Young Writers Society



Among the Dragons - Chapter 4.1

by Shady


“Princess?”

Jerica whirled around at Dr. Ryken’s voice as he opened the door to the infirmary.

“He—” Ryken’s eyes flicked across her shoulder and landed on Derik. “Oh. Hello, sir.” He dipped his head. “How are you?”

“I’m well, thank you… how’s Kieran?” Derik answered, striding forward to stand side by side with Jerica in front of Ryken.

“He’s fine,” Ryken said, then glanced at Jerica. “Asking for you.”

Jerica nodded and stepped forward, gut tight with anxiety. And yet relieved to hear him say that Kieran was okay.

Ryken took a step backward and pulled the door further open, making room for her to stride inside. Kieran was still lying on the same cot she'd left him on. But now he was propped up on pillows and looking much stronger than before. His color was better, too. He looked at her with wide eyes as she approached.

"Hey," she said, voice gentle as she perched on the edge of the chair next to his bedside. "How are you feeling?"

"Better," he said with a little nod. His eyes widened even more as he glanced over her shoulder and he attempted to sit up straighter. "War Lord!"

"At ease." Derik put his hand up to still him. "You're hurt; don't get up on my account."

"Yes sir." Kieran nodded tensely, still staring at him.

"What's the damage?" Derik looked at Dr. Ryken.

"A possible cracked rib," Ryken answered, striding forward to stand at the foot of the bed. "Though it's possible it's just bruised. Hard to say without risk of further injury and the treatment is the same either way, so I don't intend to push it if it's all the same to you?"

"Of course." Derik dipped his head. "I trust your judgment, Doctor."

"Thank you." Dr. Ryken dipped his head as well. "I appreciate that."

Derik nodded. "So, what are the orders this time?"

"Bed rest for the rest of the day," Dr. Ryken answered, glancing at Kieran. "Possibly tomorrow, too, depending on how he's doing. But he's young--" He glanced back at Derik. "So I don't foresee that. He'll probably bounce back quickly. But no training until he's fully recovered." He glanced at Jerica. "And I mean anything. Sparring, archery, and even strength training, or cardio. He gets off for the next six weeks at minimum."

"Of course." Jerica nodded. For all her resistance to Ryken when she was the one who was injured, she fully intended to follow his orders to the absolute 'T' when it came to Kieran. His recovery was far, far more important than her own ever was. She glanced back at Kieran. "Take it easy. For as long as you like. No exercise or even your academic lessons until you're feeling better. Focus on feeling better."

"Yes, ma'am." He nodded, blushing a little.

She nodded as well, glancing over at Ryken. "Is that all?"

Ryken nodded. "More or less. We'll ice it on and off and give him pain medicine as needed – you know how cracked ribs go. But mostly just take it easy."

She nodded again. "Okay... that works. Sounds good... thank you."

"My pleasure." He dipped his head. "I'll give you some privacy, unless you have further need for me?"

Jerica shook her head.

Ryken dipped his head and glanced at Kieran.

"No sir." Kieran shook his head. "Thank you again."

"Of course." Ryken dipped his head to him as well. "Rest up."

"Yes, sir." Kieran nodded.

"Thank you, Doctor," Derik said to Ryken, nodding to him.

"My pleasure." Ryken dipped his head to Derik as well, then turned towards the door. "I'll be in my office if you need me." With that he swept out of the room, shutting the door behind himself.

There was a long, tense silence. Jerica could feel her heart thudding against the walls of her chest, anxiety building in her gut as she refused to look directly at Kieran. What could she even say to him? How was she supposed to broach a topic this massive?

Derik cleared his throat.

Jerica glanced at him, then blushed and looked away. He was right. She needed to get on with this already. Figure out what to say.

"...Are you angry, ma'am?" Kieran asked after a moment, voice quiet and timid.

Jerica's gaze snapped up, startled, finally looking at him. "What? No. Why would you think that?"

Kieran blushed profusely, his usual sepia skin growing russet as he refused to meet her gaze. "I... know you don't like to be embarrassed..."

"I'm not embarrassed," Jerica said, forcing her tone to be calm and metered. She needed to be the adult here. To keep her emotions in check so she didn't get him more worked up than he needed to be. "I... admit I was... surprised... but... that... isn't necessarily... a bad thing?"

Kieran furrowed his brow, perplexed, and risked a quick glance at her before averting his gaze once again. "... oh."

Jerica nodded tensely. Was... that a good 'oh'? Did those even exist? She glanced at Derik. He gave her an encouraging nod, urging her to keep going, though he didn't add anything to the conversation. Jerica forced herself to take a deep breath.

"...did you..." She wet her lips. "...mean to...?"

"No ma'am." He shook his head quickly. "It—it was an accident, I swear it. I'm sorry."

"It's okay." She shook her head and bit her lip. That made this more complicated -- Kieran denying what Derik claimed was undeniable truth. "I... I didn't think you did..."

"Did you not mean it--?" Derik cut in, voice gentle as he sank down in a seat near the foot of the bed, a way away from them. "Or did you not mean to say it? Those are different things."

Somehow, Kieran blushed even further. Jerica imagined most of his blood must be in his face at this point. Poor boy. "I-uh-I-I... uh..."

"You don't have to answer right away," Derik said after a moment, offering him a lifeline so he didn't drown in his own anxiety. "It's okay if you're not ready to share that with us, yet." Jerica nodded in agreement. "... and it's also okay if you're not sure yet, even. It's... a complicated situation. I think we can all agree on that."

Kieran nodded in agreement. Jerica did, too. That was the understatement of the century.

"... I do think it's worth it, however, for you to think about this more," Derik said after a moment of silence. "Both of you."

Jerica's face was burning. If Kieran had looked up, she didn't have any idea. She was too busy staring at the blanket draped over the edge of the bed nearest her. Too anxious to see how he was reacting to Derik's words. It'd break her heart if Kieran reacted badly. She didn't want that.

"... yessir," Kieran said after a moment. "I... I will."

Jerica forced herself to take a deep breath, then she glanced up at Kieran -- a lightning-quick glance on her way to looking at Derik. "...okay... I will, too."

Derik nodded.

That wasn't going to stop her from running away, though. She took another deep breath and stood up abruptly. "Do you, uh, need anything?"

"What?" Kieran furrowed his brow.

"Can I get you anything?" she stepped towards the door. "While you're, uh, thinking?"

"Um... no thank you?" He still seemed perplexed.

"Oh, uh, well..." She took another step towards the door and pulled it open. "I'll go, uh— and—y'know."

"You'll go what?" Derik raised his eyebrow and looked at her skeptically. "You can't run away every time a conversation makes you anxious."

"That's where you're wrong." She finger-gunned and stepped into the hall. "I'll be back... eventually..." She glanced at Kieran. "Rest up, kiddo."

"Yes, ma'am?"

She gave him a quick nod then pulled the door mostly shut behind her and started down the hall. There was a slight tremble in her limbs, but she moved fast enough no one would be able to tell if she passed them in the hall.

But Derik's words haunted her. 'You can't run away every time a conversation makes you anxious.' Was that what she was doing? Running away from her squire? From Kieran? And when he needed her the most, no less. How shameful.

Jerica slowed as guilt wrapped around her gut and seemed to tangle around her legs as well. This was for her comfort – her benefit – not his. She needed to stop being so selfish. Stop caring more about her own feelings than her squire's. He was a little child and he needed her to be the responsible one.

She groaned and rubbed her face, trying to find the wherewithal to turn around and go back. But she really didn't want to. And she couldn't find the willpower right away, instead electing to lean against the wall. And hope to whatever gods might exist that no one happened past her until she found the courage to return to the infirmary.


Note: You are not logged in, but you can still leave a comment or review. Before it shows up, a moderator will need to approve your comment (this is only a safeguard against spambots). Leave your email if you would like to be notified when your message is approved.







Is this a review?


  

Comments



User avatar
1173 Reviews


Points: 97484
Reviews: 1173

Donate
Sun Jan 29, 2023 5:39 pm
View Likes
IcyFlame wrote a review...



Happy Review Day! Sorry this has taken me so long, but if you're doing a revamp at least it can be a little while before I disappoint you again with my slowness xD

I'm pretty sure we left off with the whole Kieran thinking of Jer like a mother, so I have literally no clue where we're going from that point! I'm eager to find out!

“Princess?”

What dictates whether Jerica is referred to as Princess or something more assassin-ey? Like is she always both things regardless of the capacity or is she sometimes seen as one more than the other?

His eyes widened even more as he glanced over her shoulder and he attempted to sit up straighter. "War Lord!"

I know this is Derik's title but this sounds like an insult xD

"A possible cracked rib," Ryken answered, striding forward to stand at the foot of the bed. "Though it's possible it's just bruised.

The repeat of possible sounded a bit off to me.

"Of course." Jerica nodded. For all her resistance to Ryken when she was the one who was injured, she fully intended to follow his orders to the absolute 'T' when it came to Kieran.

I don't think you actually need the quotation marks around the T to make this correct (although I could be wrong). Also, love how she's aware of her own shortcomings here - we love to see personal growth!

"Take it easy. For as long as you like. No exercise or even your academic lessons until you're feeling better. Focus on feeling better."

The double 'feeling better' felt a bit weird and jilty here

"...Are you angry, ma'am?" Kieran asked after a moment, voice quiet and timid.

This might be an affect of not having Kieran feature prominently in the draft of the previous book, but I was surprised that:
a) he brought up this situation at all. I partly didn't expect him to remember what he said given that he was injured and possibly delirious. The other part of me thought he'd find it too awkward to bring up and they'd just awkwardly move past it without even addressing that anything happened until it probably comes back to bite Jer later.
b) he brought it up in front of Derik. I mean, it's one thing for Derik to say don't worry about the formalities because you're injured but it's pretty hard to actually move past that when you've been conditioned forever to respect him as some super important War Lord. Even if Kieran does bring up the situation, I would expect him to wait until Derik leaves the room.

So in general I think I found this wholesome and sweet but I also don't really know what purpose it serves? The whole conversation with her and Kieran where he's told to take his time and think about his feelings feels unwarranted just from one slip up. I think it's probably largely because you're changing how he shows up in book one and I'm sure that it flows together better with those changes but for me here this whole situation feels a bit out of place. It's well written and super cute but I just got the feeling it was kinda shoehorned in! I hope that's ok to say!

Please shout if you want to talk through more of the Kieran stuff, I'm hoping I've explained my thoughts clearly but happy to answer any questions!

Now 4.2 let's gooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo





Percy fell face-first into his pizza.
— Rick Riordan, The Mark of Athena