Our little rag tag group returned to Aimi shorty before noon. By then there was still no word Ishitari had survived our escape from that Abysmal hell hole in the swamp. While most of the others bought supplies at the market place, I scrounged all my energy into making correspond finally work in the fleeting hope she was alright.
“Ishitari, it’s me. Vilu. Are you alright?” I thought to myself for the upteenth time. But this time it felt right. Something clicked and there was a long pause. I gulped, fearing the worst.
“I’m alive.” She replied hoarsely.
“Oh, thank the Queen!” I sighed with relief, “Where are you?”
“Um, I see some trees around me.” She offered.
“Do you know if you’re in the Jerancer Woods?”
“Probably. I didn’t go that far South, really…”
“If you are, we can try and find you since we’re in Aimi now.”
“That might be good.” She agreed, some pain in her voice. “I can’t really move right now.”
“Yeah, we’ll go find you. Hang on.” I broke my meditation and looked around to see who was still at the inn. Cinna darted out from behind the bar serving a customer a drink. Sandstorm was busy downing his own. “Ishitari’s alive but she can’t move.” I said to them, “She’s in the woods somewhere, but we need to find her.”
“Do you know where in the woods?” Cinna raised an eyebrow.
I closed my eyes and used the power once more. “Ishitari, is there anything, any sort of identifier nearby that you can see?”
“I only recently came out of the swamp into the woods, and there’s a big door over here.”
“I know exactly where that is. We’ll be there soon.” My eyes snapped open. “She’s near the door into Nefir. None of you have been there, but I can guide you to where it is.”
“I can carry you there. Hold on.” Sandstorm not too gingerly picked me up from where I sat and threw me over his shoulder.
Cogline emerged from the forest and walked up to us just as we were about to leave. “So, what’s going on?”
“We know where Ishitari is and we’re going to bring her back to the town and heal her up. She’s injured.” Sandstorm replied.
“Before you go, did you get the thing I sent you for?” Cogline asked.
“Yes.” The half giant pulled the glowing item from his pocket.
Cogline snatched it from his fingers and tucked it away. “Alright. I can help you guys go get Ishitari.”
Sandstorm sprinted into the Jerancer woods at full speed, all while still carrying me. I told him a few times to slow down, but like he was going to listen to me. Cogline miraculously matched his speed, but instead of running along side the half giant he floated just above the ground. We found Ishitari leaning up against a mossy tree trunk, nearly passed out. Her lower left arm had been torn off, and her right leg was broken. Her body, coated in shallow scratches and festering claw marks, had dried blood all over.
“Ishitari, Thank the Queen you’re okay!”
“I’ve been better.” She smiled ironically, blood dripping from the corner of her mouth.
Sandstorm handed me over to Cogline before picking up Ishitari. He carefully swung her remaining left arm over his shoulder and let her lean her body weight against him. Colgine lead the three of us back to Aimi, and inside a building I hadn’t been to before. It must’ve been an infirmary of some sort because there were beds everywhere. When he opened up the door, the War Chef was inside waiting for us. “Come on in!” He grinned.
“Thank God. I could use a beer.” Sandstorm said as he plopped Ishitari down on the nearest bed.
“I can get you a beer while I’m healing these guys up.” The War Chef laughed. He told us both Ishitari and I would be staying here the next couple days while Cogline and the others prepare an invasion and, Queen guide us, take back Nefir. All of a sudden the door to the infirmary burst open. In came Socks, slobbery tongue hanging out and tail wagging. He bounded up to me and licked my face gleefully.
“Hm, I thought he wouldn’t fit through the window…” Cogline mused.
After thoroughly drenching my face in slobber Socks sniffed me all over. He ghosted over my injured leg and whimpered. He sat on his haunches, eyes on me. “Yeah, it’s pretty bad isn’t it boy?” I said, patting him on the head. “But I should be in good hands now.”
Socks whined and trotted over to Ishitari. He sniffed her a few times, nose flaring, before licking her too. “Oh, he’s furry like the Virathians!” She laughed as she stroked his back. Cogline left shortly after, while Sandstorm stayed awhile longer before eventually returning to the inn for a few drinks. Thraenor’s decided to remain with us, for tonight at least.