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.
Twilight in the Dragonblight is an ethereal thing, the pale rays of sunlight transforming the sky and the snow into a palette of reds and purples and oranges. The Dragons had beautiful mornings and evenings, not to mention the gorgeous displays of light in the night sky, streaming from the stars.
At least, it’s beautiful when it’s not snowing, and you are inside. That evening, big clumped flakes fell, piling on top of the already deep snows and sticking to everything with soft brushy kisses that quickly turned wet, and then icy cold in the wind.
Aely shivered, fatigue and stillness allowing the chill to seep in under the edges of her armor, her joints protesting from the cold and damp.
She wiggled her fingers – relieved that they still worked, though the work and injuries had taken a toll on her hands. Moving her arm, however, released fresh, nauseating waves of pain and opened the wound yet again, the oozing blood warm against her shoulder for a few seconds, and then turning icy. Unfastening the armor, teeth gritted against the cold, she drug handfuls of snow across the angry wound before attempting to close it again, finding only enough Light to stop the bleeding.
The world reeled. She reined herself back in.
She shoved the last of the bandages into the gash and rewrapped it, fastening the dented shoulderplate back over the lumpy mess. A tattered strip from the bottom of her ruined cloak worked well enough to bind the arm across her chest.
She looked around. A condor blinked at her from its perch on a nearby Dragon skeleton.
A’righ’. Snowin’. Windy. Feckin’ cold. Ye have no food, no water. Y’r out a’ bandages. An’ y’r … alone.
Bertrand’s voice washed through her mind, followed rapidly by Phileas’, and then the screaming and the acrid green gas, and she vomited.
Pull it t’gether, lass – ye cannae think on ‘at now. If ye dinnae fin’ someplace t’ bunker down, or sommat t’ help ye fin’ th’ Black an’ Red, ye’ll be seein’ Bertrand sooner than ye thowt, an’ nae seein’ Phileas.
She stood up, willing herself not to pass out.
Smoke’s there… likely tha’s Angrathar. Nae dinnae think on it. Jus’ walk wi’ that t’ y’r righ’, an’ tha’s likely South – If nowt else, y’ll get closer t’ Wyrmrest an’ migh’ see a Dragon, if ye dinnae get eaten by a Magnataur.
So she walked.
Some minutes passed, maybe half an hour, before the cold started winning. Her cheeks were icy, and then burned, and then stopped feeling altogether. She shook, and the shaking made the exhaustion worse. Then soft on the wind, from far off, she heard her name.
Oi, y’r hearin’ thin’s now, ‘sides th’ cold. Need t’ fin’ a place wi’ shelter, an’ fast, Lass, i’s nae gettin’ any warmer.
And then again, a strong call, this time nearer.
She turned her face into the wind, “OI! Ye lookin’ f’r me, or am I jus’ stark ravin’ mad?” Her voice cracked, and she fell into a fit of coughing, dropping into the snow and clutching her shoulder.
“OI!” the call came again, “Stay thurr!”
Out of the sky behind her, she heard, and then saw the Bronze Drake. It landed with a thump and a snort, and its rider dismounted quickly.
“Aely? Uthah’s Grace, tha bloodah… “ Jolstraer trailed off.
“Jolly? Oi…” She attempted a smile, teeth chattering.
“Laight help us. Le’s git yeh tha ‘ell outta ‘eah.”
She took his outstretched hand, pulling herself out of the snow and leaning on the Drake, shivering. The older Paladin looked her over, his eye taking in the bindings around her arm, and then offered her a leg up. She took it, and he climbed up behind, wrapping her in an extra blanket before kicking the Drake off into the blowing snow.
Aely huddled against him, thankful for the blanket and willing herself to stop shaking. The cold sang gently to her now, lulling her – she almost felt warm, as though she should slip gently into sleep and not worry about anything anymore.
“Lass, dunnae yeh dare fall sleep on mah!” His tone was harsh, but fringed with worry; it frayed at the edges. “Yeh heah? Ah dunnae care ‘ow col’ yeh are.” He shook her gently, and the shaking hurt, and she was cold again. “We’re nae far from camp – jes’ hol’ oan ’till ‘en. Yeh’ll be warm enou’ soon. Laight help us, jes’ hol’ oan.”
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