These are a series of novel chapter drafts. They are a work in progress and the primary goal of the current work is to get the ideas on paper - not nessicarily for them to be well written
Natyr, Last Passage
When Natyr came to, his first instinct was to check on Mara’s wound. She was still unconscious, but her breathing wavered and her skin pale blueish. Somehow, she had managed to free her foot from its boot during the, loosely termed fight. That made things not quite so dire, but the bandits had left them with all but the clothes on their backs. Natyr ripped a long piece of undershirt from beneath his tunic and wrapped it around the wound. Mara twinged with the attention and hissed through her teeth. It wasn’t a good job, but it would hopefully serve better than no covering at all.
They needed to move onwards. The Iron Gate was slightly less than a day’s travel, but in this state it was surely two or three. Still, Natyr heaved the large girl onto his back and began to rejoin the road. His head still ached and his stomach was reminding him it was time for breakfast. His gait was pained and crooked and his shoes dragged on the dirt creating scraping marks behind him. After a tough five miles, there was movement on his back. “Mnn..nngh” Mara groaned and slowly opened her eyes. “N.. Natyr?”
Natyr took the opportunity to give his legs a break and set her gently aside. “How does it feel?” He asked, indicating at her leg. She grimaced. “It’s.. not bad” she lied. “I don’t think I can walk on it, but, it’s not sapping the rest of me too bad” Natyr’s stomach rumbled, unimpressed it was almost noon and about eighteen hours since he last ate. “Well, we’ve got a long way to go left” He admitted. “If your mind needs distraction from the pain, we could sure do with some sort of plan.” She nodded obediently. “Maybe if you can find a stick, I can walk a bit”. Natyr’s stomach agreed with the idea of foraging and he hoisted Mara up once more, to a less open spot.
The trees by the roadside were flourishing under the nurturing light of the green sun. The berries Natyr picked were plump and bursting with juice. He ate a few while he gathered them and his throat rejoiced at each drop. It took a bit longer to find a decent walking stick, the trees grew quickly with thin and spindly branches so they could out-compete the others. A few paces into the cover though, he found a reasonably sized top half of a tree, split from its base from strong winds or done other natural phenomenon. On the way back to Mara, he plucked the slender offshoots from the base, creating her a rough walking stick.
Mara had changed the cloth on her foot when he returned. She was impressed with the stick and leveraged herself up by it, refusing Natyr’s help. “No ideas yet” she admitted. “But we’d want to move soon. I see a faint crimson glow on the horizon. I reckon it’s unlikely Veri will move much, we have perhaps a day, but we don’t want any sliver of a Red Night.” A sour expression crossed Natyr’s face. “You’re suggesting we match through the night? On your foot?” She nodded. “That’s exactly what I’m saying.”
The pair contained to march down the featureless road, only stopping briefly when they spotted a particularly bountiful bush or one of them stumbled. By nightfall they had travelled about halfway by Natyr’s estimations. Good progress consisting their state, but it was clear Mara was going to collapse of they continued. It began to rain and Natyr had to call it in.
“Right, Mara. I can’t put you through this. I’ll be carrying you on my back again before the morning.” He wiped some wet hair from his face. “And you’ll catch cold too. We’re going to get you some shelter and I’ll move on ahead. I can move faster without you and I’ll bring some soldiers back” Mara looked at him wearily, wanting within herself to object, but she had moved each last pace out of sheer determination and her energy reserves were shot. “Good” Natyr said definitively. “We’ve just got to find somewhere sheltered from this damn rain”. That was easier said than done, an hour of searching proved fruitless and they had to settle for a small overhanging mound. Mara painfully crouched and withdrew a dagger from a wrapping around her good leg. “Full of these are you?” Natyr said surprised, but took it thankfully and spent some time scraping out a bit more room. “G’wan. Try squeeze in there”. Mara eased herself to lie down and shuffled herself in sideways. It was just about enough of she stayed perfectly still, to avoid the brunt of the downpour. Natyr gave her back the knife. Although it was hers, it seemed almost like a parting gift. They didn’t exchange goodbyes, but Mara knew that when his body was no longer visible through the trees, he had left.