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Chapter 2: The Cries of the Wounded
“So, whatcher think? Will ‘e make it?"
“I don’t noo at this point.”
“That wound’s bad, mate. He needs more medicine than we can give ‘im. ‘E needs a real physician and with the Iron-clad patrollin’ about the place, they’d spot ‘is steel from a mile away. They’d kill ‘im and ‘ang us fer ‘elpin’ ‘im.”
“I noo that, but we’ve go tae get him oot of here. Et’s no good for either o’ us.”
“But we gotta do summat to ‘elp ‘im.”
“That’s noo the praeblem here.”
“Wot’re you talkin’ about? O’ course that’s the problem here. We found ‘im and we gotter ‘eal ‘im. I don’t know about you, but I’m gonna go ‘elp ‘im.”
The quaint woodsman picked up a bowl of salve and started to adorn the wound in the soldier’s stomach. The wounded soldier groaned.
“’Is mind’s troubled, mate.”
“He just cam’ oot of a battle. O’ course his mind’s troubled.”
“Awright mate, since we can’t take ‘im to a physician, you go get one and bring ‘im ‘ere ‘cause you’re not ‘elpin’ ‘ere at all.”
The other man walked out the door and mounted his horse without a word. The woodsman stayed and tended to the soldier’s wounds.
“Dratted irons. Imagine not purifyin’ yer weapons so’sm the slag gets in the wounds. Barbarian I tell ye’, but don’t let that worry ye’, stranger. We’ll get that wound ‘ealed if it’s the last thin’ we do.”
Gradually, the soldier’s grimace faded and for once in two days he looked peaceful.
The warrior was dreaming again. He was dreaming of his family. For some reason, his sleep beheld the images of his wife and children. He remembered his wife’s face as he left the door of their sanctuary dwelling. All soldiers of Teras had hidden their loved ones in case the battle should go ill. It was by the sea, a long way North. It wasn’t so Northern as to be freezing but every so often the children could play outside without heavy clothes. The warrior was assured that they would be safe there.
He dreamed about his son who would be 14 now. The warrior had given his son his old sword. The look on his son’s face was engraved in the warrior’s memory even in the haunting of his sleep. He remembered exactly the conversation he and his son had before he left, but mostly he remembered his son’s words.
“I will not fail you, father.”
The sound of horse hooves startled the woodsman. He quickly grabbed a broadsword that was hanging by the door, belted it on, and snuck out the door. The woodsman saw the dull grey armor of the riders as he hid in the rocks by his dwelling.
“This’ll slow ol’ Hetch down quite a bit,” he mumbled to himself.
The woodsman could hear the exclamations of the riders. Half of the words spoken were terrible language that any self-respecting man would shun. The woodsman shut his ears to all this, but perked up when he heard the words “soldier” and “steeler”.
“Oh Hetch, be careful,” teh woodsman whispered in the warrior's ear. “People are lookin’ fer ye’, mate. If you can ‘ear me, pleas ‘ang on. Yer our on’y ‘ope left.”
The warrior heard this plea in the deep recesses in his mind. Even as the Gates of Beyond opened in front of him, he refused entrance. He felt a duty to help the man to whom he owed his life. Yet, the reoccurring thoughts what the iron-clad would do if ever they found the families he and his comrades left behind. Oh what a sad day it will be when the news is brought to them that the wives and children are now without husbands and fathers. A tear ran down his cheek as he dreamed of this.
“Oi, Fandori! Open oop will ye’!”
The woodsman ran to let the Northerner in.
“Did ye get ‘im? Is the physician ‘ere?” the woodsman asked.
“No. There were too many irons runnen’ aroond. I coudnae get to hes hoose.”
“Then we condemn our friend to die.”
“I niver said that. I have knowledge of healing. Well, I do! Did ye’ clean the woond lak I asked y’ to?”
“Aye, there was a load o’ slag from those under-smithed swords, but I did manage t’ clean it.”
“Good. The worst part’s done. Noo, leave thes t’ me.”
The Northerner bent down by the warrior’s bed and cleaned the wound again. He mixed some herbs and some leaves that the woodsman did not recognize in a bowl. He applied the strange concoction to the warrior’s wound and layered it with torn up sheets as gauze.
“A’ve doon all ah can. Noo, et’s up tae him.”
The warrior felt peace at last. His fevered dreams were fading and more peaceful visions were appearing to him, visions of home and life as a boy. He still saw the Gates of Beyond in the distance but never once considered passing through. His family kept him alive. He wanted to see them again more than anything. They were his sustanence. They were his will to live.
The shadowed realm of fever was fading. He could hear distant voices talking. Slowly, but surely the darkness faded and a comforting heat awakened him. His eyes opened weakly and he was staring into a fire. The warrior was afraid. He had never been to Oblivion before, but he hated even the name of it. As his eyes focused, he could see a hearth surrounding it. He was in someone’s house, but whose.
With great effort, the warrior turned his head ever so slightly. He could see two men sitting in chairs and reading from manuscripts. He listened as their conversation went on.
“These were all the old documents I could find in the remainin’ libr’ries. How did ye’ fare.”
“Ah think Ah got the moost impairtent ones just en taime. The irons were two minutes be’ind me.”
“They intend to make their conquest complete. Nothin’ will remain of Teras after the irons are through with it. As of a week ago we are no longer Terasim.”
“Et’s a sad thing esn’t et? We’ll coom back. We’ll take back oor land.”
“The Terasim will rally to us if they see this warrior. By seein’ their own devices, they’ll gain ‘ope. But on’y if this man lives.”
Both men turned around to see the warrior staring straight at them. The woodsman rose to kneel by his bedside.
“Listen stranger, I doubt ye’ know what’s happ’nin’. It’ll be hard to ‘ear this mate, but ye’ve gotter know.”
The woodsman told of how the iron-clad had taken complete control of Teras. He told of how they were erasing Terasim culture from the land and replacing it with their own. He told of how unchallenged they had been in their invasion because of the all of the Terasim soldiers being wiped out on the Galad Fields. The warrior did find it hard to listen to, but he needed to hear it. He wanted to know what he was up against when the uprising came.
“I can’t believe it,” the warrior said with a sigh. “All our lands, gone; all our soldiers gone; all our homes, gone.”
“I know, mate. I’m sorry.”
“Fandori, that wasn’t very sensitive.”
“There’s no sense in sugar coatin’ somethin’ a man needs to know. You of all people should know that, Hetch.”
“But et may kill ‘im. His strength esn’t completely restaired.”
“I’m fine,” the warrior said with a grunt. He tried to sit up, but instantly faltered when the pain hit him. Fandori stayed the warrior and laid him back down.
“Stay there, mate. You’re wound still needs watchin’. Ye’d do well to sleep.”
“I must get up.”
Fandori gently held the warrior down.
“Stranger, as long as I’m healin’ ye, ye’ll stay until I say otherwise.”
The warrior was powerless to help himself up, so he had to submit to his healer who he still did not know. There was nothing to do now, but sleep and so he did. His troubles were manifested in his dreams. He dreamt of fire and death. The little refuge where his family was staying was burning. The warrior felt hot and began to sweat. The small droplets of perspiration slid down his face and dropped to the ground. But the sweat was not water. It was blood! His head was dripping with blood and already the dirt was shaded crimson.
The drops of blood kept falling until the warrior was thrust into a raging torrent. A deep red flow carried him to a battle. Men whom he did not know were fighting other men he did not know. He ran from the conflict and entered a cave. Inside the cave, he found his family safe and sound. He rushed to embrace them, but a yawning chasm appeared before him. He fell without a sound.
Fandori and Hetch awoke and jumped right out of bed. Instantly, they were beside the warrior bathing his brow with water.
“’S alright, mate,” Fandori soothed. “‘Twas only a dream. Easy now.”
“Congratulations to ye’, sir. It seems your fever broke,” Hetch said, but then he added. “All over the bedsheets. I bet I could wring at least a flagon out of this.”
Fandori took no notice. “That means your doin’ better in Hetch-speak.”
“Thank you. Be forewarned, though. As soon as I’m well enough, I’m leavin’.”
“Are ye’ noo? And where d’ ye think yer goin’ tae go?”
“I will…” the warrior voice trailed off and his head collapsed into the pillow.
“Hetch, I don’t care how risky ‘tis. I’m goin’ to get a doctorer.”
Fandori grabbed a brown cloak from a peg by the door and bolted out into the rain. It was pouring. Instead of droplets, the rain came down in sheets. He rushed to the stable and mounted a black steed. He whispered in its ear.
“Ye’ve carried me out of death. Ye’ve saved my life more times than I bother t’ remember, but hearken t’ me now. Another man’s life is at stake. A warrior of Teras’ fate rest on your hooves. Be swift, now. Be fast!”
The steed ran out of the small wooden hut at top speed, bolting down the hill. Fandori looked out the window and saw his friend dash away.
“Bring him back safely, Garrast.”
Beware the day my soul is unleashed. Not even Hell itself will rival its fire!