During the fight between Jonathan and Ciley, Tam had quietly moved in the background. The page had some knowledge of medicine and carried some with her. She tried to wrap up and put pressure on Chester’s wounds, ignoring the blood that coated her fingertips.
Oceton had covered the girl’s back, and was now trying to warm up the area. He seemed to quickly give up—with a sorrowful look in his bright red eyes—and was using his beak to nuzzle against the bard.
Jonathan fell to his knees beside Chester. He picked up a hand and checked the bard’s wrist for any sign of a pulse. He was happy to find that Chester’s heart was still beating rather strongly.
Chester’s eyes were fluttering. He found it hard to keep his eyes open. There was a feeling of dizziness and he was glad he wasn’t standing up. His wounds still sluggishly oozed through the makeshift bandages.
All of them knew it.
They were in the wilds.
They were on a snowy mountain top with no training in any ritualistic healing magic that could knit his skin and organs back together.
Elemental magic could be used to temporarily stop the blood loss—perhaps by searing the wounds shut—but the only magic crystal they had left was far too small to sustain anything for long. Jonathan and Chester had to use too much of their two stones to get drinking water in the desert. The only mage in the area was crazy and dead.
There was forced cheer in Chester’s voice as he said, “Alright, alright. I’m going to die then. Nothing we can do.”
“If we found a healer . . .”
Chester laughed, and then grimaced as he painfully jolted his wounds. “Not on top of a mountain. Don’t be that optimistic about how to fix this. You’re supposed to be the smart one out of me and Aderes. If you’re not the smart one, then we’re going to have to pick one of us two,” he joked. “Can you imagine Aderes actually studying for something?”
Jonathan laughed; the sound was half-broken. He was timing his friend’s pulse, and he thought it was getting weaker. “No. I can’t. We also can’t replace the musical one. I think the only song Aderes knows is that sea shanty your older brother wrote.”
“I see what you mean. Unfortunately, I don’t think there’s a choice for me.”
“Do you . . . what are your last wishes?”
Chester was finding it hard to focus. “You have to tell my family, in the village of Tesriff. Aderes. My other friends if you can find them. Most of them would be in the village.” There was a sort of static light headedness he could feel. He cleared his throat, thankful that a spike hadn’t punctured through it. “I couldn’t find Elysius even though I looked for so long. Kind of pathetic.” He tried to laugh, but just choked as blood continued to fill his lungs. “Just, like we talked about before, make sure to let my family know.”
Jonathan murmured agreement. “Anything else?”
“It’s not your fault.” Chester shook his head. “I chose to stand in front of you.”
Jonathan couldn’t really talk anymore. His throat was tight and the back of his mouth was sour. He wanted to throw up. “Okay,” he ground out between gritted teeth.
The pulse stopped.
Jonathan waited for a minute before he forced himself to confront reality again.
His friend had died.
Jonathan stood and picked up his red coat. Some blood was still on it, but he would wash that off in a stream. He pulled it on and started on a shallow grave. There were tears on his face, but they froze in the cold wind that played around on the mountain. When he finished, he put a large, hand sized stone and a carving over the grave.
He reminded himself that necromancy existed. It was possible that he could learn ritualistic magic and bring back his friend. However, where would be the end to that?
What would he need to sacrifice, a life for a life? How could he drag random people into his problems. Necromancy wasn’t an option for him.
Jonathan attached the scratched mandolin among Magnus’ saddlebags. He untied the stallion from a tree and then attached the lead to Biscuit’s saddle.
Tam started to talk. She recognized the mood being solemn but couldn’t stand the silence. This was not her first dead body of the day, it was the third. The page was lucky enough to not really be close to any of the deceased, yet the memories would likely haunt her for years.
Jonathan was reminded too much of Chester by that behavior, and occasionally responded. He was mainly grounded by the solid, warm presence of Oceton who would sit on his shoulder right next to his ear and chirp whenever he zoned out.
He washed his coat off in a cold stream and Oceton dried it.
Three horses rode down from the mountain, but there were only two riders total.
The mountain pass was directly East of the capital. The capital wasn’t too far out of the way from Tesriff Village . . . and it provided Jonathan more time to figure out how to approach Chester’s family.
Jonathan dropped Tam off outside of the capital. She had given him a hug and a thank you, with the determination to pay him back one day for his and Chester’s kindness. Jonathan gave her one of the sword carvings he made and rode off into the dying sun, knowing that his story was not over.
Only a short while later, the transmigrator screamed into the forest. He scared away the animals and bugs from the spot with the loud noise.
Jonathan wanted to punch or slam his head against a tree, but he settled for kicking at the plants growing by his boots. “I have the worst luck! My best friends . . . he . . . They’re all idiots! They’re both idiots! Stupid, self-sacrificing idiots!”
“But are they really so selfless when they do that? Do they ever think about how it feels to be on the other side? To not give, but constantly take and take, and to see them hurt instead of you.” He turned around and threw a punch at a tree. “I’m tired of it. I just don’t want to see others hurt.”
Jonathan paused. That was likely the same sort of motivation that drove his friends to do what they did. He didn’t want to be part of it, but he also hated the idea of not doing anything.
He also wasn’t sure how to move on. It was hard to move on from any death, especially when it occurred in front of his eyes.
He first had to carry out Chester’s last wishes.
Maybe afterwards he should try to settle down somewhere and live a normal life. Jonathan knew that wealth and fame had only made him more miserable last time he got it. The transmigrator had detested being a prince for a reason.
The village of Tesriff was now directly South. It was a new direction for Jonathan, after trying to head West for months and months.
Sorry not sorry?
Have a nice, soothing animation with Oceton and fire popping noises. Link: https://youtu.be/mPEHN30UXPc