Volume III of Legacy: Black Star, Part 1 - Cover

Volume III of Legacy: Black Star, Part 1

Copyright© 2023 by Uruks

Chapter 30: I Learn Medicine (Kind of)

After a while, the rodent mutated to the point of being unrecognizable. The test subjects would occasionally bite off small pieces of the rodent’s flesh, but the rodent never showed any reaction or signs of pain. Then the rodent seemed to ... disintegrate I suppose. Its flesh just rotted away and its form lost cohesion as pieces of it floated around the test tube.

Ryan’s first trip outside the cave was a bit less than productive. Sneaking around in the dark of night hardly qualified as his forte, to say the least. But what got Ryan really on edge was the fact that he couldn’t find a single Parasite in the area. Not even a hint of the hunting party that was hot on their trail not two days ago. Ryan almost wanted to let himself hope that they had eluded their disease-ridden pursuers, but experience had taught him that when things were too good to be true, they usually were.

All I can do is focus on helping Éclair for the time being. Nothing else matters, he thought resolutely. Now, where are those glowing purple leaves?

Ryan searched through the dead leaves for any sign of the Fras’nook, but found the task a little more difficult than anticipated. Not only was it hard to find any caves in the dark, it was hard to find anything in the dark as Ryan kept tripping over vines and sticks. Making matters even worse was the fact that Ryan’s enhanced senses had left him. In fact, Ryan felt like a blind old guy as he literally had to crawl just to find his way.

It’s almost like all these abilities that keep popping up only become active when there’s danger nearby. But since the Parasites don’t seem to be anywhere near this place, I’m back to being lame again!

It became so bad, that Ryan wasn’t sure he’d be able to find his way back. But just as things seemed to be too bleak, Ryan heard a noise. Ryan’s enhanced senses suddenly flared to life as he looked up towards the direction of the noise only to find some strange-looking rodents playing in the trees. The lifeforms were chasing each other back and forth through the bare branches of the white trees, and they seemed to be having a fun time doing it too. From what Ryan could see, the creatures resembled squirrels, but they each had two tails instead of one, and their fur glowed with a purplish neon light. Their eyes were glowing as well, but with a green light, and they had rabbit-like ears.

I’m surprised that there are still animals on this world other than Parasites. I guess this must be a part of the planet that the Parasites haven’t reached yet.

The alien rodents continued their game of tag as they jumped from the tree branches playfully. The creatures miraculously used their large ears to glide from tree to tree, and they even seemed to use their tails like propellers, spinning their two tails in a circle to create thrust. The squirrel-like creatures ignored Ryan as they continued chattering and squeaking at each other as their game went on and on.

These things are actually kind of cute. I think I’ll call them Two-tailed Neon Squirrel-Rabbit things. Well, maybe Glow Rats for short. It’s too bad they’re so cute though, because if push comes to shove, I’m so eating these things.

As if responding to his thoughts, the Glow Rats suddenly stopped their playing and sniffed the air cautiously as if something had frightened them. Then almost out of nowhere, a shadow appeared above the two Glow Rats. Ryan heard a screech and realized that the flying shadow was none other than a large bird of some kind, but that was about all he could make out. The bird screeched out a sound that was strangely reminiscent of Ryan’s pet hawk, Tyrant. Though Ryan knew that his bird was back home at the Ministry of Fire, it did make him wonder.

The Glow Rats wasted no time in fleeing their new adversary. As they raced down the tree and ran through the ground, they left streaks of purple on the forest floor that quickly began to fade. The large bird creature followed closely behind as it flew only inches from the ground in a zigzag pattern.

Ryan suddenly found himself overcome with a strange urge to follow the chase and observe the plight of the two woodland creatures that he had become so fond of. Following the fading trail of purple that the fleeing rodents had left behind, Ryan was soon able to catch sight of the Glow Rats who were still being pursued by the dark bird. What seemed strange about the whole thing was the fact that Ryan felt certain that the bird should have been able to catch the rodents on more than one occasion, but almost seemed to hold back as if it wanted them to get away.

As Ryan continued following the creatures, he wondered why there would be rodents that even glowed in the dark since it obviously attracted predators. While observing the fleeing Glow Rats, he found his answer.

Ryan watched as the Glow Rats suddenly came across an open field that actually had grass in it. It was one of the few times Ryan had seen grass since coming to the planet. Across the field, Ryan saw a large hill, and at the base of the hill was an opening to a cave. At the mouth of the cave and stretching all across the grassy field were the very plants that Ryan was looking for. There were literally thousands of purple-glowing weeds popping out of the ground and lighting up the forest with neon light. The squirrels went straight for the plants and almost seemed to vanish as their fur glowed the same color as the weeds. The Glow Rats had glowing fur so that they could blend in with plants like Fras’nook.

The large bird suddenly gave up its pursuit and flew away with another loud screech that was strangely reminiscent of Tyrant. As Ryan watched the bird disappear into the night, a strange thought occurred to him.

I might not have even found this place if it wasn’t for that bird chasing those squirrels here. It never even occurred to me that the Glow Rats glowed like that because they use these plants as camouflage. Wonders never cease, I suppose.

Ryan wasted no time in gathering up the plants that he needed to save Éclair’s life. As Ryan prepared to find his way back, he suddenly got the instinctive impulse to stop and observe his surroundings. As he did so, he realized with his senses (which had somehow become acute once again) that there were hundreds of different animals roaming the forest that he had assumed was lifeless. There were more of those Glow Rats that he had seen earlier, but there were also other kinds of animals that crawled and galloped and screeched through the woods. There were even some animals that glowed like the Glow Rats, but in different colors. It seemed that most of the indigenous life on the planet was nocturnal. Ryan wondered if it was because the Parasites were more active in the day.

Ryan smiled at the sight as he thought, This is good news for us. Not only does it mean that the area is safe from the Parasites for now, but it also means that me and Éclair will be doing some good eating for the time being.

Ryan found his way back to the cave surprisingly well. Although, it did take him a little longer than he would have liked since his senses went dark as soon as he left the animals behind. But the important thing was that he actually managed to bring back the plants that Éclair needed, and that was enough.

“Hey, Éclair,” called out Ryan quietly as he stepped slowly into their cave. “I found those plants that you needed. Fag-nuke, or whatever. Oh, yeah. And I don’t think we need to worry about those freaky worms for a while. This forest is crawling with animals, so that must mean the Parasites haven’t come this far yet. Anyway, what did you say we needed to do with these plants again?”

Ryan stopped speaking when he saw Éclair through the small amount of morning light that was peeking through the cave as the sun began to rise. Éclair’s eyes were closed, and she was shivering violently. She was drenched in so much sweat that much of the mud caking her face was dripping off. Through the cracks of the mud mask, Ryan could see her skin was deathly pale instead of its usual healthy, creamy coloring. Éclair’s breathing came out shallow and raspy, almost as if she could barely breathe. Ryan had never seen her looking so vulnerable before.

She’s so much worse now than when I left. I couldn’t have been gone for more than a few hours, and already she looks like she’s dying.

“Éclair!” cried out Ryan in a frightened voice as he took hold of her shoulders. “Éclair, speak to me! Please!”

Éclair’s eyes opened weakly. She tried to say something, but all Ryan heard was a gasping mumble.

“What did I need to do with these plants again?” said Ryan as he pounded his head, trying desperately to remember what Éclair had told him earlier. “Uhh ... oh, yeah! First, we need to grind them into paste! Right? Just nod if I’m right!”

Éclair managed a weak nod, but already, Ryan could see the color leaving her cheeks as her eyelids drooped lower and lower.

“Right,” acknowledged Ryan as he grabbed a rock and wasted no time in grinding the beautiful, glowing leaves as hard as possible. When the leaves seemed to be sufficiently crushed, Ryan held up the purple glowing paste and asked, “Is this good?”

Éclair nodded again with even more fatigue than last time as she brought a trembling hand up and pointed at her leg.

Ryan ripped away the bandage, exposing the festering wound left by the Parasites. The tissue surrounding the injury was even worse and the scar seemed to be spreading further up Éclair’s leg. The smell of dead flesh had increased exponentially, and Ryan even thought he could see small Parasite-like tentacles wiggling out of the opening.

As Ryan raised his hand to deliver the remedy, Éclair managed to rasp out in a groggy voice, “Gently, Ryan. Gently.”

Ryan nodded, and applied the paste as gently as his panic-stricken hands could. He found himself trembling as he traced his fingers over Éclair’s exposed flesh. The taint of the Parasite sent reverberations of disgust and loathing throughout his body. In the back of Ryan’s mind amidst his focus of tending to Éclair came telltale thoughts of revenge.

I’ll make those bastards pay for what they did to you, Éclair. For what they did to all those Elementals back at the ship. Somehow, I’ll make all of them pay, I swear it.

Éclair gave a soft whimpering moan of discomfort despite Ryan’s best efforts not to hurt her. Her face was scrunched in pain as she gritted her teeth, grinding them against each other as if she were suppressing a scream. It made his heart ache to see Éclair in so much physical agony.

When Ryan had applied the purple paste to every portion of the wounds, he cupped Éclair’s cheek and asked, “Now what?”

Éclair grimaced as she brought up a shaking hand to her leg. “I ... I need to ... to freeze the wound. That should ... buy us ... enough ... time.”

Éclair’s hand began to exude mist as her fingers glowed with the blue light of her psions, but it seemed as though she was still too weak to summon ice when the mist fizzled out.

Realizing that she was struggling, Ryan impulsively placed his hand over Éclair’s and said in a gentle voice, “Éclair, use my energy. I’ve never shared my psions before, but I know I can share them with you. Please, take my psions. Take as much as you need.”

Éclair barely nodded in a slight acknowledgement before closing her eyes again in an effort to refocus herself to the task at hand. Ryan felt a surge of energy rush out of him through his fingertips and into Éclair. Mist covered Éclair’s leg as white ice froze over the once gaping wound. Ryan suddenly became exhausted as he leaned back and had to steady himself with one hand in order to keep from falling down. Éclair, on the other hand, seemed much more energetic as she sighed in relief, and even managed to sit up, although it seemed evident that she was still very tired as she continued panting from the exertion.

The source of this story is Finestories

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