38: What We Call Home

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Part 38: What We Call Home





“ For he led us, he said, to a joyous land …”(The Pied Piper of Hamelin, Robert Browning)








                The world comes back to me piece by piece. The sky swims into view first, followed closely by the trees. My lips part to release a groan. The pain comes in short, sporadic bursts, blooming first in my back and then in my head. However, I’m glad for the pain. However bad it may be, it means that I’m still alive. I survived the fall from the beanstalk.

                I flex my rigid fingers one at a time, listening to the popping noise each of them produces. I sit up slowly, carefully, so that I won’t cause the pain to intensify. Despite my best efforts, the pain is doubled. I utter out a choked scream at the splitting pain that erupts across my back. I lean back on my elbows and suck in a couple of quick breaths. The pain dies away after a while and I’m able to breathe normally again.

                As soon as I’m able to push the pain away from my brain, the first thought that surfaces is concern about Tannin and Jackroy. I glance around, hoping to find the vibrant-haired archer or the frail boy nearby. I spot Tannin a short distance away from me, lying face down on a distant hill. Summoning my strength, I climb to my feet and hobble over. I collapse to my knees beside him and place a hand on his shoulder. I give him a gentle shake and whisper, “Tannin?”

          He doesn’t respond. My hand pulls away and finds my chest. Fear dances across my being as I hesitantly reach for him again. I’m unable to stop my hand from trembling as it touches his shoulder once more.

                “T-Tannin,” I try again. I shake his shoulder and open my mouth to speak but the sound of Tannin’s groan silences me. I quickly withdraw my hand as Tannin flips over on his back, still moaning. His eyelids flutter open, revealing a pair of moss green eyes. I cover my mouth, muffling the relieved laughter coming from behind my hands. Tannin blinks at the sky for a few moments before his eyes move over to meet mine.

                “Morgana?” he mumbles. His eyes are glassy, but he seems alright.

    I give him a relieved smile and brush my messy hair behind my ears, still laughing. “Y-You’re okay…!”

   Tannin goes to speak but a wince interrupts his words. His hands find his stomach and he gives a pained growl.

    “For the most part,” he grunts but he returns my smile. He shakes off the pain and sits up in one sharp movement. A panicked expression suddenly takes over his face. He looks from left to right, his eyes searching for something precious to him. I watch as his hands pat down the ground around him. They slowly roam the soft ground, then travel up his body before they come to rest on the quiver filled with arrows strapped over his shoulder. Relief washes over his face and he relaxes.

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