Story: A new life (chapter 4)

Authors: Tukuyomi

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Chapter 4

Title: Chapter 4 - Don't die!

Harle was unconscious for about four days. She didn’t move the slightest bit in all that time, her wounds preventing her to do so even unconsciously. They were bad, extending over her entire body.

Kidd had decided to take care of her, although she could have finished her off easily. She didn’t want it to be like that. She wanted her battle with Harle fair and square, although she doubted Harle was going to survive. Four days were a long time, and she hardly expected Harle to ever open her eyes anymore. But somehow, when Kidd looked into Harle's face, which was smeared with blood but still oddly serene, she felt she had to help her.

The days passed with Kidd cleaning Harle's wounds and bandaging them regularly in order to prevent an infection, which could overcome her body all too easily. But she knew that this alone was not enough to save her. Harle's breathing became harder and more forced with every new day and Kidd feared that at least one of her ribs were broken and stabbed into her lungs. She could only imagine how such a wound hurt her.

On the third day, blood started to run from her mouth again and Kidd rushed back to Arni Village to get some Heal and Cure elements. Harle wouldn’t survive on her own, and Kidd wasn’t going to let her off so easily.

It would have been better if she had taken Harle with her, but that would have been too hard considering her various wounds. She didn’t want to ruin her work by her own hands. But also, taking Harle with her would have been too embarrassing. She didn't want anyone to see her taking care of Harle, of all people. She didn't know how she would be able to explain something like that to Serge or to one of the others. And also, there was the problem of her not knowing why she was doing something like that herself. It seemed so meaningless after all. But she had already started so she might as well finish it.

She sneaked into Arni Village at night. Careful not to make any more noise than absolutely necessary, she climbed onto the roof of the new bar, from where she could see the element shop clearly. She could still hear various voices from inside the bar and decided to stay there until the customers there were gone. It was too dicey trying to steal something with her back turned to a door which could open at any moment.

After two hours, which had passed painfully slowly, she almost decided to go back to Harle. While she was sitting there on the roof, another one of the dragons could have found her. She didn't want to imagine finding Harle in pieces when she came back. She didn’t want to think about the dragons. For now Harle’s injuries were more than enough for her to worry about.

Finally, when the last customer was gone, Kidd jumped off the roof and went over to the shop, watching her surroundings carefully. The elements weren't locked away, so it was almost too easy to steal almost all of the Heal and Cure elements. If she hadn't forgotten her backpack back at Harle's place, she probably would've taken every single element of the shop. But then, there weren’t exactly many elements she needed. The only thing she regretted was having actually paid for them a few days prior.

She knew she was greedy, but this time it was for something good, or so Kidd told herself. Kidd took as many of the necessary elements as she could carry and tried to make her way out of the village as quiet and quickly as possible. It had been easy until then, but it wasn’t to be.

"Stop at once!" The angry voice made Kidd stop and turn to the person behind her. It was too dark to see who it was right away, but when the person stepped into the light of a nearby lamp she could see it was Serge, waving his swallow angrily. His face wasn't as kind as always.

"Put the elements back, Kidd!", he shouted and came closer to Kidd, his expression one of disbelief.

"No way I'm gonna do that!", Kidd answered instantly. She couldn’t remember having ever willingly given something back which she had stolen before. And she certainly wasn’t going to start with it now that it was really important.

"This isn't funny, Kidd. Put them back, or else-", Serge hissed threateningly but was interrupted by Kidd's laughter.

"Or else what? Ya wanna fight? C'mon then!" Demonstrating, Kidd took out her fireball element. Serge took a few steps back unbelievingly. He shook his head. No way was he going to fight her. He could never hurt his friends, or those he had considered friends once.

"Uh, I see.", Kidd said put the element back on her grid. "Listen, they're not for me. So if ya don't fight, I'll be off!" With these words, Kidd ran like the wind and soon got out of Serge’s sight. With a sigh, Serge put back his swallow and went to the element shop, trying to make out what was missing. If it wasn’t too much, he would try to replace them himself. It wouldn’t be good to have the villagers gossip about unidentified thieves. Everyone here trusted the other, that was why the shops were never locked, as well as every entrance door. Serge cherished this spirit of his village. After counting the elements, he came to the conclusion that aside from a good deal of Heal and Cure elements, every single element was in its place. "What are you doing, Kidd?", Serge asked himself and went back to his house. He might have some Heal and Cure elements to spare.

Breathlessly, Kidd came back to Harle's place. To her relief Harle lay there near the fire in one piece, but she was in a bad shape. She was drenched in sweat, and the blood had left a thick trail from her mouth and across her throat. Her breathing was ragged, and Kidd could imagine how hard it had to be for her body to fill the lungs with the oxygen it needed when being pierced by a bone.

She ran over to her and put a wet piece of cloth onto her chin, partly cooling but for the most part soaking up the blood. Then she cast five Cure elements in a row and saw Harle's condition improving slightly. Five elements in a row were her limit, she had to wait for her stamina to recover before she could continue. She hoped Harle would last until then.

Kidd sat down at the fire and started to count the remaining elements. There were still eight Cure and ten Heal elements left. It was the disadvantage, that when used without a grid, they vanished immediately. But she didn’t think it wise to exchange them with her powerful attack elements, especially with the dragons probably still around.

At any rate, five elements should be enough for a while. She put the remaining elements into her backpack and started to change Harle's bandages which were once again soaked with blood. Kidd wondered just how much blood Harle had inside her. To her, it seemed as if there couldn’t be any left.

With her dagger she cut off a few parts of Harle clothes. She felt very uncomfortable doing that, but it made changing the bandages a lot easier. Still, she could easily imagine how angry Harle would get when she saw her costume in rags. If she ever woke up again. Kidd tried to imagine what it would be like when she woke up. Would she be grateful, or would she act as arrogantly as always?

Sometimes she thought Harle really was acting. Nobody could always be so arrogant to others and live so lonely. She knew that too well. A few years ago she too had though she didn't need friends and help, and she hadn’t been very kind to others as well. But in moments like this, she wished she had someone to talk to. Maybe she had been too hard to Serge, but she really would have fought him, if it had been necessary.

She still was a little mad about him. It could have been so wonderful just in that moment, if there hadn't been this Leena! It still enraged her thinking about that particular girl, but it had simply been fate. It was too late know anyway.

She was sitting here at the fire with a badly injured girl by her side she didn’t know what to make of. And it was cold. "Dammit, I thought it was summer!", she mumbled angrily and took two blankets out of her backpack. She put one over Harle and the other over herself.

As she lay there gazing at the stars, she thought of her and Harle being friends. But wasn’t that foolish? They were enemies, not friends. With all that had happened between them, it was impossible to ever be friends. Even though Kidd could imagine that sometimes, Harle would probably be fun to have around. But it was impossible after all. With these thoughts on her weary mind, she dozed off.

Harle's cry only a few hours later made Kidd wake up with a start. Within a few seconds Kidd got to her feet and ran over to Harle. Her bandages were soaked with blood again and she was trembling all over her body, moaning in pain. "Bugger!", Kidd shouted and hastily took four Heal elements out of her backpack. She was still tired, but it had to be enough. She cast three of them in a row and for the first time in days, Harle opened her eyes slightly.

"Can you hear me? Harle?", Kidd asked worriedly.

"…Kidd?", Harle whispered, her eyes unfocused. Speaking seemed to weaken her.

"Don't speak now! Just hold on mate!", Kidd said with a gentleness that surprised even herself. Mate? What was she talking about? She felt her cheeks reddening, but she shrugged it off. She changed Harle's bandages swiftly with routine but still carefully and gave her some water to drink. She looked like she needed it.

"It...hurtz…so…much.", Harle moaned hoarsely, still seemingly unaware of where she was.

"I know, I know. Just hold on.", Kidd tried to soothe her, which wasn’t easy considering the circumstances. Kidd used two more Heal elements and the bleeding seemed to stop, but Harle had lost consciousness again. At least she wasn't crying and trembling anymore, it was probably better that way. Maybe her body would be able to rest now, if only a little.

Kidd pulled the blanket over her again. She immensely relieved and sat down at the fire. It was still dark and cold, but Kidd couldn't sleep anymore, not after this. She wearily wiped the sweat off her forehead. She wasn’t used to using elements all the time, she rather used her dagger. Maybe she should change this habit from now on.

She watched Harle carefully. If Harle wouldn't get better soon, Kidd would have to take her to Guldolve, as the doctor there was the best of El Nido. Kidd could only imagine how much of an ordeal this would turn out to be, getting Harle across the ocean in that state. Kidd wasn’t sure if it was really worth it.

The sudden sound of breathing broke her train of thought. It was too loud to be Harle's but she knew it wasn't her own either. She turned around with a sense of dread and saw two bright eyes glaring at her.

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