The Endless Horizon

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Fantasy  |  House: Booksie Classic

Chapter 13 (v.1) - Sleepless

Submitted: July 03, 2019

Reads: 66

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Submitted: July 03, 2019

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A A A

-13-

Sleepless

 

 

Just as before our stopping, we were subjected to the harsh elements, unlike before however, we had moved beyond the plains and breached swampland. Trudging through inches of mud wouldn't typically be preferable, but it was speckled with enough trees to keep us mostly dry through the nights. The climate was also now noticeably warmer, providing for better sleep. It was on one particular night we stopped that everything seemed to be in place. There was only a faint drizzle atop the canopy, we had even managed to start a small fire. My partner was sitting across from me with her legs outstretched.

“How do you feel about the name Escalus? Is it suitable?”

“What for?” I asked, my eyebrows raised. With every utterance, I coughed again. My illness hadn't progressed since stopping in Drysdan, but my constant hacking left my throat raw.

“Your horse! I can't help but grow attached to him over these last weeks, only serves that we have should something to call him.”

I gave her a smirk. “Whatever you say, Corda”.

She nodded triumphantly for only a moment. “Wait, when did you start calling me Corda?”

“When you started calling the horse Escalus,” I said with a hearty laugh that ended in another coughing fit.

“Serves you right!” she snickered back.

I laid my head down and told her goodnight. It was the first in some time that I had gone to sleep with a smile on my face.

“Good night Kaiser. Here's to hoping for better weather soon.”

~~~

It seemed only minutes after closing my eyes that her familiar voice came calling for me. “Kaiser,” it beckoned. Trapped in-between sleep and waking, I couldn't tell if it was dream or reality. When again it called I stirred from my sleep and partially opened my eyes to make out what was going on. The campfire had nearly gone out, which, in combination with my groggy state, made it considerably harder to gather my bearings. Three different voices had been involved in the struggle. One must've belonged to Cordella, the others were unfamiliar but distinctly male. My eyes slowly came to adjust to the darkness of the night. I tried to get up but I was frozen, paralyzed where I lay.

Cordella lay feet away from me, blood pouring from what must have been several wounds, and I couldn't tell if she was still breathing.

“It's not worth it, we should just get out of here, I never wanted to kill anybody!” pleaded one of the men. He looked in disgust at the blade in his hand, dripping with her blood.

“By taking their food we're already killing them. Besides, none of this would have happened if you hadn't woken her you half-wit! Now shut up and find their food before the other wakes.”

“Kaiser,” she cried weakly, barely raising her head from the wet soil.

“Damn it, kill her already!” the second man yelled again.

A powerful burst of adrenaline brought me to my feet, and my hands grasped in vain at the empty sheathe on my waist. Cursing my lacking foresight I pulled out a measly dagger and rushed towards the man. Just as metal would meet flesh I was side-stepped, and promptly kicked to the ground.

“Great, now this one's awake too. We should have just killed the both of them from the start.” He stood over me and dug his grime covered boot into my shoulder blade as he knelt. “Quickly now.”

I pushed myself upwards with my arms, but with the pressure on my back, I was only able to lift myself enough to watch the final events unfold. The less willing of the two men shakily dropped to her side.

“Get- get away,” she mouthed just before the blade was thrust into her side one last time. I could only watch in horror as the light I had come to know her by slowly faded from her eyes.

“No!” I bellowed, wildly thrashing to escape to her. The man put yet more weight into his foot, forcing my face into the mud. In one motion he rolled me to my back. The only features I could make out in the dim light were his soulless eyes, and my own anguish reflected within them.

“You'll be with her soon,” the man sneered as he lowered the knife. Just as it would meet my skin a blinding flash of light dazed me.

~~~

“Snap out of it!” The piercing shout rang through my ears.

I was sitting up-right now. “Kaiser?” When my vision cleared the robber was no longer poised over me, instead Cordella's face was inches from mine, and her hand's tightly grasped my shoulders. Her body was free of wounds, but her face was riddled with distress. “Tell me what happened-” her voice trailed off as my mind lulled in a state of perpetuity. I understood what had happened, but the sheer gravity of it bore sharply into my mind. Another Wraith? But this was worlds more realistic than the first dream I'd experienced, delving much deeper into my subconscious.

“Kaiser! Tell me what happened,” she demanded, moving her hand to my forehead.

“A wraith,” I answered numbly.

She shook her head profusely, “That was no damned wraith, you have a terrible fever! Your body must be fighting off your illness.”

In contrast, it was my mind that was struggling to come to terms with reality. In one moment she lay dead, lifeless, and in another, she was filled again with the warmth that I always remembered her as having. The way she watched me so intently suggested fear, but I was experiencing a very different emotion than she.

At my lacking reaction she tilted her head, “What did you see in your dream that caused you so much agitation?” I suddenly couldn't help but lock my arms around her as my eyes welled with tears, my face buried in her shoulder. She resisted initially but then wrapped her arms around me in return.

When I finally loosened my hold on her I could see that her eyes were glistening. “You're not one to cry Kaiser, whatever you must have seen, it must have been horrific to evoke this kind of response.”

I was still unable to properly formulate my words. “H-Horrific doesn't begin to describe it.”

*The Next Day*

Throughout the rest of that night I restlessly attempted to sleep, but to no avail. I was faced with a feeling so intensely surreal like I had just been torn from one reality into another. More than anything the nightmare revealed to me my deepest of fears, and it was that discovery that startled me most. When I had been leached by the wraith all of those nights ago I was shown loneliness, but this time, I had lost the one person in whom I could confide in, and them in me. Losing her wasn't just my worst fear, it was my only fear. Remarkable how quickly my life had been victim to change. In my twenty-three years of life, it felt as though almost all of it had been lived within the last month. Cordella had been in my life only a short while, but losing her felt like losing a lifetime friend.

The next day was filled with traveling due south. I had completely withdrawn from daily conversation up until now, though I knew that she would eventually grow impatient with me. “Kaiser, when are you going to talk?” She came to say. I remained fixated on the skyline. “I'm not forcing you to tell me about what happened, I just want you to talk!”

“Fine,” I responded in a hollow tone, “What is it you want to talk about?”

She growled audibly, “You know that's not what I mean, I just want you to act like yourself again. We're due in Mochada in another day's traveling, we can't get ourselves tied up like this.”

I gave a stiff tug to the reigns of our newly named mount. We slowed to a stop. My sickness had all but passed, but still my throat was sore from the words caught within it. They seemed to stick to my tongue, for I mouthed several but spoke none. “In my dream, I watched you die.”

“You can't mean that,” she said dismissively, “You were in tears!”

“A man attacked while we slept. All the while I lay there numb, deaf to your cries, powerless to stop them even upon my waking.” As I spoke my eyes began to burn, that same familiar sorrow threatening to take hold again. “It just felt so real.”

“I- I was unaware that you cared for me so-” I could tell from the way her voice faltered that she was struggling to keep her composure. “Is this really true?”

“Do you even have to ask? Of course it's true. You've given my life direction when it hadn't any before; to lose you so swiftly, I'd be devastated.”
 


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