by thefourpartland

The sixth installment in a new short story, one of three from the upcoming Splintered Lands: Volume One.

Weeks passed as Ellgis and Fryca hid in their hut, nursing their wounds. Ellgis had been struck in the meat of the shoulder as he lay on the skiff, and the impact had cracked the bone. His was the better of the two, for after a week he was all but his old self, although his left arm was close to useless for the time being.

Fryca writhed in her bed as the red heat of infection clawed at her wound. Dipping in and out of fever dreams, she ate little more than thin vegetable broth, for Ellgis would not leave her to hunt meat.

One night Ellgis was forced to carry her into the water of the swamp, holding her beneath the cooling water for hours as marsh creatures circled near, and insects stung at their hands and faces. Fryca shivered in his arms, and Ellgis wept, for she moved not.

A shudder rippled through her, and Fryca turned in his arms, seemingly in a deep sleep and not a faint. Relieved, the technologist carried his partner back to their small hut, washing her and laying her in the bed.

The next morning saw Fryca wan but smiling. “Food? I’m ravenous!”

Ellgis wept as he pulled her into his arms, and the two stayed like that for a time. He then headed into the swamp, lines trailing from the skiff while he hunted with a spear. That night they roasted fish over a small flame, and had their first meat since Fryca had gone to rescue her partner.

“The Knights know we’re in here, and they’re going to come after us.”

“Of course. So we go after them instead.”

Ellgis blinked. “We do what?”

“We go after them.” Fryca gestured at the marsh about them. “You want to live in here for the rest of your days? Our experiments fail because of the damp, we have little more than a rotted hut and some paper, and we eat swamp grass and small animals.”

“Fryca, they’re an organization and an army. We’re two jumped up peasants with some smarts.”

“And that organization and army is on another continent with plenty of troubles of its own. You think they sent twelve Knights here because they thought it was enough, or because that was all they could spare? I’m going to bet on the second.”

“And the townsfolk? Whose side will they be on? They’re afraid of the Knights, and have tried to turn us in multiple times.”

“So we start small. We help out a village, and begin slowly picking off Knights.”

Ellgis shook his head. “That won’t work. If we pick them off slowly, they can report. We’ll need to get them all in the same day.”

“Now you’re getting ambitious. I like that.” Fryca chuckled. “We’ll need time, tools, and quiet. I think we move north for a time, find a village beyond the range of this set of Knights. They won’t have heard of us, and if we’re smart, we can prepare.”

Her partner stared upwards for a moment, thoughts racing. “You know… if we do this right, we keep the Knights out, we might be able to found a technologist republic. The Knights are far enough away we can do it without information slipping out for a while.”

“You really are getting ambitious. Now we have work to do.” Fryca struggled to her feet, hand on Ellgis’ shoulder.

Together they walked into the hut, to heal and to plan.


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