“There are more coming over the hill!”
Sunashe turned away from the blockade overlooking the valley on one side of the town and ran to join the others going up the road over the hill. The valley below had been partially cleared, but more were coming up from the south.
He looked up to where the voices came from. Elves moved more makeshift barricades out to block the road. Some were even moving tables and couches out of homes to the path of the approaching undead army. There was more yelling up ahead, then he saw them just over the crest of the hill. There were only a few at first, but more kept coming, and then more. Sunashe took cover behind one of the tables that had been flipped onto its side in the path of the oncoming Scourge, and readied his bow. He stood up behind his cover, and drew his bowstring back as he faced the undead army. They had already poured over the first few barricades at the top of the hill. Sunashe paused only a moment as his eyes first beheld the horrors in front of him before letting loose his bowstring. Aim for the neck, he thought to himself as he nocked another arrow. Though he hit his marks, there were more coming. He saw the friends he worked with fall in front of him. He glanced backwards to see that others still stood and fought behind him. Maybe it would be enough to divert them from the town. He nocked another arrow as something grabbed his leg. His bow fell from his hands as he fell to the ground. He grabbed his dagger from his belt, and started slashing at any Scourge that came close, but was soon overwhelmed.
He wasn’t sure how much time had passed. He heard crying nearby, a whimpering pathetic cry. It was followed by groans of pain. He opened his eyes.
Pale moonlight filled the men’s quarters of the ranger building. It had only been a dream. That dream. Again. He rolled over in his bed and adjusted his pillow before placing his head on it and closing his eyes. It would be a while yet before dawn, and it would be best if he could get back to sleep. He closed his eyes, then he heard it again. It was the same whimpering groan that he had heard in his dream. He sat up, and looked in the direction it had come from.
While it was dark, there was still enough moonlight that Sunashe could see. It helped that the source of the sound had chosen a bed near the window. The new guy, an older man who had quit drinking just before joining, slept fitfully there. He had tossed and turned on his bed so much tonight that his blanket and pillow rested on the floor.
“Old Drunky,” Sunashe frowned as he got out of bed, strapping his foot on his leg before standing. He walked over and bent down to pick up the pillow and blanket. “You’ll get through this. Things will be better in a few days. You’ll see.” He placed the pillow near the man’s head and put the blanket over him. While he hadn’t meant to touch the man, his hand came in contact with his shoulder as he placed the blanket, and he paused. The man felt warm, and he was sweating.
“You’re deep in withdrawal now, aren’t you, Old Drunky. We’ll get you through this.”
The man mumbled something that Sunashe didn’t understand, as Sunashe looked around at the other beds. Their youngest member was the only other one who had woken. His glowing green eyes giving away the fact that he was awake. “Perothis, it’s okay. Go back to sleep.” If Tylenthis or Gaelardrim were awake, he couldn’t tell. He turned his attention back to Old Drunky. He put his hand on his forehead. The man turned his head, and mumbled again as he batted his hand away. He definitely had a fever.
“Hey, Old Drunky. Wake up.” Sunashe said quietly, giving the man a shake. He pulled back as the man swung at him in his sleep.
“What’s going on?” Perothis had ignored Sunashe’s instructions to go back to sleep, and now stood at the foot of Old Drunky’s bed.
Sunashe sighed, “He has a fever, probably from withdrawal. We need to get him somewhere to lower it. Maybe a cool bath.”
“Would giving him a drink help? It could take off the edge.”
Sunashe shook his head as he got up and walked to the bathroom. He started filling the tub. “No, that’s the worst thing we could give him right now. He needs to come through this without a drink. He’s in the most difficult part right now. I’ve seen this before. I’ve seen people fail from this. I won’t stand around and watch Old Drunky fail. No alcohol. He might need some water after we get him awake.” He started back towards the bed, still speaking in a hushed tone as to not wake the others, “Isn’t that right, Old Drunky? I’ll have to find something else to call you after you get through this.”
Perothis raised a brow as he followed Sunashe back to the bed, “You could always call him by his name.”
The old man did have a name. Arancon. Sunashe shrugged, and changed the subject back to the task at hand, “Help me get him to the bath.”
Arancon mumbled again as Sunashe tried to wake him once more. This time, his words were slightly more intelligible. “I won’t go back.” he said as Sunashe tried to get him to sit up, “You can’t make me.”
“Good. Good. No one wants to make you go back. We just want you to go to the bath to lower your fever. Come on now.”
Arancon offered little resistance after being told he wouldn’t have to go back. To where, Sunashe didn’t know, nor did he care, as long as Old Drunky’s fever was lowered. Perothis, who had stayed back out of the way, now joined Sunashe, and helped Arancon to the bath. Sunashe knew he’d have to get the priestess in town to see the older man in the morning, and that he might have to stay at the clinic in town while his body worked out the withdrawal, but he would do what he could tonight.