of the Last God
(Book II of the Oerth Cycle)
(C) 2000 BY
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O'dmemet stepped quietly into the pavilion-tent Xaa had provided, careful to not let any flies in as he closed the tent-flap behind him. "How is he?" he asked, his face a mask of concern.
Hragh shook his head. "Very weak, my lord. I would say that if it had not been for the mare, Amani, he would be dead already."
"Her? How did she help? With that little stick of hers?"
"No, my lord. The Little One, Farrah, spoke for her. She can apparently feel what is beneath the flesh when she passes her hoof over it and concentrates. She was able to tell that his left lung had collapsed, and his chest was filling with blood. With her help, I managed to drain the blood from his chest, and I believe I have managed to re-inflate his lung."
O'dmemet looked past Hragh to where Byarl lay. Byarl lay quietly, his eyes closed, only the slight movement of his breathing betraying the fact that he was still alive. O'dmemet sighed at the sight of Byarl, his heart moved. The brave and noble mustie-leader now looked so terribly tiny and frail, now. "How long before he can travel?"
"At least three days, my lord, and then only slowly."
"But he will live?"
Hragh nodded tentatively. "There is a good chance, my lord. They may be as small as a mus-child, but they are very, very tough. I've applied bloodmoss to the wound, and with luck, that will stop any infections. So long as luck holds and the wound does not become infected, I think he may live. However, it is too early to tell, my lord."
O'dmemet nodded, and bowed to Hragh. Hragh bowed in return, then turned and stepped back to Byarl's unconscious form as O'dmemet walked out of the pavilion. It was not unusual for Hragh, or any other healer, to give a tentative prognosis with a wound of this severity. What would have been a small, possibly life-threatening wound on a mus was an enormous, mortal wound on the tiny body of a mustie. It was miracle enough that Byarl still lived.
O'dmemet turned to the small gathering of musties who knelt outside the pavilion, their little paws clasped together, praying to the spirits of the forest. Merle, who had removed her helmet, looked up to him. "How is he, Lord O'dmemet?" she asked. The other musties looked up hopefully.
"Hragh says he may live, Lady Merle, but it is too early to tell," O'dmemet said trying to be gentle.
"What did he say, Merle?" Ayori and several others chorused at once.
"He said the chief may live, but it's too soon to tell," Merle replied glumly. Bessie sniffled sadly, and all the other musties sighed.
"Hragh also said that Amani was helpful - and that perhaps, without her help, Great Chief Byarl would already be dead," O'dmemet offered.
The musties simply nodded, saying nothing, though Ayori made a moue'. After a moment, Merle looked around. "Where is Amani, Lord O'dmemet?"
"With the Little One, Farrah, Lady Merle."
"Oh," Merle replied, and translated to the rest of the musties. Merle knew that Farrah couldn't wait any longer. She wanted to see if her father was alright. In the end, Merle couldn't really blame her - though she wondered why Amani would want to go along.
Just at that moment, Hragh stepped out of the pavilion. Merle looked up. "Can we go in now, Hragh?"
Hragh nodded. "You may, my lady - but speak softly, and do not wake him. I must attend to the other wounded, now," he replied, and bowed to Merle.
Merle stood and bowed to Hragh, and the other musties followed suit. Hragh then bowed to O'dmemet. After he and O'dmemet had exchanged a polite bow, Hragh walked off to the other tents where the more seriously wounded mus were. Merle and the other musties bowed briefly to Lord O'dmemet, then entered the tent quietly.
O'dmemet looked after them as they disappeared into the pavilion, and all he could think was how what Lord Xaa had told him nearly two years ago was still correct - the musties were true warriors. The way Merle had leaped onto the back of the cat that attacked Byarl had amazed and impressed the mus, and the coordinated attack on it by all the musties was even more impressive. They were small, yes - but they were not weak. No, they had the hearts of mus, and the souls of true warriors.
'Yet, they are so much more,' O'dmemet thought. Lady Merle was, in many ways, like a charming, sweet little forest-sprite, come to live among the mus because of her love for Lord Xaa. At the same time, she was also a brave warrior, and the most brilliant inventor in all the southlands - perhaps in all the world. The more scrolls and books the mus gave her to study, the more she discovered. The rest of the musties seemed equally gifted. They learned rapidly, mastering the skills of smithcraft and weaving and literally any other skill they were taught in a fraction of the time one might expect them to. And yet, all the while, they treated each knew skill as just another game they played among themselves in their peaceful little forest.
'Your people are, indeed,
proper and fitting allies of our people, Lady Merle,' O'dmemet
thought at the pavilion, and bowed his head for a moment, praying
to the spirits of his ancestors to help Byarl recover.
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