“He’s fine, just a bit of bad luck with the drakes. Lucky I was there to help him.” Angel, who was carrying cleaned cuts of drake and a few green sticks, answered. She seemed less concerned about it than I would have liked, but she didn’t know his situation like I did.
Ragnvaldr, who had also woken up through the arrival of our friends, began helping Angel with the food and whittling the sticks into skewers. There was a look of concern on his face for Tobih as well. It was so clear to everyone that something had happened and yet Angel was brushing it off as if it were nothing.
“We’ll talk later, but please stay quiet for now.” Tobih whispered softly into my ear as he pretended that he was only moving to rest his head on my shoulder. Ragnvaldr gave me a nod as I looked to him apologetically this time. While I wasn’t sure of the boundaries between what Ragnvaldr considered comfortable friendliness, I knew that right now I just had to comfort my friend in any way possible. I moved my hand to the top of Tobih’s head and ran my fingers gently through his hair, half brushing through it, but mostly in an attempt to comfort.
“Tobih, do you like the rain?” I asked, bringing up the conversation to him as well. I knew the conversation would help relieve the tension I was feeling through him.
He sighed, his coughing had stopped, “I love the rain. I think it’s beautiful.”
“And what of the snow?” I heard Ragnvaldr chime in with.
“The snow is graceful,” His answer was close to Ragnvaldr’s as well, “I love snow, too.” He chuckled a bit, “I like snow a lot more than I like the rain.”
“Why is that?” I asked him.
He responded very softly, in a faint voice, “Because the rain sometimes gets caught up in the storm. Rain can forget its beauty.” Tobih was slowly falling asleep. I was worried about him, even if I was always going to be there to wake him up. Even though I knew something was wrong, he kept smiling. I could feel his spirited nature even through whatever this was. He never once forgot himself. I could hear his breathing change as he drifted off to sleep, his head still on my shoulder. Black locks mingled with silver on my shoulders. I continued to pet the top of his head. His fingers curled around the hem of my skirt, holding tight.
And yet I was still left with the question of what had happened. I had a terrible feeling about it and it was obvious that it wasn’t just the drakes. As my fingers combed through his hair I noticed that a bit at the front had been clipped straight across, rather unnaturally. It wasn’t something a drake could be responsible for. The cuts on his armor didn’t match up with claws, but were singular in strikes.
I motioned for Ragnvaldr. When he approached I quietly asked him, “Can you get a wet cloth?” He nodded and went to our supplies. There, he rummaged around until he got to a first aid package I had prepared. It was filled with very little, but as much as I could get my hands on. There were bandages, astringents, cloth, gauze, and a few common medicines and antidotes. He poured a bit of fresh water on the cloth and delivered it to me. From there, I began cleaning the dirt and blood from Tobih as gently as possible to avoid waking him. When I got around to cleaning his face, I realized that he was smiling in his light slumber.
‘Rain sometimes gets caught up in the storm’. He had said this but it sounded like much more than a comment on the rain. I looked at his smiling face and tucked his hair behind his ear. The part that had been cut fell right back over his face, refusing to stay where I had asked it to. The bottom of it lined up with a scratch on his face. I asked myself what could have possibly done this. It was probably a person; these cuts seemed so precise and yet so careless. While I was searching for the answer, Angel shouted at Ragnvaldr for carving the wrong way or something. My gaze fell to her and I suddenly felt sick to my stomach. My suspicions had fallen to Angel. So many things pointed to it. ‘She’s trying to convince herself that she hates him’- those words became scary to me. ‘When she fights, she forgets herself completely’ made more sense beside ‘Rain can forget its beauty’. I decided that he was trying to tell me after all. Tobih was giving me my answer. Fear and anger welled up inside me. Why had she attacked him? Was this her plan to deal with her feelings, to kill him?
No, he might not have been saying that at all in response to the situation. It could all just be a misunderstanding after all. Perhaps they had run into some trouble with pirates- they often brought their parties to shore and this shelter would be the perfect place.
But wouldn’t Angel generally boast about such a thing? ‘I killed 30 pirates with one hand tied behind my back’ or something like that. Something was really off about it all and it only brought me back to my previous suspicions.
“Just let me do it,” She barked at Ragnvaldr, taking the stick from his hand. The light, sweet scent of fresh green wood fell over me. Ragnvaldr stood up and paced the room, stealing glances at me each time he would turn around.
She was beginning to grate on my nerves. I couldn’t shake the feeling that she had done this. Angel had even been more irritable since arriving back to the building. I had to hold myself back, though. I didn’t know the whole story. I didn’t know the story at all, even. I loved her, though, and I didn’t want to think she would do something so cruel and unwarranted. No matter how much she made me mutter under my breath, there was no denying that she was my friend. I felt so torn.
Tobih twitched ever so slightly and brought me back to the scene that was taking place outside of my thoughts. Ragnvaldr had sat down next to me and began sorting through the first aid kit I had brought. He understood that I would need it once Tobih woke. The astringent was being laid out as well as a bit of the gauze. I was hoping to never need to use it at all.
Angel finished cleaning the skewers and had begun cleaving at the meat, “Have any spices, Norn?”
Ragnvaldr looked up, laying one last piece of gauze out in front of us, “I wish you’d use my name. Would it kill you to have a little respect?” He was frustrated with her as well. Still he stood up and fetched the seasonings for her before sitting back down with us.
“Did I do something wrong? Why is everyone snapping at me today?” Angel retorted as Ragnvaldr sat down. She had set down the mixture of seasonings she had just been given. For once she actually looked apologetic and concerned with what we thought of her.
Tobih stirred, waking up slowly and sitting himself up. Angel sat up straight as well. I nearly opened my mouth before Ragnvaldr spoke up instead, “I’m just asking for some respect, Angel. You’re supposed to be our friend but you don’t hesitate to treat us like trash.” His voice was filled with a hardness I never thought I would hear from him. Tobih stood up slowly and walked towards our bags. My attention snapped back to Ragnvaldr. “I’m not going to march into Orr with how things are, Angel, not with you. If you really want to help us, if you really want to be a friend to Claire, Tobih, and me then you will need to finally show us respect.”
Tobih grabbed my hand and pulled me up. I saw Ragnvaldr peer back and give me a slight inconspicuous nod. Tobih then lead me outside by my hand, a small bag in his other. The rain was still lightly falling and my friend was leading me through it and towards a sheltered pillar on the other side of the ruins. By the time we had gotten there, my hair was as wet as his was when he had arrived back. He sat down and patted the damp stone floor next to him. I joined him.
“What happened, Tobih?” I questioned, running my finger across the larger scratch on his face. His eyes met with mine and he shook his head. “Not yet.”