Consciousness assaulted Callindra. There was no other way to describe it; she ached all over and her head felt like she’d been using it to break down stone walls. Her shattered ribs made her want to scream in agony and she thought her right wrist was fractured. She tightened her left fist and felt the reassuring resistance of Brightfang’s hilt in her hand. At least she hadn’t dropped her blade. She slowly rolled onto her side and stood on shaky legs. Pain wracked her body as roots grew through her skin and into her side, setting a broken rib with ungentle strength.
Callindra shut her eyes against the pain, her breath coming out in a high pitched keening sound. When she finally managed to get her eyes open again, the sight that greeted her hurt worse than her ribs.
The colorful caravans that had been parked close to The Drunken Thief were now piles of ashes. Those children deserved better, creepy adult eyes or not. Her eyes swept over the destruction looking for her siblings and it wasn’t hard to find them.
Tryst lay in a small crater, his shield cracked down the center and breastplate caved in. He didn’t appear to be breathing. A short distance away Vilhylm lay in a puddle of his own mud mixed with blood that trickled from his mouth. Cronos wasn’t faring much better, one sword still sheathed, the other a short distance from his right hand and severe burn marks on his head and chest.
“Tryst. Wake up, Vyl and Cronos need you.” Callindra’s voice rasped in her ears. Tryst didn’t move. She put her face next to his and didn’t feel any breath. “Damn damn damn, I don’t know anything about this.” Moving to the door Callindra slammed her sword hilt against it. “Open up you thrice cursed cowards!”
The runes had begun to dissolve, or perhaps decay was a better word. The magic was rotting as though diseased and the impact of her inscrolled blade was the last straw. The protections that had enclosed The Drunken Thief fell to the ground like last year’s leaves. “Open this door or I’ll gods damned break it down!” Callindra’s shout was barely louder than a whisper, but despite the pain in her ribs the pommel of her sword made plenty of noise.
“Is it gone?” The voice reverberated from behind the door.
“What? Yes it’s gone.”
The door creaked inward showing a cluster of cautious eyes that resolved into some familiar faces. The bouncer was standing behind the door, his club nowhere to be seen. The bartender was crouching behind the bar and there was a solidly built man in the center of the room holding a forge hammer in one hand.
“Hey, do any of you know first aid or healing? My brothers need medical help.” The flames from The Ravenger had scorched her throat to the point where she could hardly talk. When she paused to take a breath a vine thrust itself into her mouth, nearly choking her.
When Callindra bit it in half and spat it out, the sap coated her mouth and wind pipe like a salve, soothing the wounds. The buxom barmaid who had approached with bandages in hand and a concerned look on her face looked startled. “I’m fine, just see to my family.” She continued in a more normal tone of voice.
Mili moved from Vilhylm to Cronos, bandaging wounds and casting small healing spells. “Merel, I need you to carry this one inside.” She was easily restraining a struggling Vilhylm with one hand; a testament to how injured he was. “He has burns all over his body and shouldn’t try to move.” Merel put his forge hammer down and lifted Vyl easily, carrying him inside.
“Why didn’t you help us instead of cowering behind your barrier? We could have beaten it if we’d had your help.” Callindra fixed the occupants of the room with a glare, “You call yourselves men? You were quick enough to throw me out when it suited you, it seems you only have the guts to pick on sixteen year old girls. You disgust me.”
“The only reason you survived is it thought you were dead. Nobody survives The Ravenger, everyone knows that.” The bartender wouldn’t meet her eyes.
“You might as well be dead.” Callindra spat on the floor, “As for me, the next time I meet that monster I’m going to kill it. I’ll be ready this time.”
“I need help!” The barmaid priestess was bending over Tryst, “He’s not breathing and I can’t get his armor off!” Callindra and Cronos were at her side in an instant, both straining to bend Tryst’s breastplate so that it could be removed.
“Damn it, this thing is stuck. I’ll cut the strap.” Callindra reached for her blade.
“Wait, you’ll ruin the armor. Give me a second.” Cronos incanted a spell and touched himself, then the same spell again and touched Callindra. She was familiar with his strength magic and nodded.
“Good idea, let’s try again.” Even with their new strength they were barely able to bend the breastplate enough that Mili could loosen the buckle. The breastplate ran like a bell as it loosened but Tryst still wasn’t breathing.
“I can’t do anything for him.” Mili had a confused look on her face, “He’s dead. Or at least he’s not breathing but somehow his heart is still beating.” A greenish golden glow emanated from Tryst’s breast. “He’s beyond my ability to help, but maybe if you bring him to my Master he could help. He’s far more skilled than I am.”
“Your master? Who is he and where can we find him?” There was another awkward silence and when Callindra glared at them again the bartender Agon broke it.
“We exiled him from the village. He’s insane and believes he can cure the green flame curse. Not just that he was doing experiments on infected creatures. He was a danger to everyone and it wasn’t safe for the village for him to stay.”
Callindra’s anger showed in her eyes and the Winds echoed it, whipping through the space between her and Agon in a violent gust. “He’s the only person who can save my brother in this gods forsaken place and you THREW HIM OUT OF THE VILLAGE?”