I checked Elthinor’s wound carefully, running my fingers lightly around it. The swelling had gone down considerably, and the claw marks were healing nicely. A week had passed, and the weather had turned slightly colder, signifying autumn was coming. I sat back on my heels and looked up at his fair Elven face.
“Well?” he asked, hope in his eyes.
“I believe we can start traveling for half the day or less starting tomorrow. Provided Gabrithon’s wounds are healing as well as yours,” I added after a moment’s thought. “And Ember’s, too.”
“You know they are healing better than Elthinor’s are,” Gabrithon replied. “Mine weren’t scarred over from a previous attack.”
“Nolan, take a look,” I said as I took some of the Raysiam cream to rub it over the wounds.
Gabrithon lay down on his belly as Nolan got up and walked over to the Centaur, removing the bandages to check the puncture wounds. I noticed from afar that they were looking better than Elthinor’s were, even though they were deeper. I smiled and nodded at Nolan, who was looking at me questioningly.
“It looks good,” I said with a smile. “Now for Ember. Come here boy.”
I was at a good stopping point, so I left Elthinor for a moment and pressed my hand on my faithful pet’s side. From what I could tell, the Vampires must have knocked him out because he ran back to camp unscathed when the Aswangs had been circling. Elthinor had told me that the Elemental had immediately tried to save my mother when Tikujar had tackled her to the ground, but he had been clawed by Rattuin and had hit a tree, knocking him out again. Though he had been slow for a few days, Nolan had taken care of his wounds as well as he knew how, and he was fine. As I checked his wounds, I smiled. Elementals, I was guessing because of the darkness that had changed them into what they were, could heal just as fast as I could. It probably would not even scar too badly. I scratched behind the Kindle Wolf’s ear and kissed his fur lightly.
“He is going to be just fine. He is healing faster than both of you,” I said, teasing them.
“So we are finally leaving?” Nolan asked, eagerness in his voice.
“Yes,” I replied. “We are leaving tomorrow morning.”
“Where are we going?”
“We should go back to that town to restock on Raysiam and food before we head out,” Elthinor said as I finished binding his wounds.
“Good idea,” I said. “But I think we should get there earlier so we don’t get trapped in the town with those Naga creatures this time.”
“And by we, you mean who exactly?” Gabrithon asked, gesturing to his horse half and irritating Nolan, who was attempting to rub Raysiam into the Centaur’s wounds.
“Nolan and I,” I said with a raised eyebrow.
“How will we pay for it?” Nolan asked. “I don’t have one coin to my name.”
“I have Elven money,” I replied. “The merchants in there don’t know how much Elven money is worth, so they take whatever I give them.”
Elthinor laughed softly at that then went silent as he struggled into his shirt; it hurt his side to lift his arms up, but he managed.
“So just one more night of waiting?” Nolan asked.
The poor boy had been bored out of his mind after two days, and it had only gotten worse as time wore on. That wasn’t to say the rest of us were happy about being stationary for so long, but Nolan seemed to be affected the worst. I smiled at him, and his eyes showed hope.
“Yes, just one more night. Then we head to that town…what is it called anyway? It is your hometown.”
Nolan shifted slightly and smiled. “Bushacre. There used to be lots of greenery before the Naga moved in. Then, the plants started dying around the city. There are a couple of forests several days away to the southwest and northeast of us, and that’s where we get most of our supplies. Plus there is farmland to the southeast.”
I hummed with interest. “Really? I was wondering where they got everything. The vendors seemed well stocked.
I paused then looked up at the sky. It was already turning a beautiful orange pink. I sighed and Ember rubbed my hand, whimpering as he felt my misery surface again. I was still lingering on my mother’s death, and Ember was sympathetic. So much so that it bordered on empathy; he missed her, too, in his own way. The sadness passed, and I pet him again.
Just as I had known it would, my relationship with God was awkward and estranged. Even though what Gabrithon had said was true, and it was our own fault, especially Humankind’s as we—well, half of me—were the spiritual leaders of the races, I could not help but be angry that He would have allowed it to happen. I was avoiding talking to Him about it, ashamed of how angry I felt. I did not know what to do, so I ignored it. I knew it was wrong, but it was all I felt like doing. I did not want to make the effort.
“Fily?” Gabrithon asked as Nolan finished binding his wounds.
“Yes?” I asked abruptly.
“I was just wondering if you were well. Are you thinking about your mother again?”
“Yes,” I lied.
“I know you miss her,” Elthinor said softly. “If I lost my mother or my sister, I would cut all my hair and mourn for…I don’t know how long I would mourn. It would be a long time.”
“I would mourn my mother, as well,” Gabrithon said softly.
“We think no less of you for your pain,” Nolan said with a tender smile, pressing a hand to my shoulder.
“Thank you,” I said gratefully.
We ate dinner then spoke of trivial matters for a couple of hours before deciding it was time to settle in. We would start out early the next morning. One by one the others dropped off. I had volunteered to take the first watch; we were cautious since the death of my mother and kept one person awake at all hours. We took turns. It was between me and Nolan since Elthinor and Gabrithon were still hurt.
As I stared into the fire, I felt my mind swirl around the words Jesiah had said to me in the dream. “Her journey was over. Yours has just begun.” Those words haunted me. If my journey had just begun, what awaited me in the future? Who would I meet? With what new pain would I be bombarded?
I knew it would not be easy; the journey so far had been the most difficult task I had ever done, and that included taming Elementals. I stared up at the sky, dreading the future, when suddenly a calmness and certainty flowed over me. No matter what happened, God would take care of me. I had to fulfill his plans, and until then, death could not touch me. Even if I was angry, my life was in the hands of God.
A smile came over my face at the thought, and I relaxed. I no longer felt any worry at the coming day. In fact, I looked forward to it a little. I stared at my friends and a soft laugh came out of my mouth, waking my Elven friend, who had amazing hearing.
“Fily?” Elthinor asked tiredly as he sat up. “Is everything all right?”
“It will be,” I replied, and I knew in my heart that what I said was true, though it might not be for a long time.
To be continued…