CHAPTER 23 - A Hero Emerges (3)
Zach slowly opened his eyes and was greeted by the sight of a stunning beauty with waist-length white hair and bright red eyes that almost seemed to glow in the dim candlelight of the large tent.
He groaned and tried to sit up before the sharp pain caused him to flop back onto the thick feather mattress. The woman leaned over and wiped his forehead with a cool, damp cloth. She was clad in a somewhat revealing outfit comprised of a single piece of pale blue fabric draped over her hourglass figure and cinched at the waist with a dark red rope.
Her skin was pristine and pale, stretched over slender muscles. Despite her beautiful appearance, she gave off an aura of power and command, and he felt his breath catching in his throat.
He opened his mouth to try and speak, but the words came with difficulty through the dry lips.
“Shhh, do not worry, Hero. You are safe. We found you collapsed in the wastes and took you in. We are currently in a temporary camp while we wait for you to recover from your injuries. I apologize, but we did not bring a Light attribute mage. You were in worse condition than we expected.”
A thousand thoughts rushed through his head. “H-hero? Me?”
His voice rasped from the dehydration, and she grabbed a waterskin to once more bring it to his lips.
“You have been unconscious for an entire day. To be honest, I’m surprised you’re awake already. Though, I suppose that is an obvious quality for the Hero. I am Morgana.”
Morgana? Where had he heard that name before? Zach quickly let the thought go as the cold water rushed into his throat. He reached up and took the skin with trembling hands, guzzling down the liquid like it was the nectar of the gods.
“Take it easy, Hero. If you drink too quickly, you will become sick. There, just like that. Small sips, one at a time.”
He continued until his stomach began to feel full. Feeling invigorated by the water, he gazed up at the woman who had saved his life.
“Zach. My name is Zach.”
She merely nodded as she set the waterskin down. She pulled back the covers to reveal his almost naked body, wrapped in bandages. One by one, the treatments were inspected, and a dressing was changed for a fresh one. He winced as she touched the injury beneath it, the pain nearly causing him to black out.
“It is a miracle you survived with these injuries at all, let alone walked as far as you did. I apologize for not being there when you arrived. When we summoned you, you were supposed to appear in the castle, but something went wrong. I offer you my sincerest apologies.”
She stood and bowed low, and Zach was again taken by her beauty. He shook his head, not worried about all that.
“No, don’t apologize. Can you tell me what is going on? I was drinking with my friends, then…”
Morgana straightened back up and smiled, a soft and gentle expression that took his breath away.
“For now, please focus on resting and recovering. When we reach the castle, all will be explained, I promise.”
Zach looked like he was about to protest when a strong wave of exhaustion washed over him. Perhaps the wounds were worse than he thought because he just didn’t seem to have any energy.
He looked back at her as his head fell to the pillow, and the world began to swirl.
“I have work in the morning…”
“You need not worry about that, for now. Just rest, Hero Zach.”
He tried to nod, but his muscles were frozen.
‘Sleep doesn’t sound like such a bad idea, actually.’
How many days had it been since he last slept in a bed? Maybe, when he opened his eyes next, this nightmare would be gone.
He drifted off peacefully, and Morgana drew the covers back up to his chin. She corked the waterskin filled with powerful sleeping and restorative medicines.
She reached up and brushed the sweat-matted hair from his face and smiled warmly, like a mother tending a sick child.
“Sweet dreams, Savior of the Demons.”
She rose and left the tent, leaving him to his sleep. The silver plate in her hand felt so heavy. She lifted it to her face, reading as she had countless times over the last 24 hours.
“Our entire race is counting on you.”