
“Then don’t rest,” Midori told him, cupping his hand in hers. “Don’t stop thinking. I’ll be back and you’ll live to fight again.”
She let him go and moved towards the door.
“Burn the festering off his wound,” Midori told them, “I’ll be right back.”
A main worry, normally, would be that the fire would make him pass out, and then die. But she was pretty sure it would have the effect of keeping him awake for that much longer. That he could take it without passing out.
Besides, if they didn’t do it, she could give little guarantees her potion would do anything of worth. She left, not thinking about the situation she was in but being optimistic about the whole thing. She would focus on saving Jeen.
And what ever came next… would come next.
Meanwhile, very far away from Midori, in a dark lit room, stood a shining red stone encased within a glass dome, on top of a pedestal. It was roughly the size of a fist.
Right next to it, a silverish mist materialized. It just stood there, increasing in density and growing for a couple of minutes, though ever so quietly.
The woman had been at it for a week but, that day, it would finally pay off. From the mist did she emerge; a tall and curved figure dressed in a silver one-piece dress with white belt, gloves, and a thin necklace. Her eyes were clear blue. The dress was a sleeveless top and trousers which ended just below her knees.
She reached her slender hands out to the stone, her eyes glowing in anticipation and her lips bearing a victorious smile.
“And this makes four…”