DARK MAGICK RISING (Part 7)
Copyright 2016 by M.L. Rhodes
“It happened fast. There was no time to get help. We had to act or risk some of them escaping to tell the sorcerer,” Wesley said.
Jarrad scuffed a hand over his suddenly pale face, stood, paced a couple of steps away, then returned and hunched down in front of Wesley again. “You two. Alone,” he repeated.
“Holy gods,” Jarrad whispered. “Wes…do you have any idea what could have happened to you guys? They could have—should have—torn you apart, that many of them. And you’re sitting here calmly telling me you and my brother took them all out by yourselves?”
“I told you, it happened quick. We reacted and…and then it was over.”
“And you just now got back to camp?”
“More or less.” Which was basically the truth. This was the first time he’d been this close to the main part of camp. “I’m going to report in to Iann. Tell him what happened.”
“He’s…” He thought fast, trying to come up with something Jarrad would believe.
“Wesley, where’s Wen?”
Obviously he’d been too slow with a response, because the worried haze was back in Jarrad’s eyes. “Why isn’t he with you? Why isn’t he reporting in, since he outranks you?”
Another wave of dizziness hit Wesley and his stomach churned. He clutched at it and winced while trying to come up with something quick. “He’s…”
Jarrad dropped to his knees in the snow and gripped Wesley’s shoulder. “Something’s wrong. Something happened. Tell me.”
Damn it. Was it a draegan thing? Or a brother thing? How could Jarrad sense anything? Or maybe it was just because Wesley was a horrible actor since the fear from last night was still alive and well inside him.
“Wen…got hurt. But he’s okay, Jarrad!” he rushed on, trying to quell the panicked look on his friend’s face. “He’s going to be all right. I swear.”
“It has to be pretty bad to stop him from going to see Iann himself. What happened? How is he? Where is he?”
“He caught one of the soldier’s swords. He’s at his tent, getting some sleep.”
“Has he seen the healer? Did you get Lilia for him?”
“He doesn’t need to see her. It’s okay.”
“If he took a sword, Wesley, it’s not okay!”
“He doesn’t want…” He sighed. “He doesn’t want anyone to know.”
Jarrad’s eyes widened again. “What? Why?”
“You know Wen. He doesn’t like to show any weakness. And…”
“And…” Gods, he was going to have to give Jarrad something more because citing Wen’s pride wasn’t going to keep Jarrad from rushing to see him. “He’s…he doesn’t need to see Lilia because…he’s healed already.” Damn it, he hadn’t meant to say that exactly, but now it was out and he was going to have to work even harder to explain it.
“Yeah, right.” Jarrad started to stand again, but Wesley held him back once more, pulling hard enough to deposit Jarrad on his backside in the snow.
“What the hel, Wes?”
“Listen to me before you go off half-cocked,” Wesley ground out, needing to put a stop to his friend while at the same time keep from heaving up everything he’d just swallowed. His tone must have sunk in because Jarrad stilled. “Wen’s fine. He’s just getting some rest because it was a long night, but he’s already healed and he’s not in any danger.”
“What do you mean he’s already healed?”
Wesley sighed. “Look, he doesn’t want anyone to know because it’s weird, how it happened.”
“How what happened?” Jarrad snapped. “How he was skewered with a sword?”
“I didn’t say he was skewered,” Wesley snapped back, then lowered his voice and sought to stay calm. Jarrad had come too close to the truth with the skewered comment and it had unsettled him. He needed to keep it together so he could soothe Jarrad, assure him Wen’s life wasn’t in danger, not make things worse. “And no, I didn’t mean how he was sk— injured. I meant how he was healed.”
“What are you talking about?”
“Do you remember that hot springs pool up at the edge of camp, the one you and Allend showed me not too long after I moved here, the one hardly anyone ever goes to because it’s right next to the barrier and it’s too far from camp for most people?”
“Yeah. What’s that got to do with anything?”
“Wen told me a while back that legends said people used to use it for rituals and stuff because the water had healing power.”
“That’s just some ancient babble spread around by old storytellers,” Jarrad scoffed.
“It’s not,” Wesley said quietly. He opened his fisted hands to glance briefly at his own palms, which he’d sliced open with a knife in order to draw blood to heal Wen last night. His palms, he realized, itched where he’d cut himself, but the skin looked to be healed, if a little irritated. And he wasn’t the one who had healed them. Though his blood contained the magick to heal others, he couldn’t use it to heal himself. So the only explanation for his palms was that the water in the pool really did have healing qualities. Not enough to have saved Wen’s life last night, but enough, apparently, for minor wounds.
Pleased with himself for sticking to the truth while not having to explain everything to Jarrad, he continued. “When Wen was injured, we were right outside the boundary by the hot springs, so we went there. He…he was bleeding, and the pool was by far and away closer than the healer’s tent, so we went in the water for a while. And, eventually…” He shrugged.
“It’s not, I promise. See.” He held out one of his hands. Not both—seeing two identical cuts might make Jarrad suspicious and have him demanding further explanations. But one hand, one cut, would be believable.
“I was cut as well, when a blade got me here.” Again, the truth. If Jarrad chose to believe it was a soldier’s blade that had done the cutting, so be it. “And look at it now.”