“Am I dying?” The former farmer asked, laid out on the ground with a leg propped up onto a barrel. His skin was pallid and clammy, and his voice hushed.
“No. There are two simple reasons as to why you are not dying.” The man tending to his wounds chuckled, working delicately with a pair of needles to remove the poisonous barbs digging into the elevated thigh. “The first is that if you were to die, I would have the satisfaction of no longer having to tolerate your company.”
“I hope the second reason’s better, because the first would also mean I wouldn’t have to put up with you… you prim, pointy-earred prick.” The patient laughed, soon trailing off to lead into hoarse gasps.
The elf’s laugh filled the abandoned farmhouse, his hands keeping steady as each barb was removed with careful motions and placed into a dish. “Oh, much better. While I may be a humble mage-”
“Humble?!” The farmer’s chuckle had him wheezing again.
“Humble and incredibly modest. Possibly the most modest in this entire cursed land.”
“No… more… hurts to laugh…” He gasped, before his carer was up and adjusting his head to make sure the airways stayed open. The addition of a cool, damp cloth placed on his forehead brought some comfort to the fire raging through his veins.
“I’m not a physician, but I am familiar with anatomy. Your leg is elevated, to reduce the bleeding. The trifling amount of blood you have lost was tainted with poison so that is some small blessing.” He spoke, thankful that the poor light in the barn obfuscated the amount of blood staining his robe. “The materials I have been gathering for my own purposes? Well, some of them can be used to help clean and treat your wounds.”
The farmer was quiet as the last few barbs were removed from his leg, the remnants of the attack that had left a large, deep gash on his thigh. “It’s bad, isn’t it, Zaneer?”
“It, well, Des…” Zaneer took a deep breath. “Cleaning the wound will be the easy part. What comes next? You will need to dig deep and harness all of your surly, bastard-esque qualities.”
It didn’t take long for the mage to sift through his component bag, removing the wooden pestle and mortar as well as some small bags of freshly collected herbs. Pinches of this and bunches of that all ground together. A waterskin provided ample clean liquid to wash out the wound.
“That wasn’t so bad.” Des spoke somewhat awkwardly, his teeth gritted.
The elf looked down at the man with a resigned expression. “The wound is too big for a poultice. You’ll likely bleed out if it’s left open.”
“Needle and thread job, then?”
Setting his jaw, Zaneer slipped a hand under his robe to reach for one of the carefully-grown wands in his caster’s bandoleer. “Alas, I have no needle or thread. If it were cauterized? I would say there’s a good chance you’ll see the rising sun.”
Taking as deep a breath as he could, Des grabbed the neckerchief laying near him and wadded it up. “Do it. A chance is better than-”
“An unpleasant certainty?” Zaneer finished for him, moving into position to weigh down his body and secure the injured leg. A small wave of his hand brought the candle up to provide better light. “Draw deep from your soul, you boorish and cantankerous pig. This will not be pleasant.” Power flowed through his hand and into the wand, a tiny orb of fire appearing at the tip of the dark length of wood.
Any retort Des might have offered was muffled by the neckerchief clenched between his teeth. It did not do such a good job muffling the screams.