The Knight and His Squire 3
Copyright© 2015 by Spherical Spoon
Maes opened her eyes and blinked at the strong sunlight streaming through the windows. She sat up, and saw Rohea sitting nearby on a chair.
"Is everyone alright?" Maes asked.
"Yes, thanks to you," Rohea replied. "How are you feeling?"
"I feel fine," Maes said.
"What did you do?" Puccar asked, walking into the room. "That was like nothing I'd ever seen before."
"I don't know for sure," Maes answered. "I tried to heal everyone at once, and it felt like it was working. But after a while, I felt like my energy had been depleted. I had almost given up, when I felt something change."
"What did you feel?" Rohea asked.
"I can't describe it," Maes said. "But instead of healing the people, it felt like I was pulling their illness away from them. That seemed to work better."
"That must have been the black glow that we saw," Puccar commented.
"That darkness went into you," Rohea said. "Where is it now?"
"It must be still within me somewhere," Maes said. "I feel as though there is a gem of darkness nestled inside my body."
"Can you remove it?" Rohea asked.
"I don't know how to," Maes answered. "I have the feeling that if I make a mistake removing it, I could cause great harm with it. We must ask Parym about it."
"Will it cause harm to you as it is?"
"No, I don't think so," Maes said. "I don't know why, but it feels like it is well-contained inside of me."
Rohea and Puccar looked at each other, but did not know how to respond.
Tarwo stepped into the room, and said, "Maes! You're awake! You are truly a blessing from the gods."
Maes smiled and replied, "It is nothing, Tarwo."
"Nothing? You have saved our town from the illness."
"What about those that were outside the town hall?" Maes asked.
"They too have seemingly recovered from it," Tarwo stated. "It is as if the curse on this town was suddenly lifted by you. You are truly a sight to marvel! The mayor is even thinking of erecting a statue of you in town."
Maes blushed. "No, it was nothing. Anyone would have done the same."
"But no one else could," Rohea said. "Perhaps other healers could have, but the mages put an end to them."
"Will the mages hear of this and come after us?" Maes asked in a worried voice.
"The people of Hayr believe that you are an angel sent by the gods. Even the healers of old did not possess the healing powers you demonstrated. Word may spread of an angel present at Hayr, but not a healer," Rohea said. "We have spoken to the mayor, and he has agreed not to inform Wolle of the details until after we have left."
Tarwo said, "The mayor himself believes you are an angel, as do I."
"Believe me," Maes said. "I am mortal, just as you are." Maes shuddered slightly and continued, "I had a mortal wound not too long ago, myself, and was saved by a healer. He was the one who trained me. It is he who deserves your thanks."
"You are too modest," Tarwo replied.
"Do you feel well enough to travel?" Puccar asked.
"I believe so," Maes answered.
"Are you leaving already?" Tarwo asked. "The town is organizing a feast and celebration in your honor."
"We have other business to attend to," Rohea said. "I'm sorry, but we cannot linger here."
Tarwo nodded. "I understand. Angels are needed in all parts of the world."
Rohea and Puccar loaded their belongings onto their horses, and Rohea helped Maes up her horse. As much as she claimed otherwise, Rohea could tell that she was still weak and needed more time to recuperate. Nevertheless, time was of the essence, and staying in Hayr could draw more attention from the mages than they desired.
The three of them headed out of the town gates towards Wolle, in order to leave a false trail in case anyone was watching. Once Hayr was a small speck in the horizon, they began to make a wide circle back towards Yaklo.
It was soon dusk, and they prepared to make camp a short distance from the main road. Maes, still weak from her recent activities, stayed near the horses and prepared the campfire. Rohea unloaded their packs from the horses, while Puccar went to set some traps nearby in the tall grass.
"Maes," Rohea said as he approached her, carrying her pack. "How are you feeling?"
"I am well, Sir Rohea," Maes replied.
Rohea placed his hand on her shoulder. "I am concerned about you, Maes," he said. "You looked like you went past your limit in Hayr. Things could have gone very wrong."
Maes' eyes flared in anger. "I saved those people, didn't I?"
"Indeed you did," Rohea replied. "But at what cost? What was that darkness we saw?"
"It was their sickness, being pulled away from them," Maes said adamantly.
"Perhaps. But it felt evil. Is there any more to it that you're not telling me?"
Maes glared at Rohea. "Are you accusing me of dark magic as well?"
Rohea replied, "I have no doubts that your intentions were pure. I'm only worried that you are tapping into an unknown power. Did Parym teach you to do what you did?"
"He did not," Maes said. "But he did not teach me everything he knew, either."
Rohea suddenly reached for his sword. Maes flared in anger.
Rohea pulled her behind himself. "Someone approaches, be wary."
"Is it Sir Puccar?" Maes asked.
"No," Rohea said curtly, drawing his sword and shield.
"Well, well, well," a voice called out. "It seems like we have been spotted. No matter. Give us your belongings and we will let you live."
Rohea raised his voice and replied, "It is you who should surrender. I am Sir Rohea of Wolle. By the King's order, I command you brigands to lay down your arms, and I will let you live."
A sudden sharp pain brought Rohea to drop to one knee. He glanced down and saw an arrow sticking out of his chest.
"No!" Maes cried.
The voice in the distance laughed. "Sir Rohea, it looks like you are without your armor. Did I forget to tell you that I have archers ready to shoot at your campsite?"
"No!" Maes cried out again. She raised her arms towards the sky, and a sudden darkness radiated from her, extinguishing the light of the campfire and the pale light of the moon.
Sudden shouts came from around Rohea and Maes followed by the sounds of bodies hitting the ground.
"Maes," Rohea said weakly. "You must stop it."
"Only after these men have been stopped," Maes said in a dark voice.
The campsite was deathly quiet and the darkness receded back into Maes. The light from the moon once again streamed down from the sky, and Rohea spotted four men prone on the ground, three clutching their eyes, and one clutching his throat.
The light from the campfire flickered again and provided more illumination. Rohea gasped.
"Puccar!" he called.
Puccar laid face-down on the ground, his right arm holding the hilt of his sword. He looked as though he had been sneaking to one of the brigands when Maes had sent the darkness out.
Rohea tried to stand up but the pain from his chest prevented him from doing so. He groaned loudly and brought his hand to the arrow.
Maes placed her hand over his, and a warm feeling enveloped Rohea. Maes carefully pulled the arrow out of Rohea's chest, and placed her other hand over the wound. Blood dripped from the wound, but the flow steadily decreased until soon, the wound had completely closed.
Rohea stood up, holding onto Maes for support. They made their way over to Puccar, and Rohea turned Puccar's body around.
"Maes, what have you done?" Rohea asked.
Puccar's eyes remained wide open, but they were completely black and lifeless.
Maes placed her hands on Puccar's body and closed her eyes. "I will do what I can," she said. "I didn't mean to harm him!"
The warm glow enveloped Maes's hands but seemed unable to spread to Puccar.
"I- It's not working," Maes cried.
"It is too late," Rohea declared. "He has joined the gods."
Rohea stretched his hand over Puccar's face, and slowly closed his eyes. "Puccar was a fine knight, and a great friend. He served Wollior all his life, and today, he has given his life for Wollior."
"For Wollior?" Maes asked. "I killed him!"