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Rebekah King Rebekah King
Recommendations: 21

LAS III - Compassion


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Seriously considering turning this story into a novel. What do you think?


“What’s your name?” Lan questioned her.


“Sorraru,” She replied.


Lan thought this was an interesting name. It was characteristic of the western Tribes. He was from the north, so he wondered still how he could possibly know her face. They sat around a small fire in a camp Lan had set up some days before, not long after he’d woken up here. The air was frosty and the ground damp. Lan was used to such conditions, being from the north. But he supposed this place was rather different from the lush plains of the west. He looked at Sorraru and noticed that she was shivering a bit.


Lan did not get up, instead merely shuffled backwards across the ground to reach into his shelter. From it he retrieved a blanket made from several different animal pelts stitched together. This he draped over Sorraru’s shoulders. She was stunned at his consideration, but remembered herself.


“Thank you,” She said sincerely.


Lan only nodded his head once in response. He preferred not to speak unless it was necessary. Talk made noise. He shuffled back closer to the fire and watched for a moment as the flames licked at the still-damp wood.


“What’s yours?” Sorraru asked suddenly.


For a moment, Lan was confused as to what of his she was referring. He gave her a quizzical look.


“Your name,” She clarified.


Realising, he returned his attention to the fire. “Lan,” He replied.


Sorraru said nothing. She, too turned to stare at the flames as Lan was. There was something mesmerising about a burning fire, Lan thought. Mysterious – much like this place. Lan noticed from his peripheral vision that Sorraru was examining the blanket he had given her. She ran her fingers gently across the fur and stitching.


“Did you make this?” She looked up at him.


Lan gave her his attention and nodded once more. She continued to examine the stitching and Lan watched her now. There was something he admired about the way her fingers brushed over the material, barely touching it, but still absorbing its texture. Those fingers were expert at something. Lan wondered what that could be. Lan saw that she recognised the feel of the thread immediately.


“This stitching... argas?”


“The leaves of the argas plant.”


She had a keen sense of touch. Argas was the only plant that grew and thrived in all of the Tribes’ areas. Apparently it was the same for this environment. Lan briefly pondered the possibility that they could be not all that far from one of the Tribes, but he banished the thought immediately. Other Homecomers had tried to escape before, to avoid having to kill their opponent. But, for reasons they couldn’t explain, failed.


“Where did you get all these pelts?”


“Small animals. Retchens, naschens, thorars... very versatile.”


Lan retrieved his quiver from the ground by his side. He pulled out an arrow and handed it to Sorraru. She gave him a confused look, but then proceeded to examine the arrow. She ran her expert fingers along the smooth shaft, over the rough argas thread that attached the junbo feathers at one end, then the sharpened point at the other. Sorraru felt uneasy at viewing up close the object that had nearly taken her life. It would have pierced through her skin and skull and lodged itself in her brain for sure.


“It’s bone. The animal bones?”


“Yes.


“It’s very sharp.”


“Rocks are useful.”


Sorraru handed the arrow back to him, unable to hold it any longer. She pulled the blanket tighter around herself and fixed her gaze on the fire. Lan returned the arrow to its quiver, keeping his eyes trained on Sorraru. She could see him doing this and it made her uncomfortable.


“Why are you telling me all of this?”


Lan did not reply,  unsure of why she asked this. She had asked him questions and he had answered. Nothing more to it. Lan’s silence only worried Sorraru further.


“If this is some sort of a sick game, you’d better tell me now.”


“What?” There was a note of amusement in Lan’s voice.


“You’re still going to kill me, aren’t you? Hit me when my back’s turned?”


“If I wanted to kill you, I’d have released the arrow.”


Sorraru stopped as she realised this was true. Lan was certainly capable of killing her – if he’d wanted her dead, she already would be. But why would he risk his own life by not killing her?


“Why didn’t you?”


“What?”


“Release the arrow. Let it bury itself in my head and be done with it? Why didn’t you?”


Lan considered this himself before answering. “I don’t know.”


Why hadn’t he just killed her? Even if he thought he knew her, which couldn’t be possible. What did it matter? She would have been so easily dealt with and he could be back home right now. He remembered what it was that had made him stop. It was her scream. “Please” she’d said. Her cry had made his sense of compassion show its ugly head. His mentor had always told him he was too compassionate. Lan was staring at the fire again. Sorraru waited for him to speak.


“I’m not going to kill you,”


Of this Lan was sure. He’d already made his decision. Sorraru couldn’t comprehend what could have possibly brought him to his conclusion, but she was grateful nonetheless.


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