As expected, I awoke to a pain greater than any hangover I'd ever experienced. Instead of sand, however, I felt the coarse pull of cloth beneath me, Cross's torn cloak left under me as a blanket.
"I was wondering when you would wake." The paladin himself sat nearby on a rock, tending a small campfire built from the remnants of some of Elaine's soldiers.
"…Surprised you didn't leave me to get buried." I chuckled unevenly, uttering a low grunt of pain as my skull was seared with pain. My armor was gone, replaced by the torn traveler's clothing I wore.
"We've our disagreements, but you are my ally. I don't leave allies to die or rot away." He spoke matter-of-factly, pretending not to notice as I gingerly touched my scalp.
"…How bad was it?" I asked, breaking into a sober tone.
"…I've watched demons tear men apart limb by limb. Their savagery is something I grew accustomed to back in the war." Cross answered, taking in a deep breath. "I've not seen a man or woman stand back up after getting their head smashed into the sand by a Knight of Hell. Your flesh knit itself back together, little by little, while you slept."
"I'm sorry if that was unsettling." I grunted, pulling myself up. "…I don't like to think about it, personally. Did you make it out uninjured?"
"I am alright. Though I do feel that you and I have a matter to discuss." Getting to his feet, he offered a hand, which I took after a moment of hesitation. "You've not been honest with me."
"…Told you about Eris, didn't she?" I let out a sigh.
"Eris?" His face rippled into one of suspicion.
"…Before we met, before this little mess began, I ran into some old weirdo who gave me a genie lamp. Insisted I take it, knew I was the Oracle. I opened it up and released some kind of spirit." I explained, my vision blurring slightly as I tipped over to the side slightly, Cross reaching out and righting my balance. "She claims to be some kind of goddess, and she's been following me around since."
"Ahh…seems just like yesterday we met." Eris sighed behind me, floating with her chin rested on her hands.
"And you didn't think to tell me this?" Cross's eyes narrowed as his voice darkened. "You have a spirit claiming to be the goddess of chaos, and you failed to tell me?"
"Trust was already shaky, you think you really would have believed any of the crazy shit I said if I told you I was lugging around some nasty spirit?" I retorted irritably, dropping to a sitting position as a migraine sparked in my head. "How did you know about the chaos thing, anyway? I never said what she was the goddess of."
"The Order researches all pantheons, all religions and creeds, Sasha. Fighting evil requires knowing it in all forms…and Eris is infamous for the trail of deceit and misery she's left across the tales of her culture." He bitterly answered, shaking his head. "If this spirit of yours is being honest, you are travelling with a destructive and volatile deity."
"Ooh, that's just hurtful. You don't believe him, do you, Sasha?" Eris asked, shaking her head in distaste. "Paladins seem to always love ruining fun wherever they find it, don't they?"
I opened my mouth to speak, though whether it was a argument with Cross or a demand for Eris to shut up, I couldn't tell through the haze of brain damage that lingered.
Instead, I pitched myself forward, vomiting into the sand as I passed out again, my vision quickly dimming to blackness.