Chapter 79

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Shinji rode for hours in fear of Wernh’An. Because Shinji was late in interrupting the healing, he had no idea if Wernh’An had lost any of his powers or not. He did not know what his powers were in the first place. Right now he was just aware of his teleportation ability but was clueless if he required his staff to perform it or not.
In the ride, he cursed himself for not breaking the staff. It was the first thing Wernh’An was searching after regaining consciousness. The incident alone gave indication to Shinji about importance of the staff to Wernh’An.

I couldn’t have done anything about it. Staff was with Eiga. Shinji tried to justify it. But he couldn’t keep lying to himself. He had put a dent in Wernh’An’s plan but it looked recoverable.
How can he come to me when he hasn’t even seen me? He doesn’t know where I am going to. He was not very bothered by chances of being recognized by Wernh’An’s soldiers if they came searching for him. With the scars, perhaps permanent, it would be difficult to recognize him.

He remembered pain only after thinking about scars. His skin was burning and skin on his cheek had turned stiff like paper because of the fire. Shinji saw his palm skin peeling off while holding the reins for long time.
Also the chilling breeze was amplifying pain and the horse’s up-down movement hurt his stomach. Shinji was far from forgetting kicks he had taken from Commander Eiga. He suspected Shinji had few broken ribs. Observing the surrounding while being bombarded by agony was near impossible.
Ambushes were likely to happen but Shinji was vulnerable. This is why he was not on route to Pryeg even though it was the nearest habituated area from Nastria. He couldn’t go North and heading towards West would be waste of effort. Shiver Fault was filled with more hostile people than in Nastria. After all, nobody was there who didn’t consider Shinji an enemy due to one reason or another.

South was his option. Regardless of what he had planned, he was well aware of chances of it backfiring. It could take many days for him to find the road. And he had no idea if he was going to meet kind travelers or bandits there. He just wished Wernh’An’s eye wouldn’t rot in the entire journey.
Shinji rode for the whole day, ate fallen fruits and drank from water collected on rocks fallen from leaves. They were not enough to kill his hunger and thirst. But for survival, it was just alright.
He had intended to ride overnight. The horse, in the other side, had another opinion. It refused to take a single step when the night fell. Shinji lashed the horse on its head to make it walk then gave up.

What am I doing? He touched the red bruises. Fine, you win.
Shinji also thought of sleeping so he tied his horse on a tree and lay on the itchy grass. Tips of dried grass popped his blisters. In the time he needed to rejuvenate his strength, he ended up thinking about possible injuries he had taken.
It already was very difficult to lie from right side of his body. Had he been in Pryeg or Azmra Forest, he would have been covered by insects hoping to get taste of human blood. Insects were rare in Nastria but the grass displaced it.
No wonder why horses didn’t eat the grass. His horse sat, put its head on its back and closed its eyes after a mild neigh. Seeing his ride asleep, Shinji also let his eye lids join. Then exhaustion and darkness did rest of the work.

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