Crucible Vows

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Chapter 15

I first became aware to the minor pain in my shoulder. My memory of what happened came next, and I was certain the wound I had gotten would have hurt more than what I was experiencing. I forced my eyes open and quickly recognized through my helmet a roof. I didn’t know where I was, or what had happened between the time I passed out and when I woke up.

Using my arms, I began to push myself up to a sitting position. But I had to quickly adjust because any pressure on my shoulder sent surges of pain through me. As my vision cleared a bit more, I saw that I was in a small building any lying on a bed for one. A fire warmed the area, and next to the bed was a bowl filled with water that was now tinted red from the blood on the rag resting in it.

My eyes went to my shoulder and I saw the bandage wrapped around it. My chest was also exposed and I frantically looked around, only to find the chainmail and tunic draped over the foot of the bed. My eyes landed on me under shirt. Elora had taken it and was trying to stitch up the area that looked to be harshly cut. The stiches were crude and uneven, and her fingers were red from inexperience with sewing. She knelt next to the bed and had her head resting in her arms as she slept.

My chest warmed as I acknowledged that she had cared for me and my wound. She looked uncomfortable there. I reached over and placed a hand on her head.

“Elora.” I called softly.

She continued to sleep.

My hand went to her shoulder and I gave it a gentle shake. “Elora, you’ll not be able to walk tomorrow if you keep sleeping like that.”

She let out a tired moan before her eyes began to open slowly. She looked over at me for a moment before they snapped open and she jumped up to her feet.

“Luna!”

Her legs gave out and she fell forward. I reached out and caught her before she could get hurt. Her arms were out in front of her and pressed against the mattress. She turned her head and gave me an embarrassed smile before pushing herself back up and to a sitting position on the edge of the bed. Her purple eyes went to the ground, and she didn’t look at me.

I cleared my throat, breaking the silence. “Thank you for treating my wound.”

She simply nodded.

“You didn’t take off my helmet?”

She took a visible gulp. “I didn’t think you’d be comfortable with me doing that... But I needed to treat your wounds so I had to remove your torso armor...and...”

I glanced down at all the scars on my person. “Don’t worry about these. Most of them aren’t mine.”

That’s what caused her to look at me. “Aren’t yours?”

My hand went up and I tapped the crystal on my necklace. “One downside to this little trinket is that if the wound or pain is strong enough, it leaves a scar on my body.”

“I’m sorry.” Her eyebrows curled up in concern.

I shook my head. “Don’t be. I’ve been able to save a few lives because of this. And make a few more people comfortable before they passed.”

Her head dropped again.

“Hey,” I reached over and placed a hand on her shoulder. “What’s wrong?”

She took in a shaky breath. “You wouldn’t be in this situation if it weren’t for me.”

Her words caused a feeling of shock and discomfort to settle in my chest rather than the warm feeling.

“I can’t help but blame myself for everything you’re going through.” The heel of her hand went up and rubbed away some tears. “If I had never come, you would have never been hurt by the Wendigo. You wouldn’t be disobeying orders from the King. You’d still be back in that village doing your routine work. You’re getting hurt because of me. It would have been better for you if I just died with the rest of my people.”

I reached over and turned her towards me and glared at her through my helmet, my grip on her shoulders tight. “Listen to me, Elora. You don’t ever say something like that. If you died with your people, this world would have lost a light it would never regained by someone else. Your kindness has helped so many people. You helped the Natale’s in their tavern and inn when they were alone. They cared about you so much. You helped that couple by giving them remedies for their ailments. If you weren’t there, they would still be struggling. So many other came to you for help. You helped me too. Your tea stopped the pain I experienced with this crystal. And you mended my wound from the Wendigo. And if we weren’t there, who knows what would have happened with the Wendigo and how many other would have died due to it. You’re also mending my shirt, not well, but your trying.

“Don’t you see? Without you, none of these things would have happened. You’ve caused a change for the better, and I’m glad to call you friend. I’m honored to call you friend. I don’t care that you’re an Elf. I’m glad you are you. And in terms of me disobeying orders? Let me deal with that when the time comes. What’s important is your safety and getting you to Alovia.”

The tears lingered in her eyes as I spoke, and her breathing was uneven. It didn’t take long for her to fall forward again into my chest and she let her tears fall. Loud sobs escaped her as she begged for comfort. I wrapped my arms around her and hugged her close. That young woman had experienced so much in her life. So much that no one should have experienced. My arms tightened around her.

As I held her, I had many thoughts circulating in my head. The king would soon realize what I had done, and Elora was right that I could be tried and killed for treason. There were a few solutions that would be possible. I could leave the Knights and find my own path. I could go around and do good for those in need. But if I stayed in Obrenor, I’d be a fugitive from the law. My eyes went down to the Elf in my arms. What if I didn’t leave her? What if I followed her into Alovia?

Elora pushed against my chest, and I loosened my hold on her. She kept her head down, but I noticed her red ears. She was blushing again. And I remembered that I was shirtless.

“I’ll finish mending your shirt.” She said.

I reached and grabbed her hand before she could leave. “I have another one in my satchel. We can get rid of this one.”

She paused only for a moment before nodding. Elora stood up and walked over to the bags in the corner that I recognized from my saddle. She quickly found a shirt and brought it over to me. I began to put it on until my left shoulder disagreed by sending a wave a pain through my arm. Silently, Elora walked over and helped me slowly move my arm through the sleeve. My hand lingered in hers a little longer than normal.

“How did we get here?” I asked.

“Zealot is a very smart horse.” She responded with a smile. “He made sure that I could get you on him and helped me carry you to the next available town. There was a kind gentleman who offered us this building to use until you’re well enough to move.”

I kept hold of her hand. “And the Wendigo?”

“I made sure to cut out the heart.” She pulled away from me. “I burned it in the fire the first chance I had.”

“Good.”

She sat down on the edge of the bed.

“Elora.”

“Luna.” We spoke in unison.

I bowed my head and indicated for her to speak with my hand.

“I know you said you wanted to deal with the King and what he’ll do about you disobeying orders when we get there... but...” She looked down at her hands and wrung them together. “Come with me.”

Her eyes shot up to mine at her request. I took a moment for my mind to register what she had said. And when it did, I was speechless. She wanted me to stay with her? She wanted me to follow her into Alovia? The warmth in my chest returned.

She broke the silence. “Come with me to Alovia. That way you can be safe from the King.”

I let out a sigh and reached over and placed a hand on her shoulder. “Thank you, Elora. But I can’t, not like that.”

“What do you mean?”

“You’re asking me to take part in desertion. That is treason” I explained. “Right now, disobeying orders could lead to a court martial, possibly treason. But if I dissert my duties, it will be guaranteed treason.”

Her gaze went back to the ground. “I can’t leave you behind if you’ll get hurt.”

My knuckle went under her chin so she would look me in the eyes again. “If you’re willing to delay another day, let me talk to the King.”

“You’d be leaving your career as a Knight.” She looked down at the grown again in guilt. “I shouldn’t have suggested it. I’m sorry.”

She stood up and began to walk away. I quickly got up myself and followed, grabbing her hand with mine.

“Elora.” I pulled her to a stop.

“You told me that you joined the Knights of Obrenor to do good because it’s what’s right.” She turned towards me. “I can’t ask you to leave that behind just because I’m scared. That’s not fair to you.”

My grip on her hand tightened. “You don’t have to ask.”

Her eyes widened.

“If my King and his Knights are willing to kill innocence just because of who they are. I don’t want to be part of that.” My words were sincere. “I’ll go with you to Alovia. But I need to cut ties with the Knights and my King first. Otherwise everything I stand for is all for naught.”

She stared up at me for a moment before biting her lip and nodding in agreement.

“Get some rest.” I said softly. “We’ll head out again tomorrow morning. And it won’t be long before we get close to the Capital. I’ll leave you in a neighboring town until I get permission to leave the Knights. Then I’ll come get you and we can continue towards Alovia.”

“How are you going to explain me not being there?” She asked as I felt her hand tremble.

“I’ll say that you managed to trick me and escape.” I shrugged. “I promise. We’ll get through this.”

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