When Nisa awoke, blood oozed from the wound on her head, which pounded furiously against her skull, throbbing viciously, as if she was an anvil where a blacksmith worked. Dizzy and swallowing back bile, Nisa slowly sat up. Every part of her body hurt and blood poured from several scrapes, but nothing felt broken, fortunately.
Ena and Teho knelt over Kor’ok whose body was still burned and badly twitching.
Nisa blinked to try to clear her vision. Chris helped Susie sit up and felt her ankle. “It’s sprained, not broken,” Chris was saying.
Vanmor groaned and rose to his knees on Nisa’s left. His eyes glanced up the side of the ravine, back at the Storm Griffin as it flew overhead. With a final cry, it disappeared into the black clouds forming a thick haze over them. Thunder clapped, making Nisa wince and rain poured from the clouds, soaking them within a few short seconds.
Oliver and Bea sat up and crawled over to her where they had landed closer to the river. “You alright?” Ollie asked, eyes gazing at every inch of her. “Your head.”
Nisa nodded but dizziness swept over her. Her stomach lurched and she swallowed back bile again. “Concussion, I think,” she murmured. “Kor’ok.”
Oliver glanced at Vanmor, who crawled over to Kor’ok, hands glowing with warm golden energy. “I can’t heal him, but I can ease his pain. Hopefully, his body will be strong enough against the energy.”
“Was that magic or actual lightning?” Susie asked, wiping water from her eyes.
Vanmor briefly glanced at her, before training his eyes back on Kor’ok. “A little of both, I suppose. The thing is, Jols don’t have magic and their bodies aren’t made for it.”
“I hope he makes it.” Ena gripped Kor’ok’s arms.
Oliver tore his sleeves and tied the two together. He gently wrapped it around Nisa’s head. “It isn’t the best, but it should stop the bleeding. Don’t fall asleep and we’ll keep an eye on you for a while. Is anyone else injured?”
“Banged up, but okay,” Bea said with a wince as she sat back down. Most of the thoas are gone, along with our supplies.”
“Great,” Chris muttered.
“What are we going to do now?” Nisa whispered.
Oliver sat down beside her with a wince and shook his head. “I don’t know. We can’t get back across the Shadowlands, so getting Alina’s help is out.”
Aleyr pointed down the river. “When Kor’ok’s better we can climb back up onto the road and follow it to the next town. You still have money to buy supplies, Vanmor?”
Vanmor nodded and sat back with a sigh, closing his eyes. “Yeah. I’ve done all I can for him, so now it’s up to Kor’ok.”
Nisa reached out her hands to Susie and Chris, who took them firmly. Now, all they could do was pray and hope that Kor’ok lived. “God,” Nisa started in a soft murmur. “This world is Your Creation and Kor’ok is Your Child. Please, grant him healing and help us finish this journey, to find our way home, safely. In Jesus name…”
“Amen,” Chris and Susie echoed.
Aleyr stood up, gazing at the river which looked like it flowed stronger than before. “Rain’s coming down pretty hard. The ravine’s gonna flood. We don’t have time to wait for Kor’ok to recover.”
Vanmor sighed. “I’ll teleport him back up to the road. The rest of you climb up as quickly as you can. I’ll use the mushroom tree to make something to carry Kor’ok on and we’ll have to work together to haul it.” With that, he wrapped energy around he and Kor’ok and disappeared.
Oliver grabbed Nisa’s arm and helped her stand, but the world felt as if it was leaning. She fell into Ollie’s chest and he kept his arms firmly around her.
Chris picked Susie up and carried her on his back as he walked up to the ravine. “So much for not being able to climb this in the rain,” he muttered.
Aleyr cursed as he approached it and mud slid down it toward him. “There’s no way. We’re better off walking around at this rate.”
“If the river doesn’t flood first.” Ena pointed to it. By then, the water had already risen up over the embankment, flooding the area where Oliver and Bea had been.
“How is it rising so fast?” Susie asked.
“Rain storms here are probably worse than yours back home. Especially ones caused by Storm Griffins,” Ena explained.
Oliver motioned for Nisa to hop on his back, so she did and leaned her head against his shoulder, closing her eyes. That didn’t help with the dizziness, but watching him run made it worse. Her stomach lurched as he ran forward, muscles tense beneath her.
Thunder roared overhead, forcing Nisa’s eyes open.
Aleyr, Bea, and Teho had reached the end of the ravine and climbed up a shorter incline to reach the road on the left. Chris and Oliver, carrying Nisa and Susie, had fallen behind, but Ena stayed with them.
Water lapped around Oliver’s ankles as he sprinted to the side and used his hands to help Nisa over the incline. Teho used his magical-device hands to grab her and finish pulling her up. Chris, on the other hand, simply climbed up with Susie still on his back.
Oliver and Ena were the last two over as the group jogged up the road’s incline where Vanmor already had a bed made out of pieces of the mushroom tree with leaves covering it. Kor’ok lay over it. Vanmor stood at the front, holding one side of it, so Aleyr darted over to grab the other. “Now, that we’re on the road, we’ll be safe from the flooding,” Vanmor said.
“Thank goodness,” Susie said, where Chris still held her on his back.
Nisa frowned at Oliver, who grabbed his ribs with a wince. “Ollie? You okay?” Lifting and carrying her should have been no problem. Worry filled her, but it mixed with her upset stomach and raging headache.
Oliver’s lips slid into a small smile. “Fine. Can’t wait to get to the next town. Here.” He slid his arm around her waist. “Lean into me.” He huffed and Nisa hesitated, but another dizzy spell forced her to comply. He held her and the two followed the group down the road.
Nisa’s heart pounded and fear gripped her. What if the griffin came back? Rain poured from the sky hard enough to sting her arms and a quick peak at the ravine below revealed that it was already flooded. Water surged across it, covering the ground in a thin layer and a raging current.
“Shouldn’t be too far,” Vanmor said as he and Aleyr dragged the makeshift bed that carried Kor’ok. His body had stopped twitching, but he groaned; no doubt the rain hitting his body would hurt.
Nisa wished there was something she could do. But they needed to make it to the town and fast.
None of them were in good shape.
As the road leveled out up ahead, the ravine on the left ended. A beautiful waterfall led to the once beautiful river below, except that the entire ravine surged with water. Large trees with blue and silver leaves reached high into the sky, blocking off most of the rain. They stopped in the forest to wait for the rain to stop. Eventually, it did as night fell.
Vanmor and Aleyr sat Kor’ok down with a huff, breathing heavily. Chris sat Susie down and leaned against the trunk of a tree. Oliver collapsed with a wheeze and Nisa glanced worriedly at him. “Ollie?”
“I’m fine,” he gasped.
Nisa gripped his shirt in her hands and pulled it up to see a dark bruise over his ribs. “Are your ribs broken?”
“Likely. But I’m fine, Ni. Really.”
Vanmor shook his head with a curse. “We’ll never make it to the town at this rate. We’ll have to camp here and rest up before we continue. It’s still several miles from here.”
“I agree. Look, those ribs are gonna need to be put back.” Aleyr glanced from Oliver to Chris. “Can you help me?”
“Yeah,” Chris said. The two men crawled over to Ollie, so Nisa scooted over beside Bea, Susie, and Ena to make room.
The two grabbed his arms and shifted his ribs back into place. Oliver’s screams pierced through the silent, nighttime forest, making Nisa wince.
Susie grabbed Nisa’s hands and Nisa squeezed her eyes shut, hoping and praying they would all be okay.