Journey of the Messenger Cycle 1 Part 6d

Journey of the Messenger Cycle 1 Part 6d

Previous Next


Berri woke with a start. She had been dreaming about the first time she was in combat, the first time she saw people grievously wounded, the first death she had witnessed, the first time she had killed someone. She was disorientated, confused. Someone loomed above her and nearby someone moaned in pain.

The looming figure crouched, “Berri? Awake?”

“Yes, Osran.”

“Ijah in pain, too hot. Me need rest.”

She sat up, blinked in confusion. Her body was tired. It was still dark, the dawn would be a long while coming. She gave a nod, stood and stretched.

“Put wood chips near fire. Water been bubbled. I do not know plant for Ijah.”

“That’s okay. I’ll look after this. Try to get some sleep.”

“I sleep now.”

Berri went to the fire and threw on some of the little chunks of wood but they were not dry and put up a lot of smoke before burning properly. Berri checked the water, found the herbs she needed and put half a handful into the pot. She checked on Ijah, who was feverish and soaked in sweat. Berri put her blanket over her. She sat beside Ijah, holding the woman’s uninjured hand. When the tea was ready she propped Ijah up bit and dribbled tea between her lips. It took a while to get her to drink all of it, she carefully lay her back down and kept a close watch until the tea took effect. Ijah settled a bit before slipping into a more restive sleep.

Berri was worried about Ijah. Yes the woman was tough, one of the most resilient she had ever met, but the wounds she had taken were substantial. Maybe not life threatening, but both the leg and the hand were likely to cause long term debility. Assuming an infection did not kill her.

She remembered Odeena talking about the border town in Caffern, the one with the big fortress… Twalvin, Trawlin…? Odeena had said there were mages attached to the garrison and there was a Temple of Mercy, among others, in the town. If she took Horse she could be there in two days, maybe. Then, however long it took to find a healer and convince them to come out here and two to three days to get back, maybe. Possibly an eight-day if things did not go smoothly. The problem with that was she would not be here to tend Ijah’s wounds.

Something had to be done with Odeena, sooner would be better. She did not want to put her out for the animals, the woman deserved more than that.

Osran started snoring. Berri considered sending her to Caffern, but that seemed problematic for a number of reasons, not the least being that she was unable to ride Horse. Maybe she could show Osran how to look after Ijah?

Stifling a yawn, Berri stood and wandered around the perimeter of their camp. She would need to collect a bunch of herbs, harvest what was available in the old garden, build a cairn for Odeena and see how much of their funds were left. No doubt it would take silver to motivate a healer to come out this way, not to mention more supplies. Osran would have food for an eight-day or more, Ijah would not be eating much for the next few days. She figured she should be able to do all that in two days. It would be best for Ijah if she stayed that long anyway.

When the promise of dawn started lightening the eastern sky, Berri set about the tasks she needed to do. She left Osran to sleep for as long as she needed, she had kept the watch through most of the night. Berri started with the old gardens, she collected the food that was most ready then thinned out the plants that were not food, keeping those that would be useful as medicine. She fed Horse some of the root vegetables then gave her a good brushing. After cooking some food she woke Osran, they ate in quiet contemplation.

After breakfast Berri checked on Ijah again, gave her some water and rolled her onto her own bedding. Osran reclaimed the hatchet and continued to hack at the tree.

Berri, with their small shovel in hand, investigated the foundations. She shifted a bit of earth, moved a lot of stones. From one foundation she was piling field stones and from the other cut stone, there would be plenty to make a suitable resting place for Odeena.

“Hey! Tree come down. Look for yourself.” Berri suspected Osran meant, look out for yourself, which she did, stepping well clear of the area where the tree would likely come down. She watched as Osran took a run at the tree and threw her weight into it. Nothing happened. After a couple more attempts Osran gave up trying to knock it down. She resumed hacking at it, muttering to herself.

Berri scouted around, looking for threats as well as collecting useful plants. She was in the process of making more tea for Ijah when the tree Osran was chopping gave a loud crack, her companion shouted out a warning and scooted out of the way. Yet the tree still did not come down, it had shifted considerably, raining leaves and branches.

“Maybe should have axed the tree, killing axe not tree axe. No?”

“I think you’re doing fine. Run at it again, maybe it’ll come down this time.”

Osran did so, the tree creaked and shifted a bit but refused to fall over. Berri advised her, “Give it a few more whacks, but be careful, it’ll go any moment now.”

Osran went back to chopping at the tree. Moments later, with a mighty crack the tree came down. “Hah! Tree dead.”

“Good job. Want to help me over here?”

Osran came over, “What we do with stones?”

“We’re going to make a place for Odeena’s body.”

“Why? She not war-leader.”

“No, she was a singer of songs and a teller of tales. The most beautiful woman I’ve ever met. I want her to be remembered.”

“Okay. I help now.”

Berri gave her the shovel, showed her where to dig and went back to moving stones around. Later, after the trench had been dug to a depth of an arm length, the two of them placed flat stones along the bottom. They built up the sides to a bit above the level of the ground.

While taking a break Berri showed Osran how to make tea. She found the cleanest cloth available and cleaned Ijah’s wounds, then replaced the bandages. The wounds were puffy and sore looking, Berri expected them to get pussy later.

The two of them went to the pond, cleaned the bandages and themselves, then they made food.

Ijah woke briefly. All things considered she was doing better than Berri had expected. She ate some food, relieved herself with some help from Osran, had some tea and went back to sleep.

Next, Berri showed Osran the garden, the herbs she had gathered and where she could find more of the same. Osran returned to the felled tree, after she sharpened the hatchet she started took off the bark and smaller branches.

Berri searched through the gear to see what was available for weight, between what she and Ijah had secreted away there were five silver weight and nearly fifty copper. She was not sure it would be enough to convince anyone to come out this far to heal someone. She searched through Odeena’s belongings and was surprised when she found a nice looking short sword in her bedroll. In addition to a handful of silver and copper coins she found a small pouch with eight gold weight. More than enough.

After robbing her dead friend, Berri saw to her burial. Osran insisted on putting a large necklace on her, made from some of the troll bones she had gathered, “That help to show all that she was a mighty woman.”

Berri smiled at the thought, “She had this sword. I was thinking of keeping it.”

“Better to have her weapon. In the after, there is much fighting.”

Berri was not sure about that, but placed the sword in the grave anyway. The two of them stacked stones until she was well covered, using the finished stone for the final layer. It was a nice cairn. She cried for a while, sitting next to the grave. Osran went to get some rest.

Berri made food, woke Osran and after they ate she went over what needed to be done for Ijah again. She was so exhausted that she just laid down beside the woman and fell asleep in moments. Towards dawn Osran woke her.

When there was enough light, Berri cleaned out Ijah’s wounds. The Kereshi woke once Berri had finished with the bandages, she ate a bit of food and had more tea. Ijah could barely move her hand, Berri was not happy with the way the wound above her knee was looking. “I’m going to go get a healer.”

“I should be able to travel in a couple of days.”

“If I get you a healer, you may not be crippled. If I don’t, then…”

Ijah looked discomforted at the thought. “Okay then.”

“I’ve shown Osran how to look after you. I’ll do so again throughout the day and before I leave tomorrow. If all goes well, I should be back within five days.”

“There’s not much weight left.”

“It’s alright, Odeena had plenty.” Berri told her. Ijah looked sad at the mention of the minstrel. She lay back down, quickly succumbing to sleep.

When Osran woke up, Berri told her what she intended to do, “I’ll need you to keep looking after Ijah while I’m gone.”

“I will do that. You have, er, will show me how? Again.”

“I will.”

Osran went back to harvesting wood, Berri gathered more herbs and food. Later when they attended Ijah, Osran was very attentive. Berri was fairly sure her friend understood what needed to be done. Ijah looked a bit better towards sunset and sat up with them while they ate. The two of them had plenty of advice for Berri, regarding her planned trip to the border fort. She assured them she would be careful, besides, she was not going alone. “Horse will be with me.”

Berri left the next morning, not long after the sun had risen.

The crows returned to the trees, making a lot of noise as she departed. She wished she had a saddle for Horse, but would make do, she had first learned to ride bareback.

Osran returned to her wood chopping.

Ijah waved as Berri departed.


Previous Next

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *