His vision blurred, he could barely make out a figure running towards the path. He began to run towards the figure, his focus coming in and out.

He had nearly caught up with the man when the cloaked figure tripped over a fallen tree branch and landed on the forest floor. Cal touched the mans chest with the tip of his sword and leant down to pull his hood off.

It was his groomsman.

Cal stood in shock as he tried to regain his composure. The boy stared back at him, frightened.

"You." He said angrily, "I shall have you killed for this."

The boy whimpered, "I was forced, my Lord!"

"By whom?"

The boy began to cry, "I cannot say!"

Cal lifted the groomsman to his feet and placed the side of his sword against the the boy's throat, "I could kill you with one movement, Henry, you tell me now."

"It was a man," he blubbered, "Oh, please do not kill me-"

"Speak!"

The boy reddened in fear, "It was a man at the village tavern, he gave me the gun and this cloak. He would not speak his name."

Cal stared at the boy, taking in the information. He had nearly forgotten that he had been shot when all of a sudden the pain hit him all at once, nearly knocking him off balance. He winced.

"Oh, forgive me, my Lord, I should not have done it!"

Cal grimaced, and pulled the boy by his cloak to where he had left his horse.

"Hop on, boy," he said as he mounted, "We have an important visit to make."

He started the horse into a fast trot back to the path, the boy holding onto him for dear life. The trees flew past them, merging into green nothingness. It was just then when he realized that he had lost the dog.

"Shit." He murmured, his arm oozing blood. He felt as though he were about to pass out.

"My Liege?" Asked the boy, tapping Cal on the shoulder.

He began to slowly slip off of the horse, his body dead weight. The boy called out in fright as he tried to stabilize Cal's unconscious body. 

He managed to get a hold of the reigns just as a small building appeared in a clearing at the end of the path.

-

"My love?" A soft voice whispered daintily, emerging from nothingness.

Cal softly opened his eyes, the soft yellow light of a candle consuming his vision. His eyes then began to regain focus and the world around him began to reappear.

Ariella sat on a chair beside him. He then realized that he was on a bed. He looked up to meet her eyes, "What happened-"

A shot of pain through his arm brought his memory back. He reached up to touch his bare chest, wondering where his shirt had gone.

"Oh thank God you're awake!," exclaimed Ariella, "Now we can clean your wound. I didn't want to wake you, for you slept so peacefully."

Cal sighed as he gazed upon her as she walked around the room, gathering the things she would need. Then he immediately remembered.

"Ariella!" He shot up from the bed, "Where is the boy?"

She rushed over to his side, "Calm yourself, darling," she pushed him softly back onto the pillow, "Do you mean the boy who brought you here?"

He nodded, wincing in pain, "The one who shot me."

"He insisted on locking himself up in the stables, I guess that explains why. I did think him rather odd. What was his motive behind this?"

A shuffling of little feet came running into the room just then and with a hop, the little dog Callan had lost jumped up onto the bed.

"Down now, Ash, you'll hurt him!" Called Ariella, retrieving the dog and placing him back onto the ground.

"I see you've found your gift." He chuckled tiredly.

She smiled curiously, "My gift? I was out washing my paint trays when I found him in the remains of a fire near the woods, he was covered in ash."

"Hence the name."

She giggled, kneeling down beside him with a few medical tools, "I should have expected you had something to do with it."

"He ran away from me when I got shot and I passed out before I could find him."

She kissed him on the cheek, and with a sharp pain in his arm, retrieved the bullet. He yelled out in pain.

"My god!" He exclaimed. He had barely noticed that she had began to work on him.

She giggled, "It seems the tonic I gave you worked."

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