[P] [M]-Blindsided
Tear in the Tapestry, dated late morning of the 7th

WARNING: This thread contains material exceeding the general board rating of PG-13. It may contain very strong language, drug usage, graphic violence, or graphic sexual content. Reader discretion is advised.

Specifically, this thread is marked mature because of: violence, death.

Danger was something Tora had learned to live with.  Well, that wasn't really the whole truth. Danger was something Tora had conditioned himself to need as much as he did alcohol. Some people liked to see a love of risk taking as a good thing. They interpreted the need to leap headfirst into stupid fights or to start if none were happening as a trait to be respected. It was a sign of strength to them, a display of toughness and how willing a person was to take on all comers at the drop of a hat. Hokori was like that, a giant who knew that she could pull peoples limbs from their body and really wanted everyone else to be know it as well. And Tora had been just the same when he had been a young and lethally fast swordsman with an ego to defend.

Now he was no less lethal but far more drained. Age had made him realize just how pointless it all was in the end. Every time he had crossed blades with someone, whether it had been due to a fault of his or theirs, almost none of it had been worth it. He had spent his whole life digging himself deeper and deeper so that he was entrenched in his ways with no hope of climbing free, self-reduced to little more than a construct powered by booze and designed to master savage violence. There were maybe two cases where he could be proud of himself for fighting: the time he had fended off a gang menacing Inara in the stables and the incident where he had stopped strange loners from robbing Kalypso.

Danger didn't scare Tora anymore, it just exhausted him. Waking up had been hard when he knew he was just going to see the roof of the Bastion and hear the sound of incoming missiles. But he did it anyway. He might die a wretched wreck of a man but he wasn't going to go out lying on his back.

He was still out of it when Jasper stood up. Tora watched the functionally blind Peer feel his way over to the window, mind too fogged by exhaustion to really piece together what was going on. "Jasper? What are you-"

"I hear something! Outside, I think someone's calling for help." 

Help? Had they missed someone? No that couldn't be right, there was no way someone could have gone unaccounted without having been grabbed by the attackers. Maybe there was a loner who had stumbled into the thick of the conflict and was now stuck begging for entrance. Tora eyed the window nervously, edging towards its side while Jasper approached head on.

"Jasper, maybe slow it down some. We have no idea who it could be out there." 

Thanks to his impaired state Tora's voice lacked the property authority of a Councilor. He had phrased it as a suggestion instead of a proper order and it seemed to go right over the coydog's head. Jasper kept walking, feeling his way forward with practiced efficiency. A lifetime of traversing the treacherous tunnels of the Underthing had made Jasper a master of moving without seeing, his long limbs perfect for picking his way past obstructions. He made to the window before Tora, a hand pressed to the wall while he shifted aside the furniture and debris that had been piled into a makeshift barricade.

Tora was still a few feet away when he pushed aside the ragged blanket that had been thrown up as a curtain. 

"Hello? If someone's there we can-"

The sentence would forever go unfinished. Someone had indeed answered Jasper, a distant shape moving just slow enough for Tora to realize what it was but far too fast for him to do anything about it. The arrow hit home with a sickening squelch just as Tora threw himself at the Underthing's caretaker. Jasper didn't even scream, just letting loose a desperate gasping as he fell backward into Tora's arms. 

Then it all blurred, Tora's sleepy confusion blown away in a sudden gust of urgency. He dragged the injured man away just in time avoid a second arrow, spitting hateful curses as he haphazardly threw the curtain closed with a kick of his foot. "Medic! Get over here now!" He barked for aid while Jasper writhed in his grasp, Tora laying the poor creature out on the floor so he could be tended to.

"Help me..."

Jasper's voice could barely be heard, weak and hoarse and desperately calling for aid while Tora silently wrote him off as a lost cause. He'd be headed the same way if someone didn't tend to him soon and it wasn't going to be Tora. The samurai knew only how to bandage wounds and splint a broken limb, he could do nothing more in this situation than he already had. The arrow had been well struck, hitting below the ribs and sinking in. Lung shot. Fatal in the best of situations and supplies were stretched thin as it was but there was a chance the healers could save him.

Tora wasn't holding his breath. He just knelt next to the selfless hero and grasped his hand.


"I know, I know. Help's coming, it's alright."

It was pretty fucking far from alright. Jasper had tried to do the right thing and they took advantage of him, proven to Tora once again that good deeds would only ever go punished. 

OOC: i didnt like writing this ;-; Wordcount 932
ooc [+1,245]
Bellad had been adding overwork and lack of sleep to his hunger. He’d been found, at times, hunched over on a chair near one of New Caledonia’s wounded or another. Never with work left half-done, yet he’d snap into consciousness and double-check upon the slightest stimulation all the same. There was little left for him to work with, and it almost seemed his own resources were running out much like the sabotaged supplies of Guild and Pack.

This urgent call actually caught him awake, instructing Ridgewell on the order in which the patients were to be checked. Though he wasn’t a member of the Circle proper, the scarred wolfdog had the skills, and these days this qualified everyone who was hidden away in the Bastion to assist the wounded.

Medic. Not a term he’d ever referred to his trade by, but any synonyms would do. They could have called a Councilor, a Songthorn, a Bellad, a healer. They could have even made a sound of alarm or let loose a cry of pain, and he would come running, forcing the surrounding world into focus against pangs of hunger and fatigue. He rushed over. As always there were shoulders to get past.

“Out of the way. Move!” It was no wonder some stood very still or gravitated in the same direction as his determined forward motion. They heard the same call, and though it was not addressed to them they could read the alarm in it. He had no courtesies left to dispense for those who obstructed his way. Bursting into the room from where the call came, he immediately looked around. It took a fraction of an instance for him to isolate the figures on the floor. The one who called for him. And the one who bled in his arms.

“Jasper. No.” No urgent cry, yet an expression of anguish spread itself across Bellad’s features. He rushed over in a coal-black blur and knelt by them. Immediately his hand went behind Jasper’s head, unceremoniously instructing Tora. “Up! Seat him up!” The hand that he used to help prop him was immediately drenched by rivulets of blood streaming from the puncture left by the arrow. It’d been lodged inside. The same trick as with Reblin, where he could cut off the sharp end, got rid of the fletching and pull the shaft out this way, wouldn’t work here. No, the arrow had to stay this time. He raked his memory for the more difficult procedures he'd seen the Elders perform.

The Underthing was a dark place and they’d been there for three days by then. So grim were Bellad’s own prospects on his and Calan’s survival that he’d even let slip secrets for the flaxen-haired trader to bring to the surface in his stead were he not to make it. They’d slept on the cave floor where it had been dry, they lit their way with the guttering light of a broken lantern while the oil lasted. And through that time they felt watched, suspecting a ghost.

Bellad reached for a bandage. A makeshift piece of torn cloth. This was, at this point, the best they could do in terms of material with which to dress a wound. He encircled the entry point of the arrow in the cloth that immediately became drenched in crimson. “Press here!” He didn’t know what trick to try. If he lived long enough, they could widen the wound until the arrow could be safely removed. Pulling it out would be tantamount to finishing the archer’s job for them.

They’d taken turns doubting one another’s soundness of mind, but their predicament slowly drained them of humor. When Jasper first showed himself to them in the dark, the two men screamed. Accounts varied. Some said it was both of them at the same time. Some said Calan screamed and grabbed on to Bellad who then started screaming in turn. The former were the group who heard the story from Calan. The latter were those who heard it from Bellad. Jasper didn’t spread either of the stories, though obviously was partially responsible for both. Not that it was exactly part of New Caledonia folklore, significant as the story had been to those involved and their loved ones.

The wounded coydog gasped weakly, liquid bubbling in his voice, red still rising to the surface, dying the cloth that they pressed to his chest in a futile, helpless attempt to do at least something. They couldn’t even move him while he was bleeding so much. “Behl… lahd…” Jasper’s voice was unclear, gurgling with blood as he garbled out Bellad’s name. “Bel-…” Bellad turned to his muzzle. The coydog couldn’t see him, so Bellad touched him by the ear with a free hand, helping press down against the wound with the other. “Yes. That’s right Jasper. I’m here. Don’t talk. I’ll help you. We’ll help you.” He spoke quickly, frantically. There was no time to say more - they had to help him. But how?

He’d helped them. Without him they never would have made it out. This “ghost” of the Underthing knew so many of its twists and turns that they never would have recognized in the dark. He was the one who lead them to the secondary entrance when the one they had entered the cave through originally caved in. And for a time it was a place for them to reconvene. Ierian and Bellad alike would come bearing offerings or asking after Jasper’s health. He never asked for it, but the Songthorn family’s only two sons at the time insisted. After all, Bellad owed him his life.

Jasper’s life drained from him and onto Bellad’s hands. His fingers, his palms were soiled in it through and through. Even the brief touch on the blind man’s scalp had left marks in his own blood on his fur. The wound wasn’t just external. It was also inside. “Help… Bellad…” Jasper asked as the healer’s ears pressed down against his skull. A sense of tunnel vision reduced the room only to himself, the wet crimson and the rasping coydog drowning in his own blood, some of it trickling down from the side of his mouth, coloring his teeth. And he didn't know what he could do or try. Not with what they had left. Not with what he had left. 

“If you are so displeased that I come all the way out here, you can move to the City Square. You would be closer to us then. I would be honored.”
“Ah, it’s fine. Someone’s got to watch over the Underthing… Someone with a trained eye for it.”
“Still… Thank you. I owe you my life.”
“Yeah, well. You’re a good healer, aren’t you? Maybe one day you’ll return the favor, Bellad.”

In the present he heard a rendition of his name one last time. The body under his grasp grew limp and pliant to the pressure against his bleeding chest. The blood still gushed for a time, but the body that produced it was by then slack, breathless, lifeless. “Jasper… Jasper! Hey…” He tried to turn his head by the bottom of his jaw and it dropped to his shoulder as soon as he let it go. Bellad clenched his teeth as his hand on the wound slowly relaxed its now unnecessary hold. The Songthorn lowered his head, forehead lightly pressed against Jasper's. Still warm, though not for long.

They, he, lost another one.

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