Each day had gone past as the first. When it was morning, Olivia woke up, she washed her face and neck with the cold water of the waterfall. Then she held some in her mouth to decently wash her mouth before spitting it out. Next, she went to Rykal who kept his gaze firmly on her and tended to his wounds. She would unwrap the bandages and move them aside for later and removed the herbs mixed with red and black fluid. Olivia would wash the bandages by scrubbing them firmly under the cold water and wouldn’t stop until she could only see little of the blood. Using the wet bandages, Olivia then used them to clean Rykal’s wounds. While she did, it would be the only time Rykal closed his eyes. And once she finished cleaning the wounds, she would take out a lotion for the bleeding and gently rub it all over the infected parts of his body. She had managed to stop the green from spreading to the rest of his veins, but they remained dark and sickly. Next, Olivia then put a few herbs onto Rykal’s wounds and kept them there until she had securely wrapped them in fresh new bandages. After she finished tending to his wounds, Olivia would give him a brewed medicine for the pain, each time she did he gave a distasteful look and Olivia would give him a few sips of water to wash down the taste.
Having done with Rykal’s primary needs, she would pack up everything in the sack again and slowly helped Rykal up. At that point came Olivia looking for food; though she wasn’t allowed to leave his eyesight or go into the forest. Olivia carefully climbed off the edge and onto the snow, having discovered the cave they were staying in was enchanted. The edge wasn’t very high as it was only just above her height, though with her bruised leg she had to be careful. Rykal opened his wings to slow his landing when he jumped off and sat against the rocky wall. Olivia would make sure he was okay and comfortable before going around, looking inside tree hollows for squirrel nests. It was a little challenging given her ridiculous hobble situation but had to make do with it. She would go for the nuts and berries first and then kill the squirrel by drowning it in the river; the girl hated it and always turned her head away as the squirrel thrashed in her hold. But once she had collected food she would lay it next to Rykal before going to gather a pile of sticks and twigs for a fire. When she came back with a decent amount to last the night, she would throw them up inside the cave before doing the same with the food but with more caution. Olivia then helped Rykal up and as she climbed back into the cave, he followed in pursuit.
After Rykal was resting against the smooth wall, Olivia would go to cleaning the squirrel by scrubbing it under the waterfall. When it was done, Olivia would then take a wooden spike she made using the sharp rock edges outside the cave and stab it down the squirrel’s throat. She kept going until the whole body was on the stick, not at all liking the part, but at least the animal couldn’t feel it. Once the food was prepared, Olivia would gather half of the sticks she had collected and stacked them in a pile in the middle of the dirt circle. Olivia had to rip out the grass the first time she started a fire, not wanting to risk starting a fire over flammable material. The girl used a match from the matchbox and started the fire. She then forced the wooden spike into the ground, leaning over the fire so it would cook. It would take some time and Olivia sat next to Rykal. She had learned that the only time he closed his eyes was when he could feel her physically touching him. She kept her shoulder touching his firmly so he wouldn’t think he was imagining it.
Sometimes, she would hear his breathing slow down and even out, meaning he was asleep, though the first time Olivia moved away from him he snapped his eyes open and gave Olivia a near heart attack. While she watched the food cook, she would think about the past few days, thinking about what happened the night everything happened. One of the main things that stuck to her was the huntress’s words,
“You’ve got the brains, girl, it’s a shame you believe those books. They’re about as honest as a snake,”
Olivia was beginning to wonder if the books were false like she originally thought. Rykal had never done anything to harm her and didn’t even treat her badly. She first thought the whole reason Rykal saved her was for his own traditions, which were true, but she was wondering if it actually had anything to do with sacrifices. Not to mention him saying something about exile. It was all so complex to Olivia. So many holes and questions and she didn’t know what to do with the little information she had. But she knew she had to look after Rykal because even though the idea of her leaving him tempted her, she wasn’t the kind of person to leave someone to die knowing she could’ve helped. Besides, Olivia couldn’t bring herself to leave him, a small part of her refused to do any such thing. It was weird but Olivia agreed nether the less.
The squirrels would be finished cooking and Olivia gently shook Rykal’s shoulder to let him know she was moving, otherwise, he’d growl at her thinking she was doing something she wasn’t supposed to. It did annoy Olivia if she had to be honest, but she understood why and never protested against it. The girl handed the cooked squirrel to Rykal, he always got the first one and if there was a second then she would have one. But twice it had just been Rykal eating the cooked meat as he needed it more than she did. She would settle for the nuts and fruits the squirrels had gathered and it would satisfy her until nightfall. Whilst Rykal picked at the squirrel, Olivia would grab the sack and take out a lotion for her bruises; the one on her leg was swollen and had a gnarly purplish-blue colour. Gently she would apply enough lotion to the bruise after a few winces and would move onto her back. It was difficult work and Rykal would look at her like he knew she needed help. But the guilt and shame would wash over her and she always shook her head at him. She couldn’t bring herself to ask Rykal for the slightest fraction of help. Besides, she was embarrassed of the scars scratching at her back.
After Rykal had eaten, Olivia would give him another sip of water before refilling the bottle. If she would be honest to herself, she would rather be taking care of Rykal than spend another day in Limrock. Although, she had chores to do whilst caring for Rykal, at least the worst that had happened was him growling and warning her of her actions. Limrock on the other hand, Olivia had to be the first to wake, cook breakfast with Faye, do the dishes afterward, then do all the laundry before running errands for Lady Ola for the rest of the day, all while being wary of her words and actions. Sometimes, she would be the last to go to sleep, she was lucky if she wasn’t. With Rykal, she couldn’t remember the last time she had a proper sleep in. And she didn’t have to worry as much as she did in Limrock of being punished. If she did something wrong, she would get whipped as the scars on her back proved. Rykal’s punishment was a nasty growl with cold eyes glaring at her.
It only proved to her more that despite all the opportunities to hurt her, Rykal never had. He took her because of his species traditions, and she had a feeling they weren’t the ones mentioned in the fantasy books. She wasn’t really sure in all fairness.
For the rest of the day, Olivia would lay on the ground on her side with nothing to do. Sometimes she would bring some snow into the cave and fiddle with it until it melted due to the enchanted cave’s warm atmosphere. It would be warm enough that Olivia could take off her grey sweater and be left in her grey shirt. She did wash the sweater and let it dry near the fire and it would the rest of Olivia’s objectives until the evening came. When it did, again Olivia helped Rykal up and he would sit against the rocky wall whilst Olivia went looking for food for dinner. She had a difficult time deciding what to get because she wanted to conserve the squirrels for as long as possible. Some nights they would go hungry but Olivia recently discovered the fish that would fall into the river from the waterfall. Even the water was enchanted until it reached the forest where it was frozen. Olivia found just about a dozen fish frozen in the water and she would collect the easiest two and cook them for the night, doing the same routine as the squirrels.
After Rykal had eaten, Olivia buried the food scraps in the snow around beside the cliff. It was the only time Olivia was allowed to leave without Rykal watching her and she didn’t have much time. After hastily returning, Olivia would give Rykal more of the herbal medicine for the pain and gave him some water afterward. Then Olivia would make sure Rykal was comfortable before falling asleep next to him, using her grey sweater as a blanket. Each time she fell asleep Rykal’s tail would curl tightly around her uninjured ankle and keep it there the entire night until morning.
Around five days had gone past since escaping the Fantasy Hunters and Olivia was cooking a fish for Rykal. She wasn’t really appealed to eating a fish much to Rykal’s stern look. Depression was beginning to be the only thing she felt. Rykal hadn’t spoken a word since grabbing her wrist the first night and for some weird reason, it was taking a toll on her. She was fine with it the first two nights, but from that point on it was starting to bother her. She had tried to talk to him, but he simply shifted his gaze to something else. He was giving her the cold shoulder and it made her heart weigh in sorrow but she had brought it on herself. The only main positive was his wounds that were beginning to heal. Of course, they still look infected and sensitive, but at least Olivia noticed the black fluid and green veins fading, but not by much.
Olivia sighed dismally and handed Rykal the cooked fish. She didn’t meet his eyes when he took it from her and instead choose to sit at the edge of the cave. Rykal warned her with a soft growl and Olivia sat down, letting her legs dangle over the small edge. She didn’t give Rykal any sort of acknowledgment of his warning as she rested her head against the smooth rock wall. There were times when she wondered why it was so oddly smooth compared to the outside. But at each end result of the ponder she brushed it off as part of the cave being enchanted. She looked into the close distance, seeing the forest be swayed gently by the chilly breeze. The waterfall cascading over the cliff brought her a sense of peace. She breathed the fresh air and relaxed her body, feeling a greater sense of tranquillity. The moon shone brightly in the cloudless night and Olivia gazed at it for a few moments before she heard Rykal growling.
She glanced over her shoulder to see Rykal staring at her with a firm gaze and Olivia quietly turned her head back toward the night. The only sort of communication Rykal sent her was all sorts of growls and it was beginning to get on Olivia’s nerves. But each time she bottled it up because she didn’t want to snap at him. He should be the one to snap at her after what had happened. Though, she doubted Rykal liked her response and growled at her again.
Olivia’s brow twitched in irritation and she stood up, snapping her head at Rykal. “For god sakes what do you want, Rykal!” the dragon shifter narrowed his eyes at her and Olivia wasn’t having it. “What the hell do you want, lizard! All you’ve been doing is growling at me and glaring at me whenever I make one mistake or take the wrong step. All I’ve been doing this past week is care for you and putting your needs before mine,”
Rykal remained passive but cocked his brow at her. Olivia growled in frustrated.
“Yes, give me that look because it’s all my fault. Wake up, Rykal! I know it’s my fault and I know I’m the reason you’re in this state and believe it or not I feel horrible about it,” Olivia couldn’t hide her voice cracking and clenched her teeth. “I know I ran away and that’s why we’re in this mess. But you can’t blame me when I’m left guessing why you took me in the first place. I asked you and you said I wouldn’t understand because it had to do with your traditions. What the hell does that even mean?!”
Rykal narrowed his eyes again and Olivia could see his jaw twitching in anger. She knew her outburst wasn’t doing anything but angering him but she couldn’t stop herself.
“You want to know why I ran away? Because I’m terrified of you! I’m so terrified of you, damn it, Rykal, because I thought you were going to kill me! Before I meet you I didn’t believe that anything mythical or fantasy-like existed, including you. To me, your traditions involve snatching up maidens and devouring them, locking them in a tower for the rest of their lives, and sacrificing them to dragon lords. What was I supposed to think when hearing you took me based on your traditions that I thought were involved with killing me? That’s why I ran away. That’s why I kept my distance even though there’s a part of me that feels so drawn to you that I just want to. . . to,”
Olivia chewed on her lip and sighed. She was exhausted and decided to go to sleep. She didn’t lay down next to Rykal like she normally did. She wanted a little bit of space and Rykal was against it with a growl.
The girl rolled her eyes and sent him a wave of her hand. “Don’t worry, I’m too tired to run away like you think I will. Just leave me alone and let me sleep,”
Olivia tucked herself in her grey sweater and nudged her head into the soft grass with a scowl. Rykal didn’t reply and Olivia didn’t really care as she screwed her eyes shut and slowly but surely fell asleep.