Ugh, my head… Lenna moaned. Her eyes slowly opened. At first, everything was really blurry, but it only took a few moments before her vision cleared. She found herself in a small room with a single window. A table sat beneath the window with a bowl and damp cloth hanging over the side. There was something vaguely familiar about this place.
An elderly man then walked into the room, preoccupied with whatever he was mumbling to himself. His eyes met her and he was quiet for a moment. Clearly he did not expect her to be awake. He then shook himself as if coming to his senses. “I see the sleeping draught wore off.”
Lenna remained still, watching the man as he brought a chair to the side of the bed.
He sat in the chair. “How are you feeling?” he asked.
“I-I hurt everywhere.”
“Ah,yes. You were gravely injured when they brought you in. I can imagine you must be in a bit of pain still.”
“You needed to be treated as soon as possible. If you were out there any longer, you may as well have died.”
Lenna fell silent. Was the battle’s end worse than she thought?
“What is your name, dear?” he asked, interrupting her thoughts.
She looked at him confused.
“Your name?” he repeated.
“Lenna,” she answered. “My name is Taëlenna.”
A knowing look crossed the man’s face and he smiled kindly. “That is a very beautiful name. I have always found your people’s names fascinating”
Lenna looked around the room as he went on about his interest with leïfaen names. She gazed through the open door and saw shelves covered with books and flasks of colored liquids. “I know this place,” she whispered.
“I have been here before, haven’t I?”
“Oh, yes! That was many years ago, I must say. Your arm has since then healed nicely, by the looks of that scar on your arm.”
Lenna nodded. “Thank you for that. I never got the chance to thank you then.”
“It was no trouble at all. May I ask how I was brought here?”
“Word of the attack on your village reached the king and his sons. They brought some men out to look at the damage when Prince Antalos found you.”
Lenna paused. That name.
The old man nodded.
The sound of a door opening in the other room stopped the physician before he could speak. “Emrys,” a voice called. “Are you here?”
He rose from the chair. “I must go, but I will return to check on you. For now, rest.”
“There you are,” Antalos said as Emrys walked out of the room where he kept the leïfaen girl. “How is she?”
He had come to visit her ever since she first arrived. There was something about here. He didn’t know why, but he felt as if he had to protect her. She seemed so familiar. So far, over the past few days, nothing new happened, but he still made sure she was all right.
“She just woke up,” Emrys replied solemnly.
“Can I go in to see her?”
“Under any other circumstances, I would not allow it. However, I think the girl could use some friendly company. Make sure she does not try to get up. Her wounds are still fresh enough to cause her a lot of pain.”
Antalos nodded. “Of course.” He was about to take a step when Emrys held his arm firmly.
“I must warn you, I did not have a chance to tell her the worst of it. Should she ask you, be gentle about it. If not, try to avoid the subject altogether.”
Antalos entered the room to see the leïfaen girl attempting to sit up in the bed, wincing at the pain before giving up and lying back on the soft pillow. She jumped slightly at the sight of him and bit her lip, clutching her side.
“I’m sorry, I did not mean to frighten you,” he said, holding up his hands.
The girl brushed aside her dark hair from her watery-blue eyes. “It is all right. I should have heard you coming. I suppose I was just preoccupied with my own thoughts.”
“Are you comfortable?”
“As comfortable as one can be, I suppose. It only hurts to move right now.” She paused to study him for a moment. “If you don’t mind my asking… Who are you?”
“Oh, right! My name is Antalos.”
“Antalos, as in the prince?” She looked at him in surprise.
He nodded in confusion. “Excuse me, but there is just something familiar about you. Do I know you from somewhere?”
The girl nodded. “Yes, you do. You brought me here about ten years ago. Do you remember?”
How could it be possible? Of all the people he found, it had to be Taëlenna. Even after all of these years, he still remembered her name. Didn’t she prefer to be called Lenna? “Lenna? I can’t believe it’s you!”
She smiled softly. “It has been a while, hasn’t it?”
“I do apologize that we could not meet again during these ten years that have passed,” Antalos said. “I would have preferred to see you again in a better time.”
Lenna twiddled her fingers. “Do you mind if I ask you something?”
“Yes, you can ask me anything you wish.”
“Where is my family? I never got to ask the physician, but he said that you brought me here. Perhaps you know where they are, where they might have taken refuge from the attack.”
Antalos hesitated, unsure how to tell her. He supposed there was no way to avoid this. He took a deep breath. “I…I don’t know how to tell you this. In fact, I was hoping to avoid the topic altogether—”
He ran a hand through his hair. “Lenna, there are no other survivors. You were the only one we could find in the ashes. Even then, you barely survived.”
She looked at him confused at first. “The ashes… Then, they didn’t…” Panic and desperation began to set in. “No. No, that can’t be… That can’t be true!”
“Take deep breaths, Lenna,” Antalos said, resting his hands on her shoulders as she tried to sit up. “Calm down before you hurt yourself. That’s it. Just take deep breaths and listen to the sound of my voice.”
“They cannot be gone,” Lenna’s voice shook. “They can’t.”
Antalos sat by her side and clasped her hands in his. “I know this must be very difficult for you, and I am so…so sorry.”
Lenna shut her eyes tightly and turned her head to the wall. “I am the only one?” Are you certain?”
“I wish I was wrong.”
“What of the bodies? What did you do with them?”
“We are preparing to give them a proper burial. I thought it would be the right thing to do.” He couldn’t imagine the pain she could be going through. Losing her entire village, being the last of her kind must have been the hardest pain a person could go through. No one deserved that. “I am sorry for your loss.”
Lenna sniffed, letting the tears flow freely down her face. “Can I just be alone for a moment?”
He frowned, wishing there was something he could do to help her. “I will be right outside if you need me.”
“How did it go?” Emrys asked as Antalos quietly closed the door, stepping out of the room.
“She just needs some time to herself.”
“You told her, then, about the village?”
Antalos nodded. “Was it right to tell her?”
“I would have been wrong to hide it from her. She will come to realize that she was left alive for a reason. The last of the leïfae. There has to be a reason behind that.”
“I suppose you are right. I just hope Mother will accept her stay here.” His mother was always one for making sure everything was perfect. Nothing out of place. The people in his kingdom never took kindly to the leïfae before. What would change their minds now? “No one else in the kingdom will take her in, you know. They will not accept her, even if an order was given.”
“You cannot control the people’s hearts. That is why she must stay here,” Emrys replied. “You are her one friend right now. And don’t you worry about your mother. I can take care of the details for you. One never refuses the counseling of a physician.”
A loud crash came form the other room.
Antalos and Emrys hurried to the room to find Lenna sprawled on the floor next to a fallen chair.
“What are you doing?” Antalos exclaimed, rushing to help her.
“I have to see it,” she replied with a pained groan. “I need to see my people.”
“You must rest, child,” Emrys said. “If you try to leave now, your wounds will open.”
“He’s right, Lenna.” He froze when she looked up at him with tears in her eyes, her sorrowful expression catching him off guard.
Emrys kneeled next to them. “Your home shall still be there when you are healed,” he said sympathetically. “I’m afraid you must stay here and rest, even if we have to lock the doors for your own safety.”
Lenna hung her head sadly. She remained quiet as Antalos helped her back into the cot before leaving with Emrys.