His eyes slowly opened to look into a bright sky and he realized that he was awake. He looked to one side slightly, then to the other and saw no one around, though he heard them. 'They art close. I shall find them in a moment,' he thought to himself.
He lifted to a seated position and looked around at his surroundings. He had never lost grip of his warrior priest's staff. He pulled it to his torso and pulled himself to his feet. He was steady and didn't appear to wobble. That was what he was checking for. There had been much that he had to become accustomed to since his "fall" from the eyes of his homeland. He pondered this as he made his way towards the voice he recognized as Linna. He never realized that there was a trail of crimson leaning down from his stomach from where a shard of stone had impaled him. Nor did he notice that his leg was also impaled from a shred of wood from the fall. How could he? His former fall released him of so much. And now, it was slowly catching up to him. Even the sage from his cloak had slowly been edging away as he made his way to Linna to look more for his new friends.
Garber breathed heavily and mopped his forehead. He'd had his hands full with the horses when the rockfall started. They'd reared and screamed, and it was all he could do to keep them from bolting down the path. No rocks had hit him or the wagon; he suspected someone had had a magical hand in that. 'Never thought I'd be so glad of a mage's help,' he thought as he swung down off his seat. He dug around inside the wagon and grabbed a long coil of rope. "Did you see where Elwynn went down?" he asked the rest, glad to see that Breannyn, as well as Linna and Ceridon, had gotten through unscathed. As he peered over the edge, he wondered if Takayoshi had also gone down, or if he was still somewhere on the trail.
Far below, nearly half-way down the mountain, there came the sound of quiet elf-singing. Elwynn, leaning with her back against the rock face, was humming in self-reassurance.
"Da-da-da-da-dum, da-dee-dee-da-dum, stuck on a Very Narrow Ledge....Tra-la-la-la-la, la-la-la-la-la, wondering where everybody is...."
Garber scanned the cliff face, trying to spot Elwynn. Finally, he cupped his hands around his mouth and shouted, "Elwynn! Can you hear me?!" As he strained his ears for any reply, he muttered, "You'd better answer--I'd hate to have to explain things to your cousin."
"Hullo!!!" Elwynn cried, hearing the voice above her. "Garber, HULLO!!! I'm stuck on this ledge! I don't think the ropes will reach this far!!!"
When the avalanche had passed, Dwynn looked up bruised and still dazed. A small stream of blood trickled down from his forehead. As the fog in his mind lifted he scanned for a glimpse of Linna then checked on Sherwood. "Is there a experienced healer among us?"
Linna dug inside Ceri's saddlebag, brought out a large bandage, and gave it to Dwynn. "Use this to put some pressure on your wound," she said to him as she followed Ceridon to where Sherwood was laying.
"I'll be fine. Look after Sherwood."
"Ughhhhhh," made its way out from between his lips as Sherwood began to regain consciousness. Oddly enough, it seemed there were twice as many folks about... or was that because he was seeing double? At any rate, his next thoughts were of orcs. He croaked, "Did the orcs cause that avalanche?" He reached with his left hand (he couldn't get the right one to move) to an impressive lump just above his right eye and began a mental check for additional injuries.
::Possibly,:: she sent publicly as she and Linna looked him over carefully. ::Or it may have been caused by the recent rains here. It *could* be just a coincidence.:: Linna gave her a skeptical look. ::Or not,:: Ceri continued. ::But I don't think we can know just now.::
After she and Linna compared notes, she sent to everyone, ::You've got a broken arm, a couple of bruised ribs, and a possible concussion, Sherwood. I can help with the healing process, but someone else will have to set the arm. I can't, and Linna doesn't know how.::
"I can help with that," Garber called from the edge of the trail. He yelled down to Elwynn, "Hang on. We'll think of something!"
Ceridon nodded, then looked back down the path, hearing someone come up it. ::You'd better check on him,:: she sent privately to Linna, nodding at DeMorte.
Linna quickly rose and went to DeMorte. "Do you need our help?" she asked him, frowning a bit. He was obviously hurt, yet didn't seem to feel it.
His eyes opened a bit at her question. "I need no assistance. I am fine." However, as he said the words, he heard his own voice become weaker, as if he was losing his consciousness. He quickly opened his cloak to full and looked over himself to see what had happened. He didn't care that the sage had fallen from his cloak. That wasn't the most pressing matter at hand. What did bother him were the open gash and the amount of blood that stained his black tunic where the stone was sticking from his stomach.
"Gods NO! Not now!" He looked to her with a bit of hurt in his eyes. Not from the pain of the rock or the wood caught in his flesh, but more of the emotional strain of having another see this. He didn't want them to know of his problems. Lord knows they had enough of their own. He didn't want them to have knowledge of his inner demons.
He turned from her attempting to hide his tears and pulled with all his might on the stone in his stomach. It pulled free and he didn't even wince. Not one grunt or a show of strain. He turned back to her slowly and did the same with the wooden shrapnel caught in his leg. Again with no show of discomfort or anything. "I would ask of thine aid." His voice was still hypnotic, but obviously bothered. "I know of field dressings and medical skills, but not enough to stop the blood from coming forth from such....a...large...wound.....". The last thing he saw was the earth coming to meet his face. Funny, he didn't remember feeling as if he was to fall. But then again, he didn't feel anything.
::Ceri! Get over here now!:: Linna called privately. Ceridon left Sherwood's side and trotted to Linna, who was kneeling over the prone DeMorte. She exclaimed mentally as she saw the extent of his wounds, and she lowered her horn to the largest of them. As Linna linked in with her, giving Ceri the extra mental support and strength she needed, her horn began to glow brightly, the colors swirling together into white. As they concentrated, the glow expanded and sank into the wound, and Ceridon could feel it begin to heal. The blood clotted, the artery closed, and the gash in the skin began to close also. But Ceri could feel her strength begin to flag--and since there were other injuries that needed her ability to speed up healing, she left this wound half-healed and shifted her horn down to the leg wound. That, too, she only half healed; then she backed off, her light of her horn dying down, and she panted a little from the exertion.
Linna beckoned Breannyn over and handed her some bandages. "Can you bind these up? We need to see what we can do for Sherwood." She stood up and sighed, wondering how things could have gone so badly so quickly. She followed Ceri back to Sherwood, where they waited for Garber to join them.
Brea took the bandages and bound up DeMorte's wounds as best she could as she was still a bit stunned. Once finished she stared down at the blood beginning to dry on his clothing and frowned. Her eyes then moved to his masked face and she felt a sudden impulse to remove it, but knew that would be too much of an intrusion. She sighed, wishing there was more she could do and hoping it wouldn't be long before he woke. Then she stood up and looked around a moment, before walking a short distance away from the group.
She sat down on a large rock a short distance away and watched. She suddenly wished she'd stayed back at the Hall, and sighed again. For a quest which was to be a part of her trial to become a full-fledged bard, she was doing miserably. The old feelings of failure came back to her and she began to wonder again if she truly fit in.
Dwynn saw DeMorte come back, but the full seriousness of the wounds and the consequences just didn't register. And he turned his attention back to his recent friend Sherwood. Looking at Garber he said, "I'll hold him while you set the arm. All right?" He took a firm but gentle hold of Sherwood and offered him a piece of wood to bite down on. "Then I think I'll sit down against that wall and close my eyes for a while."
He accepted the bit of wood without comment and bit down hard. "Ah 'op hiss don' hur muuu," made it past his lips, which were turning from the pasty white back to a healthy red color. "I'd hay t'misss th' 'unt for th' orc."
Garber felt the arm carefully, finding the edges of the bone. "Hmmm...feels like a clean break. It shouldn't be too hard to set--though it'll hurt like anything." He set his hands over the ends, closing his eyes a moment to visualize how they should move to be brought together again. Then, with a sharp jerk, he shifted the pieces together.
After another careful examination, he nodded. "That should do it. We should get a splint on it."
Linna touched his arm. "That shouldn't be necessary." She nodded to Ceridon, who was already lowering her glowing horn to Sherwood's arm. A few moments concentration on that and his ribs, and she lifted her head tiredly. Linna dashed to the wagon, grabbed some more bandages, and brought them to Dwynn. "Use these to bandage his arm and ribs securely." She leaned against Ceri a bit, also feeling the strain of the healing magic.
"I'm alive!!!" the ninja thought to himself as he burst through the pile of rock and sand, with some sharp pain.
"Those Orcs WILL die by my hand", the furious oriental bellowed, as his chi and adrenaline quickly deadened the pain.
"You'd better run back to your Chieftain, cowards, you...you sons of a motherless goat!" he hammered the translation as the rocks did to him, however the tone and the idea got across.
"I hope everyone is going to be alright?" the ninja asked and then stopped to look around, "...Where's Brea, I don't see her!?!"
"...you sons of a motherless goat, of a motherless goat, motherless goat, goat, goat..."
"You're gonna make it Brea," the oriental said as his orcish echo died away, "just say something..."
Brea's head shot up at the echo of her name. Realizing Tak was looking for her rather frantically, she got up and walked back to the group. "I'm all right," she said, her voice wavering slightly. "A few bruises, nothing more." She placed a hand on his shoulder, not sure he'd heard her. Then she forced a small smile as he turned around.
After Garber set the arm and the two magicians (was there a better term?) assisted in its healing, Sherwood spat out the (several) pieces of wood. "My, that feels sooooo much better -- once it stops hurting! Garber, I think you enjoyed that just a bit too much."
His eyes filled with wonder at the touch of Ceri's unique horn, and as its glow faded he inhaled deeply. "_Many_ thanks, m'lady; my arm feels almost useable." His sincerity was obvious, and his glance at Ceridon held wonder. Indeed it seemed as though he was seeing her for the first time. Meanwhile, he began moving his arm experimentally, exploring just how far the healing process had gotten.
::Well, it was the least I could do after getting you injured in the first place,:: she sent to everyone with a rueful tone in her mental voice.
Eventually he got his breath, then wriggled his lips into a quizzical expression as something new entered his perception. "I know I've had a knock on my head, but I keep thinking I hear someone singing. Does anyone else hear it?" He looked around questioningly, hoping his hearing wasn't going as well.
"Up-side, in-side out! Living La Vida Loca! Tra-la, la-la-la! Living La Vida Loca!"
Garber chuckled briefly. "That's probably Elwynn again. Anyone have any ideas on how to get her back up here?"
"I do." Linna stood up and followed Garber to the edge of the trail.
::Are you sure you've enough energy for it?:: Ceri sent privately, following close on their heels.
::I think so,:: Linna replied. She picked up the rope as Garber pointed out the spot that was directly above where Elwynn was. She couldn't see the ledge from there, but she yelled, "Elwynn! This may take a few moments, but we'll get the rope down to you."
She played the rope down as far as it would go, then backed up a few feet and sat down. She closed her fist around the rope near its end, and paused a moment, eyes closed with concentration. Then, with her other hand, she clasped the rope and pulled, sliding it through her closed fist.
Garber watched as the end of the rope disappeared into Linna's closed fist. His eyes widened in astonishment when he saw that the end didn't reappear. Instead, more and more rope came out of her fist. Linna pulled on the rope until her arm was fully extended, then grabbed it close to her closed fist and pulled again, creating more rope. Ceri stood by, all her concentration on Linna. After a moment, Garber realized what needed to be done, so he walked back to the edge of the path and began feeding the rope downward, occasionally shaking it to make sure it wasn't hung up on a rock. "It's coming down," he called to Elwynn.
The elf-maid watched as the rope slowly snaked its way down to her. She called up to make sure the rope was secure, and began her ascent. It was a pretty challenging climb. For all of her strength in magic, Elwynn was not the most physically robust person in the world, but she had some experience with rock- climbing and she put it to good use on this occasion.
"Climb..Ugh! Ev'ry mountain! (OOF!) Ford ev'ry stream! (Urf!) Follow ev'ry rainbow! Ugh! Oh! I'm at the top!"
She took only a moment to catch her breath and drink from a proffered canteen. "What were our casualties? I've got a First Aid kit in the wagon somewhere."
Once Linna and Ceridon knew that Elwynn was safe at the top, and the rope brought back up and secured, they relaxed their concentration, and the extra feet Linna had added to the rope simply melted away. Linna sighed and rubbed her temples while Ceri answered Elwynn.
::DeMorte and Sherwood were pretty badly hurt. Linna and I were able to speed up the healing process some, but they're both in no condition to do much. We should put them in the wagon...:: She paused, looking closely at the glassy look in Dwynn's eyes. ::You too, Dwynn,:: she continued. ::Looks like you've got a concussion too. Takayoshi and Brea can ride the horses--at least they didn't bolt too far. That's one piece of luck. But we should get out of here as soon as we can. This is no place to be hanging about.::
"No argument here," Garber said as he moved toward the prone figure of DeMorte.
Brea and Linna worked to shift the supplies around in the wagon, making space for three bodies, while Garber, Takayoshi, and Elwynn carefully carried first DeMorte, then Sherwood, to the wagon and settled them down on nests of blankets. Dwynn climbed in carefully and sat down, leaning against a box, able to rest but also to keep an eye on the other two.
While she waited, Ceridon got the thought to test the tie to the 'causal anchor' that Elwynn had found was part of the spell on her. She sent her mind along the tie, probing and feeling it. Suddenly--
::Wow!:: The exclamation reverberated in Linna's mind. ::What is it?:: she sent back to Ceridon privately.
::I've been testing the link to that causal anchor Elwynn mentioned,:: Ceri replied, also privately. ::I just found out two very important things. One, there are actually *two* anchors--I can feel them both now, though one is much fainter than the other.::
::Very interesting...:: Linna said slowly, trying to ponder the implications of this. ::And the other?::
::The other anchor is a pool--a source--of magical energy. It's shielded, but I still have access to it. And *boy,* did it revitalize me!::
::Really?:: Linna looked at Ceridon, who indeed looked much better than she had a few minutes ago. She gave Ceri a weak punch to the withers. ::You know how it makes me feel to see you so energetic when I'm so tired?::
Ceri chuckled mentally and sent some energy down their link. ::Go ahead and mount up. I'll get you down safely.::
Garber checked to see that the three in the wagon were comfortable, then climbed back into the seat and scanned the path ahead. "Looks like we're almost past the worst of the steep part. I think the rest of you can ride from here. Let's get going." He watched as the others mounted up. Takayoshi and Elwynn rode up ahead, while Ceri, with Linna on her, and Brea dropped behind the wagon. They advanced ahead, and the rock slide soon disappeared from view.
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