He nodded instead of speaking words he knew would at least sound inappropriate. All he could do then was watch and hope.
Hope is the only thing stronger than fear. He learned that when a boy living on the street, begging for food, taking shelter wherever he found it, which, one night, was inside a brick and mortar abandoned church. It smelled old, but not the way other old things did as if they were rotting from the inside. There were quotes written on the walls along the edges where they met the ceiling. I believe in God even when He is silent. I believe in love even when I’m alone. And Hope is the only thing stronger than fear.
There were others but to a boy of eight, those three where surprisingly needed. For the first time in weeks, he slept through the night. He resided in that old church for months. He cleaned it, claimed it as his, and even decorated places within with the bits and pieces of other peoples’ lives he found outside.
The Druid healers chatted as they worked on Margaret. Their language was unknown, but then he stood on a disk platform of earth mounted atop tree branches five hundred feet in the air.
He studied their movements, saw they used some kind of exotic looking tools, and applied potions to her wounds. Finally exhaustion crept over him and he sat with his back against a tree branch that joined the disk to the tree and nodded off.
An eerie lamentation jammed him awake. Stanton was on his feet without thinking about moving, ready to fight whatever new threat invaded. But he was alone with the warrior and the healers. They still worked on Margaret. He went to them and looked down at the person all called his woman. He color was normal, her chest moving normally. Her eyes were closed and he wondered why he heard the awful sound.
Then, when one of the healers lifted Margaret’s ruined leg, he saw why. Margaret was re-growing her leg. In the middle where the bone was shattered from the explosion, there was a stub of new bone with muscle, tendons, and flesh. As he stared he thought he was it moving, weaving and regenerating.
The sight actually turned his stomach, but he had know some of Margaret’s history so forced himself to remain calm and focus on the fact that his feelings for her remained strong and that she carried their child. And what will the baby look like? Margaret when she’d shape shifted or an ordinary human?He queried himself finally. He’d fought against the questions thinking it might be misconstrued as selfish and inappropriate. Now he was stunned by her ability and half hoped their child would have it too.
Shaking his head slightly, and not wishing to disturb the healers, he walked away and found the warrior tending their horses.
“How do the horses leave this place or do they live in the tree too?” he asked.
“We will move tree disks to eventually lower them to the ground below. We have facilities for the horses there.” She looked around as if expecting someone of something to appear, and then shook her head slowly. “The tree is accommodating.” She finally continued brushing the black mare. Since he saw no blood, Stanton assumed she also had a way to wash the horses.
After an hour, Stanton grew restless. The disk was not large enough to accommodate his needs. Margaret had not regained consciousness, and the healers had stopped working on her wounds. He believed that when they saw that Margaret had the ability to regrow a limb, the healers were stunned and perhaps some deep superstition had been awakened. They now seemed reluctant to touch her, even stand within ten feet of where she lay.
He walked to Margaret’s location, and squatted alongside her, placed a hand on her forehead, leaned down enough so he might hear her breathing. Then he placed his other hand on her abdomen and drew a long slow breath as he felt his child kick against his contact.
“You live, my little one,” he whispered feeling emotions he never previously imagined could exist. The felt deeply protective, and the need, no the demand to wrap his arms around Margaret and hold her close to his chest so she might, even though unconscious, feel the love that throbbed within him for her and the child.
Leaning so his lips might graze her ear as he spoke, he said, “I cannot lose you. We have much to do and we will travel once you are healed and ready.” He wanted to tell her that he loved her, but felt odd about expressing strong emotions to her while she was not aware.
A hand on his shoulder drew him back, away from the place within that he had explored, a place with hidden emotions he’d thought buried and gone after his assassin training was completed.