A/N: Woohoo, another chapter! Amazed I actually got this one out as quickly as I did, what with everything going on. So here it is. Mostly from Fastion's POV and I had quite a bit of fun writing this one. Enjoy! DISCLAIMER: Any thing, one, or place you may recognize belongs solely to Kristen Britain.
"First things first, we're going by the Mending Wing," Captain Mapstone said, leading her rider through the castle. Karigan opened her mouth to protest, but the Captain held up a hand to cut her off.
"No arguments Rider, you're going. You look like death warmed over," she said in a tone that brooked no argument.
Karigan knew better than to argue with the woman. To be honest, Karigan felt like hell. It had been a while since she'd had a decent night's sleep and while the Eletians had given her plenty of their healing medicines and balms, she was certain a few of her wounds may have become infected.
Karigan followed the Captain into the Mending Wing. She was surprised to find a woman with the master's knots of a Mender on her shoulders presiding over the Wing. She shot a questioning look at the Captain who merely gave her an ambiguous, "I'll explain later."
The woman was only a few years older than Karigan, with curly blonde hair and emerald eyes. She was only slightly taller than the captain with the top of her head coming to a level with Karigan's nose. She looked up when the two women entered the wing.
"Captain Mapstone, what can I do for you today?" she asked in a pleasant voice that reminded Karigan of soft, chiming bells. It was soothing to her frayed nerves. Now that the excitement of being back had worn off, Karigan felt as if she would topple over with the slightest breeze.
"I have a Rider here that needs looking at Mistress Elayne. She just returned from a rather strenuous message run." The woman looked at Karigan, noting her worn clothing and pallid complexion. She immediately swung into business mode.
"Right, let's get you in here and see what we can do," she said ushering them into one of the many windowless, gray stone rooms that made up the Mending Wing. Mistress Elayne flagged down a passing apprentice once they were inside and sent him in search of Ben. Once the young woman had trotted off on her mission, Mistress Elayne closed the door and turned back to the other two women.
"I figure if we're dealing with Blackveil it'll be helpful to have someone with healing abilities on hand to deal with any issues of a magical variety."
Captain Mapstone nodded in agreement. Karigan didn't really care by this point. She sat on the bed and wasn't really inclined to move anywhere. She was only vaguely aware of Mistress Elayne as she began her examination. Karigan moved various parts of her body when prompted and answered questions when asked. At some point Ben showed up. He consulted with Mistress Elayne briefly before turning to Karigan. In the midst of her fog of exhaustion, Karigan could've sworn she saw him blush. She didn't think too long on it though. The last thing she remembered was a warm green glow before she was sound asleep.
Fastion was finally off-duty. It was around midnight when Jakob, another Weapon, came and relieved him. He was ready to get some sleep, but first he decided to stop by the Mending Wing. Jakob had told him that was where Karigan had ended up when he asked him. Fastion walked through the quiet halls of the sleeping castle. For a man of his size he walked so quietly that no one would've known he was there. He had startled one of the castle maids a few moments earlier, causing her to nearly knock over one of the many suits of armor in residence throughout the castle. Fastion smiled to himself, although he did wish people would see past the uniform some days. He was a human being even if he was a Weapon. Although, then again, Weapons aren't exactly known for letting people in. Karigan was one of the very few people that had been let in. She was as close to a Weapon as anyone could be.
He reached the Mending Wing and found Mistress Elayne talking to an apprentice.
"Burning the midnight oil are we Fastion?" she said to the Weapon.
" I'm used to it Mistress. I was looking for Rider G'ladheon."
She pointed to a room across the hall, "She's just in there, but I'm afraid she's sound asleep."
"I figured as much. I just want to make sure she's okay."
"You Weapons really care for her. I had to ban her fellow Riders from the Mending Wing because they were so excited that she was back I feared they would cause more harm than good. I think I can trust you to contain your excitement," she said.
Fastion just smiled at the woman before entering the room she had indicated. Sure enough, Karigan lay curled on her side, sound asleep. It was the most peaceful he had ever seen the Rider. Of course, she didn't exactly live in peaceful circumstances, Fastion mused. He still couldn't fathom how she endured it all. It was enough to make anyone insane, what with gods and magic and all that. She was a truly remarkable person, his friend.
Fastion stood at the bedside and looked down at Karigan. It was still hard to believe she was actually here. After all the reports they had received from Lynx and other survivors of the Blackveil mission she had been presumed dead. While the rational part of Fastion's brain had agreed that there was no way she could've survived, another part of his brain never gave up hope. She always seemed to come out of impossible situations. He swore this woman had more lives than all of the palace cats combined.
Karigan stirred in her sleep, bringing him out of her musings. Her face looked troubled as she began to grow restless. Fastion reached down and smoothed her hair back from her now furrowed brow. Karigan moaned and fisted the sheets, rolling onto her back.
"No, no please," she muttered. Fastion realized she must be having a nightmare.
"No Yates! Please stop! Please!" Karigan's cries escalated in volume, echoing off the walls. Fastion took hold of her shoulders and shook her, trying to get her to wake up.
"Karigan, you need to wake up," he said shaking her a bit more forcefully as she began to thrash around.
"Please don't! Leave us be!" Karigan shouted.
"Karigan you need to wake up now," he commanded. Fastion stumbled into the bedside table as she gasped and bolted upright, wide awake. She looked around the room frantically before her eyes settled on him standing there.
"F-Fastion? What happened?"
"You were having a nightmare Karigan. I woke you up."
Karigan shuddered, "It was terrible Fastion. It was all dark and evil and awful. Something was picking us off one by one. There was nothing any of us could do. We couldn't see, we couldn't fight, all we could do was wait." She sounded so lost and alone. Fastion sat next to her on the bed. Before he knew what was happening she had thrown herself into his arms and buried her face in his tunic, sobs racking her body. Fastion got over the initial shock of this and wrapped his arms around her.
"It's all my fault they're dead. They were in danger and I couldn't save them. I couldn't do a damn thing," she sobbed.
At that point Mistress Elayne walked into the room, having heard Karigan's shouts. She stopped short when she saw the two of them.
"Nightmare," he told her simply. He then mouthed sleeping draught over the top of Karigan's head. Mistress Elayne nodded before withdrawing from the room.
Karigan was still sobbing in his arms, muttering about how things were all her fault and how she couldn't do anything about it. Fastion just sat there and held her. She finally subsided enough that he could pull back to look at her.
"Karigan, look at me," he said. She refused to meet his eyes, staring instead at the raised black stitching on his left shoulder.
"Look at me Karigan." He hooked a finger under her chin and tipped her head up so she had to meet his gaze. He was shocked by the look in her eyes. She looked so haunted, so broken. It rather unnerved him and that was saying something.
"It was just a nightmare. It never happened."
"But it was so real Fastion, so real," she whispered. Fastion looked at his friend. She had always been so strong for people in times of crisis and need. Now it looked like she needed someone to be strong for her. Fastion took her hands in his.
"It wasn't real. It was just a nightmare Karigan, see-" he took one of her hands and placed it over his heart, "-real beating heart." He gestured to the room, "Real walls, real bed, real castle, real you. It's over, you're home now."
"It was a dream?"
"It was a dream." Karigan slumped against him in relief. Her body was trembling as the adrenaline left her system.
"Aeryc and Aeryon, will I never be able to have a good night's sleep again?" Fastion didn't have an answer to that. He was saved from any further conversation when Mistress Elayne returned with the sleeping draught.
"Karigan, Mistress Elayne has something to help you to sleep." She looked up at him, panicked.
"No please, I don't want to go back to sleep. I don't want to go back there," she said.
"Karigan, trust me, you have to sleep. Not sleeping only makes them worse," Fastion told her.
"How do you know?"
He took a deep breath, "Because I've been there. Trust me; facing the nightmares is better than running away from them." He set her back at arm's length. How had this happened to his friend?
Karigan looked at Mistress Elayne who had come over to the bedside and then looked back to him. She extracted her hands from his and folded them in her lap. She gazed down at them, her unbound hair falling to hide her face. Fastion had never noticed how many shades of auburn and honey there were in her hair before.
"If it helps, I'll be right here, in case they come back," Fastion told her.
She looked up at him, "You would do that?"
"Of course, you're my sister- at-arms. I would never let you go through this alone."
"Alright, give me the sleeping draught," she said. Mistress Elayne handed her the cup with the draught in it. Karigan tipped it back, trying not to gag.
"Ugh, why must they always taste so vile?"
"Sorry, not much I can do about that," Mistress Elayne apologized. "If you need anything else, I'll be just outside making the rounds."
"Thank you Mistress," Fastion said. She nodded in acknowledgement before leaving the room.
Fastion dragged the only chair in the room over by the bedside as Karigan lay back down. She lay on her side, facing him.
"Thank you Fastion. You truly are a remarkable friend," she said, her eyes already trying to close.
"Of course, now go to sleep Karigan. I'll be right here." She reached out and took his hand from where it was resting on the edge of the bed. He squeezed it gently as she fell asleep. As he looked at his sleeping friend, he promised that she was not going to go through this alone. He was going to be right there with her, whether she wanted him to be or not
A/N: So what did you think? What do think should happen next? Please let me know in this nifty little box down below. Thanks~Naomi