Finding Evarion – (Re)Quest
Part 11 of (Re)Quest* a retelling of Quest
(Picks up where Evarion’s Call left off. )
~ ~ ~
Three men and a cart, mused Henneth. It sounded like the start of a bad joke or a cautionary tale. Two of his party were elderly; one was wounded and Henneth had to admit that he was past his prime, though still decades away from his expiration date. They weren’t much of a match for anything and kidnapping was serious trouble. Violence would be required to free this Evarion person’s daughter. Not the kind of mission men their age should embark on but turning back wasn’t an option.
Three men and a cart,
take precautions my good sirs,
on you life depends.
His path lay ever forward until it ended. He had promises to keep. Unless this mule had another speed besides slow clop, reaching the damsel in distress might take several days or weeks…or years. Shayari did have a hundred valleys and the Taliarten girl’s message hadn’t included a location, just a general plea for help.
He walked beside the mule holding the reins and at times, towing the recalcitrant beast. She didn’t like slopes even though they were descending into one of the hundred valleys of Shayari. Jow sat on the driver’s bench and in the cart, laying on their gear, Willow lay unconscious.
observation had helped identify where the lanky Pathfinder was hurt since that worthy had refused to write down the source of his discomfort. Henneth swallowed bile, his gorge rising, as he recalled the squishy feel of Willow’s shin. The bone had broken in multiple places and the fragments had shifted about under his palm. There was no setting a break that bad, not without a skilled healer to piece the bone back together. No healers dwelled out here in the wild either.
Henneth’s gaze flicked back to the cart; he could just see the old Pathfinder’s creased black face above the blankets Jow had swaddled him in. Could he even heal from a wound like that? He caught Jow’s eyes and read resignation there. The mule stopped but Henneth kept going, tugging hard on the beast’s rope halter until she moved.
Pain had knocked Willow out–a mercy that since they had no pain relievers. Jow had made a decent pallet for his partner on the cart’s bed and then their tiny guide had decided she’d had enough waiting around. Zipping off, she’d flown paralleling a rough track that led down the mountainside and they’d followed. What else could they do?
Ahead fluttered the Taliaterten girl; a cross between a tiny woman and bee. She’d brought the strange message and now she served as guide. Except the instant they stepped off the mountain path, she alighted on a flower. Back lit by a shaft of sunlight, she unhinged her mandibles and extruded a thin tube into the flower in search of nectar. Perhaps she needed a break. Gods knew, Henneth needed one.
The mule dropped her head and started choping on the stringy grass sprouting around the rocks that marked this path. After stepping off the trail to relieve himself, Henneth called out to Jow.
“Ah, what now? Our guide stopped guiding us.”
~ ~ ~
Willow woke to waves of pain sloshing hot and angry through his leg. Something crawled on his face. Lifting a hand to smack the enterprising insect, he froze when buzzing caught his ear. Memory rushed back pushing the pain down for a moment as he focused. Not a bee buzzing–the Taliarten girl–Evarion’s message.
Willow gripped the side rails and levered himself up. Pain almost coldcocked him; his sight dimmed, telescoping down to a pinprick of light, which he gripped with his mind and pushed, expanding it until the blackness faded. No time for a blackout. He had work to do and Evarion to find.
Swinging his good leg over the side of the cart, he shifted his broken one by slow increments until he could fall the three feet to the ground. If he could just get to Evarion, she could mend his leg. Such a break would be an easy fix for her. He kept his bad leg bent, which had jarred it during his landing but at least he had not put any weight on it. He held to the cart, using it as a crutch to help him hop on his good leg to a patch of ground free of vegetation.
He dug grateful toes into the dirt and the earth caressed him. His leg throbbed but he cordoned off the part of his mind lit up with pain from the rest of his consciousness and set to work. First came grounding, check, he had a solid base thanks to Shayari and her welcoming touch. Second came the path.
He let go of everything–except the cart holding him up–and let his mind drift. Untethered, his consciousness sped taking some paths and discarding others. His kind had made those invisible paths, carved them out of the ether that lay between the mortal realm and that of the spirit. In there he had no busted leg.
So his spirit self ran, flying through the miles seeking with every fiber of his being for a humanoid creature he had not seen in more than a century. Her appearance had probably changed a lot since he’d seen her last but not her essence. That part of her would change very little. Focusing on a magic user who mended flesh with an open, generous heart, he homed in on her; it helped that they had shared magic in the past.
Flesh mender, healer,
giver of her magic stores,
to become human.
Yet again and again he searched but did not find her. Had she changed that much that he had lost that kernel of familiarity? Or did her absence mean something worse. Had that Taliarten girl delivered her last request?
~ ~ ~
To be Continued next week.