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August 5, 2013
Memories are sometimes lessons...
Chapter 10: Convalesce
Tiros treaded carefully as he held Melasa as gently as he could across the rough terrain. The storms that had broken out over the mountains made it harder as winds blew in devastating gusts. It had already gone off to a bad start when the ground gave out under the Ostrich Horse. Collapsing with no footing, it broke a leg and Tiros barely caught Melasa before she fell over.
He looked back to the Ostrich Horse as it groaned in pain. Knowing that there was nothing he could do for it, he gripped its neck and snapped it with a hard twist to end its suffering. Now he was hiking up with Melasa in his arms. The rains were coming like hail as his footing got worse. He saw the opening of a cave ahead and prayed that it was abandoned.
Finally, reaching the summit, he entered the dark place. He rested the unconscious witch down by the entrance and turned back out. The Ostrich Horse still had the supplies saddled to it, and if he wanted to conserve food, using the deceased animal first was the best way to do it.The storms had increased threefold since he left Melasa at the cave. He had quickly made it down without worrying about the half-witch in his arms, but now he needed to drag a massive animal and supplies up to the cave.
Tiros was strong, he had spent his entire life training for war and survival. While the Monks were for peace and never advocated killing or even eating meat, they understood the necessity of surviving and living off the land. Their training in this regard helped his already existing drive.
Dragging the beast was still an arduous activity as hail rained down on him and winds buffeted him. He had little to no footing on the sharp rocks that so easily gave way under the weight of the dead beast.
Reaching the mouth of the cave exhausted him. He had been running on adrenaline since the battle and now as night fell he felt like falling into sleep on the rock that instant. He got up against the burn of his muscles and set up camp as he rolled out the mat for Melasa and got a pot heated on a fire. He would need to find water if they were here longer than a day.
He unsheathed a large hunting knife and got to work on the Ostrich Horse. The meat may taste unpleasant, but it had everything a body needed and the animal was healthy until it got hurt.
Using rainwater, he filled the pot and threw in strips of meat as then tended to Melasa's wound. It was still bleeding though not as heavily as it first did. She must have whispered an incantation when he didn't notice, or else she would have bled to death.
The bolt went clean through, but he was relieved to discover that it didn't actually pierce the heart as he first believed. Still, just centimeters away, any mistake in removing it could nick the heart and cause her to bleed out.
As he undressed her, he blushed. While they had been together as she served him for well over a month now, he had yet to seen this in regards to the somewhat uncaring witch. Carefully folding the clothes, he wrapped her with bandages to at least be modest.
He focused his eyes on the wound. The crossbow bolt was firmly lodged in. To remove it would be the trick. He brandished the knife and decided to start with cutting off one end of the bolt. He would then pull the rest straight out and stitch the wound, barring any complications.
With the feathered tail of the bolt removed, he slowly pulled out the shaft. He quickly attended to the wound he used needle and thread to sow up her pierced body. Certain that he had finished and properly tied it off, he then wrapped more bandages around her chest.
Now it was just time to wait. Time to hope that she didn't get an infection, and if so, that she could break the fever of it.
Her memory burned her and terrified her. There was a reason she slept little and was grateful the Nifrin required only hours. When she slept, she always dreamed, and when she dreamed, it was always the same nightmare, the same curse, the past.
She was only four when she was taken to be tested for earthbending. Everyone knew she was special, but it wasn't until she completely failed the test that they realized she was different. With no knowledge of herself, she did what she liked and was seen doing it.
With no warning, her mother grabbed her and threw her out the door, locking it behind her. She tried to get in, but she was barred. When she asked for help, she was kicked and spit on, cursed and pushed away like some monster.
It was days like this before she realized how hungry she was. She begged for food and received the same treatment as when she asked for help. She had no choice but to steal food, thank goodness she was fast.She always had to run, hide and sleep in trash and steal when no one was looking. She lived in rags, her red hair was mangled and dirty. Still, the villagers knew she was there, always complaining how 'it' stole their food and on the rare occasion of seeing her red hair flash by as she ran.
One day, she realized someone was listening to them. He seemed young and old at the same time. He wore a hood and his lean clothing implied one of those fast killer types, assassins. She managed to notice his blue eyes and wondered where she saw them, realizing it was in the reflection of the water that she saw them.
"That blasted creature!" One of the market-keepers complained, "It's taken about three apples from me this week! I know cause I saw the red hair go around the corner and go missing one of them."
A shopper rebutted, "Shin's lost about a week's worth of hay to it. Same thing, red hair."
The man listening at the corner turned to look where she was. She pressed herself against the wall, hoping he didn't see her. She soon realized he had, as he walked forward. She did not need to see him to know that he was approaching, she learned that she could feel things around her and now it was telling her that the man was coming for her.
She ran away, she never met him but could tell he was a killer. Did the village hire him to finally kill her? She turned a corner and gasped when he leaned on a building waiting for her. How did he get ahead of her?
She turned around and kept running, she knew every nook and cranny of the village. She would find a way to get away from the man. She felt him come near again and she turned for a hard right.
No matter where she ran, he was there waiting for her. She was about to cry as she ran to a pile of garbage and hid in it. Hiding behind a mountain she saw the man approach slowly, there was no escape now.
The man walked forward and stopped, waiting. She stepped out only enough for him to see her hair and one eye, "Are you going to kill me?" she spoke in a fearful voice, worried that he might answer yes.
"No, I'm getting you out of here."
He kneeled and pulled down his hood, letting his hair flow down. Red as blood, the long tails of it made her think of a red waterfall. "I know what you are, because you and I are the same."
He reached out a hand to her, "Nalash," the voice was soothing. She felt the urge to come to him as she left the mound of trash she had hidden behind. She raised her pale and gaunt hand to hold his.
He took it and pulled her in, hugging her tightly. "I'm so sorry, had I known, I would have come sooner."
He let her step back for a moment. He had a tear in one blue eye as he spoke, "My daughter, I would have taken you away from this foul place so that you would never have to see this, I'm sorry."
They left the village in the dead of night, never to return. She soon realized that the only time she would ever see her father cry was that day. He was a hard man and one that gave her no room for error, but it was what kept her alive when he passed.
She always cried when she dreamed because she always remembered what they did to her, she remembered that Melas was gone and she was afraid that if anyone found out, they would do to her what they did.
She had tears running from her closed eyes, but she couldn't wake to dry them. And despite that, she felt a warm thumb press against her cheek and brush them away. It was gentle and reassuring, protective. She faintly heard someone whisper in her ear, "Sleep a dreamless sleep, let nothing trouble you, Melasa, I am here for you."
She smiled in her heart, she knew that voice and hoped with all her soul that it was real.
A Cold Man
She dropped to her knees in pain as the sharp rap against the back of her knees finally weighed down on her. Breathing heavily, she held herself up with her hands as she gripped at a wooden sword tightly.
"Laying down on the ground there will not help you recover any sooner."
"I just need a minute to breath."
"You won't have a minute in the heat of combat and your life is on the line. Your enemy is relentless and truly immortal."
"Nothing is immortal, you taught me that well enough."
"I once thought that applied to everything, but the Avatar is special. They retain memories and personalities of the past and recycle them into the future. All are linked and truly one."
He waved his hand across the great landscape around them, "What else could be immortal like that? That is why the Avatar is such a grave threat."
"What do you mean, father?"
"While an incredible enemy, the Avatar is not invincible. Witches can beat them. Once, long ago, a blood witch named Lenet defeated and killed Avatar Akira, the first of the Avatars to slay and hunt our kind. But even with him dead, another rose up in time and came back, not only aware of the event, but remembering it from their own eyes. That is an enemy you cannot underestimate, ever."
"Remember, all Avatars are enemies. No matter who they are or what their opinion is, they will become your enemy in time. The only option you have is to hide or kill them before they can fully manifest their powers."Melasa thought on that, even now, all these years later. She had at first thought it was harsh to say one was an enemy instantly, but she soon agreed after experiencing so many cruel events to humans. All the years as a child reinforced the belief that mankind was evil. She trained since swords were bigger than her so that she could protect herself.
She feared people. She was afraid of the betrayal she had so early on. Her only positive relationship after that was with her father, who passed on a mere seven years after he found her. She was alone. Alone in a cold, dark world.
It was this that made Tiros' presence in her world contradicting. The conflict of having seen a world where men have done nothing but treated her as trash, to the kinder care and concern that she received from Tiros. Worst, he was the Avatar, her sworn enemy.
How could she accept that? That her greatest threat to survival was the one person she cared about. That someone she loved could hurt her?
Waking in the Dark
Her eyes beat side to side furiously as sweat beaded on her forehead. She woke with furious eyes, the blue expanded as her irises narrowed to focus on the dark world around her.
She could barely see and her sense of perception seemed dim. She realized a fire was not too far away and something of meat was being stewed over it. She focused on it to see who might be there, only she heard the rustle of something behind her.
Looking back, she saw him leaning against a cave wall, "You're awake, I'm glad."
He smiled in a tired manner as his eyes were happy to see her return his gaze. She smiled lightly, she then grunted as her chest pained her. Tiros quickly got up and rushed to her, "Carefully, your wound hasn't completely healed."
"I'm fine, Tiros," she stopped there, noticing herself.
Tiros has noticed it too. She had always called him 'Master', but now she had twice called him by name. She quickly attempted to recover, "I'm fine, master."
He chuckled a little, "Who would've thought that you were so modest?"
She was just about to chuckle as well when something came to mind. She looked down to see what little she had on. She quickly covered herself with her arms as the Avatar pulled off his cloak and covered her with it, "Sorry, your fever was getting pretty bad so I removed some of the wraps I had first put on."
"How long was I out?"
"This is the third day since the battle."
"Don't bother asking, it was a slaughter. I told Kyo to retreat, but we got separated after I got a steed. We were driven to the mountains. Storms got pretty bad," thunder and a flash of lightning broke out over the mouth of the cave, "still are pretty bad."
Melasa felt terrible. It was her fault. Had she just finished off Lesun, this would be over. But another thought raced across her mind. If she hadn't, Tiros would be dead. "What do we do now?"
Tiros looked her in the eyes, answering honestly, "I don't know."
- Things steam up as Melasa begins opening up to her own feelings.
- Tiros has managed so far to not touch the food supplies and kept to the meat from the Ostrich Horse he killed.
For the collective works of the author, go here.
Storms of the Future Cycle
|The Journey of Tala|
|Book 1 - Sand and Steel|
|- - - - - - - - - - - - - -|
|Book 2 - Blood and Swamps|
|- - - - - - - - - - - - - -|
|Book 3 - Pyres and Storms|
|- - - - - - - - - - - - - - -|
|Fates and Vows|
|- - - - - - Ilera - Solace Fade - Scions - Sovereign|
|The Rise of Lirin|
|- In the Morrow - The White Dragon - Faith in Blood - The Great Gates - Lord Avatar - A Red Sun - Faceless - Faction - Tempest - Rally of Crows - Rally of Eagles - Dragons and Serpents - Kings and Men - Storms of a Spirit - Princes - A Battered Land - Seas of Ichor - Arbiter - Return to a Grave - Declination - Disaffection - Epilogue|
|Myths of the Empire|
|Pacification - Assassins - Empire - Red Sun Under The Empire - White Snow - Heirs|
|The Reclamation of Arein|
|Book 1 - Chaos|
|Refugee - Rogue - Ghosts - Dark Roses - Doyen - Divulgence - The Plan - Abscond - Mists of Illusion - Madonna - Syndicate - Playing the Stakes - Purge - Brothers|
|Book 2 - War|
|Alliance - Temple - Tensions - The Fall - Hunters and Prey - Lussuria - Shades of Relevance - Broken Star - Defiler - Strikeforce - Secrets of the Lair - Eminence - Swarm - Wanderer|
|Dreams of Melasa|
|Book 1 - Servant|
| - - - - - - - - - - - - -
|Book 2 - Shadow World|
|Faint but Clear - Ghost in the Steel - Kurotama - Loyalties - Servants of Shadow - Game of Fate - Shadows and Reflections - Tomb of Blood - Broken Blades - Hill of Shadow - Souls and Swords - Home|