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FireHeart Highlights!

Saturday, July 01, 2006

3.1.5.1. Salvation in the Snow

CHAPTER FIVE

THE HERMIT AND THE WINDWALKER

Salvation in the Snow

Four months have passed since the troll hunt in Lumien Forest. Robert’s party traveled town-to-town and then sailed out from the Island Kingdom of Lore to the Aurelian mainland. Then they took hunting jobs from Feylone Harbor to Concorcea City in the realm of Arcadia. They hunted monsters, escorted travelers and cargos, and carried out rescue missions. Of course rescuing villages or missions from villages provided no or little bounty, but they did it anyway. And the good thing was, they never failed and none of them were seriously injured.

During that time, Christopher’s sword skills have been improved a great deal, thanks to Robert’s coaching. He even can wear a heavy armor and wield his trusty Wyrthal Sword and Raven Shield at the same time. Carolyn also improves her fire and lightning spells to another level: now she can also cast lightning blast, chain lightning, fireball and fire blast spells, although still in a lesser power and effect than master sorceresses’ levels.

It’s now winter, and as the roads are heavily blocked with snow, Robert, Chris and Carolyn lodge themselves in a small guest house in Uvarse, a small town at the Borgian-Arcadian border. They spend their days there with daily training, with Christopher trying to master the Sword Bash and Three-Point Cluster Slash skills Robert taught him. They use wooden swords for spars, and they spar about 10 to 20 times a day as part of the training. Christopher always loses to Robert in sword spars, he never gets into winning and Robert never gives him a chance to win because he thinks by doing so Robert only make Chris weaker and weaker. But as time flies, Chris gradually improves his swordplay and becomes more and more difficult to defeat.

One afternoon, Chris is rather disoriented during his training because of fatigue and bodily pain, with Chiel the Micha flying around him, poking him on the head every now and then to keep Chris awake. He sleepily looks around him. It’s only snow all around him in that field, and finding no excuse whatsoever to rest, Chris sighs peevishly. Suddenly he sees a small figure moving, staggering in the snow.

Chris shouts, ‘Who’s there?’

The small figure doesn’t answer, but collapses. Chris becomes alert, and calls Robert and Carolyn to go with him to where the small figure lays.

‘Rob! Carol! There’s someone there, and I think he needs help! Come, quick!’

Without further ado, they walk towards the small figure and soon find him lying face-down on the snow. He looks like a chubby boy wearing a thick fur cloth and a fur cap. Robert kneels before him and turns him around, and as he sees his face, he speaks in his usual, calm voice.

‘A dwarf. He’s still alive.’

‘He must be lost or something.’

‘Yeah, Carol. Rob, let’s carry him to the lodge. Maybe we can still save him – or at least – his possessions.’

Carolyn yells, ‘Watch your tongue, Chris! Robbing from a dead dwarf is a cursed deed! C’mon, Rob, carry him! Don’t just squat there!’

Robert is deep in his thoughts, but he carries the dwarf anyway with Chris. Chris complaints,

‘Man, this dwarf is real heavy! I wonder what they eat.’

--oOo--

Robert, Christopher and Carolyn arrive in their lodge in no time, with the unconscious dwarf. They lay the dwarf on a mattress in front of the fireplace. As Carolyn removes the dwarf’s hat, she shrieks.

‘Arrgh!’

Robert responds, ‘What’s wrong, Carolyn?’

‘Yeah, It’s like you just saw a ghost!’ Chris adds in.

‘Oh my God, it’s Father Andreas!’ says Carolyn still in surprise.

‘THAT is Andreas?’ says Chris, pointing to the dwarf.

‘Yeah. The one I told you about. Father Andreas Marvellini. He was my mentor in Valanis! When I returned to Arcadia after finished my study in religion and basic sorcery, Father Andreas traveled with me and we parted ways. He said he wanted to travel around the continent and spread Vadis Religion in every place he visits.’

Chris talks with mockery in his tone, ‘This funny-looking dwarf here? Well, that’s new. It’s a dwarf that actually learns religion.’

Before Chris can talk more, Carolyn’s angry face is already close in front of his face. And she yells, ‘You better believe it, wise guy! All you know is dwarves are selfish, proud, greedy and materialistic. But not him! He is kind, gentle, positive-minded… and he’s the one who gave Chiel to me!’

Chris looks back and sees Chiel is already standing near Andreas, and tries to heal him and brings him back to consciousness by transferring energy through Andreas’ head. But Chiel’s powers are only enough to heal minor wounds, so it can’t bring Andreas back to consciousness and full health.

Carolyn warns her partners, ‘Stand aside. There must be more wounds on him. I can see traces of blood on his coat.’ And as she removes Andreas’ coat, she sees Andreas’s shirt are ripped here and there and drenched with blood, but as she removes the shirt, she sees no traces of heavy wounds – only minor wounds and bruises. Then Carolyn applies some healing salve on Andreas’ wounds, and tries to make Andreas conscious again by any means necessary – in vain.

Then, late at night, Chris sleeps soundly, and Robert and Carolyn are almost asleep, too tired to watch over Andreas. Suddenly, Robert hears a weak murmuring voice, ‘Grad… must… return… to Grad…’

Robert and Carolyn get up and try to talk to Andreas.

Robert says, ‘Oh, father, are you awake?’

There’s no answer.

Carolyn says, ‘Father? Ah, he faints again.’

Carolyn sighs, and talks. ‘Well, at least he said something, eh… wha… what was it?’

Robert replies, ‘Grad. He needs to return to Grad Mountain – his home, maybe.’

Carolyn protests, ‘And he wants us to carry him all the way there? No way! He must be fully healed first.’

Robert shakes his head.

‘I think we must. There must be something very important that compels him to go to Grad, more important than his own life.’

‘So, what must we do now?’

‘I think he needs to return to Grad as quickly as possible. Teacher or not, we MUST help him – can’t wait until he wakes up. We’ll escort him to Grad, and we go now.’

‘But – how? You know the snow blocked the roads, right?’

‘We have no other choice. I’ll use my Crescent Firebolt Slash and you use your fire spells to clear the blockage, and it’s a perfect opportunity to hone our skills. It’s the only way to save time – rather than going around in the forests.’

‘Gosh, we better start packing right now. And we’ll have that lazy bloke there carry my teacher,’ says Carolyn while pointing to a bed where Christopher is sleeping peacefully, totally undisturbed by the noises around him.

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