Not Alone

Title: Not Alone
Time Period: May, 129 A.E.
Characters Appearing:

Summary: Rhagfyr and Carys discover one another unexpectedly.

She wills her shaking hands to still long enough to aim and shoot; it’s not a hard shot, shooting down into the throng of her attackers. They don’t have the humanity left in them to try to evade; there is no gasp of shock or horror from the others when her arrow strikes true, right into the throat of her target. The yellow-eyed things do not even turn to watch the man drop, clutching at his neck as it seeps a crimson stain into the dust. The others — the Husks, as she’s come to call them — continue to try to find purchase on the wall of the building she perches on top of — eventually one of them might wander off and find an easier route up onto the roof where Carys is stranded.

There are corpses littered in front of the building, but still twelve remain alive. The others have been shot by arrows and bullets alike. One in particular catches her gaze — a young man, face down in a pool of blood. He’d taken her last bullet, just as the man she just killed claimed her last arrow. Carys is out of ammunition and hope. She inches back from the roof’s edge to where she can still see them. Setting the useless bow aside, her arms wrap around her knees and she stares downward. There is nothing she can do until the Husks are gone — and she knows from experience that they won’t leave until they’ve caught their prey.

With the sun hanging low, it’s easy to miss the form of Môr-leidr Bach. He and his pet mage had been hoping for an easy trip into this settlement, drawn by a promise of food and some more blankets to provide some comfort, albeit one tiny and fragile enough to be insignificant given the state of the once fair island. The white-tailed eagle circles above Carys’ fortress — or is it a prison. Easy supplies this isn’t, but the message through the bond of what’s been found in place is far more valuable, spurring Rhagfyr into a jog which, as his mind catches up with the possibilities, becomes a sprint.

If he’d not been noticed before, the swoop down past the Husks draws their attention, even if the girl remains oblivious. Snatching a spent arrow from the ground, he arcs back upwards to circle again before alighting on the wall in front of Carys. A tiny lift of that white-feathered head as the arrow clatters down in front of her, as though to say ‘Sut Mae? Chin up, lass.’. A quiet caw, almost amused before hopping and turning to venture forth and retrieve another.

A dirty and tear-streaked face turns to the eagle; brows knit together in confusion as her bloody hand reaches for the arrow. “Thank you,” she says, a lilt on the last syllable that makes it rather inquisitive. The arrow is notched into place, and she turns to study the horde below. One of the Husks is moving away from the wall to the side yard of the house she sits on — which is precisely where she clambered up this particular building with the hell of a trellis. Setting her sights on him, she lets the arrow fly until it pierces his back.

By the time that arrow finds a new home, Little Pirate has already descended back to the crumbling stonework and sits there expectantly with another in his beak. The posture of his head implying a mild boredom at having to wait for her to pick a target and fire. Take your time. I’m sure there’ll be other damsels for you to save, somewhere. Although they might be dead too if you keep this pace.

There’s a mental snort in reply from Rhagfyr as he bounds onwards, his feet having gained that curious interface between flesh and air that lets them find purchase where there is none. A leg flicks out to the side, hefting his tired and stressed form up to catch a hand on the roof of another building. The adrenaline and that hope, that there’s someone still alive, keep him moving up and onwards with his coat trailing out behind. Now up on high ground, he slips his militia issued pistol out to track for targets while striding forward, coming into view of the scene. The reality, the sudden certain knowledge and visual confirmation that he’s not alone in all this is staggering, making him stop for the briefest of seconds before his brain (and familiar) scream MOVE. A hop to the next roof finds a firing angle to pop off a shot, taking one of the Eyes (as he calls them) in the leg and sending it a tumbling.

The gunshot and the sight a split-second later of one of her attackers suddenly collapsing from a wound she didn’t inflict has Carys wheeling around to find the source; she’s wild-eyed as she scrambles to her feet, forgetting — for the moment — the things that have her “treed” so to speak. There is nothing in the world but him in her gaze; her lips part and she tries to speak but nothing comes out.

As if the connection is slowly being made in her mind, Carys turns to look at the eagle; seeing him with the arrow in beak sets her back into motion. It’s taken gently, and she turns back to the maddening crowd, notching the arrow, aiming and shooting all in a second’s time, and another falls dead.

That look is a mixed bag; on the one hand, it’s so very inspiring to be noticed while on the other it’s also terribly distracting. While he’ll never admit it, it’s luck, more than judgment that has him tumbling off the roof with a misstep and just so happening to land in a cart full of hay, rolling at an angle so he bursts out in a shower of stalks with gun blazing. Being down on the street with the remaining once-villagers does not seem the wisest of plans, as noted by the Very slick. from Rhagfyr’s eternal heckler.

The monstrosities are torn, with some trying to climb on their downed fellows to reach the archer while others peel off toward the more accessible prey. “Come on then, fwcars.” he calls out, trying to draw their ire even as he’s backpedaling and looking for a route that will take him back upwards. Another shot, easier at close range and taking out one with a bloody hole in the chest. Then he spots the firewood pile, hopping to the rickety steps and light footing it upwards which still results in a scattering of the wooden chunks behind him before that ungainly leap onto the building adjacent to Carys’s. Stopping to look at her again seems foolish, but he does it anyway. A person and A woman. All the excitement and elation and nervousness bubble up, stripping away what he should be feeling - fear, self-preservation, survival instincts. “Hang in there.” he offers, helpfully, as though she has other options.

Her eyes wide at the heroics — or what she assumes to be, even if it were really just falling with style — Carys gives a little nod, then turns to the eagle. No more arrows await her though, so there’s not much she can do but cheerlead at this point.

“Be careful,” she offers the strange man on the adjacent roof; her voice is a little husky for want of use, but it feels good to talk to a person. The eagle isn’t the first creature she’s spoken to in the several weeks alone since the curse hit the island. It is the first that understood her, it seems.

Now there’s a conundrum, directly in opposition to the instruction given by Carys. The flat roof of his current building has no connection to her perch and the distance is significant. Jumping around is still relatively new in terms of using magic to aid him and this particular leap is going to be an uncertain one. There’s no choice in taking a safer option and delaying his heroism now though, it would be too much for his pride. The brave face is summoned up, flashing teeth in a wide smile that lights up his dirt and blood stained face. The wind in from the sea whips his coat about in a dramatic manner as events further conspire to make him look stylish while fumbling through this whole thing.

You are such a drama queen. Supplies Little Pirate, unhelpfully. That is, after he gives Carys the look suggestion that he is most certainly not her bitch and that the expectant look will get her nowhere. If you face plant, this one’s going to be scarred for life. However much longer that is.

Shhhh. An angry little sound, Rhagfyr backs up as far as he’s able while leaning just enough to pull of another shot on the Husks below. Crunch time. Do or die. First impressions count. All sorts of cliches run through his mind before he puts his best foot forward and sprints to the edge.


I can’t watch this.

It sounds painful, that smack against the wall, but both his arms latch over the edge of it, allowing him to scramble upwards and just barely avoid having his leg bitten off.

“Don’t- “Carys covers her eyes at the last second, then peeks through when she doesn’t hear the anticipated cry of pain. “You’re mad!” she cries, but there’s delight and mirth in her voice as she hurries toward him — perhaps to fling herself into his arms and call him her hero?

But Carys stops short and shoulders her bow before holding one hand out. “Do you have another gun? There’s a few more yet, and I’d rather not spend the night on the roof. It looks like rain, doesn’t it?” Golden-green eyes glance up at the sky as if for confirmation — it’s an odd series of phrases, but it’s been a while since she’s had someone to talk to.

Scrambling up, Rhagfyr’s running on adrenaline and the unexpected joy of being alive — something he’d lost entirely over the last few painful weeks. He should likely say something at this juncture. Something charming, witty, humorous to follow on from her comment and make it a comedy moment that they will some day chortle about. It’s all a bit much though and he’s got nothing. For a second or two, it seems as though he’s just going to remain dumb but then it all comes out as he steps in against her and plants a hard kiss against her lips.

It doesn’t last long, since he’s keenly aware of the sounds of the Husks below and the facepalm that’s being broadcast over the empathic link with Môr-leidr Bach. His gun is pressed into her hand and he draws his sword. “Hi.” Another smile, realizing that this is a lackluster greeting after the dramatics that have led to this point. It’s covered by a turn away from her back to the edge where one of the possessed has begun to clamber up and with a single stroke, he removes its head, further staining the stone with blood.

The kiss strikes her dumb as well; she stands there looking a bit lost, and it’s only a long moment after his single-syllable greeting that she echoes it in kind. His slicing off the head of one of the cursed islanders spurs her back into action, and once more she moves toward the edge of the roof. Crouching, she takes aim to shoot the remaining Husks — her shot is surpisingly good; she only wastes one bullet, which gets a swear and an exasperated shake of her curls.

Unceremoniously, she falls back onto her rear, once it’s all done, and begins to shake. Arms wrap around herself and she buries her face against her knees.

When the last one goes down, Rhagfyr sucks in a breath, teetering on the edge of the building as though he’s used up all his fight, plunged through daring and bravery to stupidity and exhaustion. Môr-leidr Bach has been sitting, watching the whole affair with idle curiosity and one would think that it was just another boring day on the farm in his mind from the posture.

Stupid stupid stupid. But alive! Rhagfyr’s mind goes over the last ten minutes again in a quick flurry of images, finally able to take a moment to reflect and reeling in shock. Only narrowly does he avoid just dropping the sword and puddling on the ground in a boneless heap, but he so wants to. That would be such an impressive end to your idiotic heroics, wouldn’t it? That earns the eagle a glare, but also refocuses him on the fact that he’s accomplished his goal and turning, he sets down his blade carefully and drapes an arm over Carys’ shoulders. “You’re okay.” he assures, “They’re gone.” Dead. He leaves off the ‘for now’.

Gone. And one was her brother — but her brother had been gone long, long ago, before she killed this thing that’s taken over his body. She nods once and takes a long, shuddery breath before bringing her tear-stained face up to look at him.

“I’m not alone,” she whispers, the most amazing miracle of the day — after the fact she’s still alive. One hand, shaky once more and bruised and bloodied where she’d been grabbed and clawed, comes to his face to touch it, as if to check he’s not a mirage. “Thank you.”

The touch, along with that initial sentiment bring forward another smile. It’s such an unfamiliar expression, given all that has happened, prompting an ache in the cheeks. A finger pulls matted hair away from her face, “You’re not alone.” I’m not alone. One and the same. “Nor will you be, ever again.” That’s a promise. Easily made when it’s possible that she may well be the only other person he will encounter, yet no less binding for the quickness with which it’s given.

Rhagfyr doesn’t disappear at the contact, still there, still catching his breath, still amazed at this turn of events. While I hate to interrupt this touching moment… The eagle begins, gaining a quick response of No, you don’t.. A flap of wings as he moves to the opposite side, checking for incoming. Gunshots do travel quite a distance, you know. It is a sobering truth, one that requires action. Leaving her face, his gaze moves over her body, “Are you hurt?”

Her bare arms are clawed and bloodied and bruised, but nothing seems broken. She shakes her head and gets to her feet. His gun is handed back to him, a smile offered to him as a tacit thanks — though not just for the weapon.

“We should move, find shelter before it’s dark. I have a hiding place nearby.” Carys moves quickly to the end of the roof near the trellis to scurry down, jumping the last few feet and giving the dead on the ground a wide berth.

No argument there. Rhagfyr takes up his sword, flicking away the residue of combat before sheathing it and accepting the gun back. Hastily he reloads, having learned to avoid being caught flat footed these days. Have a look, see if you can see any more coming, would you? The suddenly weary mental tone encourages Little Pirate to keep snide remarks to himself as he dives off the wall and spirals up into the sky, leaving the man to watch this unexpected girl take off.

There’s that brief period, alone on the roof where he can let the mask drop, allow his turbulent emotions to show themselves on his features and heft out a sigh. Then, exerting his will, he brings the Air back to his feet and hops off the building. Luck doesn’t last forever and this maneuver has him landing awkwardly, a foot on the head of one of the Husks he’d decapitated resulting in him tumbling to the ground in a heap. Hurriedly he stands, adopting the classic ‘act like nothing happened’ pose while striding after Carys, “Sounds like a plan. Tomorrow, I can take you to my island, if you want.” Yeah, that’s right. He has an island. Trying to be bold in the wake of his mishap.

With a shy glance his way, Carys nods, moving to the middle of the street where her bag had been dropped in her flight from the Husks. She stoops to pick it up, pulling it over one shoulder, then moving to an alley. “This way,” she says over her shoulder. “We can eat and compare stories.”

One last glance is given to the pile of dead in the distance; a shaky breath is taken, and she turns away, forging the path ahead.

A rumbling in the stomach meets the mention of eating, since that had been a part of his original purpose in braving the town in the first place. Rhagfyr turns, walking backwards away from the scene, paranoid that these unnatural things will suddenly rise again and the struggle will commence once more. They remain there, dead and spilling their last to the dirt, but it still takes a while before he’s able to spin back around and hurry to catch up. Better late than never, “Rhagfyr Llyw, by the way.” The smile now is tired, less shiny but no less genuine for it.

Nothing nearby, that I can see. The eagle makes lazy progress over the settlement, up high but remaining mostly over the pair as they travel on to the hiding place. Rhagfyr has few words to reply with at the moment, responding with the mental equivalent of a tired nod.

“Carys Wynn,” she murmurs over her shoulder, making an intricate path that none of the mindless Husks would be able to deliberately follow until she comes to a small mercantile with a good view of the town’s square from its large windows.

“Home sweet home, for the past week, anyway,” she gestures. “I remember you. You’ve been in my father’s shop with yours.” It’s hard not to know one another at least by sight in such a small village as their hometown to the south.

She drops her belongings on a counter top and moves to a cupboard to pull down what’s left of the food — some canned fruit and dried meat are brought out. “I was going to hunt when I got ambushed. Sorry there’s nothing fresh. I wasn’t… expecting company.”

Right, now the recognition comes through. It’s not quite so easy when they’re both covered in grime and blood but there’s a well hidden sheepish look at not having clocked her sooner. Rhagfyr looks about the house with mixed emotions; after getting accustomed to his lean-to on the island it is good to be in a house again, but there’s an unsettling feeling as though anything could be sneaking up on them this close to civilization (or what now passes for it).

“The gunsmith.” Brain works, truly it does. Everything falls into place. He can likely be excused for being frazzled at this point, getting used to talking and interacting with another person when it all feels so unreal. “Anything will do, really.” he waves off the apology, moving to sit on an actual chair! The way his eyes close for a second makes it plain that comfort has been missed. Relaxing is another confusing bundle of contrasts, allowing his mind to wander through the good and the bad. Of the latter there’s an abundance, but now, for the first time in weeks, there’s counterpoint. He watches her, fascinated by her very existence, and grateful. “Were you there?” When it happened.

A bottle of wine is pulled from another cupboard and she comes to sit beside him. Her eyes drop and she busies herself with opening cans and divying up the food not-quite evenly between them — he gets a larger share.

“Hunting. They didn’t know I had gone. So they didn’t wait, I guess.” That’s an optimistic view of the matter — she doesn’t know that any of them made it to safety when the curse turned half of their village into the ravening horde. What Carys does know is that her mother and two brothers are dead — and one by her hand, as of an hour ago.

“I don’t know what happened.” Her voice threatens tears in its tremulousness and huskiness. “I thought I was the only one who survived.” Because those who had turned into the Husks aren’t truly alive.

While he may not have much experience in dealing with emotional women, Rhagfyr does have a whole lot of empathy for her situation, prompting him to reach out and rest a hand upon her arm in a gesture of support.

“Me too.” he allows, thoughts racing as he considers his own guilt — foolish as it may be — at having skipped town, and duty to survive. There’s the sharper pain too, picturing once more his father galloping past to freedom; well, he imagines it to be freedom, despite the evidence to the contrary as it alleviates the suffering, just a fraction.

“I was off on patrol, with the militia.” The words catch, the topic making the lie unpalatable and he pauses to give a grateful nod before taking some food, enjoying the distraction provided. “Except I skipped out on that too and went sailing with Rhys Jones.” It might be the only time he’ll ever admit this to anyone. Maybe if he had been patrolling, he could’ve stopped it. Best not to think such things. “When I got back, things had gotten crazy and half the town had turned to Eyes and were killing the other half.” Like his mother. He turns from her, staring toward the window and lapsing into silence.

“Eyes,” she repeats, with a smile his way. “I call them Husks. Whatever it is — they aren’t our friends or family anymore.” There’s a thick swallow as Carys studies the table, then pours the wine into two glasses — it may not be wise, but she is generous in the pouring.

She lifts her glass and tips it toward him in a toast of sorts. “To survival,” she whispers. “At least another day, thanks to you.”

There’s more than one kind of survival. Rhagfyr may have supplied the physical continuance, but there’s a glimpse of something in his eyes when he turns his gaze back to her and accepts the wine that suggests she’s responsible for his mental continuity. He matches her toast and drinks deeply, sighing out a breath afterwards. “To survival.” he repeats, pushing down that clawing, numb feeling for now and focusing on the moment at hand.