The next day passed relatively quietly. Ihloden was able to get up a little. Nurilah’s medicine had indeed worked its magic. He was feeling a lot better and his wounds hurt less. His mother and Shila came to visit and when they found he was awake gave short screams and almost jumped on him. They smothered him with kisses until he jokingly pushed away.
“How are you?” his mother asked tearfully.
“I’m fine,” he said, “Really I am. Nurilah’s medicine does it work well.”
“What were you doing in the woods?” Shila asked. Nurilah came in just then.
“You said he would not be up for a few days,” his mother cried.
“He is a strong boy,” Nurilah laughed, “He recovered quicker than I thought. As I recall Ihloren was not much different.”
His mother shook her head, “No he was always one to come back. Like father like son I gather.” She hugged him.
Ihloden winced. “Easy mother,” he croaked, “The medicine is not that good. I’m still a bit tender.”
Shila glared back at him, “You didn’t answer my question. Ihloden, brother dear.”
Ihloden sighed, “I saw something in the forest that night. I went to see what it was. Next thing I know I’m running and I fell and that’s it. I blacked out or something.”
Shila frowned, “Did you see what it was?”
Ihloden shook his head and said innocently, “A bird or something.”
“You were drunk weren’t you?” she asked. He looked away ashamed and nodded.
“I am just glad that you are fine,” Marian said looking a little hard at Shila, “We have to get back to work Ihloden. We’ll see you later.” He nodded, got kissed again and waved to them as they left. Then he flopped down on the bed breathing hard.
“I was wondering how you were keep up that long,” Nurilah laughed. “Had to show a brave face,” Ihloden groaned, “Oh…my chest hurts. Damn thing.”
“What did happen Ihloden?” Nurilah asked. He glanced at her.
“I met the Griffin. We were both running from some kind of woman that screamed blue flames at us. We dived into a pond. The blue flames burned out the water from it before we even reached it! Then the griffin did something to me and left. Then you guys found me in the morning,” he paused for a breath. “So the griffin’s real. If it is still alive. It looked pretty bad when it left me.”
Nurilah stood very still then took a deep breath in, “I think you are very lucky to be alive,” she said softly, “As for the Griffin, Cirvan will not let it die before Lyficen is killed. The legend has to be fulfilled.” I
hloden nodded, “We’ll see.”
She then smiled and shook her head, “Let’s get you some food.”
“Please!” Ihloden begged.
Nurilah spent the rest of the day hunting for two and preparing for another long night. “Most of the fever passed last night,” she said, “So it may just be mild tonight.” She paused, “I am going to need some rest here Ihloden. If you need me just call but for the most part you will be in here alone. That okay with you?” Ihloden saw the dark bags under Nurilah’s eyes and the way her usually strong shoulders sloped down from tiredness.
“That’s no problem,” he said cheerfully, “You rest Nurilah. I’ll be fine. I’ll call if I feel really bad.”
She nodded tiredly and swung the door behind her as she left, leaving it just slightly open. Ihloden snuggled down onto the hard wood trying to be comfortable. He had already made up his mind. No matter how he felt he was not going to call Nurilah. She had said it herself; the medicine was working. He knew how hard it was to take care of someone and still carry on with your own life. And Nurilah’s regular way of life was hard already. So he was going to let her rest.
He managed to doze away then got up feeling like he was going to die. The fever was not mild. In fact it seemed almost as bad as the last night, maybe worst. He squeezed his eyes shut, his mouth open gasping futilely for air. Even if he wanted to go back on his word and call Nurilah; he couldn’t. The heat and pain had swamped him. There was no air in his body and not matter how hard he gripped the bed he could not stop his body from arching in pain. Suddenly he felt a cool breeze pass over him and a hand rested on his forehead. Almost immediately the fever and pain went. His body flopped onto the bed, limp and coated in sweat.
“Well done Shafushna,” a voice flowed in the room, “It has been abated.” Ihloden snapped his eyes open and the scream stuck in his throat. A ridiculously tall woman was sitting at his beside her hand resting on his head. She was white and pale but beautiful, like a full moon. Her head was just brushing the roof of the room.
“Better now Ihloden?” she asked. Her voice was low and deep. He nodded. Then he spotted the other two figures behind her. One he had never seen before but the other, the brown skinned one, he had seen. It was the same man that had patted the fire horse when it saved him from the Fangor. Then it struck him. They were the Winds. A low groan came out of his mouth. “He has realized who we are,” chuckled the brown one. He glided forward, his head also reaching the roof. Ihloden glanced down to see his feet, only they were not there. Instead a mist floated around making it look like the man was riding on it.
“I am Evanshna, the North West Wind,” he said touching Ihloden on the shoulder, “I send my midday wind with my steeds of fire.” His touch was warm. The other man was broader than Evanshna but his strong face was kind none the less.
“I am Nahturshna, the North East Wind,” he said touching Ihloden also, “I send my morning wind with my Wind Falcons.”
“And I am Shafushna, the South East Wind. I send my night wind with my Frost Wolves.” They all looked at him expectantly.
“I am Ihloden,” he said suddenly catching on, “Son of Ihloren and Marian. I….I…have no idea why you are here.” They smiled.
“Cirvan sent us,” Evanshna said, “He has a message for you.” Ihloden swallowed hard.
“Cirvan?” he asked.
Shafushna nodded, “He says that you must stay strong and be wary. The minions of Lyficen are now out for the Griffin. You must find it and keep it safe.”
“But why me?” Ihloden asked, “There has got to be someone better out there somewhere, right?” They all said nothing. “Help me out here,” he pleaded, “I can’t go up against Lyficen alone. And as for the Griffin I have no idea if it is even alive!”
“It is alive,” Nahturshna said solidly, “I have seen it. It is almost healed by now.”
Ihloden sighed in frustration. “How am I to find it and protect it? Protect it against all of Lyficen’s hordes? I can’t do that! I can’t!”
“The griffin will come to you,” Shafushna went on as if he hardly said anything, “Together you will find a way.” Ihloden sighed louder and looked away.
“Do not be disheartened,” Evanshna said, “Cirvan would never have given you the task if he didn’t think you were the best to do it.”
Ihloden looked at the Wind, “What if he made a mistake?”
“Cirvan never is mistaken,” they all echoed. Just then a whine came through the window. Shafushna smiled and lifted the curtain that hung over the window. A large wolf leapt in and stood next to her.
“My Frost Wolf leader,’ she said proudly, “We must go now and do our duties, Ihloden, son of Ihloren and Marian.” The Wolf touched him with its cold nose and gave a friendly growl. Then Shafushna faded into a pale mist along with the wolf and the mist floated out of the window. The others nodded to him and then faded away themselves. Ihloden lay there a long time just staring at the curtain now flapping idly as the night breeze passed over his village. He swore that in the distance he could hear the howling of Shafushna’s Frost Wolves.