“You could at least give me a hand.” Des called as his spear drove forwards to puncture the carapace of another fenmite. The large, tick-like creatures could jump fairly far and the piercing mandibles were not something the former farmer wanted puncturing his hardened leather jerkin.
“The quicker we gather these components,” Zaneer replied as his lithe hands working to pluck plants from the edge of the fenland, “the quicker we’re out of here. Besides, the Captain asked you to guard me while I gathered.”
Whirling his spear Des knocked a leaping fenmite out of its jump to the ground only to drive the point of his weapon through it. “And I only agreed because for some reason she holds you in high regard.”
“Why wouldn’t she? My skills are invaluable, and I was friends with her mother’s family.” The elf mage rose to his feet, brushing down his dark robes with a hand. “Oh, and-” With a flourish of his orb-topped staff, a burst of energy surged forth and past the human. The wave caught the leaping fenmite and sent it tumbling back into the bogs. “There’s your hand.”
Zaneer stood outside of the dilapidated farmhouse they had sought shelter in, gulping down the cool night air. His brow was furrowed as he sustained a small spell to vent the aroma of cooked flesh from inside. He was uncertain if he would ever queue up for one of the camp roasts again.
That could wait though. Aside from clearing the air and his lungs, he had another reason to be outside. Drawing another wand from under his bloodstained robe, Zaneer detonated several bolts of red light in the sky above him. As minutes past stood outside in the darkness, fear started to know in his stomach.
The sight of a blue detonation in the sky to the south bought a sigh of relief from the mage. Steeling his will, he fired off several more red detonations. Base camp responded with a white and a yellow. With a flick of his wand, a green flare soared high above the farmhouse. At least someone back at camp knew they were alive.
Hurrying back inside, Zaneer dragged an old hand cart in front of the door, filled with assorted tools to weigh it down. The chances of anything intelligent and hostile tracking his signal lights was low, but only a fool eschewed sensible precautions.
“Dinner smells good.” Des groaned from the makeshift bed he’d been laid on, his leg still propped up. A poultice had been applied to the wounded and cauterized area, secured by lengths of cloth removed from Zaneer’s own robe, the cleanest ones he could find.
The elf couldn’t help but laugh. “That… isn’t dinner. Do not turn maneater on us, Des, it would be most unseemly at meal times.” Settling down near the injured man, Zaneer offered him the waterskin. “You should drink.”
Des took small sips from it, his weathered face still pale from blood loss and the poison.
Zaneer took the time to re-wet the cloth for his forehead before speaking. “Camp knows we’re out here. There isn’t anything they can do until daylight.”
“Leave a little food for me and get some rest, then. You moan something awful if you haven’t gotten a good night’s rest, I’ve noticed. Last thing I need to deal with.”
Pulling what small provisions he had bought for the trip out, he placed them near the farmer’s hand. “I ate earlier, so finish the rest off yourself.” He lied. “I cannot advise on how best to eat after your ordeal, but I’d say eat little and let it settle first.”
“And as for sleep?” Des asked, shifting awkwardly to get a better look inside the pouch.
“You will have to put up with my moaning as I put up with your screaming. There is a chance that the signal flares might have drawn unwanted attention, and should you take a turn in the night-”
“Fair point. Leg still hurts like anything.”
“It is if you stopped feeling pain when we would have cause for concern.” Zaneer stated. “So if anything changes, let me know.”
Nodding, he settled back down and stared up at the ceiling. Silence passed between the pair for a while before Des finally spoke up. “Got two requests for you.”
“Nothing maudlin I hope?” Zaneer spoke carefully, eyeing the human.
“First one might count. Humour me, as alien a concept as that is to the guy with a staff up his back.” Des replied, his speech lacking its usual fire and pace. “If things go south, get back to the Captain in one piece.”
“It does count. What’s the second?”
“Forty one years and still no idea. Magic… how’s it work?”
Taking a long look at the stricken human, Zaneer mulled the topic over before rubbing at his face with a hand. “Why not, putting it into terms that you will understand will be quite the mental exercise for me.”
A low rumble of a chuckle came from Des. “Arse.”
“Quite.” The elf smiled. “So, magic.”