“Easy, Guardsman,” Rogan counseled, clamping his hand around Jack’s arm to help him back to his feet. “Senses gone a wee bit wild, is it?”
“…the hell?” Jack stammered, still trying to find his balance. He compromised by reaching out to lean against the tree whose root had taken him down.
With their procession halted, the world steadied for the man. He lifted his eyes to his companions in search of an explanation. They cast each other concerned glances as he rubbed the sore wrists and stinging palms that had just added themselves to his catalog of pain.
“A slow road this way,” Rogan judged. “We’ve not gone a quarter-league yet since the last rest. It seems unsafe to be this slow in the middle of the woods. Shall we return to the kriojjin?”
It was never a league behind them, after all.
Nam twisted her lip as she thought, then shook her head. “I shall carry the pack for a time. You carry Jack. For his own safety, he cannot tarry on this world. I will work with him at luncheon time.”
“I can walk!” Jack protested, but Rogan had already begun shedding his pack. It had to weigh as much as Nam did, but he knew her well. She could carry such a weight easily thanks to her arts, making her diminutive size seem like a lie. He turned and dropped to a knee, grinning back at the guardsman.
“I’ve long since learned never to argue with her, Jack. Your choices are between pig-aback voluntarily and a fireman’s carry otherwise. What’ll it be?”
Jack looked ready to stand his ground for a moment, but then nodded. He hid nothing of how foolish it made him feel, but he let Rogan heft him onto his back like a child. Rogan agreed that the difference in their size was insufficient to not make it look ridiculous. But Nam had already taken off on a double-time step before Rogan climbed back to his feet. He had to trot after her and give it no further thought.
“You’re doing something with that flux stuff to help carry me,” Jack noted. Rogan raised an eyebrow in slight surprise. The man was progressing at unusual speed if he understood that his new sense was showing something more than Rogan’s back lifting him.
He had to wait to answer while he concentrated on his footing through an overgrown part of the path. Once safe, he nodded. “Aye. I’d like to be so strong, but in truth, I’d not manage such a speed while carrying you, without Althem’s help.”
It was his companion actually silently coming to his assistance, after all. She tended to do such without his bidding.
“Nam’s doing the same, right?”
For Rogan, flux was a close-in thing, a thick palpable soup of existence in intense detail which didn’t extend even the ten yards or so that separated him and Nam except in the very vaguest way. He couldn’t tell if she had any form working at all, but he knew she must. A small lass like her could hardly be trotting along while lugging a seven-stone burden on her back, not even a lass were as strong as Nam. Most women her size could never even budge such a load from the ground.
“We cannot do this for long,” he noted. “Flux control is wearing on a person. You keep concentrating on getting used to your flux-sense. It does not come quickly for anyone.”
“Is there some way to shut it off?”
Rogan chuckled at the question. It was like asking to shut off ones hearing or sense of touch, after all. He gave the man the bad news with a light tone.
“Once it has opened, that window cannot close, Jack.”