The Wanderer, Part 34
This story is part of a series, this is the thirty-fourth part.
You can read the first story here: The Wanderer, Part 1
and the most recent story here: The Wanderer, Part 33
Tas woke suddenly in a fever; Yaina held him and was holding a cool cloth to his face. For a moment Tas felt wild and uncontrolled; the shadow surged in him. Slowly his nerves calmed and his vision returned; at first the light was blinding. Yaina cared for him as he regained his thoughts; she told him where he was and what had happened. She had found them in the cave until she was whisked away into the nether herself. Tas still didn’t understand how she had found the cave, but couldn’t muster the energy to care. His mind moved to Arcartre and the monastery.
Yao seemed to have read his mind and began talking, “we will need to leave in the morning to head to the monastery. Fei will no doubt want to prepare for the inevitabilities of our future.”
Tas pushed to get up, but was stopped by his own fatigue. His head pounded and his chest ached; the pressure was overwhelming. He wanted to speak, but couldn’t.
“We will leave once you feel better Tas. Yaina and I will take care of you, go to sleep now. Once the sun rises we will head for the west.”
Tas loved to watch Yaina work; she was so skilled and gentle with her applications, the bandages, oils, and medicines seemed to be used in perfect harmony and at optimal volumes. She was cooling his fever now with ice and certain fragrances; as well as heating his feet to stimulate circulation. Her hands moved in a blur as she tended to Tas. He laid back, sighed deeply and softly fell into a deep sleep.
Tas woke up with drool hanging off the side of his mouth. He was alone, Yaina and Yao were nowhere to be seen. For a moment, Tas panicked. He hadn’t liked the last time he was alone and in the dark.
He sighed, remembering the last 24 hours with Arcartre and the nether. He had felt so alive there; now he felt weak, meaningless, void of energy, and numb. The colors were so indiscernible, he couldn’t seem to make out shapes or anything else around him. Everything was dark.
Yao seemed to know that something was wrong. He moved to help Tas to get up off the floor, but Tas’ frame was too heavy for the old man to lift now.
“Tas, I’m not sure what I should do.” Yao said hesitantly.
“Leave me for a minute.” Tas said slowly. His mouth didn’t feel like it was working properly either.
“What are you experiencing Tas? Since getting back to this plane I feel much better, almost like I was sick before, but didn’t notice. Are you feeling sick now?”
Tas nodded his head. “My head is pounding and I can’t think straight. There seems to be some kind of layer of fuzziness over everything making it all blurry.”
“You are recovering from your shadow form; no doubt it took hold over you when you were flying Arcartre and likely before as well.” Tas nodded silently again.
“We can’t stay here Tas; we have to get moving to the West where we can meet with Fei and Paj and the other monks to decided how we should prepare for what awaits us. We have a lot of work to do and no doubt Melkar is already on the move to counter our plans to summon Arcartre from the nether. Fei will havent plenty of his own thoughts to discuss on the matter, no doubt.”
“Well then let’s get going Yao. You don’t have to wait on me, I will be stronger than you have ever remembered me to be. The mountains and the cold made me strong so just guide me.”
Yao nodded, then began to prepare. Several furs and packs of supplies to prepare for the long trek ahead; Tas easily remembered the weeks they spent climbing up into the mountains from the jungles below; the long and arduous treks through the jungle, the ascent into the evergreen trees and of course, his first experiences with snow. It was hard for him to believe that a year ago he had never even see snow; now it was like the back of his own hand.
Yaina was cooking their last meal as Yao finished the packing. Tas was still resting on the floor, doing his best to focus on his breathing and to recover for the long journey ahead. He was supremely happy that Yaina would be with them; her cooking skills were nothing short of majestic and in the wild Tas knew that she would have an even easier time making amazing meals out of nearly no supplies. In Bahar, she had made the most amazing food from just snow and small bits of grass and some slices of venison; her stews almost brought tears to his eyes as he remembered them. Suddenly Tas began to feel energy flowing back into him, but not enough to get up.
“I need food Yao. My body is completely out of energy!” Tas was nearly crying, his stomach was hurting so bad.
“It might be better if you don’t eat right now Tas.” Yao said with certainty. Tas looked back at the old man in anger. How could he keep food from him at a time like this? This was not a good time for Yao to be playing one of his games.
“The nether energies have made your insides dark. Allow the darkness to consume itself and wait for the natural balance of your body to return!” Yao was exasperated. Tas couldn’t ever remember seeing the old man in this kind of anguish.
“Okay, Yao. But this better not be another one of your games. I feel like I can’t stay awake any longer unless I eat.”
“Then rest Tas. We will leave when you wake up.”
Tas did his best to sleep over the next hour, but the agony in his stomach didn’t allow for it. He pulled down his sleeve several times to look at his shadow-scar and eventually he came to the conclusion that it was the scar that was making him hungry, not his own will. He sighed, this type of spell was not something he had ever wanted, or even known could exist! He continued to try to sleep for another hour, but simply couldn’t. It was as if he was too tired, his body ached too much and there was starting to be a pain in his joints.
The pain worsened over the next hour, Tas had to bite on a rag to keep himself from yelling at the top of his lungs. He felt his insides starting to sizzle and burn up, the heat was intense. It was almost as if his body were coming back to life, but more intensely. He continued to grasp against the pain, biting against the rag and letting his body convulse and do as it wished in response to the pain.
After a while, the pain subsided then ebbed and flowed away into the far reaches of his body. He felt his mind move into darkness and his body finally was able to relax. It wasn’t long until Tas was feeling almost nothing and he turned his head to the side and closed his eyes.