Reads: 5

“Help me, please!” Brother Matthias whispered loudly to a shadowy form that flitting through the dark room filled with cages.

The lone figure was checking the various cages in a calm, methodical manner but had yet to reach his cell. The figure, shrouded in dark clothing, stopped to consider him as he peered out through the bars of the cage.

“No one else is here,” he continued softly, his voice cracking a little. “They were all taken two days ago.”

He thought that the figure might have flinched at the news, but it was hard to tell in the darkness.

“Please,” he whispered, imploring for help. “I will be next.”

As a priest, he knew that he should be thinking of the salvation of others, particularly the four souls that had been bound by ropes and drug off for whatever dire fate had awaited them, even if they were orcs of the Horde, but right now, he could only think of getting out alive.  Facing one’s mortality had a way of cowering one’s pride. At his best, he never considered himself a brave man, and now he knew that he was little more than a quivering simpleton.

The lone figure moved up to the cage, their footfalls silent in the gloom. He swallowed hard as he made note of the pale graceful ears that swept up and the pair of green eyes. A blood elf—female by the slim build. She stood there for a long moment, her gaze flicking up to him then down to the cage door. Would she let him out? He held his breath then let out a small groan as she turned and walked away.

“Please let me out!” he whispered loudly, his voice pleading as he reached for the bars on the cage door. Much to his embarrassment, the door swung open. He had not noticed her picking the lock on the cage.

The blood elf turned to look at him, “The cage is open.”  Her voice sounded a bit bemused.

He stood there for a moment, incredulous, before stumbling out of the cage and towards his rescuer. “Thank you…”

She held up a hand, forestalling him. “Thank me once we are out of this foul place.”

Getting out had not been easy. There were more guards than he remembered. When asked at a later date why she had not killed more guards on her way in, her response had been pragmatically simple: nothing raises the alarm more quickly than a trail of dead guards.

There was little he could do in a fight—in truth, his lack of skill with a weapon was what landed him in the cage in the first place—but he could heal. Once, he had been proud on a battlefield, healing the soldiers of the Crusade against the minions of the scourge, from safely behind the lines of stout paladins and sturdy warriors.

Now, he put his healing skills to use, keeping the small rogue alive as she carved their way out of the underground temple of the forest trolls. Even quaking in his fear, he managed to speak prayers of healing, keeping her alive.

That had been three days ago. Now, she was seated in front of him upon a horse stolen from his captors. She was much smaller than he first realized. Her rich chestnut colored hair smelled faintly of orange blossoms but strongly of a natural feminine scent. He was as acutely aware of the soft curves of her body against his frame as he was of the curious stares of the innkeeper at the small inn that the horse was now stopped in front of.

Night was falling but the worst was over. They were on the border of human lands. He could rise in the morning and know that his travels would be safe.

He dismounted from the horse, the dirty tabard of the Argent Crusade bold upon his chest. He reached up to help her down from the massive horse, his attention momentarily distracted by the idea that when he woke tomorrow, this little rogue would most likely be gone.

It had been a cozy time, hadn’t it? Just the two of them carefully picking their way through some dangerous lands. He had kept her alive through the treacherous trek. The worst being the first day when she had been severely injured in their escape from the temple.

He remembered rushing forward as she went down, unarmed and without steel to protect him and only the Light to aid him. It had not failed him, nor had it failed to mend her by the fire that night.

He knew that the loss of the four orcs weighed on her. He could see it in the set of her shoulders and the oft times desolate look in her eyes. He tried to be rational about it, make her understand that it was not her fault, but he didn’t know if he had been helpful or harmful. After all, it had been the Horde sending her after their own and all she had to account for the dangerous trip was a lone human priest.

Later, after a supper of soup and bread, they sat outside the inn on the back porch which overlooked a ravine. The faint sound of water reached his ears, bringing with it a soothing solace and the knowledge that everything was going to be alright.

His blood elven companion had changed from the black leather to a simple shirt and skirt. Her feet and shoulders were bare, something that he found oddly endearing. She looked quite serene sitting there as if the events of the past few days had not phased her in the least. He wondered how she dealt with it, wondered what her life was like when she wasn't out rescuing people. Despite his curiosity, he didn't probe into her private life.

“Auxilia?”

The green gaze shifted from the peaceful vista to him and he swallowed.

“I just want to say thank you, for saving me.”

She smiled at him. “I would not have left you there.”

He gave her a rueful smile, “I know that I was a complete coward and I…” He stopped when she interrupted him.

“Being fearful does not make you a coward,” she leaned towards him slightly. “You acted bravely. We only made it because of your quick thinking—on more than one occasion. Believe me, I was scared out of my wits.”

He blinked. “You hid it well.”

“I hide a lot of things well.”

Several long minutes went by as he considered that statement. Finally, he spoke again. “We made a good team, didn’t we?”

She had turned her gaze back to the ravine but tilted her head to look at him again. A small smile curved her lips. “Aye, we did.”


Submitted: August 14, 2020

© Copyright 2020 Kharmalily. All rights reserved.

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