Sunday, December 9, 2012

Grace, Please Leave Me Home (3/5)

     “Back into formation soldiers,” shouted Sir Kane, the head of Nom’s unit of men-at-arms.  The camp became alive with men strapping on armor or ramming some food into their bellies.  The moon was in its waning quarter, the lack of light causing many to stumble or put on their surcoats inside out.
     Nom was still unconscious and woozy, lying in his tent.  A red-soaked bandage was wound tightly around the stump of his right forearm.  His tent mate shook him awake, causing him to open his eyes a crack and groan.  The pain and stiffness was intense, both on his arm and in his throat.  A sudden need to vomit caused Nom to stumble into a bipedal stance and rush outside, bile brown and liquid.  After severe bouts of wretching, Nom wiped off his mouth and laid back down in his tent, for he hadn’t thought to take his armor off before getting intoxicated and was already prepared for battle. 
     “Wake up, armsman,” a young man shouted several minutes later.
     “Father?” Nom’s face was sincere.
     “Come on Nom, you know me.  The savages are approaching, we need your…” the boy slowly lifted his finger to point at Nom’s bloody bandage.   “What?”  He stooped down beside Nom scarcely before a bead of drool ran down his clean-shaven muzzle.  “Good Remish, Nom.  Your sword hand…”
     Nom coughed and groaned.  “Smashed.  Gone.”  He did a quarter turn and puked again before resuming unconsciousness. 
     The boy’s features tightened, but he was too shocked to really be disgusted.  “So that’s why you’re acting so strange.”  He turned his head to shoat outside, “Sir Connor, you must see this.”
     “What is it William?” the knight asked as he entered the tent.  His expression was even worse than his squire’s.  “Nom, what devil from the Underland did this?”
     “Just a big stick,” Nom slurred.
     Sir Connor shouted out, “I need some fresh bandages in here.”  He began to unravel Nom’s soiled dressing, revealing jagged bone and blood-caked flesh.
     “Here, Sir,” said the entering surgeon that had done Nom’s amputation.  “Oh, how is he doing?”
     “Thank you.”  Sir Connor cleaned out the wound and swathed it with the new wrapping.  “William, go fetch me some water.”
     Loud screaming could be heard very close at hand.   The sounds of a pitched battle became continually more eminent as the squire struggled back to the tent, oak bucket in hand.  Some of the contents sloshed out as he entered.
     Sir Connor looked up and said, “I bucket!  I suppose it will suffice, but use some sense William.”  William set the bucket down and backed off.  Sir Connor parted Nom’s lips, cupped his hands to get some water, and poured it into Nom’s mouth, tilting his body slightly to keep him from drowning.  He continued to do this, pausing between each cycle, for quite a spell.
     Nom finally woke up, the alcohol cleaning out of his system, and rushed toward a bush.  Sir Connor grinned and said, “William, you stay and look after Nom, I am going into the right flank to assist the heavy cavalry.  When Nom returns to himself, tell him to the go to the outside right infantry quarter where I can keep an eye on him.”
     “I will, Sir.  May Remish keep you safe and strong.”

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