ATCv1 #25 of 25

12 03 2008

Well, that’s it. This one concludes the old, discontinued v1 (more or less). We’ll eventually reach that point in v2, although that might take some time. Thank you for your patience digging through the old stuff. (For those who still haven’t realized: Posts in this category belong to the old, discontinued version and as such will not any updates nor corrections. Comments welcome, though. Yes, that means you. Now.)

The trail was as clear as fresh ice on a silent lake, and indeed the
red droplets accompanying it glittered in the sun like ice, but of
course there was no way they could have frozen in such a short amount
of time.
The ranger sped up. Losing blood at this rate the man wouldn’t get
very far, and as tempting as the thought was, he couldn’t let the man
bleed to death. Not until he had answered some questions, at least;
what happened after that was a different case.

Slowly the ranger lifted the hand from Laiva’s mouth and she took a
deep breath. The cold air filled her lungs and for a few precious
moments the pain ebbed off, but only to return worse than ever. Laiva
was about to drift off into unconsciousness, when the ranger slapped
her. It was but a short burst of pain, it nevertheless managed to turn
her attention away from the aching body.
‘Focus. You have to stay awake.’
Laiva took a deep breath. And another one. And yet another
one. It was probably too much to call it meditation, but it did help
her to pull herself together. How long that was going to work,
however, was anyone’s best bet. Laiva felt completely exhausted, and
every breath she took seemed to make it worse.
‘Do you hear me?’ the voice of the ranger sounded. Laiva
lifted her head and looked the woman in the eyes. She hadn’t before,
but now she was listening.
‘Good. Drink that.’ and saying so put a cup on Laiva’s lips.
Greedily she drank the liquid, having only now realized how thirsty
she was – and nearly spit it out again. Whatever the liquid was, it
could as well have been gall. Laiva couldn’t remember having ever
tasted something more bitter, but she kept drinking anyway; partly
because it was probably meant to help, but mostly because she had that
much of a thirst she would have drunk virtually anything.

Mynor threw his head back and stuck his nose into the air. Behind him,
faint but distinct, was the smell of blood. Promising, certainly, but
he made a point of not eating people. If he could help it. Anyway,
that wasn’t what he was looking for. That other smell, in front of
him, was the interesting one. Black magic of the worst kind. Of course
magic didn’t smell, but some ingredients did. And not in the pleasant
way.

Warmth filled Laiva’s stomach and from there spread through the body,
washing the pain away on its path. And with the clouds of pain lifted
from her mind, she couldn’t help, but to be completely puzzled.
Out of some reason she had been rested against the trunk of a
large tree, her body up to the armpits wrapped tightly in blankets.
The sleeves on her right arm had been ripped open and bandages showed
below their blood crusted remains.
‘It looks worse than it is. You have lost plenty of blood, but
you will make it. You better drink a lot, though.’ the ranger rushed
to explain. She pushed a bottle into Laiva’s left hand and she emptied
the whole bottle at once.
The ranger was kneeling to her right, but she wasn’t the only
one around. Sitting to her left was Saya, somewhat shaken, but as far
as Laiva could tell unharmed. She couldn’t see anyone else, though.
‘What has happened? And where are the others?’
‘We have been ambushed.’ Saya said.
The ranger nodded, guilt clearly visible in her face. They were
rangers, elite troops. They were the ones to ambush, not the other way
around. It had been their duty to protect her and Saya. And they had
failed; failed her.
‘He came out of nowhere and attacked; attacked you before we
could do anything. We…’, the ranger started, then took a deep
breath, ‘…didn’t notice him. We wounded him, but he managed to flee.
One of them is chasing him. The others are searching the area in case
there are more of them.’ Then she added bitterly: ‘For whatever that
is going to help.’
‘And where is Mynor?’

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