Story Note: Well, the updating of this story has been a bit... slow. The previous chapters are resting in the Novellas section of the Cellar, under the same title.
Author's Note: Aleria and her band of adventurers have slain Firkraag, but not without loss. This chapter details what happened with the others while Aleria communed with Carsomyr.
Terrible pain lanced through her leg, an agonizing reminder that she had not moved quickly enough to escape Firkraag’s fiery breath. Her right greave was badly scorched and the leg underneath could barely support her weight. Ignoring the inconvenience of the pain, she rushed to where Valygar lay after being hurled against a wall by one of Firkraag’s final attacks.
Anomen already crouched by the still form by the time she limped her way over. Looking over the Helmite’s shoulder, she could tell the graveness of the situation. Valygar lay in a spreading pool of blood, his body twisted unnaturally. Gaping tears in Valygar’s leather armor wept blood where claws tore through leather, cloth, and flesh. As grievous as those wounds were, it was obvious the impact had done far worse. The bend in his back was too severe - his back was broken.
Carefully, Jaheira lowered herself next to the ranger, pushing back the horror of Valygar’s injuries. Anomen’s hands were already soaked in blood as he tried to staunch the ebbing flow of life essence. Before she could say a word, he looked up and reported, his voice bereft of the careful control he usually affected. “Lady Jaheira, it is serious. His left leg and both arms are broken. The wounds to his chest are deep, his liver and stomach are lacerated. His left lung has collapsed. And..”
“His back is broken,” finished Jaheira.
Swallowing hard, he replied, “Aye.”
“And he still lives. By Silvanus..” Jaheira exclaimed. For the first time, she looked at the dark skinned man’s face and not just his injuries. Pain wracked brown eyes locked onto her green. Despite the massive injuries, the silent ranger still fought on. She always knew the man had strength, but to still be with them shocked the druid.
The shock was short lived, she and Anomen had a patient, a friend, to save. Jaheira reached up and gently touched the ranger’s face, ordering, “You will stay with us Valygar. We will heal you, but we will need you to help.” Turning to the Helmite beside her, she stated. “We need to lay him flat, to get him off these broken rocks.”
As the two mages gathered behind them, Anomen and Jaheira gently scooped up the ranger, lowering him onto an area of undamaged flagstone. Both of their healing spells were nearly exhausted. Neither had more than a few minor healing spells, and considering Valygar’s injuries, they wouldn’t be sufficient on their own. Anomen stripped Valygar of his ruined armor, while Jaheira set about trying to bind up the wounds.
Quickly running out of bandages, she shouted, “Kelsey, Jan, I need more cloth. Shirts, blankets, something… Quickly!”
She could hear them rifling in their packs and caught Jan saying, “This doesn’t look good. Valygar looks like my Cousin Brino after he tried out his new turnip based Anti-Griffin..”
“Jan, less chatter or I will summon a horde of griffins down on your head!” Jaheira shouted as she desperately worked to stop Valygar’s bleeding. With the mages’ blankets, the two healers staunched the worst of the bleeding. Bleeding lessened, they began to pour the last of their healing energies into the broken form of Valygar. Jaheira had just expended her last spell when Kelsey exclaimed, “Aleria? Where is Aleria?”
Eyes leaving Valygar for the first time since she started treating him, Jaheira looked up, searching for the scarlet haired knight. She hadn’t realized that the knight had not come to Valygar’s aid. Her absence concerned the druid, knowing the young woman and how she cared for her companions. Quickly she scanned the room, her sharp eyes hunting for signs of the woman she had fought and bled across the Sword Coast with.
However, she was not the one who spotted her, it was the Helmite. The dark haired knight pointed and exclaimed in surprise, “There she is.. amongst the hoard.”
Jaheira followed the man’s arm, catching sight of what appeared to be Aleria crouched in the middle of a huge pile of gold and gems. Taken aback, the druid tried to come to grips with the young knight being arm deep in loot while her friends were still injured.
Alongside her, Anomen cupped one hand to his mouth and shouted, “Aleria! Aleria! Are you alright? Do you need assistance?”
There was no response.
The Helmite shouted again, this time louder, “ALERIA? Can you hear me? Valygar is badly hurt! We need your help!”
Jaheira saw no response from the crouching paladin. No movement at all, no sign that she had even heard Anomen. The young woman just crouched there, unmoving, like she was part of the stonework. Could she not hear? Does she not care? Jaheira asked herself worriedly. No, she cares. She thought, remembering the pained look on Aleria’s face when Valygar slammed into the wall. But she does not move, simply staring at all that gold. She never seemed overly concerned with wealth. Now, for it she would ignore us? Especially Valygar? Something is wrong.
It seemed that Kelsey felt the same way, the impetuous sorcerer running to where Aleria knelt, shouting the paladin’s name at the top of his lungs. Turning back to her patient, she exchanged glances with Anomen. Although the knight would never say it, he desperately wanted to rush to the side of paladin as well. Lips thinned, she jerked her head towards Aleria. Anomen smiled apologetically and rushed off in pursuit of the soot stained sorcerer.
Shaking her head at the two men’s concern, she grumbled, “Stupid men.” Still grumbling about the two men’s concern for her charge, she fumbled in her potion bag for one of the few remaining precious healing potions the had left. Cradling the dark haired man’s head in one arm, she uncorked the potion and slowly dribbled the healing fluid down his throat. He coughed and choked as the potion slid down his throat.
She poured another down his throat, praying to Silvanus that it would be enough. As she pulled out her third and final potion, she heard Valygar choke out, “Dragon… dead?”
Jaheira’s face softened as she looked down at Valygar. “Yes, Firkraag is dead. Do not speak, conserve your strength.”
Unwilling to be silent, Valygar coughed again, blood bubbling from his lips, “Aleria? Where? Hurt?”
Wiping away the blood, Jaheira measured the concern in the broken ranger’s eyes against what she knew. Brushing some of the man’s blood stained hair from his face, she answered, “She is alright, Valygar. She.. she collapsed from the strain. Anomen is taking care of her.”
His deep dark eyes, misted in pain, studied Jaheira’s for a long moment. Another bout of coughing wracked the ranger and more blood bubbled up. Eyes never leaving hers, he demanded in a hoarse whisper, “She.. hurt?”
Swallowing hard under the man’s penetrating gaze, she replied hesitantly, “I.. I don’t know. She is amongst the hoard, not moving. Anomen is checking on her. Now, rest. You need to conserve your strength.” Jaheira lifted the potion up towards his lips.
“No!” bubbled Valygar. “Save.. for.. Aleria. Waste.. on.. me.”
“Nonsense. You will pull through,” Jaheira assured him.
More blood trickled from Valygar’s mouth. “Hurt.. too… badly. Can’t.. feel… legs. Dying…”
“No,” ordered Jaheira, tears teasing the corners of her eyes. “You will not die on me! Fight Valygar!”
Valygar’s lips formed a wan smile. “My.. time… curse… over. Take.. care.. of her…” Valygar gasped weakly. Another fit of coughing tore through his broken body, this one disturbingly weaker. “I… am… free…”
“Damn you Valygar! Fight!” she screamed, tears carving furrows in the soot that caked her face. Valygar’s eyelids sank shut and his breathing became shallower and slower. Looking behind her to where Aleria crouched, she shouted at the top of her lungs, “Aleria!! Valygar, he’s dying!! I need your help!!”
A Meeting of Like Minds - Chapter 3
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