Warning: This work has been rated 18+ for language, violence, and mature content.
Word Count; 1595.
While Lorne was busy staring at the thing with wide eyes, Alvena fired at it again. He watched as the arrow flew towards it. The eyes swung back to him and then it seemed to shimmer slightly--and the arrow passed right through it. Vena swore and quickly reached for another arrow. Lorne saw the eyes narrowed and he had the distinct feeling that something very bad was about to happen.
"Vena--" he began, turning to tackle her just as something came flying out the darkness at them. Something hit his shoulder right as they landed heavily on the wooden loft. The wood creaked ominiously and Lorne swore. He shoulder was a burning throb of pain, and he cursed against Vena's neck, pushing up onto the elbow of his uninjured arm.
He twitched, watching as the elf touched his wounded shoulder, bringing his attention towards it and not Vena's blonde hair splayed about her head or the way her blue eyes went wide. He glanced over his shoulder. One of Vena's arrows was lodged in his shoulder. He stared at it, at the small part of the shaft he could see from such an awkward angle.
"The bastard threw one of your own arrows back at you," he said, at a loss for what else to say. Vena huffed below him and pushed him up and off of her. He shifted to sit beside her, hissing as he reached back with his left hand to try and see how they were going to get it out. "I didn't... How...?"
"I would like to know how it did that, too," Vena said, brushing his hand away. There was a sharp jolt of pain and the sound of snapping wood, then Vena tossed a broken arrow shaft into his lap. "This is no mere beast."
"I noticed," he said, wincing. "It's...too smart. Also, am I wrong in assuming it has magic?"
"It would appear so," Vena agreed.
They both turned to look over the edge of the loft. Lorne frowned. The area below them was empty. The beast was gone and they could no longer hear it.
"Fuck," Lorne said, with feeling. Vena hummed in agreement. "Now what?"
"Now we go see what damage has been done," she said, patting his unijured shoulder gently, "and clean up. The beast will have already taken its fill of the village."
"Is it like this almost every night?"
"Yes," Vena said, sighing. "Welcome to the village."
Later, Lorne was sitting by the village's main bonfire with Vena and Sage behind him while they worked to removed the arrow head from his shoulder. It had, thankfully, missed his shouldeblade, but it had lodged deep slightly off towards his spine. Sage had mused that he was lucky it had not gone a few inches to the left. Which meant it had hit the muscle and it would not be pleasant to remove.
"I have to cut it out," Vena warned, and Lorne exhaled. He took the piece of wood that a villager handed him. It looked like it had once been some kind of spoon or fork. "It will hurt."
"Like it doesn't hurt already?" he asked with a snort. He eyed he piece of wood then glanced back at where Sage and Vena were sitting, obviously studying his back. He nodded towards his hip. "Use one of my daggers. It's probably best suited for this."
Vena nodded and he felt one of the sheathed daggers on his hip disappear. "Very well," the elf said and he faced forward again. "Brace yourself. On the count of three."
"Alright." He brought the wood up and bit down on it hard.
"One," Vena said, and he felt her place the tip of his dagger against his skin. It was a light touch, barely there but it was warning enough. Lorne tensed, sensing danger and pain. "Two."
"You need to relax," Sage said, gripping his other shoulder. "Or it will hurt more than this."
Lorne grunted in acknowledgement and exhaled heavily. This, he thought darkly, is going to be extemely unpleasant.
"Breathe," Cassidy reminded him from somewhere to his left.
"Three," Vena said as soon as he'd relaxed a little--and yanked, hard. Lorne felt the blade dig in beside the arrow at the same time and cried out, the sound muffled by the wood he was biting down on. There was a brief moment where all he could feel was pain and tearing and then...then the sharp point of pressure and pain that had been present in his shoulder for at least an hour was gone. Oh, it still hurt, but there was relief in knowing that the arrow head was no longer lodged in his shoulder. "There we go."
He heard something clatter to the ground beside them and sagged with a groan, tilting forwards. The edges of his vision were dancing on towards black and grey. He could feel hot liquid flowing down his back--blood, of course--and was distantly glance that they'd removed his armour and cut his shirt off. It was only pure luck that the arrow had missed his armour.
Lorne spat the wood out. "Fuck," he said, rubbing at his face. "That hurts more than I remember it doing."
"Been hit with an arrow before, have you?" Vena asked mildly as she dabbed at his back, then pressed hard against the wound. He hissed.
"Once or twice," he muttered. "Though, never the shoulder. Thigh or hip, sure--"
A hand traced over his lower back, just above the bone of his hip. Vena's hand--it was too small to be Sage's. "Like here?"
He swallowed, tensing. "Yes."
"Hmm," Vena hummed. "I see."
"Here," Sage said, and Vena murmured a thanks before removed her hand and the cloth she'd had pressed to the wound in his shoulder. "We could stitch it," the dragon added, almost in warning, "but cauterising is faster."
A moment later, there was burning heat against his shoulder and Lorne swore again, calling Sage, his mother and the dragon's grandmothers all some very choice words. Sage snorted in response--and then the heated metal was gone. Lorne clenched his teeth together as they let his sizzling skin settle.
"Now you will not bleed out," Vena said, and she sounded amused. "You said you had an ointment for burns?"
"Ah, yes," Sage replied, and there was the soft clack of something made of earthenware exchanging hands--and then there was cool, numbing salve and slightly calloused fingers brushing over angry, burnt flesh.
"Better?" Vena asked and Lorne sagged forward even more.
"Better," he agreed, mildly put out. "Although, next time, perhaps we try stitching it instead of cauterising?"
Vena laughed. "I'll consider it," she said, patting a spot that was injured before getting up. "Alright, let's go see what the beast has done this time."
"You stay put," Sage told him, grip tightening momentarily on his uninjuried shoulder. Lorne snorted and twisted to look up at the dragon.
"After that?" he began, gesturing to his shoulder. "I don't think I'm going anywhere."
"Pity that none here have healing magic," the elf mused, and then she turned and headed off towards some of the villagers who were keeping watch.
Lorne didn't bother to watch her go. He kept his gaze steady on Sage and the dragon gazed back calmly. The dragon suddenly frowned. "You said the beast appeared to shimmer slightly?"
"Yes." He pressed his lips together, scowling. "It was very odd."
"And then the arrow came back towards you?"
Sage hummed thoughtfully. "Then it is safe to assume this beast is somehow in possession of magic?"
"It'd appear so, yeah."
The dragon nodded and then turned towards Cassidy and the others. "That is very unsettling."
"No shit," Lorne muttered and looked away, towards the others. Cassidy was on his feet now, frowning. Issy was sitting on a log beside him while Emrys sat on another log behind them. He stood abruptly and nodding firmly at Lorne and the others before following after the she-elf.
"Oh, by the way," Issy said suddenly, eyeing the dragon. "What'd you sense before?"
"Hm?" the dragon hummed, glancing towards their youngest companion. "What do you mean?"
Issy frowned. "Back at the castle? Before we left?" he asked, tilting his head. "You said you sensed something and then you flew off...but you didn't mention anything when you came back. What was it? You never said, so I figured you probably didn't find anything, but well.... that's weird, see? So, I... uh... I figured I'd ask--"
"No," Sage said, raising his hand. "Islwyn is correct. I did not tell you what I found and that was irresponsible of me. Careless, really." He sighed and lowered the hand, looking from Issy to Lorne to Cassidy and back. "I should have told you but I hadn't thought it was important...until now."
"Mmh. I found tracks," the dragon told them and they all stared at him.
"What?" Lorne asked, stunned. "What kind of tracks?"
"I was not sure. They looked to be those of a large cat of some kind, but then they led away from the castle and I..." The dragon frowned, seemingly confused. "I... Oh, dear. I cannot remember. How odd."
"Perhaps that's why you didn't mention it before?" Cassidy suggested, gesturing towards Sage, and the dragon inclined his head. "Maybe you ran into something? Like... I don't know, some kind of magic or some kind of creature? And it... wiped your memory or something?"
Sage's frown deepened. "Perhaps?" The dragon's red gaze darted towards Lorne. "You don't think....?"
"You think you encountered the creature?" Lorne asked, frowning up at him.
"You did say it appeared to have magic, correct?"
Sage blinked once, twice and then let out a long, slow breath. "Well," he said, glancing towards where Emrys and Alvena were. "That is deeply unsettling, is it not?"
Lorne snorted. That was putting it mildly, for sure.