Rikojuu’s tent had a hint of smoke in the air, hanging on by a thread as she wrapped Jodyis’s bloody arm. The months on the road marching towards Verallis’s fortress were mixed with sitting in an old, dusty tent that would burn in the sun while discussing battle plans with Jeremy, fighting skirmishes and taking out any bandits that joined the fray, bandaging herself up in Rikojuu’s tent and getting reprimanded before stalking off into the shadows during the night to attempt to understand the emotions that ruled her nightmares. This time, it wasn’t anything outside of the norm, her wounds hidden under a few layers of foul smelling herbs and linen bandages. The sun filtered in through the stitching between the tents, and caused small, extremely hot rays of sunlight to shine onto Jodyis’s face.

“Life changed when you left the second time.” The silence that hung between them as Rikojuu bandaged Jodyis could’ve been cut with a butter knife, but she continued on. “The Elders demanded that there be attention given to the threat of espionage, as well as the increasing threat that the Humans presented to us. The Council wasn’t swayed so easily until the report of the incident in our clan slapped them in the face, hard - They gave us the resources and manpower it took to join you, although it took a few months.”

Jodyis stayed silent, her gaze averted. She just spoke more words to me than she had in a few years. “Then… I saw you in your armor, leading these people to victories and defeats, and I saw your mother standing where you were. Jodyis, I can’t bear to lose you too. Styn and Umren were gone too soon, too quick and I can’t help but remember the time that I was forced to carry you away, screaming, in my arms from your parents bled on the ground.” Rikojuu stopped, her eyes filled with tears and her grip shaky. “Please. Promise me that you won’t die on me… That I’ll be able to see you grow old and see you live your own life, past this grief.”

Jodyis gently took her hands off of the bandage, the linen wraps falling against her arm, interlocking them with her own. The feeling of Jodyis’s rough skin over the smoother skin of Rikojuu’s comforted her as she set her mouth in a tight line. “I promise you that even if I do die,” Rikojuu winced, pain flashing on her face, “that I’ll go down trying. That I won’t let death steal me away without a fight. I’m going to make sure that I’m doing something that will benefit you and my country.” Silence hung between the women, and the sound of Rikojuu’s sobs tore through the silence. Jodyis placed a comforting hand on her back, drawing her in as she let the worry filled tears fall down her face and into the shawl draped over Rikojuu’s shoulders.

The End

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