Songs from a dozen birds filled Aliene’s ears as she woke, and she nearly jumped from her bedroll, the quick movements causing the birds to flutter into the sky. Aliene let her mind run down its list of questions quickly – she was awake, sore but not injured; good start. The thought of her magic bow sent an alarm through Aliene until she slammed her hands down and found it by her side. Her pack was at the foot of her bedroll. She finally caught up with her instinctive thoughts as the fog of sleep left and she noticed Jacobus off to the edge of the small clearing. He was facing away from her, sitting cross-legged, his tunic gone, and Aliene had the answer to what happened at the end of their fight.
Jacobus’ back had numerous marks all over it, from small scrapes to deep ragged slashes. He had caught her; the bow had drained too much from her and knocked her out. The force of the bolt firing had sent her flying since she wasn’t on the ground. In a split-second, Jacobus had caught Aliene and shielded her as they both slammed through the wall of branches and thorns. Aliene was about to speak then noticed the monk had old scars along his back that outnumbered the fresh wounds; the thought twisted her mind from thanks, to concern, to questions.
“The scratches look worse than they are. How are you feeling?” Jacobus’ voice was calm, as if they hadn’t just faced a forest guardian and lived to tell.
“I’m fine, did the Leshii come after us?” Aliene asked, adjusting her shirt and trousers after sleeping in them for what must have been the whole night.
Jacobus turned just his head looking over his shoulder. “So, you did not see what happened?”
“No, it all went dark after I fired.”
The monk turned the rest of himself around. He looked ragged with darkened bags beneath his eyes. “All that was left of that beast was the two small stumps it had for feet.” He paused for a moment then finished speaking. “With that bow, you vaporized the Leshii. That shot was awe-inspiringly powerful.”
Aliene would have been shaken if she wasn’t so physically tired. She pulled the bow from her side and examined the blue, metal-like frame. She ran her fingers over the fins that extended out. “But it has a drawback.” Aliene smiled lightly from her vocalized thought, though Jacobus didn’t seem to catch her second meaning.
“Indeed, you were left basically comatose for nearly twelve hours.” Jacobus’ voice was calm but his eyes pierced her. The monk pulled his pack to him and began searching through it before pulling out a Misten Shirt made of silk. He rubbed the material, examining the dark green garment, putting it on he asked, “Are you feeling well enough to walk again?”
Before he pulled the garment down, Aliene caught a glimpse of a tattoo in blue ink, a lion head encircled by symbols. She decided against asking as many tattoos were for private matters in Misten. Aliene nodded and began rolling her bed up, lost in thought for a moment as she considered where to travel. Schillia was out but she did need to get supplies. As she lifted her pack she had another thought. “You still have the ingot, right?” Aliene asked as the two started walking along a small trail leading away from the campsite.
“I do. Centauri said the being that could use it was north, in the Thundering mountains I assume.” Jacobus winced a bit as he stepped down hard on the train as it dropped sharply.
“Finding a specific place in them though is going to pose a problem. Without a map, we could wander the mountain range for a lifetime and never find anything.” The monk moved slower to stay by Aliene’s side as the path widened.