A/N~ Omg, yes this is a pretty short chapter but it really felt like it had to stop where it did to start the next chapter with a slight change of pace. Anyway, enjoy! And Merry Christmas!
The first time I heard the words spoken they didn't quite register to me. "Catriona, you can relax." The voice came to me again, Lillian's voice.
Hesitantly I allowed my concentration to fade. My heart still had yet to slow from its rapid pace. What did she mean? Relax? Cautiously my eyes opened, my vision blurry at first from tears that had managed to escape me. I blinked them away, and finally my gaze was met with a sight that I had wanted to see.
Aiden still had yet to move, but even the small cuts and scrapes he had acquired were gone. Instead of lying in front of me, barely clinging to life, his chest rose and fell with the steady breathing of sleep. What a relief!
"Are you alright?" Lillan asked me.
"Fine." I replied breathlessly. Now that everything had calmed I felt as though I could simply pass out. Once again, every inch of my being felt exhausted. How many times had that been the case for me now? But for once, I was calm. For once on this already hard journey, the source of this weakness was sheer relief.
I barely reacted to a light tug on my arm, prompting me to get up. "Come on, let's get the two of you back to camp." Lillian said as she helped me to my feet.
"So … I did it?" I questioned, still incredulous.
Lillian smiled at me. "Yes, you were a lot of help. You did well."
It seemed that the remaining members of the team had questions to ask when we returned, but Lillian waved them off assuring them that all would be explained later. Tiergan… that odd Untamed, he seemed pensive most of the way back to camp, while the Blademaster had yet to say a word.
There were only two huts near the campsite, and it looked like the mercenaries had occupied both of them during their stay. Even so, the huts were small and the floor space inside was covered with their things. Out of the mess Lillian managed to clear a spot big enough for Aiden and myself…
We had to stay close, which may have been awkward had I been any less tired. I had to admit, having Aiden, asleep not even an arm's length away from me made me feel even more secure. Just knowing that we were both alive and well…
With the light sound of the water lapping at the shore outside and the crickets singing their beautiful lullaby, I drifted off into a dreamless sleep. The first sound sleep I had experienced since the journey began. Perhaps my prayers for no nightmares would prove to have been heard.
"Well I don't like it." Kyna said tersely, her arms crossed. Instead of sitting around the fire like nearly everyone else she had opted to stand. She didn't expect this meeting Tiergan had called to be a long one. It seemed that she had thought wrong.
Everyone's faces could be seen clearly in the firelight as it flickered, spitting glowing bits of ash into the air every so often to land harmlessly in the sand. At this mercenary meeting, most seemed thrilled at their leader's proposal. The possibility for a second Cleric in the team could make things much easier.
Kyna, on the other hand, seemed to be seeing the downsides of the particular Cleric in question.
Lillian frowned at her, "But Kyna, they are going the same way we are, it only makes sense that we could at least help them along their way." Of course she would say something like that. She was always so kind, perhaps even too much so at times.
"And what? Without any kind of pay? There's nothing in it for us. We're mercenaries, not babysitters."
Tiergan never failed to miss a beat. He smiled a bit, enough for his white fangs to show. "Oh don't be so harsh Kyna, that's where I think you're wrong. That Cleric has potential. Even in her panicked state she helped Lillian pull her friend back from the brink of death. You can't say that's not slightly impressive."
None of them doubted Lillian's ability as a good healer. To hear that she had needed help seemed to be a shock to quite a few of them. "Wow, so the kid was that bad off was he?" Aleou questioned. "No wonder both clerics looked so exhausted."
A concerned look crossed the face of the only pure Werebeast in the group, Cyrus. His tiger-like facial features weren't the best at showing his thoughts. The tone of his deep baritone voice showed the emotion more clearly than his face ever could. "You're okay Lillian?"
"Oh yes, I'm fine… really." Lillian replied quickly. She smiled softly and waved a hand in a dismissive manner, a light chuckle coming out with her words. "I'll just be sleeping very soundly tonight."
"I think it's safe to say that as young as Catriona is, she must have power. Especially if the other Wing Elf was barely clinging to life as you say." The wizard of the group said thoughtfully. He sent a sideways glance back to the hut where the Cleric in question currently slept. "And she is rather… cute…"
Daemon didn't even allow him another word. "I saw her first!"
"Can we be serious for a second?" Kyna snapped irritably at her companions. "I never said this cleric didn't have potential, but I don't think that it is a good idea to bring her along." She knew what Tiergan saw in this new Cleric. She had seen his thoughts clearly in his eyes when the Wing Elf had shoved past her. She may have done it out of fear for her friend's life, but she had that quality… the same quality the rest of the team seemed to have in common. An almost reckless determination.
"You know as well as I do that we could use another cleric." he continued. "Don't tell me you're just angry because she added a little lightning when she shoved you."
Kyna sent him a glare in return. Especially now that he'd successfully put all attention on her.
A Venomancer in the group gained a more worried expression. "Are you alright?" Ienessa asked timidly, her cat-like ears laying back on her head.
"I'm fine." Kyna snapped back. "As if anything from that weakling would do me any harm."
Tiergan raised an eyebrow, "Then why are you so against taking them along?"
"You saw who it was after them. Jarlath only attacks when he's been paid."
"Or if it's you." Daemon chimed in.
"Kyna…" Lillian said in her usual tone. Soft spoken, yet stern. "They're only kids. I know what you're thinking. You're thinking that if we keep them around we would be made targets, and I understand that."
"Do you really?" Kyna challenged. "I've only known Jarlath to take large payments. I intervened just to boil his blood, after that I'm done. Whoever wants those two dead has a lot of money and possibly a lot of power."
At that. all fell silent save for the crackling of the campfire they all sat around.
Aleou let out a sigh as if he had something on his mind that he had to say but didn't want to. He massaged a temple with his hand for a second before he finally got the resolve. "I hate to admit it, but she does have a point."
"I think so as well." The second Venomancer in the group said. It was rare that Talia lent her sultry voice to many topics. "We don't know who wants these two or what they want them for. It may be in our best interests to say out of it."
Tiergan shook his head. "I'm surprised Kyna."
"I guess you do have a valid point, but I've never known you to fear anything."
She regarded him coolly. He knew her well enough. Being accused of being afraid was something hated to a very high degree. "Having to fight off anyone after them with no pay would only be a waste of our time and could possibly hurt our chances at getting the big jobs later. Not to mention she's not strong enough for this kind of work. It has nothing to do with fear or her potential." she retorted. "I voiced my opinion, you can take it or leave it."
"You should really relax" their leader said, his bright blue eyes trained on her. Everything he always took in stride and his expression was never contradictory to that fact. He gave her a reassuring smile. "If it makes you feel better, if this gets to be too much we'll merely leave them at the nearest town. We've been looking for another permanent Cleric for a long time, and if the Archer comes with her all the better. Their age will make them easier to train for the specifics we need and, besides, once they get to Arch they may not even decide to come along. But you saw as well as I did what Miss Catriona is capable of. Just imagine if she were trained well; it could be worth the trouble."
"Yeah, I get it Tiergan." She replied irritably.
"We'll leave it to a vote since we've heard both sides of the argument." Tiergan said, knowing well he had the advantage. "All in favor of helping a few kids to Arch and possibly having a second Cleric trained by Lillian, raise a hand."
Of the eight around the fire, five of them raised hands in favor of taking them along. Much to Kyna's dislike, the odds weren't in her favor.
"Well it looks like you're still outnumbered Kyna." Tiergan chimed in, a smile on his face.
Her expression didn't change from the slight scowl she already wore. She had seen it coming. "Thanks for stating the obvious." She grumbled. "I don't know about you but I'm getting some sleep, we have traveling to do in the morning. And who knows what kind of trouble we could run into." She added pointedly. She turned to take her leave but paused and looked back over her shoulder at the sound of her name.
"You know that every time one of us joined this team, the rest of the team was taking a chance on us." Lillian said.
"I know." Kyna replied. "I don't have a good feeling about this one, but I'll honor Tiergan's decision. It's going to be different this time." With that said she took her leave. Perhaps she didn't much care for this Wing Elf, but this ran more than just a mere dislike. Something else deep in her gut told her that things would change if these two agreed to come along, and she wasn't sure if that change would be for the better, or for worse.
A/N~ Ta-da! Chapter 16 complete! Thank you for reading and don't forget to review! Sorry if this seems sort of like filler lol, I have to give information/set up for the main plot of my story somehow… Yeah, that's right, I haven't even gotten to the juicy part yet… just you guys wait….