~ The Ride ~ pg 5

Alex’s voice rumbled low and defensive in front of her. “She has not complained.”

The old man glared at him. “And, so I have been told, neither did she complain on her two hour ride into my camp with a bolt through her shoulder, though I’m sure it was pure agony! Look at her, man! She could have torn her stitches and be bleeding out!”

He reached up his hands to her and beckoned. “Come, my Lady. Let’s get you down from there.” Fiora was too tired to reassure him that her wound had mostly healed. She simply wanted off the horse. Prying her fingers open, she practically fell off into his surprisingly strong arms. After taking a moment to regain her balance, she stood – albeit wobbly – and gave him a weak smile. 

He wasted no time in unfastening her leather tunic and tearing it back to get at her shoulder. The rush of wind on her bare skin was so welcome after the suffocating ride she did not protest the intrusion, though a number of other voices around her did. A part of her sensed the men dismounting around her and the back of her mind registered Chink grabbing the healer and pulling him backwards while Alex tugged her tunic back to modesty and Demil wrapped his arm around her waist for support asking if she was okay. But the forefront of Fiora’s mind was on the old man’s expression. Astonished, envious, …humbled. A mix of something like that. “By all the stars that shine…” he whispered his awe. “I had heard – people have told me – that earth healers can work miracles but… I have never witnessed one before.”

Demil and Alex together were pulling her away from him when Civyl strode into view, sword in hand. “And you may never witness another!” he seethed. “Who do you think you are, exposing her like that?”

The man’s focus finally changed and he raised his hands, palms out, as the tip of Civyl’s sword came closer. “Apologies, please, I was only concerned with her wound. My line of work… it has numbed me to the need for modesty.”

“Civyl,” Fiora found her voice, as weak as it was, “Do not take offense on my behalf, for I have taken none. Please put your sword away.” He looked at her, really looked, convincing himself of her sincerity before returning his sword to its scabbard. 

Surprisingly, he strode towards her and reached a hand to her cheek. Fiora leaned into his touch even as both Demil’s grip on her waist and Alex’s grip on her arm tightened. Civyl’s voice was admonishing but soft. “You are white as a sheet. Why did you say nothing?”

The End

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