to the right i could see a church
a watering hole where they were whiskey drunk

He was back.

He was back, and when he breathed, the world didn’t smell like it was burning, and it didn’t smell like the blood he’d spilled. It did smell a bit like his own blood, though, only because he’d scratched the scab off after Wilson had told him fifty times not to.

Levent reached up with a claw under his headband and rubbed the wound there before glancing at the darkish smear on his cream finger. At least that was minor (the headaches had gone away, too) and the more serious wounds ceased to plague him as they might have. He’d been lucky to get away with a bite on his arm and some clawing on his ribs; he’d just needed to take care of the wounds and knew enough rudimentary first aid to be able to keep them from getting unnecessarily infected. Right now, the worst part was the itching, and while the cat would bite him if he dug at his arm or torso, it was easy to pretend to adjust his head cloth and poke at the forming wound there instead.

“That will scar,” Wilson growled, and splayed his paws slightly to balance as the paint mare underneath him lurched to get over a ledge on her side of the path. The tomcat frowned and began to spin, checking the saddlebags carrying the glass jars Lev had traded for, which in turn carried additional goods of leafy drugs. With hardly anything to his name but the rings on his fingers and chains around his neck, Levent hadn’t had as easy of a time in Freetown as he’d had before, but he didn’t care and still got useful items with a little Old World bartering and schmoozing.

No, jars of clove and tobacco and marijuana were not much of a prize. The old, worn, abused sooty buckskin gelding underneath him was.

“Seni tekrar gördüğüme çok sevindim, Umut,” Levent murmured gently, rubbing along the horse’s neck and touching a few puckered scars there. He phrased the words again in the Low Speech of equines and received a good-natured, low reply. He also heard something rather sarcastic from Mai, and turned to smile at her, admonishing: “Kıskanç kız.”

“She’s bloody well not jealous,” Wilson snorted, even though he pretended not to understand Turkish. His sandy-yellow eyes glimmered affectionately, however; he seemed to notice the change for the better in his old friend with the rescued horse around, and was grateful for it after the dark days they’d dragged themselves through. Lev knew, but he chose to just not acknowledge it. He chose not to acknowledge much.

The mountain on their right passed, as did a glimpse of a great lake, and they were nearing the isthmus again. Levent shifted awkwardly; his scabs were itching again. He started to raise his shirt before Wilson hissed pointedly at him, at which point he grinned sheepishly but tugged his shirt off over his head anyway (quite a feat while trying to balance on horseback, though the gelding was a steady mount). Ignoring the cat’s suddenly heavy gaze on him, he shrugged. “Hurts when the cloth catches on them.”

The white tom lashed his tail. “Your fault,” he pointed out intelligently.

The brown wolf frowned. “What the hell else did you expect me to do? He was as good as dog food if I didn’t do anything. I tried to offer them what I had, considering how little worth he has anyway. Last time I saved this poor beast you nagged me about paying too much; thievery is free.” He scratched his rib wound defiantly.

“I swear by my mother’s baps I’m going to give you more scabs to scratch,” Wilson yowled, and stood on the mare’s back as the Luperci continued to ignore him. “Levent, I’ll run off and get eaten by a bear, and you’ll be too busy bleeding to do anything—what! I heard you, I am not a nattering old queen!”

The cat jumped from Mai’s white and brown haunches onto Umut’s, which caused the gelding to shy, but Levent caught his feline friend with one arm and grinned arrogantly at him before getting a cuff to the nose. He set Wilson in front of him, checked the lead connecting the two horses, and grinned again, to himself, before urging their little quartet on toward Amherst.

Levent returns from Freetown; back-dated in my own mind, but I don't care about dates! :P

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