"Agh! Watch it!" Jasper shouted as the medic poured alcohol on the knife wound to clean in.
"I'm sorry Silver," The woman huffed in frustration, laying a firm hand on Jasper's bared back to hold his squirming form still. His still-torn shirt lay draped over a chair, covered in blood. "But this is a very deep wound. It needs to be cleaned or it will become infected. You are very lucky you didnt puncture anything important when--what did you say happened?"
"Patrolling the tunnels," Jasper lied through his gritted teeth. "Slipped and fell on a sharp stone." The medic applied healing herbs to the wound. She knew a stone cut when she saw one, and this gash was too deliberate, too even, to be a simple fall. Jasper had been fighting with someone. She made a mental note to notify Ceri about it, and reached for the needle and thread and bottle of alcohol once more. She cleaned the herbs out of the wound and Jasper yelled in pain again.
"Hush up, baby." A familiar, but impossible voice slipped into Jasper's consciousness. "You've been through worse, as I recall."
"Abby?" Jasper muttered groggily.
"Yeah its me." The girl's beautiful face floated into view. Her long blonde hair curling around her face. "You havent forgotten me already have you Jasper?"
"No, but..." Jasper tried to protest, but quickly squeezed his eyes shut, trying to block out the painful memory. A scouting party, infiltrating the main city, to attempt to plant a bug in the compound. A team of seven had gone in, Ceri, Jasper, Abby, and four others. Two had made it out alive. Ceri had been appointed the leader upon his return, while Jasper had been sentenced to the Rocks, forever.
"No, get out of here while you still can!" Abby yelled, drawing her sword and sheild. She was a skilled fighter, and could fight three men twice her size easily. The Sorcerer's soldiers decended, their eyes black as coals, as dark as the Sorcerer's soul.
Jasper's eyes flew open, and he noticed the doctor standing over him.
"You're done, take this tea, it will help the healing." She handed him an earthenware mug filled with a liquid that smelled sweet and bitter at the same time. "Be sure to watch your step in the future." She tossed him his bloodstained shirt. "Get that cleaned up."
Jasper caught the shirt and took off down the tunnels to his room, where he drank the tea quickly, and fell asleep.
Jasper slept late the next morning, and once he woke up, all his room mates were gone.
"How long did I sleep?" He asked no one, then stood up, grabbed the ruined shirt and took it to the laundry caverns, which were always filled with steam and smelled of soap.
"What have you been doing to make such a mess of your shirt?" One of the women there accused him with her eyes, as she assessed the damage of the stains and the tears. "You might as well get a new one, for all the damage that has been done."
"Slipped on a rock." Jasper said, restating the excuse he'd used last night. The woman eyed him, not buying it.
"Next time, you may want to to avoid the sharp objects, and land on your hands." She said, her meaning coming across loud and clear.
"Yes ma'am." Jasper said respectfully, before retreating from the room, and grabbing a fresh brown shirt off the "clean" pile to wear while the ruined one was being mended.
He headed toward the dining hall, he quickly slipped the fresh shirt on before anyone could see the bandages that covered up the gash in his side, just below his left arm, let alone the scars on his back and shoulders, remnants of a long-ago fight.
"Layla!" He said, noticing her in the line, then he saw who she was talking to.
"...Ceri wants me to ask you if you want to join the in on the fight against the sorcerer, by taking up the sword." Zane was saying. "Its entirely up to you, he also insists if you do decide to take up the sword that I teach you how to fight."
Jasper retreated to the hallway quickly, seething, his mind blacking out to a very different picture than the busy dining hall in front of him.
An ambitious girl, learning the sword, she'd become adept very quickly. Her instincts were quick, and she learned fast. Jasper, though he preferred his knife the to comparatively clumsy sword, he learned alongside her, and taught her what he learned with the blade, they became an unbeatable team...
"The kingdom is weakening," Jasper said, standing before Ceri, confidence burning in his eyes. "If we are to strike at all, we must strike now."
"We know practically nothing about the defenses the Emperor uses." Ceri said practical as always.
"So we plant a bug. Send in a small team to infiltrate the defenses and buy out one of the higher ups. Abby and I will do it..."
That, imbecile, he treated fighting like a game, every wound, ever scar like a prize won. Jasper thought back to last night, that awful, gleeful grin. He loved the thrill of the fight. The adrenalin rush when faced with an enemy. Jasper growled softly through his teeth, just as Zane came through the archway, decidedly smug, that grin still plastered all over his face. He bumped into Jasper's bad side. Jasper hissed out a breath, trying to hide the pain, as Zane ignored him. The guards standing near the entrance were still talking about the new arrivals. Jasper avoided eye contact with them. Finding the two new refugees, pounding at the gate.
No one had noticed what Jasper had noticed last night. The girl, Tanya, slaying half a dozen of those soldiers in just as many seconds. The man, Durn, had been just as prepared to fight them off. They were not helpless, and Jasper did not trust them. He slipped through the dining room entrance, and spotted Layla, back at work once again. He took a plate and followed the line to where she stood.
"Layla," He began, before another blackout plagued him with another memory.
They crept over the wall in the dark of night. Torches dotted the tops of the walls at regular intervals, but the light hindered more than helped the soldiers keeping watch. The small team went unnoticed.
They spent three days in the city, posing as beggars, dressed in rags. Jasper was stationed at the corner closest to the compound, and he saw trains of slaves being led inside, but he never saw anything come out. The walls of the compound were high, smooth as glass and darker than night. The only way in or out was the main gate.
"We have to get in there." Jasper said that night as they regrouped.
"This is already a foolhardy mission." Said another man, Jamal. "We should get out of here and back to the resistance as soon as we can."
"Shhh, do you want the whole city to know where we came from?" Abby said, ever wise. She took a deep breath. "I'll do it."
"What, no!" Jasper protested.
"We need to get in there. I'm the best fighter we've got, and the fastest, if anyone can get in and out of there, I can." Her bright eyes, blue as the sea, flashed with energy.
"No. I wont let you." Jasper stood fast.
"But you'll sacrifice one of the others?" The other men in the team turned toward Jasper, who quickly retreated.
"Alright, we go with Jamal's plan. At sunset tomorrow, we go home..."
"Spirits, what was in that tea!?" Jasper gasped, coming to again, it had only been a few seconds.
"Jasper?" Layla looked concerned, her eyes, blue and bright, caught and held Jasper's attention. "What happened?"
"Nothing, really. One of the medics gave me something, thats all." Jasper said.
"Why did a medic give you something?"
"Slipped on a--"Jasper began. "Hurt myself, did something stupid. Its really not a big deal."
"If you say so." Layla said, but her eyes said something very different.
"How about, I meet you here this evening, after dinner has been cleaned up?" Jasper negotiated.
"Ah, there is our rescuer!" A surprisingly loud voice came from the somewhat wiry frame of Durn, and his sister, the new refugees.
"Duty calls." Jasper muttered, turning to meet the two. "Are you both adjusting well to life here?" He asked calmly.
"As well as can be expected." Durn replied, taking a plate and getting food for himself and his sister. "We are both still adjusting to, being safe, for once in our lives."
"Allow me to lead you to a table." Jasper did his job, but sent glances toward Layla every now and then throughout the meal, hoping he hadnt scared her. Why were those memories resurfacing now, of all times?