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Hero's Song - Chapter Two

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"Take it slow, my black and blue arse!" announced Khelgar. "That damn ambush nearly finished us!"

I paused in my bandaging of Neeshka to stare incredulously at him. "You're complaining about getting into a fight?"

He grumbled as I lifted Neeshka's arm to secure the bandages, ignoring her protests. "These githyanki don't fight fair, is all I'm saying. Magic just isn't for decent folk."

"Yes, I'm sure the murdering, kidnapping githyanki will be heartbroken when they hear what you think of them," I quipped, and helped the tiefling to her feet. "All good?" I moved to Bishop. "You all right? I saw one of them stick you in the ribs..."

You see, when I'm fixing people up, its all about business. I could see him holding his side, and so I reached out and lifted his hand away, no nonsense and don't even think about arguing. I think he managed "Hey, wha-" before I fixed him with a look, and took off one of my gloves, frowning at the gash in his side.

"Gods, that's a pretty good one. Here, hold still; you don't mind magic, do you?" I gently pressed the palm of my hand against the wound, and whispered the age-old incantation for a decent healing spell. It sounded musical, whenever I said it. Must be the bard magic; when Casavir said the words, it sounded different, like peircing sunlight translated into speaking.

I could feel the energy knitting his skin under my hand, and the hairs on my arms stood up as the magic built up in me for just a second, before releasing down my arm and into the wound. I pulled my hand back. Perfect! I smiled slightly at him and wiped his blood off of my hand against my leather pant-leg in a very un-ladylike fashion. I'd had worse than blood and mud on my clothing lately, and was grateful that's all was there.

"Hmph," He said, those dark eyes of his ever watchful, then nodded, ever so slightly. "Thanks. Got a spell to mend shredded leather?" He looked down at the hole in his armor in disgust.

"'Fraid not. As useful as that would be, I don't know it. Not quite sure if one exists or not." My own aches couldn't be ignored any longer, but I was too exhausted to cast another healing spell; Bard magic was a little limited, as it were. I had resigned myself to walking the few miles we had left in some moderate amount of inconvenient pain when Casavir came up to me.

"You're hurt too, my lady. Hold still, I should have enough left..." He placed both hands on my shoulders, closed his eyes and began to pray. I glanced at Neeshka and Khelgar, the former who was snickering, and shook my head. And then...aahhhh...sweet magic, thank you for existing. Wounds closed, aches vanished, and I sighed in relief. "Thanks," I said. He stepped away from me quickly, and I noticed he avoided looking me in the eyes, a faint tinge of pink on his face.

Bishop was fidgeting impatiently; he flashed a scowl at Casavir. "If everyone has all their parts back together now, we need to move, or else we'll never get that farm girl back."

"Hello?" A shadowy form stepped out of one of the nearby doorways, and I turned, hands flying to my blades. A woman, looking to be in her mid-thirties, stepped timidly out into the open and nearly tripped over a githyanki corpse, stumbling over to us. She looked at me helplessly, her eyes wide. I recognized that look, and my insides cringed.

"Are you...are you looking for that woman?" She had her hands clasped tightly in front of her, and she stared into my face...down into my face, since she was human, and almost as tall as Casavir.

I felt a quick flash of anger. This woman was strong, hardily built, larger than me, and if I could heft two swords at once then she could definatly hold at least one blade. Or maybe a frying pan, the darker part of my thoughts sneered. And yet she was cowering in her house, letting the gith ambush us while we were almost butchered? This was her village!

She saw the flame smouldering in my eyes, and took a step back. She continued speaking. "Th-they took her, north of here. Left by that gate, and not even twenty minutes ago. Please...I know her, her name is Shandra. You have to get her back."

"That's what we intend to do. You'll be all right, now?" My voice was clipped and cold, but the woman smiled at me in relief.

"Yes, thank you so much! My name is Alaine. You saved us, we would have-"

"Yes. You would have, wouldn't you?" I turned away from her, and looked at my companions. "We need to go."

Bishop glared at Alaine. "Next time, you should die before surrendering to the githyanki, woman."

"That's no way to talk to her, Bishop! Would you have them all dead? They couldn't have defended themselves!" Casavir's hackles were up, and I felt his aura from even where I was standing. Oh boy...

Bishop stared coldly at Casavir. "I would have them fight at least, Paladin. You know, sometimes helping the weak just keeps them weak." He gestured to the village, and Alaine's horrified expression. "We've wasted enough time on this worthless village."

"They'll be moving fasther, and leaving a smaller trail," I mentioned. "Probably thought this ambush would take care of us."

Bishop snorted at me. "Huh. At least you've got some brains inbetween those pointy ears of yours."

Khelgar stepped up to my side, and stayed there as we made our way out of the village. He nudged me, and I bent down slightly so he could speak in my sharply pointed ear. "You know," he grumbled, "those two seem to had a wired nerve when it comes to you."

I glanced at him. "What do you mean?"

He grinned crookedly, baring missing teeth. "I know ye aren't daft, lass. The paladin's always quick to jump to your aid, and the ranger can't keep his eyes off ye. You think I was born yesterday under a rock? You just better watch yourself, ye hear? I've got your back if ye need it."

He sounded a little worried at the end. My skin tingled; I glanced back at the two now-sullenly-silent men walking behind us, and I could feel my face flushing. Hurriedly, I said in the most non-concerned voice I could muster, "A dwarf protecting and elf? What would your clan think?"

"Bollucks what they think, girl. You keep an ale down better then half o' them. I remember this one time..."

I glanced up and stopped in my tracks. A boy stood there, watching me. He was obviously a villager, but with nothing of Alaine's panicked demeanor about him. He said, in a monotone voice, "You're the one that will destroy this village."

My spine crawled. My head felt strange, like little fingers were reaching in through my eyes and probing around. I blinked, shook my head...the others caught up to us, and I stared at the boy. "I've never even been here before this, and I don't mean this place any harm."

"...yet." This muttered from Bishop. I could feel Casavir's angry glare towards him, even behind my back. Those two seem to have a wired nerve when it comes to you...

The boy stared at me quizzically, then shook his head. "No, I was mistaken. For a moment...but no, the killer will look like you. But it's not you." He stepped towards me, searching my face. "My name is Marcus. This village will die. Everyone in it, killed. I will share their fate, as well, unless you help me."

I'll have to admit, I was speechless. For a bard, that's pretty damn amazing.

Khelgar said, "Well, what do you need from us? We don't have much."

"May I look in your pack?" asked Marcus meekly. Wordlessly, I held it out to him...don't know why I trusted him, but those fingers in my head made me think this boy was not the average town urchin.

Neeshka scoffed. "If that's all it takes, next time I'll just ask politely if I can snark your things, shall I?"

Marcus glanced through my meager belongings and shook his head. "No. What about you, sir?" He stepped towards Bishop.

Bishop snarled. "No."

I turned to him. "Please, let him look. He's not trying to steal anything, all right? This is...important." My head felt fuzzy...gods, what was this kid?

Those dark eyes oh his were on me again, and I felt my insides simmering. He hesitated, then; "Fine." He looked down at the boy. "But I'm watching you."

Marcus peeked into Bishop's pack and said almost instantly, "Your dagger. There's something special about it."

Bishop pulled out the said instrument incredulously. "My old skinning knife? It's just a knife." He stared at the kid. "I've had it with me for years, and the only way you're getting it is between your eyes."

"Hey." There we go...that old bardic, silver-tongued diplomacy of mine was kicking in at last. I stepped over and placed a hand on Bishop's wrist; gods, just touching him made my fingers tingle. I could feel the heat in my face, and I was remembering what Khelgar said. "Just let him have it, will you? I'll make sure you're rewarded a hundred times over by the time we're done with this thing." My eyes met his, and I smiled disarmingly. Come on, work, damnit...

He snorted, then looked away from me. "All right, fine. But don't think I'm forgetting about this, or how much you owe me." Yes!

Marcus took the knife. He slid it in his belt and smiled at me, something which I gathered was a rare thing from a boy like this. "Thank you. I will see you again, soon." And with that, he dissappeared into the village behind us.

"That's one creepy little kid," piped Neeshka, staring after him and frowning.

Casavir spoke, for the first time since meeting Marcus. "We need to go, now. Alaine said we're not far behind Shandra, and we could catch up if we pushed hard enough."

I sighed, and gestured for Bishop to take the lead again. "After you, ranger."

He grumbled, but I caught his glance as he pushed past me, and there was a slight smile on his face as he said, "Just don't fall behind, lady bard."

Hero's Song - Chapter 2 © Avariel

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