Chapter 3: Healing
Vitra woke to the smell of something delicious. She sat up and looked around for the source of the enticing aroma. On the elegantly carved table beside her bed was a tray with soup, bread and water. Vitra hopped out of bed and began devouring the meal. She was ravenous. Once she'd finished demolishing the meal she realized her stomach didn't hurt as much.
In a much more cheerful mood, the young warrior went downstairs. She was interested in knowing if any of the servants had actually stayed. She doubted it, but you never know.
She reached followed her nose to the kitchen where she found Fintia cooking. "I thought you would have left with the others."
"Oh no. I couldn't leave you here all by yourself with the mage. Everyone else left but I'll stay until you're better."
Vitra flushed. "You didn't have to do that."
"But you helped save everyone from the mage, so it's only right that I help you."
"It's more like I helped save the mage from everyone. I still owe him a debt so until he's back to being his evil self I'm going to have to take care of him. Would you mind helping me put a tray together? I don't know how to cook that well."
Fintia paled but nodded. "I'll help. I just… do I have to go near the mage?"
The young warrior shook her head. "No. It's my problem. I'll deal with him."
Much relieved, Fintia helped Vitra put together some soup, bread and a pitcher of water for Letian. Vitra took the stairs slowly, not wanting to spill anything. When she finally reached the top of the stairs, she was forced to precariously balance the tray on her hip as she opened the door with her other hand. It took a few minutes but finally she was in.
The sound of the door to his rooms opening woke Letian. He ignored it. Obviously some of the servants had been too afraid to leave and had come to see if he required anything. They'd leave once they saw the helm. All it had taken was a few well placed shocking spells on those stupid enough to bother him and now none of his servants dared open the door to his bedroom when the helm was out.
So it was that when the door was flung open, Letian was quite shocked. His shock receded slightly when he realized it was Vitra. What did she want?
"Whoa. You look like something chewed you up and spit you out. What happened?"
Letian glared at her, about the only thing he could do in his weakened condition. "None of your business." He snapped.
She frowned. "Well I brought you up some food. You look like you need it."
The mage said nothing. He was starving but he couldn't he was too weak to feed himself and there was no way he was going to be open about his invalid condition.
Shrugging, Vitra left the room and Letian tried to go back to sleep as the odours wafting from the tray tortured him.
Around dinner-time, Vitra had Fintia help her make another tray and she took it up to Letian. When she opened the door he started awake and glared at her again. She returned him look for look and then noticed the tray she'd brought up earlier sitting beside the bed, untouched.
"You're not going to get better if you don't eat." She said after putting the new tray down. "If I have to I'll feed you myself."
"I'm not hungry. Just take the food away with you." The mage snapped back.
Vitra shook her head. "Oh no. You're not getting off that easily." She picked the tray up and sat on the edge of his bed. She got a big spoonful of stew and put it to his lips. "Eat it or I'll pry your mouth open and force you to."
Reluctantly, Letian allowed Vitra to feed him. For her part, the warrior refused to let him alone until he ate everything she had brought up. "I'll be back with breakfast and you will eat it." She told him, gathering up the two trays and heading back down to the kitchen.
Letian was glad to see her go and even more thankful for her gullibility and stubbornness. Stubborn enough to keep pestering me to eat, gullible enough to believe I really didn't want to. The mage thought to himself smugly. Feigning the reluctance to eat had been a trial but in the end it had been worth it. Now she still believed he was at least strong enough to move.
Tomorrow he'd be able to feed himself and the day after that he'd be able to get up. At least he should be able to by then.
True to her word, Vitra returned to Letian's rooms the next morning with another tray. This time she was pleased to see he was sitting up. He refused to allow her to feed him and told her to go away. She left but only after telling him that if she found so much as a crumb of food on the tray she'd force-feed him until he burst.
For the next three days this pattern of interaction continued, with Letian looking stronger and stronger every day which made Vitra happy. The faster he was better, the faster she could leave. She'd given up on defeating him. There was no way she could do it. Not even if he was an inch from death. He'd still be too powerful.
The morning of the fourth day bright and clear and everything looked fresh-washed after the rain they'd had the day before. Fintia and Vitra were in the kitchen cooking breakfast or rather Fintia was teaching Vitra how to cook breakfast. The two of them were giggling over Vitra's latest attempt when the door to the yard swung open and a robed man strode in.
"You there servants!" He said giving them a haughty look. "I wish to speak with Letian. Where is he?"
Fintia shrank away from him but Vitra turned to face him. "Why should I tell you?" She asked, hands on hips.
The man paled with rage. "You dare to speak to me you impudent little upstart! I'll shock some respect into you."
"Leave them alone." A cold voice said from the doorway that lead into the inner tower. "You know damn well that I'm almost always in my rooms and yet you always insist on bothering my servants. Though these two aren't servants. So there is no reason to get into an offended rage."
The man whirled about to face Letian, who was half in shadow. "You are getting lax about proper respect!" He hissed.
"My affairs are none of yours. Now come on." Letian replied walking off leaving the man no choice but to follow.
Once they'd left, Vitra turned to Fintia. "Who was that?"
Trembling, the young girl replied. "T-That was the Dark Sorceror Acand."
"Why's he looking for Letian?"
"They're brothers though they don't get along well. Every so often one of the mage's brothers appears and leaves a short time later."
"Really? Well then we might as well finish making breakfast."
"What do you want, Acand?" Letian asked as soon as they were in his rooms.
"I heard rumours that another hero had come to slay you. I wanted to make sure you got rid of him properly."
"What I do with those who try to kill me is my business, not yours." He snapped.
"It is my business if it will reflect ill on the family! You and your insufferable antics are tarnishing the name of the Bloodmoors."
"Well fine then, I'll change my name. I didn't want to be called Bloodmoor in the first place."
"And what? You want to go back to being a healer? Just wike your mommy wanted? In case you forgot, your mother's dead. And good riddance." Acand sneered.
Letian went very still and then slowly turned to face his half-brother. "Never." He whispered in a voice like ice, "Never say anything against my mother again."
"Or what?" Acand went to say but instead found himself hit full force by one of Letian's spells.
Fintia and Vitra had just finished baking their bread when they heard a muffled explosion and felt the floor shake slightly. The explosion was followed swiftly by the sound of something large landing in the yard. Vitra ran to see what it was.
Lying face down in the middle of the vegetable garden was Acand. His robes were smoking slightly and he wasn't moving. "What happened to him?" Vitra wondered out loud.
"The mage probably shot him out of the tower." Fintia replied.
"I said his brothers only make short visits. That's usually because the mage throws them out before too long. This is the third time I've seen one of them shot out of the tower."
Vitra couldn't believe it. He did that to his own brothers? Mind you Acand didn't seem like the most likeable chap in the whole world but he was still blood! She knelt beside the fallen mage and rolled him onto his back.
"Don't!" Fintia said. "What if he wakes up?"
"I just want to see if he's alive." Vitra explained as she lowered her head so it was nearer his to see if she could hear him breathing. Next thing she knew, she was being hauled to her feet by her hair.
"You little wretch." A venomous voice hissed into her ear. "You're going to pay for insulting me."
Vitra stamped down hard onto his toes and he released her, cursing. She ran back to the kitchen, dragging Fintia with her. She was almost to the door when She was grabbed again and spun around. Vitra pushed Fintia towards the tower before beginning to kick at Acand again. He dropped her but this time moved so he was between her and escape.
Raising a hand that pulsed with energy he levelled it at her and whispered one word. Vitra threw her shield arm up, forgetting she wasn't wearing it or her armour. A few moments passed before Vitra opened her eyes. Her arm was sheathed in green metal and her shield was strapped on as well. Looking around she saw Acand, unconscious on the ground again.
"He's an idiot. Should have known better then to go attacking people in my tower." Letian said from where he was leaning against the kitchen door, Fintia hiding inside.
"The armour it…"
"Special spell I added. It goes where you need it to go. I can teach you how to summon it at will but it does have a limit on how many times you can do it before the spell wears out and you'll need it recast so I wouldn't go around using it all the time. Oh and your armour will reflect most spells."
"Why…Why did you give me armour like this?"
Letian smirked. "To even the odds." He said before sauntering back into the tower.
Vitra could only stare after him for a long minute.
Letian got up to his rooms and collapsed on his bed. It had taken most of his regained magic to get rid of Acand. He couldn't afford the slightest appearance of weakness in front of his half-brother lest he seek to exploit it. He knew his older brothers resented him. He was stronger then them and didn't much care about the Blackmoor name. They were always trying to find some way to show him up or control him.
These thoughts swirled around in his head and then faded into dreams as he fell asleep.
A week passed and Letian was finally back to his normal evil self. Vitra began making plans for her departure. Fintia had agreed to come with her and the two of them began cooking up all sorts of dried meat, fruit bars and journey bread.
Vitra went and raided the tower's stores for more clothing and other travelling necessities for Fintia.
Before the end of the week, they were ready. Blaze had been curried and brushed until she shone, their packs were ready and waiting, the food was prepared and had already been stowed away, Vitra had polished her armour, sharpened her sword and Fintia was now wearing something other then her uniform.
They spent one last night in the tower, planning on making an early start of it.
Letian noticed Vitra and Fintia's preparations. They were leaving. He didn't like this. Quite frankly he was bored. Bored of being the Dark Lord. In fact he'd had the most fun since he'd become a sorcerer when Vitra had shown up. He loved it when she got frustrated!
That thought sparked an idea and the idea became a plan. Letian chuckled to himself as he got to work.
Fintia and Vitra prepared one last meal in the kitchen the next morning. They ate quickly, wanting to get on the road before the mage woke up in case he tried to stop them.
They slipped out into the yard and stopped dead in their tracks. Blaze stood there, saddled and with Vitra's packs already on. Beside her stood a handsome dapple gelding who was saddled and had Fintia's packs strapped on. But what really stunned them was the sight of Letian on a black stallion which had packs strapped to his saddle too.
"What are you doing?" Vitra cried.
"I decided that I'm going with you." He replied with a smirk.
"No! Absolutely not. I won't allow it!"
"You don't have a choice. I'm stronger then you."
Vitra snapped her mouth shut as she realized he was right. Ignoring him, she helped Fintia mount and then swung up into Blaze's saddle. She kicked her mare into a canter as the other two horses followed, thinking am I never going to be free of him?