This chapter corresponds with Chapter 24 - Interrogation, of WTWFTD. (A note for those of you who haven't seen the note I just published in WTWFTD: Vixen did not kill Frostblade; she left him tied up to die.)
Characters appearing in this chapter:
Kolvar (elf) ~ Fangirling
Kolvar had only spent a few minutes scavenging for food, but already the angel had drifted once more into oblivion. His eyes fluttered as Kolvar deposited the small bundle of berries before him.
"I'll hunt later," he said. "When you're well enough to run. If I light a fire to cook meat on, somebody could find us."
Frostblade didn't seem to hear him as he reached for the berries, his slender fingers snatching them up with desperate hunger. He paused when he had devoured at least half of them. "You don't look so great yourself. Eat something."
Reluctantly, Kolvar took a few of them, savouring the burst of flavour in his mouth before offering the rest to Frostblade. He did not hesitate.
"How are you feeling?"
"That isn't helpful," Kolvar sighed, tilting his head and studying Frostblade more closely.
"Well, I am." How did he manage to keep the pain from his voice? How much had he endured? "Though if you insist, I could probably do with a little more salve."
Kolvar nodded, fetching it instantly and kneeling beside the angel. He seemed so small beside him - and frail. Worryingly frail. Even so, his eyes still gleamed with the cold ruthlessness of a warrior. Nothing could break him: not pain, not hunger, not desperation.
As Kolvar dipped his fingers into the pot of salve and rubbed it as softly as he could into the angel's wounds, he could feel his eyes on him, watching him as though waiting for him to make a mistake. Almost like things had been before, when Frostblade was still teaching him how to survive. Only this time, it was real - and every mistake Kolvar could make would hurt Frostblade.
"You can show that you're feeling pain, you know," he found himself saying, glancing up for a moment to meet Frostblade's expressionless face.
"Or," the angel said slowly, "I could not. I refuse to show weakness."
"You've been tied up for gods know how long, with painful wounds, deprived of food or water. I think you've got a right to show pain."
"Isn't it bad enough that somebody has seen me like this?" Frostblade hissed, and for a moment there was bitterness in his voice. He mastered it quickly as he added, "Besides, it could be worse."
Even so, Kolvar noticed the angel's lip curling slightly as he continued to apply the salve - a sign that he was relaxing, if only a little.
"Are we going to go after the dwarf?"
"We? Don't you have other things to be doing?"
Kolvar didn't know why that comment stung, but even so he managed to force the hints of a smile onto his lips. "Trying to get rid of me already?"
Frostblade snorted incredulously. "What, after you helped me out? Not likely." He paused to bite his tongue as Kolvar rubbed some of the salve into a gash that stretched across his wing. "No. I just thought you'd have other assignments."
Shrugging loosely, Kolvar recapped the vial of salve, sliding it back into the medical bag and handing Frostblade the flask of water. "They're not important."
"More important than me."
Kolvar frowned. "Of course not."
Frostblade sighed deeply, raising his head to study him. "Mission first, sentimentality last," he scolded. "Did you remember nothing I taught you?"
"There can be exceptions. Besides, you evaded the question," Kolvar pointed out, ignoring the sceptical look Frostblade was sending him.
"No. It'd be pointless."
"I took her brother, she said. We're even. No point in seeking her out if I don't need her dead. It would be nice to kill her, but really? I don't need to, Kolvar. Necessity should dominate your list of targets."
Kolvar felt almost like he had when Frostblade had first started teaching him - completely outspoken and somewhat shamed, and yet he couldn't fight away the anger that somebody had hurt Frostblade so much, that they had reduced him to this. But he didn't voice the anger. Instead, he just said, "I suppose," and withdrew from the conversation.
A strangely awkward silence hung between them for a while, before Frostblade asked, "Why were you even here in the first place?"
"Because I wanted to check if you were okay," Kolvar replied. Should it not be obvious? Could Frostblade not see that even if heartlessness was one of his primary values, Kolvar owed him his life?
"That's a stupid reason to come back," Frostblade said, but on his lips played a small smile. Amusement? "But I suppose I should be thankful for it, since it prevented my death. What was your motive?"
Kolvar raised an eyebrow. "Do I need one?"
"Probably." He wrinkled his nose in disgust. "Saved by sentimentality. Pathetic."
Deciding that further conversation would be pointless when Frostblade was in such a pessimistic mood, Kolvar shrugged. "Focus on that later. For now, concentrate on regaining your strength."
Frostblade closed his eyes and rested his head on the tree he was leaning against. "Whatever."
Kolvar did not miss the smile of amusement that played on his lips as he drifted into sleep, and nor did he miss the ease at which the angel spoke. It touched him with an unfamiliar warmth, and after wondering at it, Kolvar decided that he liked it.