By: Aaron E. Smith

Simeon pushed himself to a nearby log and struggled to find a comfortable spot to rest his back. The smallish tree had grown soft from rot, yet offered no cushion for him however. The nymph watched him intently as he muttered curses at the deadwood, ultimately throwing his arms back over it in frustration. The nymph was amused with his struggle. She looked upon him oddly though, he noticed, staring around him more than at him.

�Why do you look upon me so?� he asked.

She came to rest beside him and began examining his legs. �Your Qelltalis,� she replied. �It is powerful. The strongest I have ever observed in a mortal.�

�Qelltalis?� he asked.

The nymph smiled. �I believe your kind refer to it as your spirit, or soul,� she articulated awkwardly. �My magics are greatly diminished. They should have only slowed your passing, not prevented it. Yet you live. It is as if your Qelltalis has bonded with the weavings I cast upon you, making them stronger.�

Simeon groaned a bit as the Fey examined the wounds near his knee. �Is that why you have bound me to your word Fey... for my Qelltalis?� he asked pointedly.

She looked at him uncomfortably, redirecting her attention to the treatment of his wounds. �Yes...� she admitted. �Though I have no authority in what the others decide for you.�

�Others?� Simeon asked.

The nymph did not respond and began waving her arms in a circular pattern, as if delicately pulling the air down toward Simeon�s legs. It was different from the weaving he observed before. Her motions were slower this time, and accompanied by subtle tracings with her fingers. He felt a warm tingle begin to move from his heart outward. As the warmth spread to his extremities, she began to sing and his senses seemed to fade, leaving nothing to his awareness except her beautiful voice.

Simeon wavered between consciousness, unblinking eyes fixed upon the beautiful nymph. Her gaze was cast downward as if singing to the earth. The nymph�s gestures changed as well, as her song began to build slowly. Upward she pulled, willing some unseen magics forth.

�Be calm,� she sang gently to him. �Do not struggle against the mending.�

Simeon had no sensation of control whatsoever, no sense of will or motion. He tried to move but couldn�t, futilely sending demands his body refused to answer. So, he sat and watched, as the ground beneath him began to move.

One by one they emerged, squirming wildly as they hit the open air. Some were white as bone, while others were streaked with red, yellow, or brown. They arched themselves skyward, as if searching for something. Roots , Simeon thought, watching their worm-like movements advance toward him. They must be bringing him water, he mused. As they crawled to his shattered ankles and knee and began burrowing into his flesh, he knew otherwise.

Simeon panicked. He felt no pain, but the sight of the roots invading his body sent him into convulsions. The nymph attempted to calm him while maintaining her song, but failed to bring his body to rest. He could sense the roots inside him as they wound themselves around his bones, taking the place of torn ligaments and tendons. Others attached themselves to severed veins and arteries, repairing pathways so his heart could pump fresh blood to his withering flesh. As they became part of him, he seized control, allowing them in, but as servants to his will. When they obeyed, the nymph dropped her song in surprise.

�How is this so?� she asked. �You have usurped my mending!�

Though Simeon was fully aware that something odd had happened without the nymph�s assistance, his traumatized body pulled him into an immediate, deep slumber.

* * *

When he woke, the nymph pointed to a small pile of berries that she had collected for him and said, �You must try to rise. The others grow impatient for our arrival.�

Simeon looked down at his legs, uncertain. His wounds had stopped bleeding, but they still lay open to the bones beneath. A part of him wished the mending the nymph spoke of was unsuccessful, so that he couldn�t rise at her command. Perhaps she would let him go then, releasing him of his oath. That thought died quickly though. Being Fey, she was about as likely to let him go as she would be to crown him king of the southlands. Then it occurred to him... if this mending did work, he might get the opportunity to escape. With a grunt, he stood to find out which way the winds of fate would push him.

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About the Author

Born and raised in Indiana, Aaron has long enjoyed the craft of writing and, with the constant support of family and friends, hopes to pass that joy to those that read his stories.
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