Chapter 20: West
Almonihah woke with a start. It took a moment for his mind to catch up with his body, during which time he frantically tried to figure out why he was in a bed in a somewhat dark room. Then the aches caught up with his consciousness, and he remembered.
He gritted his teeth against a groan as he sat up. As he did so, he saw movement out of the corner of his eye. He forced his eyes to focus, and he could see a young human boy in a simple robe sitting up from where he was slouching in his chair.
“You’re awake!” the boy said, a bit sleepily.
Almonihah grunted in response. Then he remembered something else.
“Zakhin’Dakh!” Almonihah barked. “The griffon. How’s he?”
The boy—a young priest-in-training, Almonihah guessed—had to think for a second, blinking sleepily. Then his eyes got big as he said, “Oooooo… the big one?”
Almonihah nodded impatiently.
“The Judge-priest went to look after him last night. He looked really tired when he came back, but he said he’d be okay…”
He stopped speaking as Almonihah started sitting up all the way up.
“He said you’re not to get out of bed yet!”
The half-dragon grunted, but turned to put his feet on the ground. The acolyte stood and stepped over as if to do something to keep Almonihah from standing, but the half-dragon held up a hand to him.
“’m fine, kid. My friend was worse ‘n me.” And it’s my fault, he added silently.
The acolyte hesitated just long enough for Almonihah to get his feet on the ground and slowly stand up. He took an unsteady step toward the door. The young human finally came to a decision, and came over to stand nervously next to the half-dragon.
“I… can show you the way?” he said, nervously.
Almonihah grunted in response and waved him forward.
He could see, when they left the temple, that it was still early in the morning. No one else was in the temple, and only a couple people were out on the street. One of them peered at Almonihah, then yelled in surprise, “You’re the dragon-slayer!”
Almonihah just grunted in reply and kept walking, keeping focused on staying upright. It was getting a bit better, but he could still tell he was weak.
“Thank you! That dragon… I don’t know what would have happened if it’d stayed around…”the person—a human woman—looked again at Almonihah. “Are you…”
“I’ll be fine,” Almonihah growled.
The woman seemed a bit taken aback, and just watched the pair pass in silence.
It wasn’t long before they reached the inn. Almonihah could hear someone speaking as they approached.
“…you should be in fine shape in a couple of days.”
The tired screech that seemed to be a reply was definitely Zakhin’Dakh’s. Almonihah quickened his pace a bit to reach the entrance to the innyard. The gate opened just as he reached it to reveal the head priest on his way out.
He laughed. “I suppose I should have known you wouldn’t stay laying down. You adventuring types never listen to those kinds of instructions, do you?” He shook his head and waved behind him. “Well, I’m sure your friend… Zakhin’Dakh, you called him, yes? He will be glad to see you. And I’m sure you’ll be glad to know that both he and you should be fine shortly, assuming,” he gave the half-dragon a stern look, “You don’t hurt yourself again.”
“Thanks,” Almonihah mumbled, a bit surprised. He noted briefly that, despite the priest’s cheerful demeanor, he looked very tired. A quick glance over at the acolyte revealed that he seemed rather surprised at the priest’s appearance… or perhaps just that he was here.
“Now, I’m guessing you’d like to be alone with him.” It was more a statement than a question. The priest waved at his acolyte. “Come along, Mekel.”
The young acolyte, Mekel, seemed rather bewildered as he followed the head priest back toward their temple. Almonihah made his way into the innyard. Zakhin’Dakh was sprawled in a pile of hay in front of the stables—which for some reason were presently empty. He perked up when he saw his friend walking in, and started to struggle to his feet.
Almonihah quickly waved him back down. “t’s okay, Zakhin’Dakh. Don’t need t’ get up.”
So, the whole posting every Monday thing didn’t last long… but I’m going to do better this time! Hopefully the break gave me a bit more time to think this section over, because it’s been a bit harder to make this part flow.