My heart beat so hard I felt it was going to explode in my chest. I couldn’t find him outside. I ran into the burning innards of the building. Dark smoke-filled the room and even though it was starting to fill my lungs, I began digging through the bodies on the floor. While there was a minute moment of relief when I didn’t find him, panic welled up inside me still. I felt a hand grasp mine and pull me out into fresh air. It was a large hardened hand, one of a norn, but it wasn’t his. Angel now carried me from the building and set me down onto the ground against a wall.
Tobih sprinted towards me and eventually took hold of me. He held me more tightly than he ever had before. “Thank the gods,” he whispered only that.
“Where is he?” I couldn’t muster much more than those words. Numbness began to take over as my mind prepared itself for the worst. The strength behind Tobih’s embrace left me feeling as if something had happened.
Angel stared straight into my eyes and uttered, “Burn the bodies.”
He let go of me and made to protest before Angel cut even harder with her sharp words, “Burn the bodies NOW!” I jumped as she yelled the last word. She was right, though. I had come back here to help with the situation. If I didn’t take care of these bodies now they would just swarm us again.
I turned my mind off as much as I could manage. The numbness I felt helped. I wasn’t getting any answers until we secured the area. It was good motivation to keep me going any further.
Angel and Tobih piled a few bodies at a time at first. I would use my magic to start the fire. If it grew high enough they would add more bodies. If it didn’t, they would just create another pile for the sake of moving quickly. There were probably at least fifty risen bodies counting the deceased Pact members. At least, with the bodies out of the way no one else had to fall into the same trap that we had. Angel closed off the entrance as a last counter-measure to keep the undead from returning. We knew it wasn’t safe here and I knew we would be moving again soon.
“I want an answer now,” I told the both of them firmly as we finally deemed the location clear. Even though I tried to sound strong, the tears rolling down my cheeks probably gave away my true composure, or lack of.
Tobih looked to Angel who then nodded to him and said, “The area is clear for now. Tell her what you saw and then we need to keep moving. They know we’re here and the pillars of smoke won’t help.”
He took my hand and I winced. I hadn’t even realized how much pain it was causing me until his touch. Instead, Tobih then wrapped his arm around me and lead me to sit down again. As I sat down, he kneeled in front of me and took my injured hand again.
“I’ll heal you up the best I can. You seem to have a few cracked, maybe broken, bones.” Not unlike the night I had first met him, his gentle touch produced a small light between his hands. It felt warm on my hand. His voice then turned a little more somber, “I can’t give you any answers, Claire. I don’t have those.” His words felt confusing and I wasn’t sure if it was because I was distracted and tired or because something genuinely strange had happened. He was sure to let me know though, “When Ragnvaldr was struck, I saw you had become distracted. I rushed to heal him. Honestly, I didn’t do a very good job. It was only enough to heal the skin on top but he told me that it was enough. We tried to get to you after that, but the doorway was small and crowded.
He felt really bad because he had put you there. He knew only afterwards that it wasn’t the best tactic. We both fought to get to you and he was the first one to make it there. He reached out to you and that’s when you left.” He glanced towards the building that held flames and dark smoke inside. It spilled out into the air from the doorway that had caused this. “He had to have been too close to the portal. When he finally touched your hand, he-uh… he disappeared as well.”
“Then he must be back there, right? I have to go back and get him,” I reached for the stone in my pocket.
“The stone only works to send you to your own part of it, right?” He looked to Angel but she was busy and didn’t see him. I knew what he was saying though.
“It can’t hurt to try, right?” I pressed my good hand around the stone. It didn’t feel quite right, though. Pulling it from my pocket, I noticed that one of the sides had chipped off completely. The remnant of it lay at the bottom of my pocket. I couldn’t feel the magic from it anymore. “So, he’s out there somewhere bleeding internally. We have to go find him.”
“I’m sorry, but no. We need to rest right now,” he sat down after he had finished healing up my hand. “That hand needs rest, too. My healing magic isn’t perfect but I did my best.”
Angel walked towards us, picking up her bag on the way. A loud knock sounded against the door and several more followed. “We don’t have time to rest. It’s time to go and the only way is forward.”
Tobih helped me up. I looked around for my bag, but it seemed he already had it strapped onto his back along with his. “I can carry it,” I let him know, holding my good hand out to receive it.
“You’re carrying a lot of weight right now. Let me lighten the load a bit.”
“You’re not going to take no for an answer are you?” As if to answer my question, he began walking forward, catching up to the impatient Angel. When he caught up, her expression softened and she gave a good hearty pat to his back.
I followed soon after, the two of them looking back to make sure I was there. Their clothes were soaked through with blood and yet they were so calm about it all. They did their part in battle and took care of one another. In some ways I looked up to them but in other ways I felt pained. Ragnvaldr should have been up there with them.
Tobih took my hand suddenly and I was brought back from the well of my thoughts. “I was so worried about you back there. I thought…” He took a deep breath and gave up on his last sentence. Instead he said, “If it means anything to you, I think he’s alive. With all of my being. You two will find each other again.”