Shadow of Hope XXIX

Further examination of the Calishite revealed that he was deceased for some few hours at least, and although Marcus had not witnessed every subversive means to fake death, the severity of this neck injury was without a doubt irreparable by any but the most divine intervention. In addition, he had been stripped down to his under clothing, with anything of value having been removed.

Zulian’s angled eyes gave Katarina an appraising glance from face to foot and back again, as if assessing her motives. She then turned her head slightly and caught Erellia’s eye.

“Katarina, priestess of Trymeya,” Erellia offered before returning to her work with Vanris.

The half-Elf’s eyes turned back to Katarina, and her countenance softened a little. “Well met, priestess,” she said, “You have a keen eye for horses, and indeed I am in something of a predicament, though I believe Selamar here is worse off than me. I do not wish to aggravate his wound.” Zulian said this last bit with an affectionate pat to her horse’s neck. Her eyes then drifted away as if she was still pondering a means to extricate herself from her mount.

“One skilled in extracting such things to remove it while another speaks the words of flesh mending, should it be?” the Lizardman volunteered, having returned with Rôhn. “The loss of blood, it would be minimized this way. And then again, when the splinter is removed from the leg.”

“These attackers, they seem expected here. Or was there more to this attack than they expect? Others are opposing this gathering?” The question was addressed as much to Erellia as Zulian; the rider may have a better idea of what they were up to, but Erellia was probably more aware of potential opposition.

Kurn stood several paces back from the activity, feet square and arms crossed, observing as the rain fell about them all. He was no healer and would be of little use here. He was similarly without the patience to begin a series of questions and receive answers for events. With what he had heard so far, the only missing piece was what plot had played out such that Vanris, apparently well known to Erellia and Zulian, had been so hanged by the bandits. Not that the answer would bring the man back to life…or likely spawn anything more than greater questions.

With arms still crossed Kurn did not appear hostile to the developing situation, but required that piece of information to determine his next course. Whomever Vanris was, he had been important enough for Zulian to risk her life for even such a slim chance of saving him.

A knot was developing within him for frustration of not knowing the full scope of events. Answers would not be readily forthcoming as the focus needed to be shifted to extricating Zulian’s pinned leg from her horse. He needed to do something before the adrenaline from the wake of the battle expressed itself poorly as questions were answered far too slowly. Kurn turned and snatched up his shield, taking it under the shelter and wedging it between his legs. His hands curled about the bent edge, his fingers checked and rechecked their grip until he had firm hold, and with the force of those unanswered questions he starts to bend the metal shield back into shape against the fatigue line the fall had placed along it.

“This unfortunate soul was Vanris Perion, and a greater scoundrel I have never met,” Erellia said, shaking her head, “We had first crossed paths along the southern coast near the city of Mavaren. His unique talents assisted us on several occasions, but it was his mouth and the constant string of obscenities which he would spew forth that made him so memorable. His choice words could make even the likes of one such as I flush with embarrassment.”

A small smile turned the corners of her mouth at some distant memory. “He could have talked his way out of all the hells given enough time,” she continued, the smile fading from her lips, “I have never seen him so silent, and it is difficult to believe that no words will again cross those lips. Whatever befell him, he must not have been given the chance to speak.”

Erellia paused in thought for a few moments before continuing. “Knowing Vanris, on his way here he probably stumbled across the brigands much as Zulian did and then went to investigate,” she stated, her voice regaining some of its former strength, “Perhaps, one day, his sacrifice will gain meaning.”

“He was to join us on this journey, and his death serves as a reminder that our road ahead is rife with danger. Shortly, we depart for the village of Anquilla, a remote sanctuary embedded in Troll infested territory,” Erellia said with conviction, “It is there we begin our search for the first piece to this puzzle. If any of you are having doubts abou–”

Erellia’s voice abruptly stopped, then jumped an octave. “Zulian! By Lenusia’s light, you’re wounded!” she darted over to the half-Elf’s mount, examining the wound with a distasteful grimace. After prodding Zulian’s thigh for a few thoughtful moments, Erellia addressed the party. “Would two of you please take Vanris over and place him on the pyre of raiders while I deal with this? Kat, please grab a small herbal pouch from my pack if you would. A small one in the left pocket with dark green script embroidered on it.”

Katarina lifted the flap of the left pocket and the pouch in question was sitting atop numerous others.

“Amrouth hiulla saratani!” the Elven woman intoned, one hand extended in front of her, palm up. A surge of lavender light passed from the hand against Zulian’s leg to the one extended, and the arrow shaft materialized, blood covered, in her open palm. Dual expressions of relief escaped Zulian and horse alike, and Erellia cast the arrow down and went about treating the wound with powder from the pouch Katarina retrieved. Removing a small vial from her belt, Erellia administered a liquid to the injury, and Zulian winced as the flesh began to knit.

Before the wound was bound though, Zulian dismounted from Selamar despite the protestations of Erellia, who continued to bind Zulian’s wounded thigh. Zulian was inspecting Selamar’s oozing wound, and after a few heartbeats of concentration, she spoke whispered words of power. A pale green light surrounded each of her dark hands around the arrow wound in her horse. As the light faded, the wound was visibly healed, with only a raised pucker to mark its passing.

Daroun stepped out into the open and climbed a dirt mound that gave him all of an additional three feet of height vantage. He wasn’t that good of a watcher either way, best he could manage with his debilitating lack of preparation was squeal a warning if trouble was spotted and perhaps fire off a weak burst of elemental energy before withdrawing behind their numbers. Though he did understand his use in relieving those who partook in the heaviest fighting of the previous moments, he also wasn’t much good at mending wounds. The snippets of discussion he caught were interesting, but he was too far to make out enough details to come to his own conclusions. The young mage stood out there trying to keep his crossbow from getting wet. He for one was not opposed to dealing with things the mundane way if such necessity arose. His limited selection of weapons were perhaps his only defenses now. If the day wasn’t so gloomy, he might have laughed.

Even when all of the party had returned to the shelter, Borlak kept his eyes alert to the surroundings. Thus, as the party was engrossed in the ministrations of the wounded and the dead, Borlak saw the scalemail clad warrior from the bridge militia making his way slowly and peaceably toward the group’s encampment.


Shadow of Hope XXX

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