A/N: Originally published on February 2nd, 2014 on A Purple Panda. – Alixa
THE DAGGER OF EXION
When I woke up, light was coming through my small window. I had a terrible headache and groaned as I tried to sit up. Silva looked up at me and I patted his head, smiling. I had no idea how long I had slept, but I still felt exhausted. Facing a sea monster took it’s toll, especially considering I wasn’t the most experienced mage. I had been foolish, thinking I could stand against a Grushaw on my own, but it did seem like a good idea at the moment.
A knock on the door.
– Aevik, you awake?
I tried to answer but my throat felt so dry. Silva yapped for me and Brendt came in. He was bringing food and water. Good man, good friend.
– I came to check on you. You’ve been sleeping for 3 days straight!
I was already drinking the water he had brought me when it hit me.
– 3 days?
– I guess that magic of yours took a lot from you!
– Where are we now?
– We are close to a small archipelago. We were going to explore it this afternoon. We might find some fresh water and some food. You could come, if you feel like you’re up for it.
I laughed and eagerly started eating the bread and soup, I would need all the energy I could get if I was to follow them on these islands. Brendt was watching me carefully and I could tell my friend wasn’t convinced I was fully recovered yet. After all, I had done something really stupid, out of ignorance. It was only because of luck that I had survived uninjured.
The bard seemed to be decided to make sure I was fine. A little later, he came back to find me dressed and ready for adventure. He escorted me to the docks, Silva following us. I was just as happy as my wolf at the idea to be on land again. It could be seen on my smiling face even though I still felt like I could sleep for days.
I saw that Kaliana was already preparing for the expedition. She was giving orders for boats to be sent ashore to different islands when I interrupted.
– Is there enough space for an idiotic apprentice mage and his faithful wolf?
She turned to me and raised an eyebrow. She seemed pleased to see me, though, walking and talking.
– Are you going to do something stupid, again?
– I can’t guarantee that, I answered, laughing.
She did smile.
– Fair enough. Hiro!
The little fox-faced mage came right over and nodded at me.
– Aevik and Brendt will go with you. Keep an eye on them, will you?
It felt a little unnecessary, wouldn’t we just be a burden for the mage? I was sure he could find far more useful things to do than watch over me. However, I was glad to have him for company even though he wasn’t the most talkative man I’ve met.
And so, it was just he four of us, Hiro, Brendt, Silva and me. We were heading for one of the middle islands. We could see green, so we assumed they were all covered with trees. Hiro explained it was a good sign. Where there were plants, there were usually animals and water. We were of course armed, just in case. The mage had a little bow and I would find out how accurate he could be. Brendt and I were with our swords which were quite useless for hunting. These we more in case there were more than just animals on the island.
I felt a little dizzy once we reached the shore. My first steps on the white sand were wobbly from spending so much time at sea. I could see Silva had also some difficulty, but soon enough, we both were steady again. I only realized then how much I had missed the smell of forest, so different to the salty air. It was fresh, and moist. There was a little sweetness, promise of fruits of some kind and flowers. Silva didn’t hesitate and ran through the trees. I let him go, I knew he’d find his way back. After being stuck on a ship for a few weeks, he deserved a little freedom.
The three of us started exploring not long after. We pulled the small boat on the sand and took some bags and gourds to fill if we found anything. Later, a party would come with barrels if there was any large source of fresh water or fruits. We were here to simply see what was here and so far, everything seemed pretty calm. We had to climb a while the small mountain that covered most of the island before finding a river with clear water. We saw a few small animals, most likely rodents and Hiro shot a couple of them. We heard some birds, but didn’t see any, hidden in the leaves. We found some mushrooms, and yellow and blue berry bushes. They weren’t species we knew and we took some samples to bring back. Maybe someone on board would know, if not we’d test them.
Walking so much had been exhausted and I was quite happy to return to the Ananda as the day was close to an end. The sun was setting, bring orange in the clear sky, when we brought back news of our small findings. The berries were edible in the end and we could gather some more later. While some had been fishing all day, others had headed to larger islands. One group reported they found a small village and they had interacted with their inhabitants. So far, they were friendly, but they spoke a different language so they couldn’t ask about Exion. Kaliana decided we’d leave them alone for now since one of the other islands held a lake we could use for water and the explorers had sighted some larger animals. Tomorrow would be a hunting day.
No matter how tired I was, I couldn’t find any sleep that night. Something was bothering me though I wasn’t able to say what. I spent most of the night on the dock, watching the islands, waiting for something to happen. Nothing did and morning came. Hunting day.