Chapter 44: Miss me Not



Dia didn’t know the last time that she had thought about him. It had started so easily. He had just been a boy being carted off to war. She and Clide had simply been frightening the soldiers. They had thought to play a secret little part in helping to end a war they had heard of, but had little to do with the forest they lived in.

A crack like the sound of a branch breaking came as a warning. Dia lifted her head expecting to see Clide. The dragon could never keep quiet, but there was the curve of a horses leg, soft and brown, and the head of a gryphon buried into the beasts belly. A gleaming sword was still stuck into the horses side from when it had fell in battle. The crack had been the sound of a gryphon snapping one of the horses ribs as it dug for meat. The cat-like creature pulled its bloody beak from the carcass and took in the sight of her with a large yellow eye. Then it slowly moved off, not wanting to be around her, still a proud creature through and through.

Dia must had died again and now her right hand that still gripped the boost staff was pinned under the side of the dead horse. She could feel the wood of the staff held solidly in her hand and could move her wrist to little effect. Dia rotated her shoulders to get a better sense of her body’s condition, stretched her stiff legs, and placed her free right hand on the side of the horse for leverage. She pulled as hard as she dared, her caught arm painfully stretching and scratching against the ground yet barely able to move from under the weight. She ended her efforts with little result and an aching arm that felt like it might simply break under the pressure, and likely had before she died.

“Shit,” she cursed. “Uhh…

Dia tried to push the weight off instead, to even less results, and hit her fist into the horses thick hide.

“I don’t care what Clide is thinking,” she declared. “ The next time I get the idea to cross a battlefield, Clide’s flying me. And when I see that idiot Keenin then we will use our amazing powers to end all the wars. This is the most stupid thing.”

A crow cawed overhead, making Dia sharply aware of how quiet and deserted the field had become. The afternoon sun was filtering its way down through the dust and fog. Dia couldn’t be sure of how far she had come, but it had been dark when she left.

With her free hand she pushed back the grey hood of a cloak she had stolen on the way over to blend in. She no longer needed stealth, and the hood shaded her view. The large body of the horse also blocked a portion of her sight, but she tilted her head and stretched her neck enough to see beyond.  

The field was indeed empty, littered only with lost weapons, feasting crows, and corpses. There, a few meters away, close enough that she could imagine touching them were tents flying the black banners of the Red Heart Army. She could watch the soldiers roaming around, unaware of her spying eyes. She had to get free of this horse and find Keenin. What if he walked by and didn’t see her?

With renewed energy Dia pulled and grit her teeth against the pain. Then an idea made her stop. Her eyes fixed on the sword stuck into the belly of the horse. She tried to get a grip on the blade and pull it free, her struggles going unnoticed to those around her. Her fingers slipped against the smooth edge and when she wrapped her hand around the edge all she managed to do was to cut herself before pulling away.

If Tess was around the ghost might have joked about contracting funny diseases, but the girl had vanished. Moving corpses wandered past, unhelpful, and seemingly oblivious to her presence. She should have been grateful to be left untouched, yet they made her feel unreal. Dia paused to observe them. This close she could see the essence of souls woven through the rotted flesh like stitches in a straw doll. A crow landed atop the horse and cawed at her to hurry up or die.

“Dammit!” she yelled at everyone and no one.

It was hard enough to get through this without some stupid dead weight trapping her here.

“Just go through the battle Dia,” she mumbled. “What  a great idea!”

She glared at the other crows, one of which scratched at a shiny coin on the ground. Her tension eased as she realized that might work. It would take time, but she could dig around her arm until there was a pocket large enough to slip out. She took hold of a scrap of metal and began scraping away the dirt.

“Keenin you better have made it this far,” she muttered. 

The sound of boots crunching over the uneven ground made her still. Dia turned her head around to see a man that had quietly approached her. He had sandy hair, wore a comfortable short grey tunic, copper-tinted pants, and tall leather boots partly plated in steel. There was no weapon on his person.

“Who would you be?” he asked simply curious.

The man seemed too at ease for a guy walking a field of dead with no protection.

“A lady,” Dia said warily.

He gave a slight smile. 

“I heard you say a name,” the man said. “It looks like you came quite far, Dia I think it was, but you should go home. The person you want isn’t going anywhere.”

Dia had come far. And she had not come for some proud person to tell her otherwise.

“You,” Dia said. “You’re Iscara.”

No one else here would have such confidence or know what she was talking about from overhearing a single name.

“Did…did Keenin mention me?”

Had he really been thinking about her.

“No. Rumors, I’m afraid. Knowing the friends and history of my comrades is my hobby. And since the dragon was out where I could see him I have been very curious as to your whereabouts.”

“I need to see him,” Dia stated.

She couldn’t let this person manipulate everything. 

“No,” Rumin said.

Dia felt the weight lifting from her arm and looked over to see two undead corpses lifting it off. They tossed it aside like a sack of flower and wandered off.

“You go back to wherever you call home. Stubborn people like you only cause more harm.”

Dia tightened her grip on the boost staff with her bruised arm. He deserved a good hit for daring to get rid of her. Just because he thought she wasn’t needed or couldn’t be controlled didn’t give him the right to stop her here. Iscara’s eyes shifted to the staff she held.

“Is that…my brother’s staff,” he said.


“I refer to that unsightly piece of wood,” he pointed to the staff. 

She pulled it closer to herself in protection.

“Well I…

She wasn’t ready for this. This was not why she had come at all.

“You’re right. Where are my manners,” Iscara said. “Let’s have one more talk with Keenin. Just so he knows you’re safe. All right.”


Chapter 43: Reminders

Chapter 45: Splinter