Warning: This story will become a slash in future chapters. For those of you who do not know what the term slash means, it is a same-sex relationship of the romantic nature. If you are offended by this type of story, do not read any further. If you do, and you don't like it, you have been warned and have absolutely NO RIGHT to complain.

While I do accept constructive critisism, rudeness and flames will be ignored.

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It was a bitterly cold day in December when this mess began. The journeying party that I had been traveling with had forsaken me because they had considered me too ill to live much longer.

We were on our way to reside in the small town of Rocowen, named for the benevolent King Rocov. It was said that they had been prosperous up until an epidemic had killed many families. If new settlers did not arrive soon, they would soon have to marry within their own families, and such behavior was looked down upon by society. I became sick only a few miles north of the settlement, and though a few stayed behind to try and spare my life, I was eventually left for dead.

It is still a wonder to me that I survived, but for whatever reason, the Powers spared my life. I was delusional as I stumbled through the snow, thinking somehow that I might be able to catch up with the group. Instead, I collapsed, and awoke inside near a blazing fire, inside a cavern.

"Ah, he's awake!" A voice exclaimed, and I heard stifled laughter. A face looked down into mine, lit only barely by the nearby flames. "You feeling all right, mate?" The man inquired.

I closed my eyes and let my head fall to the right. "I'm a little thirsty," I murmured hoarsely. What I wanted to say that my head was aching intolerably, and despite the warmth of the nearby fire, I was practically frozen, but the mere shock of finding myself alive and cared for kept me from it. The man made a shrill sort of noise, and then touched my shoulder.

"Drink this," He commanded, lifting my head slightly. I complied, and a bitter taste filled my mouth. When I gagged, he laughed and pulled the cup away. "It takes a little getting use to."

The cave was filled with the laughter of other men, and a voice yelled out, "Maybe you should just pour it down his throat, Captain Nersa! He ain't gonna drink it now that he knows what it tastes like!" Nersa threw a menacing look over his shoulder, and the jeers stopped almost immediately.

"Perhaps you are not worth caring for after all." He said to me crossly, "But I won't know that until you are at full health."

"If I'm not?" I wanted to know. Nersa put the cup to my mouth, and I suppose it was to keep me silent.

"If you're not, then you will die." Nersa replied, making sure that I drank the rest of that revolting fluid. "I can't have weaklings or conspirators in my little band of thieves. But if you are-well, we need one more to carry out our plan, and you look small enough, and agile." When he was certain that I had finished the medicine, he set the cup by his side, and lowered me down onto the pillow that I had been lying on before.

As I fell into a restless sleep, I found myself wandering about in a world of shadows. Dark phantoms heckled me, pushing me this way and that. Hard as I tried, I could not escape them, and what little strength I had was fading. Just in time, Nersa's face, somewhat blurred, appeared before me, and I felt his hands on my shoulders, holding me still.

"Lie down. Lie down, you idiot!" He ordered viciously, pushing me down. As I sunk down to the ground, the leader's body turned and yelled something to the other shadowy figures. There was a disappointed hiss as the group left; finally Nersa sat down next to me and sighed. "Lie down!" He repeated. I did so resentfully, for the simple fact that I didn't want to be roughly shoved down again.