Sword and shield. A steel helmet. Lotye had asked for these things, but now that she had gotten them, she found that she didn’t have any real use for them. The helmet was the worst, having the fascinating ability to be uncomfortably tight, painfully pressing against the sides of her head, and, at the same time, to be too big for her head, making it slide down and over her eyes with every thrid step she took. It certainly wasn’t made for small, slender women like her. Which was why it was discarded only moments after her feet touched the the ground of the battlefield.
In the same vein, the shield was too heavy for her to effectively use. Lotye was certain that she wouldn’t be able to deflect more than one blow with it. Her arm was slowed down by the weight strapped to, she would not be able to move the shield up quickly again to block a second strike. That was, of course, assuming that the first one wouldn’t break her arm. So, I better just not get hit. Or I have to make sure that there will be no second strike. The only tool Lotye knew how to use was the sword. She may have held it more like one would hold a knife in a bar fight, but in the end, a short sword wasn’t that different to a long knife. Or at least, it wasn’t that different for Lotye. She carried it in front of her while they were escorting Jeneyeru to the temple, ready to stab and slash any bandit coming their way.
Luckily, she never had to test those theories of hers. Thanks to the darkness summoned by the wizard’s weakened breath, no enemies even tried to attack their little convoy. Probably much to the disappointment of some of the sailors, but not to hers. Lotye could only imagine the feeling of dread the sight of this seething cloud of shadows brought to their enemies. But for her, it meant a feeling of hope, because it allowed them to to bring her master and benefactor to the healing waters of the temple without further delay.
So many unusual things had happened to her in the last few weeks, that she seemed to have run out of surprise. The strange, but beautiful form of Lady Moonrain didn’t fill her with any of it. Not one muscle in Lotye’s face moved as they were led to the temple by the deer-woman. When they reached the door in the hillside, Lotye carelessly threw her iron buckler to the ground. She wouldn’t need it beyond this point, they were entering a sanctuary. Also, her shield-arm was gradually going numb. On the other hand, her trust in the gods didn’t seem to go far enough to throw away her sword. She sheathed it and with every step she took in the narrow tunnels, it clunked heavily against her hip.
Lotye once had visited a similar shrine during her short apprenticeship as a healer, but it had been consecrated solely to Dian Cecht instead of Flidais. The god of healing had a small shrine here, too, but the rest of the caverns with their carvings and streaming waters more seemed to signify the feral powers of health that inhabited nature than the more controlled and scientific approach of the followers of Dian Cecht. In the temple she had been in, the light had been bright and clear daylight, shining into rooms covered in white tiles, full of healer and the patients they were treating. Here the light was dim, they seemed to be the only people down here and the only sounds were the echoes of their steps. Outside, a battle was still being fought. But despite all of this, Lotye thought to feel that this was just as much, if not more so, a place of healing, a peaceful sanctuary where the outside world couldn’t reach them.
But that didn’t mean that time didn’t matter in here. Even in the narrow passageways of the temple, Lotye had tried to stay next to Jeneyeru’s stretcher for as long as possible. He was weak and their trek hadn’t done him any good. He would need all the help this place was able to offer. There wasn’t much time to lose. Lotye rolled her eyes at Ionas’ lengthy introduction. Courtly bows won’t heal anybody …
“Yes, yes”, she said, “that’s all very nice, but we’ve got an emergency here. The Lord Magus needs help immediately. Now, I’m no real healer, but I guess, with this place devoted to two gods, that should be possible, shouldn’t it? What can we do?”