I am breathing! The air is moving through my lungs!
The muffled voices around me had started to panic. The cool air of the Shiverpeaks had returned to my hands and face, sending chills up my spine. How could they not tell I was breathing?
“We need to make sure she starts breathing again.”
“Oh come on!”
At that instant, a hand contacted my face. I knew immediately that it had been Angel trying to slap me awake. But I was awake. My hand shot to my face to massage my burning cheek. With more effort than it should have taken, I opened my eyes. In front of me was Angel and Tobih, worry on their faces. Ragnvaldr had been cradling me in his arms. Giving them space was the rest of the guild, standing more than a few feet away. I was glad to see them, glad to be back in this time period.
“I thought you said she wasn’t breathing.” Ragnvaldr snapped at someone while looking at me.
“It was true! She wasn’t!” Tobih retorted. “Or,” He paused and thought to himself, “Maybe it could have been her breathing so shallow that I didn’t feel it.” I shot a look at him and wondered if he even knew how to check someone’s breathing. Some of the other party members looked as if they were wondering the same thing. The anger at him was apparent on the faces of many. Tobih kept quiet for a few moments
Ragnvaldr brought me into a close embrace, nearly hugging the life right from me. In his ear I whispered, “I had another dream. No, a memory… It was the searing.”
“Tell me about it later.” He whispered back.
“I didn’t mean to kill anyone.” I said silently into his shoulder. I could remember what had happened before I passed out had returned to my memory. All of these feelings felt heavy on my mind, as if they were weighing my very body down. It was normal for people to kill one another in this world, especially in these dark times. I didn’t want to be a part of it. The more I thought about it, the more I realized that it was probably the stress from seeing so many people die in the past. The families that were torn apart by the searing of Ascalon still saddened me. What if the man I had just killed also had a family? Even the misguided can have a family’s love behind them.
“Sometimes it’s necessary for our own survival.” Ragnvaldr assured me. It didn’t make me feel any better, but I was tired and unwilling to argue it.
“Are you a narcoleptic?” Angel patronized as she sat down by me, “I can’t fight with a narc. You can’t be falling asleep like that from now on.” She pulled out her flask again and attempted to drink from it. Of course, she had drank it dry earlier. Angel stood again and began rummaging through everyone’s packs, probably to find a hidden stash of drinks. Kiffi made an effort to keep Angel out of her bag and managed to come out of it successful.
Tobih approached us and placed his hand on my head, “You’re okay, right? If we leave now to continue our journey, you’ll be fine?” He stared straight at me with viridian colored eyes. I nodded to let him know I would be fine. It was upsetting, knowing that in this time, my new friends would be leaving me. While I had Ragnvaldr, I wanted all of my friends to be with me. But I would be strong and patient.
“You’re a strong girl. I’m sure you’ll be fine if we leave you for this short time. And after you find your way through Ascalon, I’m sure that pretty little mind of yours will strengthen as well. We’ll need that, so do your best, okay?” Tobih added as I looked to him. Ragnvaldr released his grip on me. I latched onto Tobih. A plate of his armor was crushing into my side but I could care less.
“I will, I promise I will. I will become stronger, mentally and physically. I look forward to seeing you again. I’ll miss you all until then.” I told him and the rest of Ventari’s Refugees. I bid farewell to each of them personally; Angel was sure to remind us that they had to be on their way and that they had wasted a lot of their time here already. Ragnvaldr had been able to say his goodbyes to each person after I had.
I watched and waved as Kau began pulling the cart up and out of the distance. It was bittersweet, but I knew I’d meet up with them again one day. After all, we were going to be a part of their Guild. I wanted to wait until they were gone in the distance, but Angel stood up on the cart, cupped her hands around her mouth and shouted at me, “Girl! What are you doing still standing there! Get lost!” Kiffi threw her hand to her face again and tugged Angel back into her seat by her furry armor. I smiled and gave one final wave, one that everyone returned, even Kau. I turned; we would now go our separate ways, but it wouldn’t be for long.
We descended the mountain side as gracefully as one could. At times the slope would be icy and steep, others it was snow and of slow decline. I kept looking to Ragnvaldr, who had been silent this entire time. As I thought about it, I realized that he never seemed to talk very much around other people. I pondered this thought as we continued down the terrain. The snow became littered with grass poking from the ground. It was frozen; with each step, the grass would crunch underneath our feet. Brushing against an ice covered bush would result in a wind chime effect- each icy branch or blade would knock against one another, creating a series of small clicks and clacks. The sound rang through my ears and I found myself purposefully disturbing the bushes to hear it.
I recapped my journey so far in my head. It was but a few days ago that I had no friends, merely acquaintances. Now I considered quite a few as friends, and not just from my own race. Though I had hardships, getting out of Divinity’s Reach was the best thing I had ever done. I felt as if my journey was nearing it’s end. As the snow became less plentiful and the grass on the ground became thicker and higher, I knew we were approaching Ascalon. This was my first chance to really see it after my new awakening. I had only read books about it, so I knew that the Charr had taken over and established the Black Citadel. I had no idea what it looked like, though. I was genuinely curious.
Watching Ragnvaldr’s hand sway at his side, I took it as a chance to grab it. I missed it as he walked forward at a slightly faster pace at that exact moment. I frowned and clasped my hands together behind my back. I surveyed my surroundings again. The sky was cloudy, but there were rays shining between the openings of each bunch of clouds. They poured to the ground, illuminating the ground around us. The moon, seen in the crevices of the clouds overhead, was full and bright.
Yawning, I looked back to Ragnvaldr. I trusted him to tell me when we could set up camp. He knew the place better than I did. With my luck, I’d set up camp only to have a few bears attack me while I slept. As we progressed through the mountain trail, I began to think he was upset with me. I stopped in my tracks; Ragnvaldr didn’t seem to notice.
“Hey.” I spoke quietly, though it was a plea for his attention. He looked back. “I must have done something to upset you. I’m really sorry.” I replied, looking at frost covered boots.
He faced me and put a hand on my shoulder, “You really worried me back there.”. There was disappointment in his voice. My heart sank just as much as my feet did in the snow when I heard him say it.
“I couldn’t help…” I stopped myself. I didn’t want to make excuses for myself, I only wanted forgiveness, “Sorry…”
“I’m just asking that you get stronger. Not for me, but for yourself.” He couldn’t have known that I was trying my best. I forced a smile and nodded. Ragnvaldr was my role model as far as strength went. I wanted to be strong like him and was trying my best to do so. Old habits die hard and it was taking my all to break them. I believed in myself though. I would become stronger, I would be able to overcome all of my fears, and I would fight flawlessly in battle. I would stop making my friends worry about me and stop drawing unwanted attention to myself. If I could only learn the secret behind these memories and what caused them to engulf me so suddenly.
Ragnvaldr and I gathered fallen branches for a fire. We had stopped and made camp to the side of the well traveled road. He laid out our sleeping mats as I neatly stacked the branches together and lit them up with my magic. Our shadows were cast into the pine trees that surrounded our temporary camp. They danced with the crackling flames in front of me, though my body in between them were still.
“You wanted to tell me about your dream?” Ragnvaldr asked, drawing me back from my trance.
My stomach rumbled, “If you’ll start on food,” I requested and sat down on the edge of my cot. “But like I said, it’s not really a dream. It’s a memory; I know it is.” I don’t know who I was trying to convince more: Ragnvaldr, or myself. It felt so real… It had to be real. I could never dream up something that detailed on a normal basis.