Forgotten Embers

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King’s Piece

He was a kindly man with grey hair and large round glasses with thin dark frames. He wore a brown vest with light pinstripes, white shirtsleeves, simple dress trousers, and black tie boots which wrapped high around his ankles. He carried the young man back the few scores' paces to the cabin wherein he was staying, pulling him along, his arms securely latched around the boy's shoulders.

'Poor child,' he silently considered, thinking of the young man's plight. 'It seems we've lost our knight, then, but no matter... I have the king's piece safely tucked away. Hmm...' He pushed the door open, backing into it slowly. 'Thank you for saving him.'

He laid the boy down on the bed gently, carefully arranging his upper body and placing his head on the pillow before lifting his limp legs upwards, setting them atop the hay filled mattress.

He took the remnant of a white cloth and wet it in the basin of cold water he filled, carrying it over to the bed and setting it upon the small table next to the burning oil lamp. He took a small wooden chair from its place by the fireplace and brought it near the bed where the boy lay, taking also with him gauze and strips of bandages which he set upon the table with the water basin.

He sat down on the chair, considering his friend, and, taking the wet cloth, he began to clean the wound, gently wiping the blood from his hand and arm. It was a deep cut, likely having severed something, but he wasn't greatly specialized in medicine.

He touched the wound, muttering something to himself, and his glasses reflected the flickering light of the lamp as it burned.

'Please, help me.'

He pressed his hand gently against the boy's wrist. "I need you to live, Ben," he breathed, and he felt a warmth like fire flow from his hand into the young man's arm.

He smiled thankfully and removed his hand to see the bleeding had stopped and the wound begun to heal. He let out a quiet sigh of relief before taking the bandages and beginning to dress the wound, which he did, wrapping the cloth tightly around the boy's wrist and slowly extending the area until the soft strips covered much of his forearm and half his palm, tucking neatly between his thumb and forefinger.

"Good, then," he said, tying a knot to hold the thing in place. His eyes turned to Benjamin's pale countenance. "Rest, Ben," he softly entreated, standing and kissing the young man's forehead. "All is well."

He pulled the chair over to a table near the foot of the bed and watched out the window, his attention divided between outer woods and the chess board he had set in front of him. He would pass the time, watching and waiting as he practiced the art of war.

"Eliezer..." a stunned voice came after the length of a little over an hour, and he heard some rustling behind him.

"Ah, Ben," Eliezer replied pleasantly, though thoroughly enraptured in his ongoing game of chess which he had set on the table next to the bed. "How are you?"

"Better..." Benjamin said politely. He looked frantically around the strange room. "Where are we?" he asked, bewildered.

"Carder's cabin," Eliezer informed him, "a few miles southwest of Delphi, and currently very graciously afforded to the care of one Horace Waverley."

"I see..." Benjamin replied, still looking around the broad room with interest.

"It is... providential," Eliezer added, using his knight to remove the black bishop from the board, "that we met when we did, don't you think?" Eliezer turned his eyes briefly to Benjamin with the question and smiled affectionately before turning his attentions back to the checkered board.

"Expectedly," Benjamin replied pleasantly.

"Yes," Eliezer chuckled, amused. "I couldn't sleep," he said, continuing his game. "I thought a walk might be in order," Eliezer went on moving his pieces, his weary eyes watching the board by the flickering lamplight. He paused his conquest, looking to Benjamin with caring and considerate eyes. "You should sleep, Ben," he told him. "I beg you to rest some more. We stopped the bleeding, but you still need to regain your strength, you understand. You lost a lot of blood." He returned to his game, quickly taking his opponent's knight with one of his bishops.

"We...?" Benjamin asked, questioning, and he imagined he was looking for another person, but he didn't leave his game to check.

"I'm a miracle worker, not a physician, Ben, and I'm not a magician, either," Eliezer reminded him. "There's no use pretending I do things on my own, but..." he added, taking a bishop with his queen and leaving the enemy's king in peril, "I do know how to respond when in check."

Benjamin let out a faint laugh. "Understood," he said, throwing his head back against the pillow.

Eliezer looked at him and smiled. "Please, be more careful," he softly entreated. "Losing you is losing everything, and, very selfishly, I might add that you are the closest thing I have to a son." His eyes turned soft as he looked upon him, and his voice followed in the form of words little more than a whisper, "I cannot bear to see you hurt."

"I know," Benjamin replied softly.

Eliezer stood from the wooden chain which he had set before the window and sat upon the edge of the bed, taking hold of Benjamin's tightly bandaged hand, squeezing it gently, and sighed.

"Tyberion was absent from your meeting, I take it?" he empathically observed.

Benjamin smiled. "As you say," he said, then paused. "Adrien was there," he told him. "He let me go."

"Adrien... did he, now?" Eliezer answered with a considerate smile as he looked to the knight he had captured. "How very interesting," he muttered. "Well, I'm sure he knows what he's doing. He always was one for chess, though he never could beat me." He grinned, looking to Ben again. "Howbeit, it is well known by all that a king is of the utmost value."

Ben smiled with a nod.

"How were things with Avera today?" he asked, making pleasant conversation.

"It went well," he told him, laying his head flat against the pillow and letting out a breath. "She thinks we practice some sort of strange magic, and... we had some trouble with thought wanderers this past evening, but... Dorcus handled all things well."

"I see," Eliezer said, passively considering things. "Well, it does help that Dorcus can see them." He smiled, only half joking.

"That it does!" Benjamin laughed, then fell back against the bed, breathing deeply.

"You should rest, Ben," Eliezer appealed to him gently.

Benjamin shook his head. "I must return to Pyre," he told him. "I needn't concern the others by my absence."

"Very well," he conceded. "Stay an hour, rest a little. I will watch and wake you when it's time. When you go, take my horse. I will find my way back on foot, if not with Jordan."

Benjamin offered up a weary smile. "As you say, Eliezer," he said, his voice giving way to tiredness. "I thank you." His eyes shut and he fell quickly into a quiet slumber.

"Oh, Ben," he breathed, running his fingers through the boy's hair.

His hand touched against his forehead, and he felt a feverish warmth. He sighed, taking the cloth again from the basin of water and wringing it out before folding it and pressing it gently against Benjamin's heated forehead.

'All will be well when you arise, I assure you.'

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