This is Part of Angrethar, the story of The Battle for the Wrathgate from Aelflaed’s point of view. You can see all of the posts in this story on the Story Archives page, by searching for the Wrathgate category, or through this link. There will, in fact, be one more post – an epilogue of sorts – to get some of the lingering ends tied up.
From the small cluster of tents south of Angrathar, few people realized that Jol had left camp – wheeling up through the snow on the great bronze drake that he so frequently sparred with. His return, however, was noticed by a few – particularly that there was a second form with him on the drake, and he was flying fast.
‘Pigshite’ – which he would not dare call it again after the help the female drake had given him – hit the hard-packed snow hard when she landed, conveying the urgency of rider and drake with a trio of low, deep-throated bellows. Jol wasn’t far behind in calling out for bandages and a healer, cursing relegated to an afterthought as he clambered down carefully with a well-wrapped Aely in his arms.
“Oi! Git Tarquin an’ tell ‘im ah foun’ ‘er! An’ move yer feet an’ fine Shad! Ah need ah feckin’ healah ovah ‘eah!” he bellowed, carrying the half-frozen paladin quickly to the nearest tent that had a fire roaring.
Shad was not far off, emerging from another tent at the sound of his name and rustling quickly towards the two paladins and the fire. The tent was unoccupied, but judging by some of the oddities it probably belonged to Ilarra Stormrunner. A quick glance over the blue-tinted paladin was all he needed for an initial diagnosis. “Get her out of her armor and anything wet. She will need to be out of the wind, wrapped in blankets, and near enough the fire but not too near. Also, warm liquids. Tea. I will return.”
He creaked off in search of boiling water while Aely drowsily helped with peeling off her dented armor and drenched padding, her fingers nearly useless against the leather buckles. The shivering started again, feeling as though she’d rattle her teeth out of her head.
Shad forced a warm, fragrant mug into her hands … when had he come back? She nearly dropped it, spilling the honey-sweetened tea over cracked lips. “Th-th-th-thank you, Sh-shad.”
“Shhh,” he urged, forcing a woody smile. “Do not talk. Shivering is good, it will help you warm yourself. You may feel sleepy, but do not go to sleep. Can you move your fingers and toes?”
She did both, grimacing. Twigs carefully prodded at the wound in her shoulder. “This is clean, but may not heal well due to the cold. Parts of your shoulder are frozen.” Aely winced, attempting to grit her teeth. “There is goldthorn in that tea; it will help with the pain. For now I am just going to bandage it.” He tore a bit of bark from his chest, adding it to a sort of poultice that he tapped onto the gash. “I will need to see how much damage the frost has done before I attempt any major healing, for now though…” A soothing warmth spread through her shoulder, followed by the soft wool and solid feeling of bandages.
Shad stepped back and looked at Jolstraer, nodding soothingly. “She will be all right, but she needs to get warm – especially her extremities – before she can sleep.”
“Ayeh. Warm. Ah’m oan ‘et.” Ducking out of the tent almost like a worried father, he wandered only far enough to wrangle through his own belongings and nearly burst back into the tent with another pair of blankets from his own packs. “Oi, Kaidos’d be buildin’ up tha fiah. Sommat’s runnin’ tae git Geny tae see if’n she ken keep it clos enou’ tae tha ten’ wi’out settin’ it aflame. ‘Et’d nae dae us annah good, ayeh?” he chuckled nervously, piling the blankets on the younger paladin. “Oi, ‘ow’s ‘et?” he asked, near to fretting.
She attempted a reassuring grin, chattering. “‘s… warmer. Laigh’. ‘m feelin’ bout like a wee woolly caterpillar.” As Aely nestled back into the blankets, her face, fingers and feet all started to tingle again, and then burn. She reached up gingerly to touch her cheeks. “Oi… ‘s wrong wi’ my face?” She looked at the druid, who had edged carefully away from the side of the tent with the fire.
“You have frostbite on your face and hands. Likely your feet as well. They are not entirely frozen, as you can still move them, but I imagine they will be uncomfortable for several days at least.” The bark around his mouth twisted into what must have been a sort of smirk. “I do not think I need to tell you that you are not going back out to fight anything for awhile.”
Aely nodded, wrapping her fingers back around the warm mug.
The druid nodded back, satisfied. “I am going to go continue my rounds; I should be by again in an hour or less. Do not go to sleep yet – you need at least two more mugs of that tea and to stop shivering before you can even think about it.” He pointed at the kettle sitting nearby and creaked out of the tent, his branches catching just enough of the door flaps that Tarquin could be seen outside, making note that she was back and alive.
Aely looked up at Jolstraer, who was, in fact, hovering. She nodded over at a chair on the other side of the tent – “Sit ye down, Jols. I’ll… Ayeh… I’ll mend. Nivvir agin, righ’?”
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