Hilex /2017 Secret Santa fanfic ::Alternative story::☆After the Beach Tribal Gathering


#1

Written for Hilex, fanfic secret Santa exchange 2017.
This is an alternate storyline. Through the eyes of Lex.

CHAPTER 1:
“WE SHOULD NEVER HAVE COME HERE”

This tribal gathering was a bad idea. Jack can’t get the damned wind turbine generator thing to work for some unknown reason… and we are literally surrounded by our enemies.
We have nothing to trade, and I can spot at least six faces in the crowd that are attached to people I have a personal score with.
This is bad.
Amber has just gone off to see about Dal, who is apparently now a slave, about to be auctioned off. I guess she thinks she can buy him, but with what? I can’t guess.

Glenn is here, a Locust now, and I can see him watching me, blood in his eyes.
I say it to the others again, over the sound of the drums for the dance competition…
“We should never have come here.”
I look around for Zandra. She is behind me sitting on a driftwood log holding Chloe by the hand. Why the hell did I let them come?

Suddenly, there is a huge explosion down the beach, and a giant fireball sends a pillar of black smoke roaring into the sky. The barrels of Petrol that were the Locust’s primary bargaining chip have just gone up in flames!!
I can’t fathom how it happened, but this is it!

The beach erupts into chaos.
This is our only chance to get the hell out of here alive, and I grab Zandra by the wrist, dragging her onto her feet.
KC appears suddenly. “LEX! What do we do?!!” He yells over the noise of it all; a look of total trust in his eyes.
I take Zandra’s hand and hold it out to KC…“NO! LEX NO!” Zandra yells in protest, but I’m not dealing with it. I turn and forcefully pull her closer, securely placing her hand in KCs.
Chloe is still clinging to Zandra on her other side. I yell at KC to “Take the girls and Run! Hide in the woods! GO!” Before turning around To push my way through the milling bodies towards where Bray, Jack and Ryan were moments ago with the wind turbine.

I can’t find them, just the remains of the turbine, laying on it’s side in the sand.
I turn, scanning the scene, and I can spot KC and the girls scrambling up the hillside just off the beach, headed for the trees in the ridgeline above. TaiSan is with them, I can see her in her peacock colors.
I breathe a sigh of relief, seeing that they are not pursued.

Suddenly, I feel like I’ve been struck in the head with an axe handle, and the world goes Black.

:hourglass_flowing_sand:

I’m floating in the inky blackness…there is nothing…just the empty dark.

Soon though, I can begin to feel the universe cracking open like an egg, and suddenly pain floods into my mind like a dam breaking.

Light and Sound return to me with the Pain and I roll onto my side and retch, my body’s way of trying to clear my head.

I feel someone reach out and put a hand on my shoulder. I jerk away from the hand, and turn too quickly, sitting up and sending spikes of agony from the back of my head to every part of my body.
I reach back and place a couple of fingers gently to the back of my head, feeling the warm blood caking in my hair. I pull the hand away, and look at the blood in my fingers. I realize that I can see again, and look around to examine my surroundings. My ankle is chained.

It was Amber who touched my shoulder. I see that we are inside of a cage, homemade by the looks of it, built onto the bed of the wagon we are currently rolling down the beach in. The sun is setting.

Amber is gagged and chained, a large deep cut on her forehead, and the first hint of a black eye forming on her left. Anger and Hate light her eyes. Her hands are heavily chained, although in the front, and I can now see that she is sitting next to the several other kids In the wagon with us.
Dal is here as well I see.
He isnt gagged, but he looks too scared to speak.
I lean back again, the pain in my head too much to allow me to keep sitting up.
I see that the black cloud of smoke is still rising into the sky down the beach behind us.
I lose consciousness again, glad to slip back into the pain free darkness

@Lex


#2

CHAPTER 2.
LUCKY ME

When I wake, I find that it is dark outside, and I’m shivering. I dont know where I am at first. I’m cold, and the pain in my head is still there. As my eyes adjust, I pull myself up to the bars of the cage and look through. I see a bonfire a few hundred feet away. We are still chained inside the bed of the wagon.
I finally get a good look at some of our captors. They look like mostly Locusts. But some of them sitting close to the fire look like farmers. Maybe more prisoners, although they aren’t chained at all.
I reach up, touching my head gingerly. The bleeding seems to have stopped. the dried blood is matted into my hair. Lucky me.

Amber grunts at me. She is still beside me, gagged and chained. I realize that her arms are now bound behind her back. She must have done something…made an effort to escape perhaps.
It’s too dark to tell for certain, but I think I can see more bruises and cuts on her face than I saw earlier.

My head is still splitting in pain, but I’m getting used to it now…
It’s not the first time I’ve had my head split open, and it probably won’t be the last.

I reach over and pull the gag from her mouth. She stretches her jaw and works her tongue around trying to regain the sensation in her lips.
“Thanks” she manages to say, her voice cracking and barely audible.
Suddenly I’m as parched as she is, and I look around to see if there is water.
“Water!” I demand, finding my voice weak and barely there as well.
Dal finally manages speech. “They haven’t given anyone water all day. You’ve been out for hours.”
He cowers down again, as if afraid to be overheard talking.
A different boy, beside Dal, speaks up. “I’m glad you’re awake. We thought you were dead.”
He smiles at me. Then he frowns. “Your friend there is hurt worse than she’s let on. They kicked the crap out of her earlier for trying to start an escape riot. She started rocking the wagon. It Would have worked too, but they pulled her out of here and kicked the crap out of her before we tipped it.” The boy looks worried, but also angry.

Good, I need everyone angry if we are going to manage to escape.

“We all got tied up behind our backs then. Everyone but you.” The boy says.

I see that he is right, and that I’m only chained at one ankle…the other end of my chain is around Amber’s ankle… “Alright then, how do we get out of here?” I ask nobody in particular…not really expecting a plan, just speaking to hear myself think.

He is right, Amber looks bad. He head is drooping now. I nudge her with my foot. “Hey! Stay alert. We’re getting out of here. Dal, pull yourself together. You might have to help me carry her.”
I look around at the other kids in the cart.
“Well?”

The boy looks surprised. “Sasha.” He says, introducing himself.
“Lex.” I reply. “Now do you have a plan or not?”

Sasha surprises me and tells me that he does in fact have a plan. Apparently he is a performer of some kind, and he tells me he can create a distraction, if we can only get out of our bonds. The other kids in the wagon look scared. None of them speak, but they are all leaning in close to hear the plan.

It turns out that Amber and I am the only ones actually chained up. The others are all tied with rope.
“Untie us.” Sasha starts.
Well duh. I think .
I start to go to work on the knots.
Dal first, as he is closest to me. As soon as Dal is free, he moves to Amber, checking her pulse.

Sasha goes on wispering his plan…
“Then we draw a guard over, knock him out, and hopefully he has keys. When we get free, everyone scatter. I’m going to use a trick from the hill tribes to confuse them while everyone makes their escape.”

“Brilliant.” I whisper, sarcastically. But I don’t argue. It’s the only plan we have got.

Soon enough I’ve untied everyone. Now how the hell do we get a single guard (who has a key no less) to come over here? I ask myself…suddenly I’ve got it.

“Water!.. Water!.. Water! …Water!” I start chanting the word, and the others join me, chanting “water! Water! Water!”

Soon enough, Glenn (of all people) arrives outside the bars of our cage with a bucket of water dangling from one hand…

To be continued…
@Lex


#3

Chapter 3.
::WATER FOR ELEPHANTS::

Glenn saunters up to the wagon cage, real slow and deliberate, sloshing the water around in the pail, making some splash out and fall to the ground. My mouth is so parched. Glenn knows that, but If it weren’t for this half baked plan, I would never give him the satisfaction of knowing how badly I want that water.

I hold as still as I can, hoping none of the others give it away that everyone is now untied.

“Hey there, Lexy Boy…bet you aren’t very happy to see me…alive.”
Glenn sneers at me, pleased as a pig in mud.

“Glenn.” I reply in a cracking voice. “You got what you wanted, didn’t you? You’re a Loco now.”
No way am I apologizing to this creep, I think to myself.

I did what I had to do. Glenn was just a nessecary sacrifice…I was saving Zandra…and besides, I’m the top dog. Glenn wouldn’t fall in line. I tell myself that story again, for the last time. I had felt bad for a while about Glenn, but any regret I harbored evaporated when he walked over with that water…which he still hasn’t offered to any of the prisoners.

Glenn is looking only at me, which I’m glad for.
“You look thirsty, Lexy Boy.” Glenn replies, ignoring my comment. Glenn takes the dipper from the pail and takes a long slow drink.
“Aaahhhh…that’s nice.” He grins as he plops the dipper back into the pail. “Want some?”
He mocks me with a laugh.

Suddenly, a strong female voice cracks through the darkness. “And what exactly do you think you are doing?” The voice is angry, and demands an answer.

Its Ebony, the Queen of the Locusts. She appears from the dark like a silent jungle cat, dangerous…deadly.

“Sorry, Ebony.” Glenn replies in a submissive tone. He seems a foot smaller in her presence, shrinking in on himself in his fear of her.

“I said to Water the Prisoners. Not talk to them.”
Ebony wastes no time on further discussion. She reaches out and slaps Glenn hard across the face.
Glenn barely reacts, except to say “Yes, my Queen.” His eyes are pointed to the ground.

Ebony turns to the wagon cage and walks over to the bars, peering inside, looking in at Amber. She doesn’t even acknowledge me.
“Not so pretty anymore, is she?” Ebony asks nobody in particular…its more like she’s talking to herself than to Amber.

For Amber’s part, she is wide awake now, glaring daggers at Ebony through her one open eye. The other eye is swollen almost shut now.
Amber doesn’t speak. I’m glad, because we need Ebony to leave for this plan to work…and Amber is in bad shape.
Next time she provokes these thugs, they might decide it’s easier to deal with a dead body than a slave who makes trouble.

Luckily for us, Ebony doesn’t seem to want a dialogue, just to gloat.
Ebony turns and leaves, whispering something into Glenn’s ear before she walks away. He looks after her like a forlorn puppy, and there is not a trace of anger in his demeanor…more like he is a kicked dog who still wants his masters’ love.

I breathe a sigh of relief…this plan might work.

Glenn doesn’t say another word, he just walks over to the wagon Cage and draws a dipper full of water. Glenn still seems distracted by Ebony’s appearance. Good I think to myself; he is offering the dipper to the nearest kid…suddenly I realize that nobody else in this cage has had water all day…

shit
I know that our best chance in escape is if everyone gets chased in different directions, and nobody will be running for long in their dehydrated state.
I push down the urge to lunge at Glenn, and wait for my turn for a drink.
Glenn is purposefully holding off on giving me water until the last…

He finally reaches Amber and gives her a drink, and then plunges the dipper once more into the pail. I look over at Sasha and Dal, hoping one of them is clever enough to help. Glenn puts the dipper to the bars, but refuses to put the handle Inside the cage, as he had done for the others.

He makes me lean up to the bars with my face pressed in between them. He pours the first dipper all over my face, making me choke and gag.
He snickers. “Careful Lex. Here, let’s give you another.” He is smiling in self satisfaction at my anger and discomfort. I hate his guts.

As he puts the dipper back to the bars, I don’t lean in. I just wait, hoping he wants to try some shitty practical joke again. I call him a nasty word under my breath and sure enough he puts the dipper through the bars in an attempt to smack me with it.

In that moment, I reach out, grabbing his wrist and pulling him as hard as I can against the bars of the cage, smashing his head against them.
Maybe it was my adrenaline giving me untapped strength, but I literally just knocked Glenn out.
I almost lose my grip on his wrist as his entire body goes limp and slumps towards the ground.

His weight yanks me to the bars and pulls my arm through, still grasping Glenn at his wrist.

“Help! He weighs a ton!” I gasp out, as hands reach through the bars beside me and help lift Glenn’s weight. Its Sasha and Dal, who are finally doing something useful.

“Hold him up” I tell them while I reach into pockets, searching for keys. I’m not religious, but I’m praying for a miracle.

“Hurry up, he’s heavy.” Dal whines into my ear.
“No shit.” I reply tersely, still frantically searching.
“Aha!!”
I find the key in his breast pocket. Pulling it out and holding it aloft triumphantly.

The guys drop Glenn and he thumps to the ground, still unconscious.
“Quick, let’s move.” I say. All the kids are now shuffling out of the way for me as I move towards the door of our cell.
I reach around and put the key Into the lock, hearing the most satisfying sound of the lock turning over and then the door swings open wide.

“Alright, now everyone scatter!” Sasha whisper-yells at the group. Everyone starts jumping down and running away into the darkness

"Lex, I’m going to create that distraction now. Head south and west, and I will catch up if I can. Thanks for getting us out. " Sasha reaches out to shake my hand. “Get them to safety.” He tells me in farewell.

Sasha turns to Dal and they clasp hands, knowing they might not see each other again.
Dal pulls him into a bro-hug and then turns to help me lift Amber out of the Wagon. She can barely stand. Luckily my chain on our ankles is long and I lift Amber into my arms. “Ok, let’s go. Good luck.”

I head off in the direction Sasha indicated.
We make it a few hundred yards before we hear an ungodly ruckus behind us. Horses whinnying and what sounds very much like a tiger roaring. And then suddenly all I can hear is the distinct sound of an Elephant trumpeting.
It sounds like a damn stampede back there.

“Whatever Sasha is doing back there, I think that it worked.”

We make our way into the forest, leaving the beach slowly behind. I keep expecting to see torches in the darkness behind us, but we are not pursued.

☆to be continued☆


#4

Chapter 4
☆AMBER’S IN BAD SHAPE☆

After carrying Amber in my arms a short distance, I have to stop and have Dal help her climb onto my back, so that I can continue the trek carrying her piggy-back style. It’s far more comfortable for me, and for once I’m grateful for the conditioning I received at that Hell-Hole military school.

Carrying her like this, I will be able to go for miles.

In the moments when I start to feel like I need to drop Amber on the ground, I can hear the voice of “Mama” in my head…“are you tired, Lex? Do you want to cry, Lex?” and I can see that witch smiling in my mind’s eye, adding more fuel to my fire, and giving me more determination to keep walking.

“No” I say under my breath to the memory of Mama and trudge on through the night, following The unburdened Dal, hoping he doesn’t have us walking in a circle.

Luckily, the moon is full, and we are able to make our way through the dark woods without any torch.

I keep listening behind us, concerned we are being hunted, but it’s been almost 2 hours of walking with no sign of danger.

The trees open up suddenly, and I see that we are coming into a ravine…its walls rising into the sky on either side of us and I can hear water running over the rocks close by.

"Dal, we need to stop. Amber’s in bad shape, and we cant keep going like this. Let’s find that water…can you hear it?

And any kind of shelter…maybe it’s safe enough for a fire?"

Dal says he agrees and walks into the dark, in search of the stream.

As I shift Amber’s weight on my back, she moans in her half consciousness…she seems to be loosening her grip around my neck.

I bounce her slightly and call her name “Amber!” I turn my head slightly, but it’s too dark to see her face much, even as her chin rests upon my shoulder. “Wake up! We’re almost there! Don’t you dare fall off, you hear me?!?”

I follow the direction Dal has headed, moving towards the sound of water.

As I make my say over & between increasingly large boulders, a shaft of moonlight pierces the cloud cover, and miraculously, like a sign from the heavens, the moonlight shows me a cleft in the rock face ahead of me…a cave!

I hope it’s a cave, anyway.

“DAL!” I yell, much louder than I meant to.

I make my way towards the opening in the rock face, and am beyond relieved to find a narrow opening, just large enough for me to pass through while still packing Amber on my back.

We get inside, and I can feel, more than see that the space is much larger inside than I expected. I carefully slide Amber off my back and onto the ground. She is alert enough not to land on her head, but she slumps into a heap on the ground…I’m really worried about her. Much more than I care to admit.

I quickly slip back outside, to alert Dal to our new shelter, and to find some firewood. Now that I’ve stopped moving, I realize it’s quite cold tonight, especially in this ravine.

“Dal!” I dont yell it this time, but my voice Carries and I see his head pop up from the direction we just came.

“There you are, I couldn’t find you.” Dal says worriedly to me. “Amber?” He asks, seeing I’m no longer carrying her.

“There’s a cave”…I say, pointing towards it. Not that we can see each other very clearly…

“We need to get a fire started. I have matches…help me get some wood, ok?”

Dal nods in agreement, and we make quick work of gathering enough wood for a fire.

We take the sticks back to the cave, leaving them outside the narrow entrance.

“Did you find the water?” I ask Dal, who confirms its location is up in the ravine and across near the far rock wall. He tells me hes going to get us some water…and I cant imagine how he plans to accomplish that, seeing as we have no canteen.

I leave him to the water, I have to deal with the fire…I tear a strip of cloth from my shirt and make a tiny torch with a small stick, setting it on fire, and I head I to the cave.

I step over Amber, trying to put her condition into the back of my mind while I get us all warm again…worrying about one thing at a time.

It doesnt take me long to make a small fire, using my torch to set the thing ablaze…

Beside the flames, I make a “bed” out of my jacket, and gently, I move Amber into it. She’s not very responsive, only making small noises of discomfort at being picked up again.

"Don’t you dare die on me, you hear? We need you ok…I need for you to pull through this…"as I say this to her, emotion makes my voice catch in my throat. I didn’t expect to feel like this, and I’m glad Dal wasn’t here to overhear me talking to her.

Just then, Dal returns, balancing a large leaf cupped full of water…which he brings over and kneels down in front of us. “Lean her up, would you? Help me get her to drink.”

I’m impressed. Dal is pretty much our resident engineer…I should have know he would figure it out.

I position myself behind amber, squatting on the ground. I lean her forward and sit down behind her…allowing her to lean back against my chest for support while Dal pours a small bit of water onto Amber’s parched and cracked lips.

Feeling the coolness of the liquid revives Amber enough for her to drink down all the contents of the leaf-cup…when its gone she whispers “more” before relaxing back into my chest. She seems more comfortable already, and I don’t move…I just stay where I’m at, allowing myself to be used as a makeshift pillow, with Amber’s head leaned back into the hollow of my shoulder.

Dal doesn’t say anything, but gives me an odd look before he heads outside to get more water.

After he goes, I gently move a strand of hair off Amber’s forehead.

We are safe, for now…


#5

Chapter 5
:☆IT WAS NOT A PLEASANT NIGHT☆:

The sun rises, bringing animal sounds with it, but no warmth. The Sun’s light won’t penetrate the darkness of this ravine or our cave until late into the morning, meaning that we are all still huddled near the fire for warmth.
The night was not an easy or pleasant one…neither Dal or I slept more than an hour apiece, being too uncomfortable on the bare stone and dirt floor, and being too paranoid of recapture for sleep to come easily for either of us. Not to mention, we have both been watching Amber sleep through the night. Dal is afraid she has a concussion.

He didn’t want to let her sleep, but when he had mentioned this last night, my angry glare in response had stopped any further discussion, and Amber had been left alone to sleep fitfully through the night.

I had only been able to act as her human-pillow for about the first hour, before my own cramping limbs had forced me to rise, laying Amber back onto my coat.
The rest of the night I had spent mainly pacing near the fire or going outside periodically to check for danger.
I also hoped that somehow Sasha would find us, but that’s a real long shot. He probably got captured again…but I hope not.

He had helped us to escape the Locos, and I hope he made it safely away too.
I stand up, feeding the last of our stick pile to the fire.
Sitting propped against a near boulder, still close to the fire, Dal is dozing, his chin nearly touching his chest above his folded arms, but hearing me rise, he looks up at me sleepily.

“Just going to get more firewood. Be back soon.” I tell him. He nods and his head drops back down, his eyelids closing.

I leave the cave, shivering in the cold morning air. I rub my arms briskly, hugging myself, wishing I had my coat…I’m really pissed. I spend a few moments on some unkind thoughts about Bray, Amber and basically everyone who got me into this mess.

If they had listened to me in the first place, none of this would have happened.

But No…they had to have their little tribal gathering.

Morons. All of them.

I turn back and look at the cave entrance, and my anger softens a bit at the thought of Amber: hurt in there, lying on the floor, on my coat…and the anger and irritation I’m feeling is suddenly replaced by the urge to address the important needs of the present moment…to take care of the girl.

I’m in charge here, it would seem…and I’m not going to let Amber or Dal die or be recaptured. It’s not happening.

Rubbing my arms again, I make my way back into the forest at the mouth of our ravine…which grows quickly more hushed and darkened by the thick treetops overhead.

I’m looking for dry branches and twigs when my eye notices a light, bobbing through the forrest.

My heart starts racing, and I quickly crouch down behind a tree to hide myself better.

I hear a branch snap, and I nearly jump out of my skin…but I steady my nerves and keep my position, watching the light approach. My hand reaches down, blindly searching for some sort of defensive weapon…

My fingers close around a large rock, and I position myself to throw it at whoever the hell is about to appear in view.

I’m holding my breath, when around the bend on a small animal trail appears a dappled white horse with a scrawny and tired looking Sasha astride his back. The lantern in his hand accounting for the light I saw in the woods.

I breathe out in a sigh of relief, standing up and stepping out from my cover. He hasn’t seen me yet when I announce my presence happily.

“What took so you so long?” I ask, sarcastically, but I’m actually damn impressed he found us at all.

“Lex!” Sasha sees me and swings down off his horse, and approaches me excitedly. He claps me on the shoulder in greeting. "You made it! I want sure who’s tracks I was following…but it’s you. "

Sasha’s smile turns into a frown of worry and he asks…“but where are Amber and Dal?”

I reassure him that they are with me, and that we found a cave up the ravine and they are inside… “But Amber’s in pretty bad shape…I dont know what to do…and it’s been too dark so far to see how bad she really is.”

I realize I’m still out here for firewood, and I’m still damn cold. I shiver, and Sasha takes off his outer poncho and hands it to me. I see hes still got another jacket beneath, and I gratefully throw the wool poncho over my shoulders, not caring that it itches like mad.

“Thanks” I say, saving my questions about the horse and saddlebags for later.

I start picking up firewood, and Sasha joins me without comment. Once we have arm fills of sticks, we make our way back into the ravine, Sasha clicking his tongue for the horse to follow us.

It does, and at least one of my questions answers itself…that is clearly Sasha’s Horse.

The horse can only follow us for part of the way, as the boulders becomes impassable for the large animal. But it waits where we leave it, lowering its head to nibble on on the sparse grasses in the path. Sasha seems unconcerned about leaving the animal alone, and I dont comment .
Once we enter the cave, Dal lurches to his feet upon seeing two forms enter instead of one, but as Sasha lifts the Lantern and it lights the space, Dals face breaks into a wide grin.

“Sasha! You’re alive! You found us!” And he steps over to embrace his friend.

Sasha hugs him with his free arm, but his eyes are focused on Amber’s still form beside the fire. His look confirms for me what we couldn’t know in the darkness of the cave…the weak light of our tiny fire had not prepared me for the full affect of seeing her in this lantern light.

Amber looks pretty unrecognizable.

We stand looking down at her damaged face…her closed eyes seem lost in the puffy folds of blue and purple bruised flesh. There is a cut on her cheekbone, caked with dried blood and dirt.

It’s hard to know the extent of her whole body injuries, since she isn’t awake to tell us, but we can assume that there is more. Sasha did say kick…“they kicked the crap out of her.”

I’m so damn angry…if I ever get my hands on Ebony…

a small whimper from Amber breaks our spell of immobility, and we all seem to move towards her in the same moment…but I pull back and let Sasha and Dal see to her instead.

Sasha holds up the lantern over her face for a better look…and gently says her name, seeing if she is responsive.

“Amber, can you hear me? Dal is here…and Lex…can you say something to us? Tell us where it hurts?”

Dal is looking ashamed, and I reach out to put a reassuring hand on his shoulder. I squeeze his shoulder… not knowing what to say. It’s not really in my character to be nice to people, but I remember that Dal’s father was a doctor, and Dal seems upset that he isnt more able to help. I understand how much it Sucks to feel useless.

I can spare one shoulder squeeze, I guess.

Amber wakes up, and moans in pain. She reaches up an involuntary hand to her right side and puts her hand to her ribs.

Ok…broken ribs then it would seem. Great.

Sasha stands up and hands Dal the lantern. “I have a few things that might help. I don’t think we can move her right away. But we can try to make her more comfortable. I knew she was hurt, but…anyway, Lex, come help me grab a few things. Dal, keep looking after her.”

Sasha smiles his kind smile at Dal and then moves to exit the cave. I follow him, seeing Dal kneel down and begin whispering to Amber.


#6

Chapter 6:
YARROW and MINT:

It isn’t long before we return to the cave, bringing Sasha’s saddlebags with us.
Dal has built our fire up and we now have a cheerful blaze burning, warming the cave and it’s bedraggled human occupants.

While Sasha goes back outside with a bowl, to “find the rest of the items that will help Amber”… I’ve layed out the horse blanket that Sasha offered up as a better option for Amber’s makeshift mattress.

It’s not very much better, but at least now I can have my jacket back, and Amber can use the poncho instead. It’s more like a blanket than my coat is, anyhow.
Moving Amber onto the makeshift bed proves to be a painful endeavor.

Amber’s broken rib(s) and her overall bruising means there isn’t any way to move her comfortably…and after a few stupid moments of arguing with Dal about it, I simply walk over and pick her up, ignoring her scream of pain as I hoist her into my arms, move around to the other side of the fire and depositing her onto the “mattress” as gently as possible.
The pain has given Amber a jolt of adrenaline, and she’s glaring daggers at me through the tiny open slit of her right eye. The left is completely swollen shut.

“Jerk” is all she whispers at me through her parched lips.
I smile at her. “Yeah, well, what’s new?” I reply to her half hearted insult.

Sasha returns and intervenes by coming to kneel down beside Amber. He has a tupperware bowl in his hands, filled with plants. There are definitely some white headed flowers in the bowl as well.
The cave has begun to smell strongly of fresh mint.

“What’s that there?” Dal asks, coming to peer over Sasha’s shoulder, his curious nature and medical interests getting the better of him.

“Yarrow and Mint.”
Sasha says this as if we should have known already.

“Obviously.” I reply, a thick layer of sarcasm coating the word.

Sasha looks up at me and smiles, realizing I’m being a smart ass, and remaining completely unbothered by it.
“They grow wild all around here, and have medical properties. The yarrow will help with the bruising, and any bleeding under the skin.” He tells us…
“The mint will help clean the wounds…and I’m also going to make a tea. Amber has a fever…the tea should help”

Dal looks like he has a million questions about the “medical properties” of these plants, but just then, Sasha removes a pot from a different saddlebag and hands it to Dal, asking him to fill it from the stream.

Dal looks disappointed, but closes his mouth on the question and leaves the cave to get the water.

@Lex