Chapter 2

By the time you arrive at their base, you can hardly stand. Nobody has asked you any questions, which you’re thankful for - though they’ve treated your wound as best they can for now, you scarcely have the energy to walk, let alone answer tiring questions. You suddenly feel as though your body is burning up and you fall to your knees, shivering. Have you really lost so much blood? Or, worse, has your weakness let you catch fever again? Shaking, you attempt to stand up, as though willpower alone will prevent you from fainting. You ought to know better.

The same strong arm as before pulls you to your feet, knows better than to let go even when you’re upright once more. He hauls you onto the horse belonging to the red-haired woman, the one who seems to be his second-in-command. The horse does not like this. It kicks and bucks in an attempt to throw you, though the woman does her best to calm it. Even in your half-delirious state, you understand what is happening. The horse won’t bear you because it knows what you are. You ought to have guessed that one beast could smell another out. Having never had to ride a horse before, it never really occurred to you - not that you could do anything about it even if you had anticipated its reaction.

The commander takes this all in his stride, heaving you back onto his own shoulders instead. You hear him mutter something about a disobedient mule. As you let out a low groan, his arms tighten around you, securing your safety for the time being. It feels odd, but not uncomfortable. You can’t remember ever being carried before, not even as a child. Even if you had, you doubt it would have been like this - your limp body slung across a pair of broad shoulders, your head involuntarily nestled beside a shock of blue hair. This is a definite improvement from the horse.

You don’t remember the last few minutes of the journey, only waking up in an unfamiliar bed. After all, you’re used to sleeping on the ground outside, taking whatever shelter you can get. Any bed is bound to be unfamiliar. Your muscles have seized up, and you find it difficult to move, though you do your best to navigate yourself into an upright position. The only other person in the room is a young girl. She removes herself from her seat as soon as she sees you awake, leaving the room - as far as you can presume- to fetch the commander, as he re-enters with her.

The girl smiles gently at you. Though her hair is a dull brown, her face is similar to that of the commander, and you assume that they are related in some way. “Are you feeling OK now?”

“Marginally better.” Her face falls somewhat, but you decide - as ever- that it is better to be blunt. Your chest has been properly treated and bandaged, but you still have a splitting headache, and you expect more than one new scar from that last battle.

The commander walks over and sits in the seat that the girl has abandoned. “So...” He pauses and rests his hand on his knee, as if unsure of quite what to say. “Care to tell us a bit about yourself?”

You swallow hard and look away, out of the nearby window, wondering just how much you can tell them without telling them anything at all.

The End

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