Journey of the Messenger Cycle 1 Part 6c

Journey of the Messenger Cycle 1 Part 6c

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Ijah had managed to get her sword between herself and the wyrm. Wedged against its open jaw, she briefly stood her ground. The thing’s tail whipped around, struck Ijah’s leg and she fell to one knee. Somehow Ijah was still fighting though, one hand on the hilt of her weapon, the other against the back of the blade, it was still in the wyrm’s jaw despite how it thrashed.

Osran sprinted forward, closing rapidly, but Berri knew Ijah was out of time. So Berri did the only thing she could. She dropped to one knee, brought her crossbow up and sighted along the weapon, aiming for the creature’s head.

The wyrm clawed Ijah and thrashed its head from side to side, still the Kereshi managed to push against her blade, limiting its movements. Berri pulled the trigger. Osran was nearly to the fight, the bolt missed her by a hand span. The half-orc’s charge blocked Berri’s view of where the bolt hit. Still bellowing, Osran kicked the creature and them slammed her axe into it. Ijah pulled herself away.

The wyrm thrashed and rolled, Osran kept swinging at it, missing more than she hit. Berri put her crossbow down then ran to them, by the time she had reached Ijah the wyrm lay motionless. Osran kept hitting it.

Ijah was in bad shape. Three deep gashes ran down her lower abdomen, down across her left hip and her right leg had been punctured above the knee. Her left hand had been gashed, maybe by her own blade. There was a lot of blood. Berri stripped off her tunic, knelt, folded the garment in half and pressed it against the wound on Ijah’s abdomen.

Osran kept shouting and smashing the wyrm with her axe. Berri took her shawl and bound it tightly around Ijah’s right leg. Berri shouted at Osran, “It’s dead.”

“Rrggh!” Osran screamed at her, rage livid across her face.

Berri took one of Ijah’s scarves, “Can you open your hand?” Ijah gave a weak nod, forcing her left hand open with her right. The gash was deep, to the bone. Berri quickly wrapped the scarf around it, “Okay, grip that.”

Berri was startled by how much blood had already soaked into her tunic. With hands starting to shake she pulled some cord from her pouch and tried to secure the tunic more tightly. In that time Osran had hacked the wyrm in two. Berri tried to get her attention again, “Hey, can you get Horse? I need my herbs and sewing kit.”

Osran turned wild eyes on her, her lips were pulled back in a horrid toothy sneer. “Horse?”

“Yes! If you want Ijah to live go find Horse.”

“Okay.” She spared a glance in Odeena’s direction, but turned and bounded off after Horse.

Ijah said weakly, “Nice shot.”


“That was a good shot.”

“Okay. Um, don’t die on me, but I have to go check on Odeena.”

Ijah’s expression was sad, she gave a nod and tried to manage her breathing. Berri went over to where Odeena lay motionless. She could see that the minstrel had died fast, claws had raked her from shoulder to knee along her left side, and there was a puncture wound in the centre of her chest. Weirdly, her expression was peaceful, her sightless eyes staring up at the sky.

Berri, tears streaming down her face took the minstrel’s water skin. She walked back over to Ijah, sobbing uncontrollably. The Kereshi’s eyes held a deep sadness, “I’m sorry, I-”

“Shh, here, drink.” Berri sobbed, then held the water skin to Ijah’s mouth. She was relieved that Ijah was not choking up blood and could drink water. Her tears flowed freely, drops dribbling off her nose. She wiped them away and made sure Ijah had drank her fill.

Berri tried to focus her thoughts. She needed to do all the right stuff and things here, Ijah’s life depended on it. She looked around and drank a bit of water. She took a deep breath, trying to regulate her breathing. Once she had settled herself a bit she went and retrieved her crossbow.

Odeena’s dead. She was not going to think about that. “Tits! I wish Horse wouldn’t run off every time something horrible happened.”

Berri went to the trees, gathered some obvious branches, inspected the water then loaded the crossbow. She took a long look around then went over to the ruins. There was plenty of stone, just under the grass . She found more wood.

She paused briefly, waved to Ijah. Ijah waved back, Berri was heartened by the response.

Carefully she scouted around the ruins, through the brush and the overgrown gardens. She found lots of food. That was a relief, no wyrms though, just peas, beans, parsnips, carrots and radish.

“Berri!” Ijah’s shout sounded distressed. Berri ran in her direction, when she came into sight Ijah was waving at her, directing her attention to where Odenna lay. The pseudo-vulture had returned, hopping around Odeena cautiously. Berri slowed, but kept walking towards the body, poor Odeena. When she was withing ten paces of the wyrm it took note of her and hissed. Berri brought her crossbow up, she shot it. Her bolt punched right through, it flopped around for a while before laying still. She reloaded then walked up to the thing and put another bolt into it, definitely dead.

She went to Ijah, “You okay?” Berri was disturbed by how drawn and weak she appeared.

“I’ve been better.”

Berri chuckled halfheartedly, it really was not funny, “Osran should be back soon with Horse. Then I’ll get you cleaned and sewn up. You’ll be good in a few days.” She checked the bandages she had improvised, nothing looked great, but most of the bleeding had stopped or at least slowed. She looked to the east and wondered what was keeping Osran.

“You’re doing fine, Berri.”

“Mm.” She was not too sure about that, “I’m going to get a fire going. Then I’ll be back. Let me know if the crows show up.”


Berri loaded the crossbow again and took another look around the area. They would need shelter. The trees were likely the best place to do that, though it was too close to the water. Animals would come, maybe more wyrms. If she made a shelter closer to Ijah, then she would not have to move her as much. She looked to the sky, there were a few clouds, a bit of haze, it did not look like it would rain anytime soon. She built a fire.

The crows did return, settling into the trees. Berri watched them, hoping they would leave her friend alone, but crows were crows. They could not help but do what crows do. She put more fuel on the fire then checked on Ijah. She had to wake the woman up, “Hey, stay awake for now. Better that you stay awake.”

Ijah gave a weak nod.

Berri went to Odeena, the minstrel’s lute and bedroll were a couple paces from the body. She covered her with the blanket and the tarp, shifting some earth to weigh it down. Berri went back to check on Ijah again, she was awake. Good enough for now.

What was keeping Osran? She added more wood to the fire. Soon she would have a good bed of coals.

She busied herself by gathering more branches, dried grass and dead brush. By the time she returned to the fire again, Osran was back, crouching near Ijah. She had found Horse. Berri ran over.

“Stupid horse, not want to come, made me chase.”

“It’s okay,” Berri gave Horse some pats along her neck and took the lead, “Do you think you can carry Ijah over to the fire? Gently.”

“I can do. Gently, like mother with baby.”

Ijah groaned when she was picked up and had passed out by the time Osran carefully placed her near the fire. Berri put some water on to boil, found some clean clothes at the bottom of her pack then went to the pond to wash herself and the clothing. Osran gathered some more branches, eyeing the trees. Berri noted that the crows were over, picking at the corpse of the wyrm that had attacked them.

“We need more wood?”

“Yes. Do you think you can climb up and cut some of the branches from the tree?”

“Yeah, maybe.” She picked up the small wood hatchet, “Better we cut down smaller tree?”

The smallest tree was not really small, “If you think you can.”

Osran gave a curt nod, “Tree come down. For Ijah.”

“Okay. Unload Horse first, then move her further away from the trees. I’m going to see what I can do for Ijah.”

“You save Ijah.”

“I will.”

Berri set about her task as Osran started chopping at the tree. It was not an easy job. She rolled Ijah onto one the tarps, inspected the abdomen wound first, cleaned it, stitched the deepest part of the wound using her thread sparingly, she bandaged the wound again. The leg was more difficult. She was not sure about the bones, nothing seemed broken. As best she could, Berri cleaned and stitched, the wound required more thread than she had wanted to use on it. It certainly was not her best work.

Ijah woke many times, Berri knew she was in a lot of pain, but there was not much she could do about that. She heated more water, cleaned the needles and then dealt with the hand wound. She was extra careful with her stitches, she was nearly out of thread and the hand was a difficult place to have heal properly. When she had finished that, she bandaged and braced it with a couple of sticks to make sure it stayed flat. Osran was still chopping away at the tree. Berri added more sticks to the fire, boiled more water, added herbs that would help clean the wound and keep the puss away. She dribbled it over the bandages. She then boiled more water to make a tea she hoped would help ease Ijah’s pain, when she woke up again Berri made sure she drank it all.

Berri felt exhausted by the time she had finished looking after Ijah, there was no time to rest though. More water was set to boil, this time for grains, she threw in bits of dried meat and vegetables as well. She went out to Odeena, wrapped her in the tarp and dragged her over to the nearest ruin. She was not sure if Odeena’s people buried their dead, things were done differently in the Republic than in most of the rest of the freeholds. She wanted to make a marker for her, Odeena had been such a splendid person. She deserved to be remembered. That was something she’d have to deal with tomorrow. She went over to check the food.

Osran was still chopping away at the tree, “Hey. Take a break. It’s near sunset. There’s food.”

“Okay.” She stepped back and looked at her work, “Most done. But hungry. We eat.”

They left a portion of food for Ijah, ate in silence as the night settled around them. Berri felt numb. Osran took some time to sharpen the hatchet, Berri fell asleep listening to the metal grind against the stone. Her dreams were not pleasant.


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