Marek rode his horse as hard and as fast as he could. He had to find Miranda’s body. He had to hold her one last time. The magician who assisted him before was in the middle of the road wandering aimlessly. Marek slowed and spoke to the magician.
“What are doing? Are you harmed?”
“I…I don’t know. There’s so much death. I can’t believe…I can’t believe I’m alive.”
“I can assure you that you are indeed alive. Whether or not you are well remains to be seen? Do you know any healing spells.”
“Ye…Ye…Yes, some very minor ones.”
“Then come with me, you can still help the people of this city.”
Without waiting for the wizard’s response Marek reached down and hurled him onto the back of the horse. He continued riding with the utmost haste. As they passed through the carnage Marek took note of the destruction along the way. He thought about what the dragon had told him and how this could not have been a random attack. He vainly tried to recall details of every evil he had encountered over the past year. He could not concentrate though, his mind was stuck on Miranda. Within the hour they were approaching the hospital.
Marek dismounted and assisted the magician off. There were several people trying to dig out their friends and family from the charred rubble. A surprising amount of the building remained intact, despite it being burned to a crisp.
“Magician, come here!”
“What is it?”
“Do you have a name?
The magician appeared stunned. He stuttered, “I am called Barsheel, by my peers.”
“Very well Barsheel, twice I have found you in these few hours. I feel that I am meant to know you. You proved yourself useful before, let us see if that was not a fluke. I need you to use your magic to clear as much of this debris as possible. Use whatever appropriate healing spells you know on those you find.”
“Of course, I’ll do the best I can”.
“One more thing Barsheel.”
“What is it?”
Marek described Miranda in every detail he could recall.
“If you find her, let me know immediately.”
Barsheel quickly found his resolve under Marek’s orders and set about his work. From the description Marek gave he could tell that Miranda was someone Marek loved deeply. After a few hushed spells large pieces of the building were crumbling away. Where bits of flame still existed they were quickly extinguished. Marek was impressed by this effort. Using his newfound strength Marek assisted in the clearing task he set about.
There were many bodies, unfortunately most were dead or dying. There were a few whose injuries were remarkably minor. Even a few of the healers were found. Once revived by Barsheel they were able to assist in the efforts to restore the health of those found. In all 55 were found dead, or too far injured. Another 15 were able to make sufficient recovery. Miranda was not among them. Marek approached the healer who seemed to have the most experience among those found.
“What is your name healer?”
“Lascinda, tell me, what is the fate of Miranda?”
“I do not know. She was helping evacuate the sick and injured from the hospital when it became clear we were a point of attack. She and two other healers had just exited with a large group out of the south entrance when the building collapsed.”
“Where were they headed?”
“Since the dragons seemed interested in the city alone someone suggested the rock quarry, a mile east of the city limits, would provide ample coverage. There are some caves there…”
“Then that is where I must go, tell me the most likely route they would take.”
“That will not be necessary!” Came Miranda’s firm voice.
Several people turned. Miranda stood there with what appeared to be a young girl beside her. Her hair was as fair as ever, and her stature had not diminished. But she had scorch marks around her and she was covered in dirt. She seemed to be leaning on one leg, giving rest to her other which was heavily bruised. Marek did not give pause upon seeing her. He bounded to her in a flash and embraced her with tears openly flowing. After several deep squeezes and grasps Miranda spoke.
“Marek, Marek, please.”
“What is it?”
“Marek I am happy to see you too, but your tears reveal what you could never say to me and delays the work that must be done.”
“I am sorry. I saw the hospital explode and I thought you were dead. I feared that I would never hold you again.”
“I am okay. We can discuss our feelings later. For now there are more people to help. I could use Lascinda’s expertise with my leg.”
“What about a magician? Would that be better? Barsheel come quickly I have need of you!”
“We have a magician in our presence?” queried Miranda.
As Barsheel approached Marek spouted, “Yes, he helped me beat the dragons! Hurry Barsheel you must help.”
Miranda smiled, “It’s okay Marek, it is but a flesh wound. I do not need a magician.”
Miranda stumbled a bit as she stepped forward. Marek could not help himself as he reached to pick her up.
“That may be a bit more than a flesh wound. I will take you to Lascinda.”
Marek carried her despite her protests. She really didn’t mind, but she did not like appearing weak around Marek. They made their way to Lascinda who was clearing a place to lay another patient. Marek placed Miranda down as lightly as a feather and held her hand gently.
“Please give me and the patient some room Marek.” Lascinda said.
“I’ll be fine Marek, I’m in the hands of my best healer. There are about 20 people safely in the caves of the rock quarry. They will need a place to come back to.” Miranda chastised him slightly.
Marek stood back and sighed. “You are right, I am forgetting myself. More important duty lies here. I will return as quickly as I can.”
Marek left Lascinda to care for Miranda and the others. He could overhear Lascinda catching Miranda up on the state of her patients and the hospital as he walked away. He instructed Barsheel to accompany him as he found his men and gathered the state of the rest of the city.