7. 5 - Extract from the Diary of Captain Thomas Rogue
Time is only a small factor in what ages a person.
A man who turns fifty may not have a single grey hair adorning his head, yet a man in his ripe twenties may have dulled silver covering every inch of his scalp.
What turns our hairs grey?
What brings out lines in our faces?
What weakens our bones?
It is not time alone.
Pain. Sorrow. Anguish. Strife.
Life itself - these are the things that age a man.
It's only natural that, to remove that age, the healing water would make you suffer through all of that and more all over again - in a single moment of complete madness.
But what brought me back: the only thing that had paused my age.
“N-o!” I screamed before I could stop myself, jumping into the water and catching her dead-weight body. I felt the warm liquid of her life cover my hands in red, “No! No...” I looked at the man who had skewered her and bared my teeth. I set Midnight down gently and slashed at him. He backed away, defenceless - his weapon still buried in my wife's body. I sheathed my sword and ran at him - grasping his shoulders, digging my fingernails onto his flesh and screaming, “I will kill ye! And then I will drag ye out o' bloody Hell, and kill ye again!” I pinned him against a tree, “You,” I head-butted him, “goddamn,” another crunch as my forehead met his nose, “bloody,” he howled each time my head crashed into his, “pillock, you!”
He went limp and I spat on his unconscious, possibly-dead form, before turning right around and heading back to Midnight.
I dropped to my knees and brushed her hair back. I cursed under my breath and slowly - knowing what I had to do. I grasped the shaft of the spear, closed my eyes to focus. The shout Midnight gave when I ripped the thing out of her made me want to hit myself.
More blood, oh God, more of her blood...
I then raised Midnight from the ground and took her to the pool. Her unmoving figure spasmed when it touched the surface of the water - like a current was running through her, like she was being touched by lightening. I saw her blood drip into the water and curl like red smoke - but it did not leave her side or mingle with the rest of the pool. It stayed around her. She began to shiver, and she muttered many protestations.
“Shh,” I tried to soothe her, brushing my lips against her forehead, “Shh, I'm sorry. But this will help.”
“No... No, Thomas, stop...” she murmured.
“It's the only way.”
I dropped her into the pool and she screamed and writhed in agony - like fire had consumed her. The water splashed outwards as she kicked and flailed in my grasp - the water entering her system and healing her of her wounds but also: of age. Her torn voice cut through my brain like a saw, filling every nerve and node with an ache that I can't quite describe. Every urge, every sense pleaded me to take her out of the water, to quieten her - but I knew this had to be done, I had to bear this wailing and crying so she might survive. She had to heal.
And she did.
I watched the deep, fatal wound close up - the bone reconstructing, the flesh and sinew knitting itself back together, the blood flowing back into her body.
She stopped screaming eventually.
When she felt she could breathe again, Midnight shivered, hauled herself up and clung to my neck and shoulders.
“And ye were worried I'd die,” I whispered to her.
“Thomas, just...” she murmured back, her voice painfully hoarse, “just...”
“I know,” I said softly, carrying her out of the pool to solid ground. I put her down and she stood on her own.
Midnight couldn't look at me.
“Don't forget to get some of that for Kennedy,” she sniffed, saying this in a small voice.
I nodded, “Alright,” and emptied out my water-skin to refill it with water from the Fountain of Youth.
Midnight picked up her sword and we both slunk out of the tribal territory as quietly as we could - avoiding the other warriors and staying well-hidden in the brush.