Saving the Healer

Chapter 5

They had to form two groups before they could use the Warp Wires effectively. Lynus, Axel and Chi-hung were in one group, taking the two injured explorers with them. Axel pretty much had Avith by the scruff of his neck while Rahas leaned against Chi-hung for support. They could not bring back Binah's body with them just yet. Tomorrow, perhaps, they could retrieve her.

So they could, you know, but her to rest.

The rest of their guild obviously formed the other team and promised to be right behind them when they warp out as well. It had been such a relief to see the town's lights shimmering in the distance when they warped out of the labyrinth.

There wasn't much else Lynus could do for either Avith or Rahas, but to take them both to the hospital. He wanted to see Dr Stiles anyway. So he could put the other man's mind at ease.

While they deliver the two hurt dark hunters to the hospital, the rest of their guild were heading to the Inn. It was really late now. Or real early in the morning, whichever way you wanted to look at it. The streets were rather quiet, only a few explorers shuffling around.

As they neared the hospital, Lynus was quiet surprised that Avith didn't struggle in Axel's grip. Maybe he was far too deep in mourning to care. Or perhaps Axel had muttered a warning to him to keep still. The last thing you want was to have a landsknecht's hand around your neck.

Once inside, it wasn't hard to find Dr Stiles. He had been waiting for them and the relief in his gaze was evident when he saw that Lynus was alright. But then his eyes narrowed when he noticed that Axel was dragging Avith with him.

Axel practically threw Avith at Dr Stile, the injured dark hunter hitting the hard floor at his feet with a barely audible groan. "Get him out of my sight before I embed my axe into his spine."

Dr Stiles looked down at Avith, his lips drawn into a tight line. "We'll take care of him," he said. Although the nature of those words should have reassuring, they weren't in the slightest for Avith, who grimaced from his position on the floor.

Lynus helped Rahas to stand, aiding him as he staggered over to a bed. Rahas hadn't said a word during the entire trip back. He seemed exhausted; physically, mentally and emotionally.

Dr Stiles turned his attention to Rahas after ordering a few lingering staff members to take care of Avith. "Where's Binah?" he asked. "I take it she was with you as well?"

It was remarkable how Dr Stiles seemed to remember the names of all his patients.

"I'm sorry," Lynus muttered as he shook his head. "She didn't…"

Lynus winced when he recalled the sound of the beast's roar before it…The crushing of bones…It was going to leave an impression on him for quite some time.

"I see…" was all Dr Stiles muttered simply, a flicker of remorse in his gaze. He quickly turned back to the talented and dedicated doctor that he was and went back to work, fussing over Rahas.

With nothing more that he could do, Lynus squeezed Rahas' shoulder as a form of silent comfort before he walked over to Axel. As they turned to leave, Axel's arm wrapped around his shoulders and Chi-hung moved to walk by his side. It was comforting having two guild members with him and he was happy for the support as he felt so tired now. Everything was catching up on him.

He had never been so happy to see the Inn as it came into view.

And yet, there was the medic side of him that wanted to ensure that everyone else was all right.

Waiting by the entrance was Hamza, Chi-hung trotting up to stand by his side. "The others have retired for the night. And before you ask, they're fine. There's one room left," he told them, smiling softly. "You'll have to share. I take it's not a problem?"

Lynus shook his head as Hamza handed Axel the key.

"Didn't think so," Hamza chuckled before motioning to Chi-hung. "Come, you are rooming with me."

Chi-hung flicked his tail in response before rubbing his head against Lynus' arm and purring. Lynus managed a smile as he ran his fingers through Chi-hung's white fur.

With Axel's help, Lynus staggered inside their room. He was beyond exhausted now. All he wanted to was sleep. That was what he needed more than anything.

Instead of two single beds, the room held one large one. The room itself wasn't very big to begin with, so it could only hold one bed. But it didn't matter. They were just grateful to get a bed at all. It wasn't that uncommon to find other explorers sleeping on benches or couches at random places around the city.

They would even camp inside the Labyrinth if needed.

Lynus barely had enough energy to drop his bag to the floor and remove his coat and armour before he unceremoniously collapsed into bed. He rolled over onto his side, feeling the bed sag as Axel moved to lie down as well. His presence was reassuring and Lynus unconsciously shifted closer. He felt something drape around her shoulders, but soon after that, he fell into a deep sleep.

It felt like only a second had passed before light invaded Lynus' vision. He blearily opened his eyes to see that the sun was beaming down at him through the open window. The sun was bright, meaning that it was actually close to midday. A few hours had past, but it didn't feel like it to Lynus. He still felt tired. Worse still, his body felt heavy and achy.

Getting up was going to be a struggle.

As his mind began to clear, Lynus soon remembered that he wasn't alone. Axel was still sleeping next to him, on his back, his eyes closed, he face free from tension. And Lynus was using his chest as a pillow, an arm casually draped over his torso while Axel's arm was wrapped around his waist.

Lynus was only slightly startled by their positions, but made no attempt to move. No, it was too comfortable to move yet.

"Finally awake, huh?"

As Lynus lifted his head up to look upon Axel's face, he noticed a subtle abrasion on his cheek. A sudden wave of guilt washed over him for all the fuss he had caused. Wordlessly he lifted his hand, a small cure spell falling from his lips once more as he trailed his fingertips over the small wound.

After the healing green glow subsided, Lynus sighed. "Maybe I should learn some sort of fighting skills," he said as he rolled over, away from Axel to sit up, swinging his legs over the side of the bed with some effort.

"But you enjoy healing," Axel said, frowning as he sat up, too.

Lynus sighed again, masking a groan, as he lifted his hand to massage his shoulder and neck. It was true, he preferred healing over fighting, but not all dangers were in the Labyrinth itself. "But last night-"

"It was a one off thing," Axel abruptly cut him off from saying anything more. He then slipped an arm around Lynus' waist, pulling him back abruptly, half on the bed, half on his lap. "It won't happen again."

Lynus struggled for a moment, but stilled when Axel gently tightened his grip on him, holding him against his chest. "Axel…?"

"Look, don't worry so much, ok?" Axel murmured as he rested his chin on top of Lynus' head. "Just keep doing what you want to do. I make sure nothing like that happens again."

"Ok," Lynus said with a smile as he sagged in Axel's arms.

He could probably argue back about needing to look after himself to ensure the health and safety of the others, but Axel wouldn't listen. He could be stubborn that way. And Lynus had learnt long ago that sometimes it was simply much, much easier not to argue with him.

With Axel's arms wrapped around him, his presence both reassuring and comforting, Lynus was about to fall back to sleep when there was an unexpected knock at the door.

"Wakey wakey!" a maternal voice boomed through the door, making the window panes rattle. "Lunch time, sweeties!"

Lynus and Axel jumped at the voice and scrambled off the bed in defensive reflex, both fully awake now. It took them a second later to realise that the voice belonged to the Inn's owner and a small bout of nervous laughter bubbled from Lynus' throat.

"I don't think I'll ever get used to that," he muttered, running a hand through his hair.

"At least she didn't come barging in banging two saucepans together," Axel muttered under his breath. "Like last time."

Lynus yelled a 'thank you' through the door as he and Axel set about tidying themselves up a bit. They still had the clothes they wore into the labyrinth and Lynus needed to have a shower. The blood and sweat was really potent right now.

After making themselves presentable, they ventured downstairs, into the dining area where they could hear voices of other explorers. It was nearing the end of lunch now, but the motherly inn keeper was still flittering around, ensuring that her patrons were well fed and well looked after.

Upon entering the room, they immediately spotted Hamza and Chi-hung sitting at a table in the corner of the room. Hamza was reading the newspaper, completely ignoring the hustle and bustle around him, while Chi-hung rested casually on the floor by his feet. Chi-hung soon perked up, though, when Lynus and Axel made their way over to them.

"Ah, Lynus," Hamza greeted with a small smile. "How are you feeling?"

Lynus shrugged awkwardly as he sat down at the table, Chi-hung rubbing his head against his thigh. "I'm fine," he replied, a little uncomfortable to be on the receiving end of that question. Normally, he was the one who asked that.

"We're going to take it easy today," Hamza announced. "I think we deserve it."

Lynus simply nodded in response as he absentmindedly stroked Chi-hung's head, scratching him behind the ears, the white tiger purring contently. He was so glad that Hamza had decided that they were going to have the day off before they continued their exploration. He was still a little bit tired and needed to restock his bag anyway.

"Where are the others?" Lynus asked.

"Retrieval," Hamza answered shortly. "Requested by Dr Stiles."

Again, Lynus simply nodded in response. Although the answer was short and rather vague, Lynus knew immediately what he meant.

Good. Hopefully they'll find Binah so they could give her a proper adventurer's burial. However, he hoped that they won't bump into any more dangerous Raptors.

"Tobyn and Shen are there," Axel's voice pulled Lynus out of his thoughts. "Those two will make sure everyone gets back relatively unharmed."

"You're right," Lynus said as he smiled at Axel, feeling reassured by his words.

"Ah," Hamza cleared his throat. "There's one more thing I should inform you."

Lynus and Axel both turned their attentions to Hamza, curious as to what else he needed to tell them.

Before Hamza could begin to explain, though, a hand came to a rest on Lynus' shoulder, but only for a moment before slipping down to trail a seductive finger along his collarbone. Lynus immediately eeped at the touch.

He froze, though, when an eerily familiar voice purred in his ear.

"Hey there, beautiful."

"Avith?" Lynus squeaked.

Axel was immediately up on his feet, his hand lashing out to grab Avith by the throat. He ripped him away from Lynus, who staggered to his feet as well, all but scurrying to the other side of the table.

"What the hell are you doing here?" Axel didn't so much ask, but demand.

"I've decided that it would be best if he and his only companion were a part of our guild," Hamza replied to Axel's question rather casually (too casually, really) as he kept his gaze on the newspaper he was reading.

Axel didn't seem pleased, though. He spun around to face Hamza, effortlessly keeping a tight grip on the struggling Avith's throat. "Why?" There was such bite in his tone that adventurers that were not a part of their guild winced and tried to subtly shuffle away.

Or not so subtly. A rather scruffy looking gunner (whose hair appeared burnt and singed) thought it was best to make a quick exit through an open window.

Hamza, however, simply lowered a corner of the paper to give Axel a rather plain look. "So I can ensure that what happened last night won't be happening again."

"That's right," Avith wheezed, tugging desperately at Axel's grip. "My fault. My mistake. I'll make up for it by treating Lynus here extra special. Promise."

Lynus winced when, despite the choke hold, Avith sent him a rather flirty wink.

"You just got out of the hospital," Axel snarled at Avith. "What me to put you back?"

"Now now, that isn't how comrades are supposed to treat each other."

"What do you know about comradeship?!"

Lynus winced and looked over to Hamza. Really, he wanted to ask him. He really thought having Avith be a part of their guild was a good idea? Rahas, ok, he could deal with. But Avith?

If he really thought about it…It was probably for the best. Last night proved how reckless and immature Avith truly was. He needed a guiding hand to ensure that he won't put any more lives at risk. Hamza was experienced at training novice explorers. Under his watchful gaze, Avith was sure to mature. Right?

But, then again…

Avith had better watch himself. After all, there were a lot of pits and dead ends in the Labyrinth that no one liked to talk about.

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