Chapter 2: Red
The skinned spot in my tight hurts more than the burn. Givontair looks restless next to me. My mind is still hazy, yet, I wonder if there might be something wrong with this situation. Just who is Givontair? Normal healers go from place to place with an escort. Also, they don't offer their services for free.
"Thank you again for saving me," I say, and the albino man nods. I rather like his eyes. Like the calm sea on a sunny day. My mother took me to see the ocean once.
The caravan was trading in the town of Lunumbia. I remember that we had to walk for three hours each day, to set up our stalls on the beach. I wonder if mom is still alive. My eyes go misty despite my best efforts.
"In which direction is the bandit camp?" Givontair asks. I begin to shake my head.
"There are at least two dozen of them. You will just end up in chains," a healer will fetch a better price on the slave market than a couple of traveling merchants. Especially if the healer is as exotic looking as Givontair.
"I am good at negotiating," Givontair counters. I shake my head.
"They don't want to negotiate with you. They just want to enslave you," my voice rises at the end. I just met Givontair. He is the only one who can help me get back to civilization. I think we were close to Portius, before the bandits came.
"I can make them see that it is a bad idea," Givontair says, as he places a hand on my shoulder. "Just tell me where the bandit camp is. We don't have much time, kid."
"I want to come with you," I tell him. Sure, I am small. Just ten years of age, and not much muscle to me. But I am also fast. Surely, Givontair will see that I can scout ahead for him?
"You will stay in here. I will leave a rune stone with you," he does take a stone out. My eyes widen.
"You will leave something this expensive with me?" He smiles then, and places a hand in my raven locks.
Green eyes meet blue. I can see that he has the confidence to pull through. I saw the same confidence on our leader, before he ended up face-first into the mud. An arrow sticking out of his throat. I will miss Otto. He told the best stories.
"Just tell me the general direction," Givontair prompts me. I bow my head then.
"Follow the road. When it forks, follow the sign that says Mushroom Grove," I finally tell him. He smiles even more brightly, and takes out some bread and dried meat. When he sets them on a cloth next to me, he also takes a glass water bottle.
"Don't get the bandages wet. Stay in this spot. I cleaned it while you slept," I nod at Givontair. He places the barrier stone at my feet. Soon, I am encased by a dome of light.
"Promise me you'll be back," I ask of him. Mom said she will be right behind me, but the bandits still took her. I need more than a simple assurance. I need a promise. Givontair places a hand over his chest, and speaks.
"I promise that I will be back, with as many of your family members I can find. Erik, try to get some sleep," Givontair then removes his hand, and gets up. I watch him go.
The barrier stone is heating up the domed area. I have never thought that someone can even create such a barrier, anymore. Weren't they made with dragon blood? Just who is Givontair, and why does this name sound so familiar?
I close my eyes, and lean in on the half-collapsed wall behind me. The pain doesn't let me sleep, though. So, I do my best to distract myself. I look at where my burn was, and touch the graft carefully.
This transplant was not made with a thread and needle. There is a slight mana trace on the skin. A healer like this could have set themselves for life, as the private physician of the Pope. Why is Givontair in the middle of nowhere, then? I wait, for what seems like hours.
"Oh, found you," I hear a voice come from the doorway of the house. "You thought you can run, eh, runt?"
I don't like the gruff voice. Nor do I like the pockmarked face of the man in the shabby leathers. Still, I have a barrier around me. One that should hold against a bandit.
"Where did you find a dragon, boy?" The bandit asks. I blink. Just what is he telling me?
"I was saved by a healer," I argue. The bandit snickers.
"Only dragons make such barriers. Huh, I won't be able to get you out. Not while you are still alive," the bandit places something that looks to be the size of a marble. Then, he kicks it towards me. My eyes widen, when the thing comes in contact with the barrier. "You will be crispy in a couple of minutes."
I try to kick away the marble, but my foot uselessly kicks at the barrier. My shoe begins to smoke. With my unburned hand, I pat it down.
"This is what you deserve, for bringing that thing on us all," wait, did Givontair already reach the camp? Did he save my family? My mother? "We were just returning from the trading trip, when this white monstrosity came down from the sky. He burned our home down. I barely ran away."
"He should have gotten you as well," I say, my voice squeaky. If a fire spreads in the barrier, I won't be able to get away. Just where is Givontair?
I hear a roar from the outside. It rumbles the very walls of the ruined house. A big head pokes from the missing roof, and then eats the marble. I hear the explosion inside the mouth of the dragon. It is muffled, but no less terrifying.
"I got him! I really got him!" The bandit begins to wave his hands in the air. His victory is short lift because the dragon opens his maw, and breathes fire down on the man. My breath hitches in my throat. The bandit's screams echo in the ruins for a moment, and then he falls to the ground. Reduced to a burnout husk.