She shot up. How long had She been out? Sylin! She turned toward him, and let out a relieved breath. He was still there.
The cut leaves made no difference in the lighting. As she moved to stand, her fingers brushed over Sylin’s. They were ice cold. Suddenly, it occurred to her that she didn’t start a fire last night. Looking at him, there was something undoubtedly wrong.
He was still. Too still. It couldn’t be. She put a finger beneath his nostrils. No breath. Immediately, she pressed her hand over his chest. No pulse. No heartbeat.
She shook her head, as tears came to her eyes. It couldn’t be. He’d promised.
“Now isn’t the time for pranks!” She shouted, shaking him. This had to be one of his jokes, but this one was going too far.
He offered no response to her violent treatment. Finally, she gave up and threw herself over him.
“Please.” She begged. “Wake up. Please don’t joke with me like this.”
No response. There was no doubt about it. Sylin was dead. Despite his promise, he left her alone in the forest. He died because of her failures.
Why? Why did he let himself fall into such a state because of her? Why, when his priorities should’ve been collecting information about the petrification cases? If he had given chase to any of the creatures, rather than focus on removing them from the area, he probably would’ve discovered something by now. But instead, he lay here, weeks in on his expedition that he deemed necessary for mankind, without any significant progress on any of the goals that he’d initially set out to achieve. Now, they’ve not only failed to determine the cause for the greater radius of attacks and the cause for increased petrification cases, but they’ve also failed to do anything that would change that.
A snort from somewhere behind her, cutting off her thoughts. She turned to find one of the bear-like beasts from before staring down at her. She launched herself out of the way, as it lowered a claw toward her. Carrying Sylin’s body, her movements were slowed, but she had to bring him back.
In her haste, she hadn’t noticed a rock in her path. Stumbling, she found herself at the mercy at the creatures. Without much time to react, she lifted her arms to shield her face when the claws come again. No pain came. She looked up, horrified to find that they weren’t after her at all. While she tried to defend herself, they had taken a bite out of his corpse.
“No!” She shouted, jerking awake with her hand outstretched before her. It was just a dream. It was barely day break. Still breathing heavy, she turned toward Sylin. She pressed her hand against his. It was still warm.
Still concerned, she moved to get a better look. Thankfully, her dream didn’t repeat itself. His chest was still slowly rising and falling. He was still alive and breathing.
Immediately, she picked herself up. She had to prevent her dream from coming true. Gathering fallen leaves and branches, she built a small flame beside him, before heading back to to tree to get back to work. Somehow, she had to cut an opening wide enough for him. She had to grant him all that he needed, before it was too late.
“Sylin.” She whispered, stopping before the base of tree, her gaze drifting over and briefly lingering over him. While reluctant to leave him, she also knew she had to do so if she wanted to see him recover. “Please hang in there. Please be okay.”
Letting out a breath and confirming that her sword was still strapped against her back, she began to climb.