I wanted to prop myself against a tree for a little while, to rest and recover my stamina. But I didn’t want to risk it. He had been fighting a Magi! One of the five greatest living mages. I hate to admit it but I expected to see the Magi pop out of a tree, the ground or even the sky and vaporize us both with a single spell. I had never felt more frightened. My fear motivated me to keep moving.
After continuing for what felt like a long time I felt Michael stirring. I stopped and let him get to his feet. He moved very shakily so I let him put an arm around my shoulders and helped him walk. He looked at the sword in his left hand as though he couldn’t quite remember picking it up before sheathing it.
“Did you see another sword when you picked me up?” he asked. “It may have been on the ground.”
I shook my head. “Sorry, there wasn’t anything there.”
We struggled on our way in silence for a while. “Aren’t you going to thank me?” I asked.
“Why would I do such a thing?” he inquired.
“Well I did just save your life,” I stated.
“I did not ask for your help,” Michael said. “I told you to leave me alone.”
“You could show some gratitude,” I said. “Did you want to die?”
“I would have taken him with me,” Michael said. “If you had been paying attention you would have noticed that I had cast the binding breath spell. If you had not interfered I would have accomplished my goal.”
“But… but what about your life?” I stammered. “Is revenge really worth giving up your life for?”
“My life is inconsequential,” Michael said. “If I must sacrifice it in order to succeed, then I will do so.”
I stopped and pulled away from Michael. He was able to stand on his own, even though he was shaky. He looked at me with the curiosity of a farmer who finds an oddly shaped vegetable. I wanted to slap him, hard. The fact that he was injured stopped me from doing so. “Don’t ever say that your life isn’t important!” I cried. “Our lives are the greatest gift that the Gods give us. That’s why we have to live as best as we can and hold on to our lives for everything we’re worth. As long as there’s anything that gives us joy, anyone who cares for us, anything we can offer society, we have to keep going.” I could feel my cheeks redden. I didn’t want to be preachy or anything, but I just couldn’t bear to see anyone just talk so casually about throwing their life away. And for what? I glanced over at him wondering if I should give up and prop him up again. He looked like he would fall over if the wind picked up. He returned my gaze with an unchanged expression.
“I have none of those things,” he said. “I am having difficulty understanding your objection.”
I almost slapped him for the second time, but I stopped myself again. “What about that woman who you were talking to?” I asked. “Doesn’t she matter to you?”
“Not particularly,” he answered, turning his gaze to the sky as he said it. He started to walk past me, but his body convulsed and he collapsed to the ground.
I sighed and hoisted him over my shoulder. I couldn’t help but wonder if his lack of emotion was a draconian characteristic or just who he was. It wasn’t like I’d ever meet another one to compare. For a while I walked without really thinking about a destination.
It wasn’t until I realised that we were heading for Het Wald that I stopped to think about it. I couldn’t go back. Father would force me to marry, but where else could I go? I had always been so sheltered that I didn’t know of anywhere that I could go to find medical help. If I knew where the mystery woman, Illyana something or other, lived I could take him there. Even if he honestly felt nothing for her I could tell that she cared about him. But all he’d said about her was her name and there was no way I could find her with just that. It wasn’t like I had guards to send to search for her.
The road ahead branched into a crossroad. There was a fairly large inn beside the road. It had three stories and a stable beside it. Wicadia was to the east, I really didn’t want to go back there. Het Wald was to the north-west. I would only go there as a last resort. Strecner was to the south-west. Relna was about a dozen miles to the south east. I certainly didn’t want to go there, unless things had gotten better with the trolls. Although that was doubtful.
But where could I go then? There were some small settlements scattered around, but there probably wouldn’t be any clerics around there and any other medical help I could find was unlikely to be of much help. Still, it would be better than nothing. Michael was breathing in sort, ragged bursts. He definitely needed to rest and have his wounds cleaned. I dragged him to the Inn’s door. I had to put him down to open it, so I set him gently by the doorway, propped the door open with my foot and helped him inside.