As Darkness Falls, Hope Comes

by Aug 6, 2006Stories

Nate went straight to the older woman’s house and knocked. No one answered. He knocked again.
“I’m back here in the garden!” A voice called.
Hobbling around to the back of the house Nate felt the ice around his leg melt, the cool water trickling down into the dirt. The thud of his heart beat quickened as he paused to look around him. Green shoots of plants, grays, blues, and yellows grew tall and as he continued to look he saw the woman. She was staring at him, curiously her hazel eyes slowly moved down his profile.
“Young man, I would suggest that you lie down inside.” She was helping him now by grabbing his arm and pulling it around her shoulders. “How long have you been riding?”
“About three days, maybe more.”
The woman “tsked” and they made their way into her house. On entering Nate’s nose was bombarded with the smell of lavender, cal lily, and iris. The house was comfortable and had simple decorations. A clay pot here, a painting of a mountain covered in snow with a man standing at the top. Creature comforts, he decided was the way to put it. Taking him into an empty room, the lady laid him down on the bed and disappeared.
A door opened and shut, but in that time frame Nate felt himself slipping away. He saw flashes of recent memories and some old ones too, though they weren’t as happy as the most recent ones. He felt Kali laying against him singing into the star filled night sky, the warmth she spread in his chilled body was enough for him to think he could stand and fight anyone who came at him. But as it always had the feeling past and he was no worse for wear.
“Mother, you brought a stranger into the house! Why? You could have just left him outside. He would have got the picture eventually.” A shrill nasal voice blasted through the house.
“Jeania, his is hurt badly, I couldn’t have left him, he is close to dying and you are here stopping me from helping him! He is one of the rangers, I can tell, we must save him.” The lady’s voice was low but firm.
“Fine, but if he even thinks of getting up and ‘taking a walk’ he is not coming back here.”
“That is fair enough, now let’s go and heal his leg.”
The two entered, Jeania, with a bowl of water and a sack of something, and her mother with a basket of herbs and other healing plants. Nate could barely see them, he had a splitting headache and he felt as if a clan of bees had taken to stinging his ears over and over, or maybe that was humming? He didn’t know. Trying to take a deep breath he blinked and focused on what the women were doing.
“Jeania, please mix the lavender powder with the water while I try and get off the rest of this ice.” The older woman said grabbing a chisel-like tool and walking near him.
Gasping Nate tried to talk, “Ma’am…Miss…my friend…she will need…help…she is hurt…worse…than me. I told…her…not to…but…she is…very stub-born.”
Jeania laid a hand on Nate’s arm, “We will take care of her don’t worry.” She smiled sweetly. At that she placed a rag drenched by the lavender oil water on his mouth and nose. He slowly relaxed and faded into sleep.
? ¤ ?
“Hello? Lady, you need to wake up. You’re all torn up and I want to take you to the healer so you can get some help.” I awoke hearing the gruff voice of a man. All I could muster was a weak groan.
The man picked me up gently afraid I would break. His hands were strong and even as weak as I was I could tell he was dressed in armor and had both a sword at his hip and a bow on his back. Grinding erupted my thinking. The great walls into Rohan had opened to a mixed blood, they wouldn’t be happy to find out.
It felt as if eternity itself was wasting away as the guard slowly walked to the healers house. I was surprised to see blurs of color as he walked. I was surprised to see anything at all. The guard knocked on the door and waited.
“Hold on just a minute!” A woman’s voice came through the windows, seconds later she opened the door swinging it hard on its hinges.
“Oh, another one? Yes she must be the man’s friend. Well, Ian, follow me, I’ll show where to put her.” The woman turned smartly on her heels and plunged into the dark house. “Mother, we have the girl, and she is worse than that man.”
“Nate…is here?” I choked out the words and made the guard jump threateningly.
“Your friend made it here about four hours before you. We patched him and cleaned him up. He is rested now.” Her voice was calm but her appearance would suggest otherwise.
“Can I…see him?” I asked.
“We will put you on the bed next to him so you won’t be alone. How did you get that gash on your stomach? And the one on your side?” An older woman had just entered and silently cursed.
I didn’t answer, we were in the room. Nate was so still and pale, I didn’t want to think about how bad he was hurt. His breathing was normal, but his face was terrifying. His chin and cheeks were darker, he needed a shave. I did this? Nate shouldn’t have gone so long without help. What if he can’t walk rightly again? It would be all my fault. I’m just dreaming this isn’t real; I’m back in the woods hiding.
But I was jerked back to reality by the guard as he put me in the bed beside Nate, and then took his leave. The older woman walked up to me and looked at my stomach and side. Her curtsey evaporated making her face become hard and grim. The two women exchanged looks as they began working on me, but they didn’t say anything to each other. I was amazed by the fact that they never bumped into each other though they moved constantly taking the others place.
I started to drift into sleep when the women moved away. They looked me over and nodded then walked out of the room. As soon as they left I twisted to look at what they did. Surprisingly I wasn’t as bloody as I thought I would be. They had sown together my skin on my side and my stomach nicely; it followed the cut of the wound well. Pulling the covers off of me I slowly began to sit up. Pain seared through my body but I wasn’t going to sit in that bed all day.
I got about halfway when Nate twitched violently in his medicated sleep. Lurching forward I muffled a gasp by clutching my hand to my mouth. His eyes fluttered and slowly creaked open. It took him a while to get his bearings, but once he did he started to look around the room. His gaze rested on me. He smiled slightly and then his face filled with worry as he saw me wince in a spasm of pain.
“You shouldn’t be up.” He whispered and his voice cracked. “Are you all right? You look terrible; I shouldn’t have left you to fight those men.”
“I’m fine, a little worse for wear but I’ll live. How are you feeling?” I stood up as he moved over so I could sit on the edge of the bed.
“I am fine, what happened?” He looked at his hands embarrassed.
“I made a mistake and had to make a risk. It hurt but, I am here am I not?” I laughed then stopped for my side felt like it had spilt again. It hadn’t.
“The woman doesn’t remember me.” My voice was low, barely audible.
“Was she a friend of yours?” Nate shifted to face towards me.
“Yes, she was a good friend of my parents. The last time I saw her I was very little and I hadn’t had my elemental powers yet. She fixed my father up once when he was wounded by a surprise attack from the elves.”
“Kali, I-” Nate was interrupted by loud voices.
“Mother, you know that girl! She is the filthy child of the elf woman and werein man. She is not welcomed in this house!” It was the younger woman talking.
“Jeania, she is injured we can’t throw her out. The man would be furious with us and he might do something regrettable.” The older woman’s voice was loud but level.
“Fine, then at least move her to the back of the house away from us. I don’t trust her. How did she get cut at that angle? No human could get cut by a blade unless they weren’t human when it happened.”
“She is still that little girl I met; I will not have her outside staggering to walk. No one deserves that.”


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