The paved roads that led to Silestra began to fade into dirt paths, branching out into the various villages hiding in the hills. Frederick looked behind him to see the once proud city encompassed by dark clouds, the nebulous forces slowly expanding. He closed his eyes, letting the rushing wind caress his face for the first time in what felt like an eternity.

The dirt roads remained bare, the twin moons illuminating the coast that sneaked into view between the rise and fall of the slopes. Pineglade Lake rested in a snug area a little off the road, the waters calm as the northern side of the shore was covered in conifers. Frederick opened his eyes again and looked down to see Kelstrin maintaining a constant galloping speed, his head level with the ground as the green glow in his eyes began to fade.

"{Let me down, Kelstrin.}" He said quietly, gently patting his ear.

He didn't respond, his breathing becoming harsher and more apparent.


Without warning, Kelstrin's eyes rolled up in his head and he collapsed in mid-gallop. His body bounced and rolled across the dirt road, throwing Frederick into the grass as Kelstrin's horns pulled up roots. He eventually stopped chin deep in Pineglade Lake, his eyes flickering weakly.

Frederick pulled himself up, groaning and rubbing his stomach from the landing blow before looking down past his feet.

"{Kelstrin!}" Frederick shouted, scrambling to his feet as he dusted the grass out of his hair.

He waded into the lake, heaving up Kelstrin's chin with both his hands as he tried to make out his eyes. He grunted from the sheer weight of the beast Kelstrin had become, his hands slipping on his dark gums, holding his head up by his upper jaw now as Kelstrin's lower incisors hung precariously beneath Frederick's hands.

Frederick's arms gave out, Kelstrin's head plopping back into the lake water as he too grunted from the pain, screwing his eyes shut as his shoulders rose. His limbs wobbled as he tried to stand up, instead only falling onto his side as a line of fresh blood dribbled from his shoulder. It shone in the cover of night before the white fur shrank back under his skin, horns merging back into his forehead.

Frederick hooked his hands under Kelstrin's arms, pulling him from the water's edge despite his feeble cries of pain. He hauled him back onto the cool grass, swinging off his pack and tucking it under Kelstrin's head. He combed Kelstrin's bangs back, taking a quick look at the damage.

"{Are we out?}" Kelstrin whispered.

"{Yes. Don't speak.}"

Frederick took down his medical satchel, flipping back the strap as he searched through the assortment of liquids. Each jar was covered in a layer of rubber to prevent breakage, pressure stoppers making airtight seals. He turned over labels before finding an antiseptic, twisting the stopper off as it hissed. With a quick jerk, he ripped open Kelstrin's shirt, buttons popping off the fabric as his exposed he Mystic's chest. He tilted Kelstrin's head away from his injured shoulder, pouring a slight amount over the puncture.

Kelstrin sharply inhaled through gritted teeth, gripping the ground tightly. He exhaled in a series of gasps and stifled groans, his body limp once more as he body visibly shook.

"{Hold on, hold on.}" Frederick whispered, pulling out a pair of forceps and tweezers.

He dug into the puncture, Kelstrin only managing a whimper now as Frederick relied more on his tactile senses than his eyesight. A moment passed in his mind where he was back on the war-scarred fields of The Uncharted Lands, a soldier screaming for life as bullets and alien sounds soared around his head. In a flash, the moment left, Frederick still for a second before he resumed he work. With a twist of his hand, the bullet popped out of Kelstrin's shoulder, falling to the ground with a thud.

Frederick went back into his bag and pulled out an iron rod roughly sixteen inches long, a strange coating of chemicals glistening in the moonlight. He fumbled around for a match in his coat before striking it, setting the rod ablaze. Kelstrin's weary gaze caught sight of the flames before they were extinguished, the rod still smoking.

"{I'm going to count to three, okay?}"

Frederick lowered the rod to Kelstrin's shoulder, firmly pinning his bicep to the ground. Kelstrin whimpered, screwing his eyes shut.

"{One, two, three.}"

He pushed the rod against the bullet wound, searing the flesh together as smoke curled. Kelstrin's lungs managed to belt out a modest scream, his back arching as tears dripped down his cheeks. Frederick's left eye narrowed, chewing on his bottom lip as he rolled the rod to the left and right to make sure the wound was sealed.

"{Done.}" he whispered, quickly withdrawing the rod.

Kelstrin's body thrashed weakly from the aftershock, his eyes wide and pupils dilated as he broke out in a cold sweat. His head rolled to the side, his cheek pressed against cool earth as his body continued to convulse.


Without warning, his body jerked onto its side, his hands and feet clawing into the earth as he made horrible guttural sounds. Before Frederick could pin him back down, Kelstrin began to vomit in waves. From his mouth came a hideous black sludge, mixed with drops of his bile.

He fell on his back, his knuckles a pale tan as he gripped the earth like a life preserver, his nystagmic gaze putting Frederick on edge.

"{It won't stop spinning.}" He whimpered, his heels now digging into the dirt.

"{Kelstrin, just breathe.}" Frederick placed his hands on Kelstrin's clavicle, trying to hold him down.

Kelstrin suddenly gripped him by the collar of his coat, yanking him close to his face. His eyes were unfocused, drifting away from Frederick's face despite the distance between them.

"{You can feel it, can't you?}" he shuddered, his eyelids struggling to stay apart, "{Don't tell me...you can't...feel it...}"

His fingers slipped, his body plopping against the ground as his eyes glazed over. Frederick checked for a pulse, his shoulders relaxing as he felt a faint, frantic, but living beat. He gingerly shifted his body away from the sable pile of vomit, going into his satchel and pulling out a hypodermic. Kelstrin's eyes flickered, numbly watching Frederick measure out a liquid before his head was turned to look at the stars.

"{We are parting ways here, Kelstrin. Don't follow me again.}" He slipped the needle into Kelstrin's uninjured arm, pushing the plunger down.

"{So long as there's air between us, I will always follow you...}" He whispered, the stars fading into darkness.

Frederick gently rubbed the injection site as he saw Kelstrin's eyes close, exhaling a heavy breath. His gaze wandered over Kelstrin's body, moonlight gracing his youthful curves. He shook his head and began to clean the blood off Kelstrin's weakened flesh, his chest rising and falling steadily. As he daubed some antiseptic on some of the smaller wounds, he started mumbling to himself.

"So it seems it's my turn to nurse you, mm?"

He tossed the wad of used cotton into a container labeled with an X, sealing it tightly. Rummaging around in his satchel, he pulled out an empty vial. He scooped up some of the darkened bile, capping it shut and inspecting it in the nightlight. Tilting his head, he placed it back in his satchel, careful not to crack the glass. He leaned back on his arm and looked out at the lake, sighing heavily as his gaze drifted.

"Kah'naii banagra! Shio, shio!" The young boy was dragging Frederick by the hand, a gleeful look in his eye.

He stumbled behind, still gripping his bandaged side tightly as the pain sent firecrackers of color in his eyesight.

"Kah'eteh, Kelstrin!"

Frederick fell to his knees, gasping for breath as he supported himself on his shoulders. He heard an older voice chastising Kelstrin, a softer pair of hands cupping his cheek as water was offered to him. He preferred to be supine, but he accepted some of the liquid, staring back into eyes of precious blue stone.

"Forgive...he...energy." She struggled to say in Elbanish, smoothing Frederick's hair back with a maternal smile.

Frederick felt the edges of his sight haze into bright light, keeling over onto his side as he continued to wheeze. He heard a flutter of crazed voices and suddenly he was lifted from the ground, cradled in a stretcher of some sort as the bright sunlight was overcast by a roof. He could make out faces and bleak sounds, an assembly of hands migrating over his body. He wriggled from their touch, a sound of shells and wooden beads catching his ears before a formidable masked face loomed over him.

"Ii koodowa na?" His voice was deep, but smooth, polished by years of wisdom.

The deep holes in the mask hid his eyes, his head surrounded in a bushy mane of white animal hair. He leaned out of Frederick's view, a sudden explosion of pain from his side causing him to scream. Just as quick as it occurred, it vanished, his body shaking in the aftermath. He heard a rhythmic sound come from the masked man now, a golden light circling around in his gaze before it darted for his face, and then, nothing.

Frederick returned to reality, a hand rubbing his side absent-mindedly as he watched the ripples on the lake. He reached over and pulled his military-issued blanket out from the bottom loops of his pack, spreading it out over Kelstrin. He slipped off his spectacles, rubbing the bridge of his nose with a tired sigh. He folded them up and placed them face up on the ground as he lay down and stared at the stars. His copper rims gleamed in the moonlight before he closed his eyes, his breath giving off a slight vapor.

The End

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