Wrote the whole chapter in Art class, because we had a substitute.

Chapter 5

Footsteps echoed as the nurse walked into the room, finding Launo standing up from his bed and bending down in a stretch. He already had put on a fresh pair of clothes—the ones she had left for him when he was asleep—and he looked perfectly fine. The bruises and whip marks seemed to have completely healed, and the fact that he was standing told her that his bones were no longer broken. And it made no sense.

It would have taken him weeks and months to heal fully, so why was he standing up?

Launo straightened and looked over at the nurse when she started speaking. "You shouldn't be standing up! Go. Sit back down. Now!"

After a slight hesitation he did as he was told. "But I'm fine. Nothing hurts and I can move-"

"Stop talking," she stated simply, waving her hand in a strange motion. "Last time you spoke to me you said everything hurt. That was this morning. There is no possible way you can heal that fast, even magic takes a while to work fully." She walked over and pushed him so that he was laying on his back, then she started prodding in several different places. After a while she leaned back on her heels, observing Launo with a blank expression.

Several minutes passed before she turned around and walked out of the room, leaving him in a sort of daze. He glanced over at the stand next to the bed; the bottle with the liquid was on it, next to a lit candle.

Zuka, the spirit of the Ring of Ice, had said that is Launo took a drop of it, he would be healed. Or something like that. So, is that why he was healed? He didn't continue with that thought, as another nurse walked into the room, that girl from before hanging behind at the doorway. The next nurse—or what Launo thought was a nurse—was dressed the same way as the girl, yet his clothes were less decorated and were shaped in a different way. And it wasn't until Launo looked down at the pants, that he realized something.

This person had a deformed leg, and he used a long stick to hold himself up.

He sucked in a breath, many more thoughts swimming through his head. The village he lived at would have thrown this person out because of the deformation, as any weakness in the village could hurt it severely, because of the climate it existed in.

The nurse smiled sadly, eyes closed. "You noticed I'm a cripple, didn't you?" He asked, and the sound of his voice made Launo realize that this person was no older than twelve. "Well, I'm blind as well," he stated also, now standing in front of Launo's bed. "But that doesn't matter, I'm useful in ways other than hunting... or patrolling, I guess... Can you lay down again? I was asked to look over you."

After a slight hesitation Launo did what the young nurse asked, still eyeing the leg that stuck out sharply to the side and the eyes that weren't open. And he couldn't help but blurt out, "How can you be a nurse, if you can't see?"

The girl nurse flushed. "Don't talk to him like that," she growled harshly, "He's as good a nurse as all the others, even better than them-"

"It's okay," the crippled nurse said, leaning over Launo as if he could see all the way through him. After a few moments of doing so he whispered something under his breath, but it was too soft for Launo to hear. "You okay to stand?" He asked suddenly, straightening up a bit.

Launo nodded slowly, not quite understanding why the nurse wanted to know.

"What about walk?"

"Yeah."

"Follow me, I need to see something." The nurse froze for a second before dipping his head in embarrassment. "You know what I mean..." Then he left the room, and the nurse glared at Launo as he followed.

*-o-*

The blind nurse led him through their large town and out to an area that had towering trees and bright plants growing thickly. The canopy let little light through to the ground, and the air was warm and sticky with humidity.

Launo stared in awe at the plants. Throughout his entire life, he had only seen small grasses and shrubs. Never before had he seen such thickly growing plants, or trees that big.

"Where are we going?" Launo managed to get out, watching as the nurse maneuvered around the plants easily.

The nurse paused, waited for him to catch up, before saying, "A place only me and the leader know of."

"Why me then? I'm just a stranger to your people."

"Well, if I'm wrong, then I'll just erase your memory." What the nurse said just confused Launo more, but the blind boy hurried one, his crippled leg seeming to not bother him at all. He led Launo through the plants and down under a large, man-made cave in the forest floor. Wooden planks layered the dark dirt, forming a type of stair case. There were no lights anywhere, so when the entrance's glow faded they were thrown into blackness; Launo took to the walls to find his way.

After what seemed like hours, Launo saw a faint, green light up ahead. He was relieved that he could actually see again, and almost darted forward, but then remembered that the blind nurse was standing in front of him. The nurse looked over his shoulder, "When we get to the clearing, I want you to touch the center rock, then tell me if you have a vision."

Launo didn't reply, only stare at the back of the younger one's head, wondering if the nurse was also mentally ill.

The green light soon grew brighter, eventually enveloping the two of them. When the light became bearable for his sea-green eyes, he looked around. The walls were like the stairs, covered in wooden planks, and were completely bare. In the center stood a tall rock, one that nearly reached the roof of the cave. It was the thing emitting that green light.

"Well, are you going to touch it?" The nurse asked, standing calmly in the entrance.

Launo looked over his shoulder for a second. The nurse can tell I haven't moved? He shook that thought away before walking over to the unnatural rock and staring up at it. The thing was easily tall enough to be two and a half times his height.

"Does the rock intimidate you?" The nurse's voice startled Launo for a split moment. "Just put your hand on it already." The fact that the nurse couldn't see his movements, but could sense them, unnerved Launo more than the rock did.

He took a deep breath and did as the nurse had told him.

*-o-*

Launo yanked his hand back, a fierce burning flying up his arm and throughout his entire body. Then it felt like an icy numbness, and his vision went completely black.

When his vision cleared he found himself in a vast, colorful plane—even though he didn't know what a plane was. There were hundreds of people standing before him and one person was standing up front being their spokesperson, but Launo couldn't hear any of the words before the place melted away. It slowly formed into a place of mass heat, the colors of red, orange, yellow, and black were the only thinks in sight, along with a few towering land masses with thick liquids running down its sides, forming pools beneath them. His vision flashed a couple times, but they were too fast for him to pick out.

And then he was back in the cave, crumpled on the floor with the nurse staring impassively from the entrance. He pushed himself into a sitting position, his mind spinning from what he saw, as it couldn't process it.

"So, did you see anything?" The nurse asked, leaning heavily on his stick.

Launo nodded, slowly getting to his feet, "Yeah, I saw something,"

"Good, now I wont erase your memory," the nurse said, "Now, tell me what you saw."

There was a slight pause on Launo's side before he spoke. "Um... There were a lot of people staring at me while one person looked to be speaking. Then it changed to a place... that seemed really hot. But I couldn't see anything else."

The nurse didn't seem to pay attention to Launo's words, but it was obvious he heard because he replied, quite off-topic though. "That is the Teller's stone. It was given to us as a connection of out shared territories. Three tribes of humans living on a demon Empire's land. Just like yours I believe." The nurse held out his hand, "My name is Roy Asha, protector of the Teller's stone and lead nurse of the Greenwood tribe."

Launo's mouth nearly fell to the floor. This blind and crippled twelve year old was a protector of a contract, the item that represented the contract.

"You're quite impolite, aren't you?" Roy said, sounding annoyed.

Launo quickly took his hand. "Um... sorry."

"Not used to people like me?" The nurse asked; Launo nodded. "Good think you didn't get too far on my bad side, through." He let go of Launo's hand and went back to the tunnel.

"So I crossed the line for not shaking your hand?"

"And for before. But still, you should be happy I don't have a temper. Having a nurse as your enemy isn't pleasant." And with that he ditched Launo in the cave with the Teller's stone, feeling like Roy's words were a type of threat.

*-o-*

He somehow managed to make it back to the village, even without the help of the nurse. For someone crippled and blind, he could move very fast. But even as Launo walked, he noticed markings and trails throughout the plants, making it easy to get back.

But he still took his time, as the plants were nothing like he had ever seen before.

When he reached the town, he saw that purple haired girl standing in the center, gazing at all the houses and stands outside the houses. There were some people standing around the stands, holding up strange items. Some of those items looked to be food, others clothing or bowls.

He was staring at a gray/brown pulp when Kat came over and startled Launo. "Launo! Yoake's been looking for you!"

After a few short moments he registered what the girl was saying and was completely confused. "Who's Yo...ke?"

"Yoake! He's a messenger for WOTR. He has-"

He interrupted her, not wanting her to say anymore. "Why's he looking for me?" He asked, eyes turning away from the pulp on someone's stand. This town was a lot different compared to the village he grew up in.

"To give you a message. He say's it's important. He also says it'll help you find the Ring of Ice. Oh! Did you know he can fly? He has pretty wings that were sewed on. . ."

Launo walked away from the rambling girl after that, looking around for a messenger. The second she said the Ring of Ice a type of panic had risen in him, as he had completely forgotten about the legendary artifact. Who knew hoe much time he had left. He could have been unconscious for a week! So much time had already been lost with the blizzard and him wandering about aimlessly, he shouldn't waste anymore.

His village depended on him.

Along with his father...

He clenched his fists, emotions bubbling up like lava from a volcano. There was no way he was letting them down. He didn't care about his weakness, and he would not let it prevent him from succeeding.

Just as that thought was finished someone approached him, asking if he was Launo Aleeli. The person only wore thin, black, baggy pants and a fabric shoulder bag that covered half his torso. Strange markings were inked into his visible skin, and if Launo looked close enough he could see black feathers sticking out from behind him.

Launo nodded in reply, and the messenger gave a nearly emotionless smile. The messenger looked around for a moment before pulling Launo off to an empty area between two trees, explaining that only Launo was allowed to hear this message.

The messenger took a deep breath, as if he had a lot to say, before starting. "Nael, Leader of the Floral Tribesmen, has requested your presence in the Plane region. He insists that you come, as they have been told about you quest and... think... they know of something that may help you. This is an abridged for of their message. If you wish to hear the full message, just say." The messenger dipped his head, pulling something out his shoulder bag and handing it to Launo without another word.

It was a sketch of the Ring of Ice, the background shaded in a way to make it look like it was sitting on the middle finger of a clawed hand.

He gaped at the picture. It was perfectly drawn. The ring looked like it was made of ice, and was a quarter inch thick, just like the real thing. It glimmered and seemed to have an aura about it, even though it was just a drawing. A sketch.

And then a question popped into his head. He looked up at the messenger, "Where's the Plane region? Or, what is it?"

"It is a place where it is very flat, very little hills. There are trees and bushes, but it is not as extravagant as the Rainforest plants." He dipped his head once more, "I hope that was detailed enough for you."

"Yes, it was. Thank you. Um... I have one more question. How do you get there?"

The messenger thought for a moment. "Follow the sun as it sets. Soon the Rainforest will thin out and become the Planes."

Author's Note

The chapter updates will be a bit slower for a while, because of school and my recent obsession of KuroKage1717's work. (Anyone who has the time, please check out her stories. Get her to feel bad so that she'll update on some of the stories she hasn't updated in years! :P)

Who said blind and crippled people couldn't be a protector? :P