Sunday, June 15, 2008

Shannelleran, Day 4

By: Michael Akerman

The Previous Installment

Groaning, Kilrick stared at the cloudless morning sky above. He lay prone, his longsword wedged at angle under his back and above his arm. Trying to stand, he rocked about fruitlessly, unable to find purchase with the sword pinning him as it did. Finally, leaning to his left, he pressed his left arm up from under the sword hilt, leveraging himself into a quick spin that sent him flat on his face. Clamoring to his feet, he ran with his longsword ready to the corner of the square.

There, amidst the rubble that had tumbled down following the onslaught of the golden wave, a young girl lay curled. Her form was perfectly still, a grey pallor cast upon her face. Fearing her dead, Kilrick sheathed his sword and crouched down. Her chest lay still, but her face was locked in a grimace of pain, her brow knit and furrowed. With a sudden sharp inhalation, her expression relaxed and her breathing resumed with a steady, but dangerously weak, pattern.

Looking for wounds on the frail form, Kilrick reached into his belt satchel and groped for his meager bandages and the few herbs he carried with him. Her feet were bare and dirty, the delicate appendages traced with small cuts, but not seriously harmed. Long, pale legs overlapped one another, bending at the knee and tracing up to the hem of a thin cotton nightgown, falling nearly a hand below her hips. These flared out from her thighs and waist, the nightgown following the sinuous curve from her leg and plunging down her right hip to her waist, before climbing back up her torso.

Her arms were splayed in front of her chest, dingy with grime but undamaged. Her long shapely fingers clenched tightly, her close-bitten nails digging into the flesh of her left palm. She was certainly a comely girl, the nightgown draped loosely over her trim abdomen and drawing tight over the twin swells of her breasts. While her body was somewhat more attractive than average, her face was astounding.

Hungrily, Kilrick traced the pale, pure line of her neck to her young face, his eyes widening as they traced the low hillock of her chin and swept along the fragile jaw line to the labyrinthine seashell of her ear. The girl’s full, coral pink lips were parted, their creases glistening slightly. Fine lashes swept from her closed eyes, standing out from the white of her skin. Her forehead was traced with the bangs of her hair, where sandy brown and saffron yellow strands mingled and swept to her shoulders, cut ragged by a blade evidently wielded by the girl herself, judging by the uneven work.

Even during this overly elaborate investigation of the girl’s features, Kilrick noticed only one moderate wound. A long gash had torn the neckline of her gown, leaving a trail of blood slowly staining her chest. Tearing his gaze away from her face, Kilrick rubbed a poultice of herbs on a strip of gauze. Pulling the torn cloth away from the wound, he pressed the strip to her chest.

As he rubbed the bandage in place, the girl gasped suddenly as her eyes snapped open! Her mouth hung agape as she stared at Kilrick, who raised his hands in an apologetic gesture. As he started to explain, she sat up, throwing her left arm protectively across her chest. Kilrick fell backwards, rocking off his feet and splaying prone on the ground, while she pushed herself backwards and sat with her back against the wall and her knees against her chest.

~Michael Akerman