Steel and Spell

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Chapter 5

We walked for about an hour when the thirst started to be unbearable. My throat felt like I swallowed a bucket of sand and my tongue felt like sandpaper. I stopped walking and leaned on a tree near me. I started to take deep breaths and telling my mind that thirstiness was just psychological. In that moment I started thinking of all those persons that had survived without water or food for like a week that appeared on the news. This was definitely not my case. Just a day had passed and I was already dying because of it (or at least it felt like that). The guy stopped walking and look at me amused.

“I need water.” I said in a matter-of-fact tone. He looked at me then took out something from a small bag he had on his back that I didn’t realize he had until there was more light in the forest.

“Here.” he said giving me a bag that had fur on the outside. I took it and felt the water inside.

“You had water and didn’t think of giving me?!” I shouted in annoyance.

He just rolled his eyes and waited for me to drink the water. I took the bag to my mouth and started drinking the water that felt like medicine to my entire body. When I finished drinking, that happened to be when the water was over, I returned him the bag.

“How did you do it?” I asked him pointing at the bag.

“Goat fur.” he said blankly.

That made me sick. Literally. I looked at him with disgust and spit at the ground to take the taste of the water. To be honest, the water didn’t taste bad, but knowing where it came from made me want to throw up for the second time in two days.

“I think I’m going to throw up.” I said covering my mouth.

He just ignored my presence and started walking. I shook my head to try to keep the thought out of my mind and started walking with him. With another attempt to get rid of the nasty water thought I asked the question I had going around my mind for a while.

“So, what’s your name?” I asked casually, looking in front of me rather than looking at him. It felt weird looking at him with the whole ‘I’m going to slice your throat’ situation. In fact, I should have been escaping from him in that moment, but survival instincts and curiosity were stronger than my conscience.

A long pause invaded the atmosphere, where he probably thought that if he didn’t answer I was going to forget I even asked the question. We hadn’t had talked the whole walk, so I wasn’t going to forget suddenly my question. I forced myself to look at him to take the answer of his mouth. He was also as I was a moment ago, looking in front and obviously avoiding me. My gaze didn’t leave him and apparently, this made him very uncomfortable that in just a minute he sighed.

“Cassius.” he said in a monotone voice, still not looking at me.

“Well, if these were a normal circumstance I would say ‘nice to meet you’.” I thought for a moment. “I’m going to stick with an adequate to meet you." I gave him my hand to shake it, but he just looked at it with a blank look, probably trying to figure out what was I trying to do. I sighed and grabbed his hand and shook it. His entire body stiffened at the touch. I dropped his hand and then kept walking like it didn’t happen.

“What was that for?” he said fro behind me sounding a little surprised by the sudden touch.

“That’s how you salute people when you meet them. It’s good manners.” I said not turning around.

After that, there was no more talking and I didn’t care at all. The sun was now shining in all its glory and the forest felt warm. I felt so tired that I ignored the pain in my legs and decided to just concentrate in the sound of birds chirping around. It was beautiful. I would have loved to camp here with my friends or even my sister in the present. But the time where I was supposedly wasn’t going to let me develop my idea.

Fifteen minutes passed and we arrived at what it looked like where he lived. I found myself surprised at the cabin I had in front of me. It was made out of stone and wood. It looked really strong for being built by a single man and at the same time it had a bit of style.

“Woah...” I said in a mumble. Even though I thought I said it in a low voice for him not to hear me, the proud smirk on his face said otherwise. He passed by me and went straight into the cabin. I followed him in silence to the interior of the cabin.

The interior had a few things which included a small bed and an improvised table. The cabin was pretty big and it looked even bigger with only the bed and the table. The bed was next to the wall to my right and the table next to the wall in front of me. I eyed the cabin carefully before asking.

“Where do you cook?”

“Outside.” he said in that blank tone I hated.

“Oh.” that was the only answer I could manage to say. “Cassius is definitely not the ‘friendly type’ of person.” I thought my gaze going in his direction.

“Well, he did try to kill you.” A voice in the back of my mind reminded me about the previous incidents. “Yeah, definitely not the social kind of person. He even said it. He hasn’t been outside this woods in 10 years. Maybe-”

My internal debate was interrupted when I heard him clear his throat. I realized all this time I was in deep thought I was looking at him. He was looking at me with amused eyes and cocky smirk, with a sudden flirtatious attitude that I didn’t know where it came from. I blushed and looked the other way so he couldn’t see my stupid reaction. “Oh, so now he is cocky, isn’t he?” I thought sarcastically.

“You can sleep there.” he pointed at an empty space near the table. I looked at him surprised and my previous embarrassment disappearing.

“What?” he asked when I hadn’t uttered a single word and I was still looking at him like he grew two heads suddenly.

“I thought I was sleeping outside or on the doorstep.” I said still dumbfounded for the sudden generosity.

He laughed and shook his head. “If you sleep outside you will most likely end up dead. The idea is for you to live the more possible.”

“Oh yeah, I remember, since there are ‘horrible deaths’ waiting for me, isn’t it?” I said sarcastically with a roll of my eyes. Everything was death. Is like it chased you no matter where were you. A little stressful if you think about it.

His eyes soften for a moment, but the blank face returned in less than a second.

“There is food outside.” he said walking to the door. My stomach growled in response and I blushed for the second time in embarrassment.

“Sorry.” I mumbled and walked past him, out of the cabin. I heard him chuckle but he didn’t say anything to my relief. The warm breeze passed me, warming my cold body and feet. I sighed in contentment and closed my eyes to enjoy the warm sun. Again, he cleared his throat interrupting my relaxed moment. I opened my eyes and he was in front me, with a wooden plate that was full of berries. I mumble a quick thank you and took the plate from his hands and started eating like the starving girl I was. I sat on the floor with my legs crossed and kept eating. After a moment of eating too fast, I felt my chest tight and it was difficult to breathe. I left the plate on the floor and closed my eyes to breath a little. I started thinking of all the things that had happened to me this two days. Then I started remembering all the things that Cassius told me.

“Kingdom of Adendawyn? Where the hell is that?” I started to remember my history classes and they never mentioned this kingdom. “Maybe it’s those kingdoms that lasted not more than 100 years and are not even worth to teach.” Then I remembered Cassius accent; British accent. “It’s impossible. In England, they talked a weird type of French in the middle ages. And even if they talked English, the accent was incorporated long after the discovery of America”. My mind started to fill with information and things that didn’t make sense. My eyes shot open and I saw a curious Cassius watching me carefully.

“Do you understand me when I talk?” I asked eyeing him carefully.

“When you do not use strange terms, I do.” he said while sitting in front of me.

I frowned and thought about what was going on. He wasn’t supposed to understand me if he was from the time he said he was. I continued eating the berries still thinking deeply of what was going on. “How did I even travel back in time? It’s impossible. I mean, I don’t even have a time machine!” My thoughts were drowning me and only questions were made from that. “Maybe you believed him too fast.” a voice in the back of my mind said. “Maybe you never traveled back in time.” another voice said, and I was sure I was going crazy with all those voices talking at me at once. I groaned in annoyance and started rubbing my temples from a headache that was suddenly emerging. “Shut Up, Shut Up!” I told myself. I opened my eyes to found an amused Cassius looking at me. I blushed with embarrassment for the third time that day. “Get a grip on yourself Lib for God’s sake!”

“I’m going crazy.” I mumbled. “Or everybody else is crazy.”

“You going crazy is the most likely answer.” he said in a blank tone.

I stood up with my empty plate to clean it or something but didn’t know where. I looked at Cassius expectant for him to tell me what to do. He sighed and stood up.

“Follow me.” he said walking to a random direction. I shrugged and followed him with the plate in my hands. As soon as we started walking, my legs were in pain. I had forgotten for a moment the injuries I got the day before. I started to observe him to forget the pain and analyzed him.

He walked fast, but at the same time, he didn’t make any sound. He always had his hand on his belt, near his sword or the knife. If he could be a secret agent of the CIA, I think he wouldn’t even need training. I started hearing running water and my pace started to get quicker, or at least as fast as my legs could carry me since the pain of the wounds was intensifying with each passing second. The trees started to disappear and I found myself on the bank of a river. I smiled and went running into the water, or more like a mix between running and limping.

The water wasn’t cold at all and it soothed the pain in my legs. The current was swift and didn’t make me put effort to keep standing and not fall. When the water was at my knee length, I started washing the plate. When it was clean I looked at Cassius.

“Catch!” I shouted and threw it like a Frisbee. He easily caught it with one hand and for a brief moment, I saw him smile. But the well too known blank expression came back in less than a second.

I chuckled and change the direction of my gaze to the water. I looked at where the current was going and saw it was going to a beautiful pond with crystal clear water. I started walking downstream to reach the pond. The rocks below me were soft but slippery. I walked carefully to not fall and the water turned deeper the further I advanced. I stopped at the edge of the river when the pond started. The water was almost touching my short and I had to be on my tip toes so it didn’t get wet. The pond looked so fresh and the sun hitting me just made me want to get into the water. I was about to take my shirt off when I realized I couldn’t. I looked back and there he was looking me with an amused expression. I was definitely not going to strip in front of him and swim in my underwear. I had never even been in front of a guy in my underwear and even less naked.

I huffed in annoyance and started walking upstream. My swimming desires were crushed. When the depth decreased I stopped walking and started washing my face, my arms and my neck. The only thing I wanted was to have a decent shower, but in the moment I was a little restrained. My hand passed over my leg wounds and I winced. I could see them clearly without all that dirt and there were cuts all over my legs, but there was a deep one in my right thigh. I started walking to shore, and I felt like my legs were burning with the pain. When I got there, he was there looking at my legs.

“How did you get injured? I did not see them before.” he said still looking at my legs.

“I fell off a tree. Well, almost.” I said with a non-humorous chuckle.

He kept looking at the wounds still not looking at my face.

“Do you have a bandage or something?” I asked him looking at the deep cut in my thigh.

“Yes, in the cabin.” he said still looking at my legs with an unreadable expression.

I started walking towards the direction of the cabin when his hand grabbed my wrist gently and made me turn to him.

“Do you want me to carry you?” he said with a nervous tone in his voice and with his other hand scratching the back of his neck. I looked at him with a blank face for a moment and then shook my head.

“No thanks -he looked kind of relieved with the answer- but you could help me walk.” I wasn’t going to repeat the same thing that happened with Lucas. No way in hell. I got near him dubiously and put an arm around his shoulders from beside him. He stiffened at the touch, but then slowly relaxed. He was way taller than me so he had to bend a little. He hesitantly put an arm around my waist and we started walking towards the cabin. We were in a weird kind of silence the entire way until we got to the cabin. He left me on the frame on the door so I could support myself on it. He went inside the cabin and started taking some wool blankets and putting them on the spot he said I was going to sleep on. When it seemed ready I went there and sat on the “bed”. I rested my back against the wall and sighed.

“Thank you. I really mean it.” I gave him a small smile.

He sat across me and said nothing. His intense gaze was on me and I started looking at anything to avoid looking into his eyes. His gaze didn’t leave me and I started to get uncomfortable, so I decided to make small talk.

“So, how long did it take you to build this?” I asked pointing at my surroundings.

He shrugged nonchalantly. “About 3 months, making constant renovations afterward it was finished.”

I nodded and thought about asking about the bandage, but since I was in his house, it didn’t feel right to demand things, so I just hoped he was going to give it to me sometime. He was still observing me and I squirmed in discomfort and tried again to make small talk.

“And what do you usually eat?” I asked without thinking much about the question itself.

“Depends. Birds, deer, squirrels, insects, among others.” he said as if it was the most normal thing to eat.

I almost gagged, totally grossed out with his choice of food, but then again, desperate times need desperate measures.

He looked amused by my reaction and arched an eyebrow. “What would the little princess like to eat?” he said, sarcasm dripping from his voice.

“Steak, or bacon. Or maybe ribs and cutlets with barbecue, fries, hamburger.” With each choice, my mouth watered more. I shook my head in an attempt to get rid of those images of delicious food out of my head.

“The point is it’s not the kind of food I’m used to eat on my daily basis, but that doesn’t mean I can’t get used to eating them. I think I’m going to be a long time here until I can find a way back...” I said the last part in almost a whisper as if it was a delicate topic to talk about. Which it was.

A moment of silence passed, where I was in deep thought. It seemed the only thing I could manage to do in those moments was to think. Nothing made sense, and it was like building a puzzle of 1000 pieces in five minutes, each piece so different from the other.

“What were you thinking back when you were eating?” he asked suddenly, leaving me startled for a second.

I looked at him surprised for the sudden question, but then I answered looking at the wooden ceiling, deep in thought.

“Questions without answers.”

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