Inés woke up with her limbs feeling numb and heavy. She stretched, ignoring the slight sense of pain that shot through her and looked around. Her surroundings were familiar but it took her a moment to recognise the Academy’s infirmary. Her armour had been placed in a corner along with two other sets. A pair of tonfa was neatly set next to one.
Serena was fast asleep in a chair beside her bed. Inés moved over to her, brushed her hair aside and gently kissed her forehead.
Serena’s hand moved up and she gasped, startled awake. “You should be in bed,” she muttered.”You were…”
“Burned, yes,” Inés stated. “But I’m fine now, just sore. How long was I out?”
“Almost a full day,” Serena answered. “But they said it’d take you three or four days and several more healing sessions to get back on your feet.”
“Really?” Inés asked. “That long?” She held out her arms and examined them. They felt a little tender, but there was no sign that they’d been burnt. “Looks like they underestimated me.” She looked around. “Is Sylvie with Illyana?”
“I think so,” Serena answered. “She dropped in and said she’d be in the garden if I needed her.”
“Well, I’d hate to interrupt her too quickly,” Inés moved over to the bed and sat down, patting the bed beside her. “You wanna fool around a bit before fetching her?”
“Are you sure you’re all better?” Serena asked.
“Well, you can examine my body closely for burns before getting too… invested,” Inés offered.
Serena moved over to the door, opened it, looked outside, closed and locked it.
“Maybe it would be okay for just a bit,” Serena said.
She sat behind Inés and looked up at her, feeling suddenly bashful. Inés moved in and kissed her tenderly. Serena quickly, but gently removed Inés’ small clothes and kissed her neck, arms, chest, and legs, examining each area carefully. There was no sign of any burns. Only then did she take off her spectacles and set them aside.
“My, aren’t we eager?” Inés teased. She began undoing Serena’s tunic.
“It’s your fault,” Serena said. “Before I met you… I was never like this. I never even…” her voice broke off into a soft moan.
Two and a quarter hours later, the two dressed and headed for the garden.They found Sylvie sitting beneath a tree with Illyana. The two of them were talking excitedly.
“Yo, Partner,” Inés greeted. “Having fun out here?”
Sylvie nearly jumped to her feet and looked at them.”Should you even be up?” Sylvie asked.
“I’m perfectly fine now,” Inés said. “Serena was even kind enough to examine me.” She playfully rubbed Serena’s head while Serena tried to mentally stop her face from flushing.
“It’s true,” Serena said. “There’s no sign of a burn anywhere on her.”
“That’s great news!” Illyana declared. She reached over and grasped for Inés’ hands. Inés moved her hands so that Illyana could get a hold of them easily. Illyana grasped them for a moment before letting go.”I’m so happy you’re better.” She hugged Inés. “But, I suppose that means you’ll have to leave soon.”
“Sorry,” Inés said. “We do have a journey to complete.”
“We’ll have to replace your weapon first,” Sylvie said. ” We couldn’t find your staff in the temple’s remains. It either got burned to a crisp or buried under rubble.”
“Probably both,” Inés stated. “I had it with me when a part of the ceiling fell on me. Didn’t when I crawled out.”
“It shouldn’t be too hard to find a good blacksmith,” Sylvie said. “We’ll check the business quarter.”
“Actually,” Illyana interjected. “I heard a rumour a couple days back that there’s a great weapon smith living on Mt. Deucero.”
“That would be risky,” Sylvie muttered.
“It’ll be fine,” Inés said. “It’s not even a day’s march away.”
“But if we’re attacked on the way there…” Sylvie began.
“I’ll punch whoever attacks us or drop a ton of water on their faces,” Inés interrupted. “And, if the rumour is false, we can always head back, stay the night and still be back on the road before you’d anticipated.”
“Fine,” Sylvie said. “I’ll agree on one condition.”
“And that is?” Inés asked.
“You borrow Serena’s tonfa,” Sylvie said. She glanced at Serena. “No offence, but I’d rather have her armed.”
“No, it’s fine,” Serena said. “I completely agree. After all, you’re so much stronger than I.”
“You’re probably better with them at this point than I am,” Inés said. “Given all the practice you’ve put in. But I’ll agree, if only to get this pilgrimage back under way.”
“Then it’s agreed,” Sylvie said. “We’ll retrieve our armour, pick up the horses and be on our way.”