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Conversations, Part 1.

"You should have come sooner, silly. It's starting to fester. Any longer, and you'd have had bone fever. They cut through the bone a bit," the doctor said. Her black hair was tied back in a bun, her green eyes inspected the huntress's wound with care. "It'll be a pain to fix, just warning you. Literally."

"Sorry Tess. We 'ad t'go back to the barracks, and I had 'nother... Well, y'know," Phaewyn muttered. The doctor, Athessa, looked up in worry.

"How bad?" She asked.

"Barely noticeable, thankfully. Must 'ave been 'nother daze-style one," Phaewyn answered, raising her arm to let the doctor start working on the slash across her ribs.

"What happened this time?" Tess asked, distracting her client from the pain.

"Well, I was at the Pony, yeah? And you know tha' group I was tellin' you 'bout? Their chief, Big Bear, was there with one of the lassies, Ath-somethin'. They were a'talkin' 'bout the watchman we caught, so I joined 'em."

"The man you shot in the leg?"

"Aye, him. Big Bear interrogated 'im. Tha' man can be brutal, I swear. I got into an argument with 'im 'bout tha'."

"I'm not surprised..."

"It's wrong, Tess! You can't just go beatin' someone who can't defend 'imself! I hated shootin' 'im..."

"I know Phae, I know. Try not to move, please."

"Anyhow, he wanted Lassie and me t'fight, t'test my skill and her improvement. He wanted me t'use my swords, damn 'im. I hate usin' those..."

"I'm guessing you agreed anyways."

"I 'ave my honour t'look after! And there's more. He stared at my arse when we walked out! Lil' creep..."

"Phae, men do that all the time to women."

"But 'e did it on purpose t'piss me off!"

"Did you say something to make it worse...?"

"Why would I do tha'?'

"You always do."

"Well... I did say he could burn his eyes on it..."

"That would do it, yes. Anyhow, do go on. And stop moving around, it won't hurt as much."

"So we went out to the North Gate, aye? And Lassie and I started fightin'. I hit her once, after she tried t'kick sand in my eyes. Hurt 'er a wee bit, I felt bad. And we were fightin' when arrows suddenly poured out'a the sky! Lassie pushed me out'a the way, but got an arrow in 'er belly."

"You could have brought her here."

"Didn't remember to mention it. Besides, I was... And they 'ave a physician."

"Don't worry about it."

"Aye. Well, we 'ad 'protect 'er, y'know? Bandits came rushin' down the hill. I couldn't pull out me bow, so I 'ad to fight with my blades again. Big Bear came to 'elp. The quartermaster-lad shot with his bow, too. There were... 'bout three 'front of Big Bear, three 'front of me, and two t'my right. Lad shot one on me right, and I thumped one in front 'o' me on the head. They got all wary then. Couldn't get a hit in fo' the life of me. S'all I could do to block their attacks. Big Bear got a couple though. Surprised me, since the ones I was fightin' went off to attack 'im. I figured I could get a hit in, but I forgot 'bout the man t'my right. He slashed me, the cut you're sewin' up now. Bloody 'urt, too. Swore all sorts o' bad words. Lost a bit of the fight then, I was 'urtin', y'know. Moment later, I see the last bandit fleein' fo' his life... Hehe, called 'im a badger-arsed shite... A badger-arsed shite face arse covered in lard shite, I believe. Hehe. Y'should 'ave seen Big Bear's face. Well, the upper part o' it. The lower part's just beard. He went t'get a carriage fo' Lassie, and we kind o' bumped 'er 'round some tryin' t'get 'er in there. We climbed on, and tha's all I remember. Next thin' I know, I'm alone in the cart, in front of this big 'ouse. I went inside t'figure it out. Barracks. New ones. The others were 'bout t'remove the arrow from Ath-lassie, and Aeiri-lass was there. Dun' remember how she got there, guessin' t'was on the cart. 'ad to distract Ath-lassie, since t'was goin' to hurt. I told her 'bout my da's fear of fish and tha' nude man who thought he was a wolfie. Then a lil' girl arrived, an' I had t'bring her to her room, away from the gruesome sight, y'know? Her name was Lieta. I liked her. Oh! I near' forgot! Before we patched up Ath-lassie, Big Bear actually welcomed me to the group! He was impressed I had protected Ath-lassie. Damn right."

"I'm impressed too, you know. But I do know that's just the type of thing you like to do."

"Thanks, Tess. Ath-lassie passed out after everythin'. I'm surprised she stayed awake so long. I went out fo' a talk with Aeiri-lassie after tha'... It's been ten years, Tess, since Da's been gone. I still dun' know wha' happened t'him... Aeiri was kind though. She's one o' the only ones who 'ain't excusin' the death of 'im, makin' it sound... Cheap. She told me 'bout her kin too... Then I went t'sleep."

"Phae, something has been bothering me. The bandits that attacked you... I think they're linked to the ones that interfered when you had to abduct the Watchman. There's no way any other bandits would have attacked so near the Bree walls."

"Yeah, 'been thinkin' 'bout tha' meself."

"Be careful, please. If you die, I can't bring you back to life."

"I know Tess. But you know how I live."

"Sadly, yes."

Phaewyn stood up as the physician stepped away from the wound.

"All done," Athessa announced. 

"Here," Phaewyn said, placing a few coins in the doctor's hand.

"You know you don't have to, Phae."

"I want to. You need t'live too, aye? Take 'em."

"These are silvers. From Big Bear."


"I didn't steal 'em! He gave 'em to me 'cause he thinks I smell.".

"You do smell. Go take a bath."

"Thanks Tess."