Hey, long time no see! We had a lot of things come up in life so we just didn't have any time at all until recently to work on this! So here you go, a longer chapter! We hope you enjoy it!
Tara had lost track of the amount of time she'd been running and leaping around the Common District. She was attempting to let off as much steam as she could, but she could hear Rieve shouting for her, his voice frantic. She leapt to another roof, stopping for a moment to throw him off, he was listening carefully to her thudding footsteps and it was the very reason she hadn't lost him yet. Frustrated, she sat still for a few minutes and allowed her heart to stop racing.
"Tara!" She heard him shout, but his voice was drifting, which meant he was walking further, or trying to escape the footsteps of the crowd below the building she sat upon. Irritation created a dull headache and she grunted at the pain it brought... she didn't want to talk to him. Not now. He had allowed her to kiss him twice and then chastised her the second time. What was that for? Had she not been enticing enough? She rolled her eyes and stood back up, stretching her arms up to draw the tension out of her muscles. Right as she dropped her arms she began to sprint again, heading for the next roof over, as though gravity didn't exist. She flew over the alley below and landed with a thud. Immediately she broke into another sprint so she could aim for the next roof. She couldn't hear Rieve as well, but she knew... oh she most definitely knew he was still searching for her. She was heading for the city wall though, where she would leave Ashyra for a few days… long enough for either Rieve to quit searching for her, or to grow past her own anger with him.
He definitely returned both kisses… so to chastise me for it is… is… She didn't truly know what it was, but it wasn't positive. She leaped off the edge of yet another building, landing with a thud on the next. She launched her hand over her head, grappling for a hold when her ankle twisted beneath her weight, causing her to slip, and begin sliding down the steep slope of that particular roof. No… no! She grunted with the effort of simply finding something to grapple onto, but her time ran out and she was soon in the air. Tara released a loud shriek as the ground seemed to rise up to meet her. However it wasn't the ground that met her; it was a merchant's stall which crumpled beneath the weight of her fall. A sharp pain tore through the right side of her chest, tearing the breath out of her. The pain was so intense, and her eyes rolled in their sockets where tears formed before rolling down her cheeks. Never had she particularly enjoyed pain, or even been able to tolerate it. Now, as she gazed in horror at her chest, she realized that she might not need to, for she would likely die now that there was a wooden stake protruding from it. No one had been nearby to hear her scream either, and now one would find her… no one.
Except him. Tara was aware of the noise feet made when they had been running and were sliding to a stop. Her eyes, still wide with horror from seeing the stake protruding from the side of her chest, saw the former master warrior standing in the alleyway, his eyes unfocused and unmoving.
"Tara?" He sounded exhausted, but that didn't even matter to her at the moment as she let out a strained gasp.
"R-Rie..." Her voice struggled to escape her lips, the pain was starting to disappear which either meant she was dying or going into shock. Neither sat well with her, although death felt less scary somehow.
Rieve approached her quickly and she watched him get on his knees before her, and he reached out... he was reaching out?
"Where are you hurt? You need to guide me!"
"G-Gods no!" She cried, amazed at the strength it took to protest. But as the blood was stopped by the stake, and her body could no longer feel the agony it had before, she knew he was right. "O-O...Okay." She reached up with her left arm and grabbed him by the wrist, attempting to guide him close enough to find the stake on his own. However, it wasn't working and his hand moved the wrong way, pressing up against her breast.
"D-Dammit, Rieve!" She cried, "Up, near my shoulder!"
"I don't know up and down, you were the one who dropped my hand too soon!" Grunting, Tara reached again with dwindling patience and moved his hand close enough, nearly screaming loud enough to wake the dead when her rescuer's hand grazed the wooden stake. By that point her eyes were tightly shut and she felt like the world was swaying, her mind disoriented from pain. When it began to disappear again she caught her rasping breaths and forced herself to speak.
"Y-You're... gonna have to see if it's... still attached to the booth."
"You mean feel? In which case, I can do that." It wasn't time for stupid jokes, but she didn't argue with him as he attempted to feel around, and soon she realized he'd have to lift her. No matter how she did the work in her head, she was going to have to be pulled off of it, or the stake was going to have to be removed from her chest. Both scenarios could lead to her bleeding to death. Her mind was beginning to grow fuzzy and thinking straight was becoming increasingly difficult.
"R-Rieve, what is it?" She heard him groan.
"Feels like a sliver of something else... it's attached to a small board... feels like." He sounded agitated, but not in a way that would say he was inconvenienced by her wound. It just meant he understood what he'd have to do.
"Still too big for me to carry you to the healer with." He did know... he did know what he'd have to do. She could hear the strain in his voice. "I have to pull it loose."
"Oh gods... please, I'd rather die!"
"Not letting that happen." Rieve would either have to roll her onto her side or sit her up, and she didn't know which would make it worse, all she knew was that it would be the most terrifying night of her life. She opened her eyes in time to see that her vision was going, the surrounding area was dark and blurred. She was on her right side, the pain very dull. She bit into her lip, "W-Wait, count down!"
Rieve huffed, "Three..."
"No!" She gasped hoarsely, "Start from five!"
"... Five... four... three..." He pulled it, the sickening sound of the stake sliding out of her flesh nearly made her vomit. Instead, she let out a piercing and somewhat strained scream.
"You didn't f-finish!" She screamed, "Oh gods!"
"If I finished you would have told me to stop before I could pull it!" He scooped her up into his arms and she could feel the blood pooling rapidly at the gaping holes in her front and her back. Agony... that was all Tara knew right then. All she could process was that she was in excruciating pain and that she was being jostled violently as Rieve ran down the nearly empty streets of the Common District shouting that he needed a healer. She heard someone shout something to him and he stopped abruptly, causing her to cry out again. He muttered a half-hearted apology and ran inside the open door. If she could have managed it, if she weren't in such pain at that moment, his head would have been been rolling on the wooden floors when he dropped her none-too-kindly on the table which he had been guided to. He backed away too quickly when she began to scream at the piercing pain shooting through her chest and shoulder. It wasn't often that she ever really cried, but in that moment she let her tears come and she didn't care if she sobbed relentlessly.
"What happened?" Tara could hear the healer, but couldn't immediately see her past all the tears building up in her own eyes. Eventually though, as her pain began to fade, she saw a short woman with long hair, tied back in a thick braid, standing right over her.
"She was impaled, I pulled it out."
Tara could feel herself fading. Was she losing blood? She had to be losing a lot of blood. It was the only explanation for the cold. Was she going to die?
"You pulled it out?! Why?" The healer sounded frantic as she began to press her hands over Tara's open wound. She couldn't stifle a cry of pain at that, her eyes opened wide and she nearly screamed until something was shoved into her mouth so she could bite down on it. Even though she was biting, she continued to moan and whimper with every ounce of pressure applied to her shoulder.
"I pulled it out because it was still attached to something else, I couldn't get her here without pulling it out!" Rieve was attempting to defend himself. She could hear the shaking in his voice. She couldn't tell if it was fear or if he was just worn out from running and terribly out of shape. The pain was fading again and she stared at him very briefly, his hands were repeatedly running through his dirty blond hair, messing it red with blood. His eyes were fixated in no specific direction. She could see him breathing heavily, but couldn't make out the expression he wore because darkness had already enveloped him.
She was suddenly very quiet, and if it weren't for the sound of her beating heart, Rieve would have thought Tara had died right there. His hands were rested atop his head and he could hear the healer sighing in relief.
"She's still breathing." The woman made some shuffling noises, and Rieve was certain he could hear the sound of scissors cutting through fabric.
"What are you doing?"
"I have to cut these clothes off, I can't risk doing anymore damage and if I don't hurry she'll bleed out. What's her name?"
"Rieve." He could most definitely hear the urgency in the woman's voice. "What about you?"
"Are you from Ashyra?" Rieve wondered how they were even managing to hold any sort of conversation when the woman was working so feverishly on saving Tara's life. But then, he realized that she'd probably been doing just this for years.
"Yes, I was born here. But my parents... well, they were travelers and I was named after a Rahmian woman."
"I didn't think that name sounded of our race." Rieve moved toward Ikuar and reached his hands out. "How can I help?"
"You can hold her when I roll her onto her side so I can look at her back. I'm going to have to operate... she's clotting so that's a good sign."
"Operate? Wait... what does that mean?"
"It means I'm going to have to cut her open, assess internal damage, repair, and close. Her wounds are going to have to be cleaned thoroughly though because there could be splintering from the wooden stake."
"Oh gods..." Rieve felt sick, and he was suddenly more thankful than ever that he was blind. He was also thankful that Tara was unconscious. "I don't understand, though. If she already has holes how is making bigger holes going to fix it? And I've never heard of operating."
"It's a new term. The Irastor came to our city and taught the healers the art. The only thing we can't do is cauterize a wound."
"And that means...?" Rieve felt stupid, but then as he was standing there he remembered Ewyn telling him about the Irastor. How the surgeons did come to Ashyra, but he wasn't ever aware of anything outside of battling. He felt his heart drop into his stomach at the thought of Ewyn's name. He hadn't thought about any of his past friends in years, feeling betrayed and angry with them for discharging him. He knew it wasn't their fault, but it still left a stabbing feeling in his gut.
"It's a way to stop the bleeding by applying heat."
"That... sounds painful."
"It is, I've only seen it performed once when I visited the Battle District where the Irastor were taking care of wounded warrior classes."
He felt sick again, "Do you know Nowee? She's a healer as well."
"I don't know many people from that area, but I've heard of her. Please come over here and hold her." She gave a slight hum, and he realized that she knew he was blind. Had he mentioned it? He followed her hum, feeling it reverberate off of objects so he could approach the table and more accurately hold Tara. His hands rested at her shoulder and her side, and he kept listening to her breathing and the rhythm of her heart.
"Is she going to be okay?" Rieve asked, "I feel that this is my fault."
"She'll be fine, since she's no longer bleeding out I can assure you she won't be leaving this world. But I want to ask, why would you think it's your fault?"
"She ran away from me and I... well, I think she might like me. I don't know why though, I mean I don't recall that... I've really ever met her. I don't even know what she looks like."
"Do you want to know?" Ikuar shifted Tara carefully, sliding something underneath her as she was rolled onto her stomach, "I realized you were blind earlier when you got here."
"It's that easy to tell?" Rieve asked, "Even though I do my best at getting around?"
"Your eyes are facing the ceiling right now, you haven't made eye contact since you entered the house. So do you want to know or not?"
"You can tell me... I don't think she ever would. I've only known her for a little while, we've met twice... wait... that's not true. I was supposed to battle her three years ago."
"Well, that I can tell." Rieve laughed, "She doesn't have a heavy walk - aside from being a well known assassin." His brows furrowed, "She seems small."
Ikuar shuffled through what sounded like a large bag, looking for something.
"I need some of these things sterilized, I'll fetch hot water if you can handle cleaning them."
"I can." Rieve hadn't realized that his hand was still rested on Tara's arm and he jerked it back. "Gods..." He grumbled to himself, then heard Ikuar coming back and carrying a heavy pot full of hot water.
"Take care of this, then lay them here..." She slid something over to him and he nodded in understanding. He assumed it was another table, or at least a small one. He worked at trying to sterilize the equipment, not caring how scalding the hot the water really was. He laid everything where he was told to.
"What else?" He asked, "I mean... what about her face?"
"Her face is a little angular, she's really thin - but healthy. She has long, bright blond hair."
Rieve chuckled, which didn't seem right when he was standing over her body being operated on. "Fitting... somehow." He heard Ikuar pick up a small instrument and then cringed visibly when he heard the sound of skin being cut. He'd been in so many battles, seen a few brutal things, why was this phasing him? Rieve reached out a hand and searched the table until he found Tara's hand nearly dangling off. He grabbed it and gave a light squeeze.
Stay alive... please.
"Why don't you rest?"
Rieve was leaned back in a chair near Tara's bed. His legs were stretched out and aching from all the running he'd done, all the standing around he'd done for the hours and hours of her surgery. The last time he remembered being that sore was years ago, when his training first began as a child.
"I can't rest until she wakes up."
He was out of shape, he was aware of it for a while but it was more clear that evening than it ever had been. He reached down and rubbed his thighs, then moved to sit up straight. It occurred to him that he wasn't sure if it was still evening or not. The only way he'd know would be if he smelled food. That would tell him morning had come. Until then, it was evening for him. He heard the chair give an uncomfortable creak as he got to his feet, throwing his arms in the air to try and stretch the ache out of them.
"Gods..." He mumbled. He wondered when he'd first sat in that chair. How long had it been? Finishing his stretching, he left the room only briefly to relieve himself. When he returned, he opened the door and planned on using the same route he had to leave the room initially. The floor only creaked a little, though it seemed much louder to him. He knew that it wouldn't be enough to wake Tara though, as the sound wasn't too piercing. Another slight creak as he got closer to the chair made him cringe, and with cringing he stepped back. That one step was his downfall. Something on the floor that he'd missed caused him to misstep, and he fell, colliding with a table to his right that he'd worked so hard to avoid. A glass of water fell and rolled off, landing on the floor with a loud crash.
"What was that?!" Tara was suddenly awake and must have launched up because suddenly she was groaning and moaning due to the pain from her wound and the surgery she'd had while unconscious.
"I'm sorry!" Rieve exclaimed, "I'm sorry, I tripped and broke a glass!"
"How many years have you been blind again?" He could hear Tara trying to ease herself back against the pillows.
"Then why are you still tripping over everything?! Oh gods... it hurts!"
The door creaked open quickly behind Rieve, which meant Ikuar had entered the room. He'd heard her footsteps seconds ago, coming quickly down the hall.
"You shouldn't have moved, and you should be more quiet! Now there's glass all over the floor!"
"I'm sorry, I..."
"I'll clean it up, neither of you move. Once I'm done I need to remove her bandages and check the stitches." Ikuar was grunting and mumbled to herself as she rushed out of the room to get a broom.
Rieve stood up and moved back to his chair, hoping to settle the growing ache in his muscles.
"I didn't mean to wake you, I'm sorry."
"It's fine." Tara grumbled, "The sun is out..."
He knew then, finally. "I wonder how long it's been morning." He faced a random direction, really hoping he had turned to a window or something.
"Why are you looking longingly at a wall?"
"I wanted to look into the sun. Alas..." Rieve gave a slight chuckle. He wasn't willing to even say how glad he was that she was alive - more because he'd upset her before her accident. He really wanted a chance to apologize.
"Ha... ha, very funny." Tara groaned again as Ikuar entered the room.