Rosemary was the first to wake from the fall. She was on her back facing the sky. She stretched her arms in and pulled on a level that released the leather straps binging her arms in the wingsuit. As she did she felt a sharp pain in her right arm. She grabbed the arm as she sat up, staring blankly into the snowy landscape. She heard a slight moan from under her which is when she realised she was sitting on her friend's stomach, who lay motionless in the snow.
“Petunia!” Rosemary yelled as she rolled over, checking to see if her friend was alive. A pressed ear to her chest showed she was breathing and had a heart beat, but they were slow. “Oh please Dykara let her be okay!” Rosemary cried to the spirit of fate as she tried to stand up. As she did her right arm buckled, and she fell back onto her friend. “Aah! She screamed as she cusped the arm with her left hand. She could feel one of the bones in her forearm had broken. She bit her lip as she gathered her strength and pushed herself up using her left hand.
“We need to get out of the snow, or we’ll freeze to death.” She spoke as if expecting a reply from Petunia. She looked around and to her amazement there was a tree hollow just a short jog away, and better yet it was facing away from the brutal westward winds.
Rosemary tried to pull Petunia with her good arm, but could barely budge her. She looked around for anything that could be used as a rope and her eyes fell on the leather straps of her wingsuit.
"Ah damn it. I have nothing sharp to cu- Aah!" As she spoke she took a step forward and her moccasins were pierced as the invader poked the bottom of her foot.
As she looked to the sole of her foot she noticed one of the talons that say upon Petunias fingers had somehow been ripped off in the fall and landed in the snow.
"I-ita better than nothing" she said to herself as she picked up the bloody nail.
Quickly she began piecing the leather strap with the claw, making many dots along its width. When the strap had been sufficiently perforated she braced it with her hand and ripped it off with her teeth with mild effort.
She then wrapped the long piece of leather across Petunias chest, and under her armpits. Rosemary then tied it around her own waist with some difficulty as she only had one hand to work with. To ensure it would not unravel she strongly gripped it with her good hand and began trudging through the snow.
Each step was a new misery for Rosemary. Her feet were cold and wet. Her hand blistered from the movement of the leather slowly getting more and more loose, the wind fought her, and Petunia's petite body felt heavier every second.
Finally Rosemary made it to the tree hollow, and layed Petunia down on her flight suit. “It's not much but it's better than laying on the ground” she said to herself.
She shivered from the cold, stale air of the tree hollow, she knew that if she didn't start a fire they would surely die from the cold.
She placed the talon in her berry pouch, and with a steady breath she braved the snow once more.
All the branches were too high. If she were able bodied she believed she may be able to climb to the lowest branches, but as she was now it would be impossible. So out of desperation she searched the snow. Dragging her hands and feet through the light, cold powder. Slowly she found some. One or two at a time she found a decent amount.
“This won't keep us warm… but at least it will stave off the cold.” She said to the unconscious Petunia as she walked into the tree hollow.
“Now how to light it? Its too wet to light with my fire magic. Maybe if I…”
Rosemary focused. She twisted her thoughts to that of sloshing water as she moved her hand back and forth in a waving motion. Drip by drip, water began to rise out of the branches, and float their way outside. It wasn't a fast process, but it was the only means she had to dry it.
When the droplets would not come anymore, she turned her hand on its palm and began wiggling her fingers as she moved it in a small clockwise motion. After much concentration a single ember formed on one of the branches. “Yes!” she screamed. “Now to keep it lit.”
She began blowing on the ember with all her might but despite her efforts it began to fade. “No no no!” she yelled. “Stay with me, i need you!”
She turned her hand palm down again and began fluttering her fingers as she moved her hand sharply forward, slowly back, then repeated. As she did a pinpoint gust of wind came from her hands, landing itself on the ember which began to brighten, and expand. “Yes! Yes! She yelled as the pile of branches burst into flame.
“Bless Dykara, it worked.” She said weakly as tears began to swell. She wiped them away and looked to Petunia, and once again began to move her hand back and forth again, and slowly the water that was on her and Petunia's clothes drew from them. Rosemary began coughing as this happened. “Im already out…” She complained as her hand dropped and her body went limp for a moment, the water that was in the air falling to the ground with a splat.
The two were still wet. “Maybe this will be enough.” She prayed as she laid next to Petunia. It was only now that her adrenaline began to fade, and the pain of her broken arm truly kicked in. She spent the next several minutes sobbing as she fought the pain, and shared her warmth with her friend. “Damn it. Im useless.” She cursed herself for her inability to do more. “No healing magic, and my mana ran out. Why does Blackthorn train me?”
Rosemary was neither a practitioner of medicine, nor did she know any healing magic, but she could tell just by looking that her friend was badly hurt.
"You idiot." She thought to herself as she got up and tended the flames. "Why would you risk yourself? You've got the world ahead of you. I'm just... Me."
As she poked the flame, a branch inside crumbled and some embers rose, and swirled with the air. "Just be okay, please? For me?" Rosemary petted the feathers atop Petunias' head which she had placed in her lap.
"Mhmrf" Petunia grumbled in her sleep, twitching as if to roll over, her body either unwilling, or unable to comply. Slowly her eyes opened to see the golden eyes of rosemary piercing through her. "Hey Evergr-Ah" she gasped as the pain flooded in, her whole body raitiated with a deep sting.
"Petunia!" Rosemary shouted. I-im sorry. The sun got my eyes and I just... Im sorry. Im sorry." her breath stumbled, trying to hold back tears.
Petunia smiled weakly. "Its okay. I shouldn't have done that trick, I knew you couldn't do it, hehe."
"You bitch, I can too!" Rosemary stuttered a laugh as her emotions swayed, nearly standing up to rise to the challenge before forgetting her friend's head was in her lap.
Petunia weakly moved her head to the side, and looked at the flame. "How... How did you start a fire? Wood magic would take too much mana for you."
Rosemary's eyes lost their shimmer as she felt the shame of being so weak in magic. "I collected the sticks by hand, and then dried some by pulling the water out with the water seed, then made a spark with the fire seed, and blew on it with the wind seed to make sure it didn't go out."
"You... You did all that with seed spells? You never cease to amaze me, Rose."
Rosemary let out a tear. "Im sorry. That's all I can do. I'm not as amazing as you, or blackthorn, or my mom. A ten year olds magic is stronger than me. I keep trying but I.. I can't. I couldn't even pass yesterday's test.”
Petunia slowly raises her arm and touches it to Rosemary's cheek. "You know, if the situation was reversed... We'd be dying in the cold right now. I only got wind and plant magic. I can't make fire, I can't move water, I can't make those dolls of clay that you do with the earth seed. You don't know it Rose, but you're amazing, and I wish you could see you like I do."
Rosemary simply smiled, and leaned her cheek into the cold hand, trying to warm it. She then looked outside. The snow was coming down hard, and soon any trace of their fall would be covered up.
"What now?" Rosemary asked. "Blackthorn will know we're gone, but we strayed off the route."
Petunia put all her strength into sitting up. The act nearly failed as she noticed the extent of the damage. Broken ribs, fractured wing, twisted ankle, head trauma. She thought how they were more than lucky for even one of them to survive the fall.
"Rose, I can't walk. Do you have any Mana left? you could use the fire seed to send up a signal?"
"No, I used it all to start a fire. I... I have a magibulb, but..." She trailed off into silence.
"What's a magibulb?" Petunia inquired, her head falling to the side with a clueless look on her face.
Rosemary gave a worried look. As she thought to herself. "How could she not know what a magibulb is? Maybe she hit her head too hard."
Rosemary moved her hand to her pouch, praying to Dykara, the spirit of fate that the fall had not broken the fruit. Lo-and-behold it sat in its furry cage all in one piece, despite resting over a massive area of bruised skin. She presented the fruit to Petunia.
Petunia's eyes widened with childish curiosity.. “That… Rose, how did you get that?” She placed her hand on it in disbelief of what she was seeing.”
“My dad got it for me. He brings a few back every time he returns home. They really help with my lackluster mana.”
Petunia's face sank, and her eyes narrowed. As she did, a dark feeling washed over her, and she averted her eyes.
" So... Who are you really?" She said in a flat tone.
"Hu?" Rosemary chirped, a confused look washing over her.
Petunia's teeth pushed into themselves, her black eyes bright with emotion. "Don't you 'hu' me! That's an Anglefruit! No one from our status could ever hope to have ‘a few every time dad returns home’!. Hell, aristocrats fight wars over them."
As she spoke, roots sprouted from the ground, binding Rosemary in place.
"So how can you 'Rose' say that show casually?" The roots began to climb themselves up, and wrap around her neck. "So who are you? What are you? Are you that shape changer? What have you done to my Rose!"
Rosemary could not breath, nor could she fight back. Even if the roots had not bound her, she could not bring herself to harm Petunia. Through choked words she struggled. "I.. Don't... Understa-ah-and. Mom... Mom says they help with-kcha-hak" by this point the girl had run out of breath, struggling against the chokehold her friend's magic.
"Roses mom is an ex-healer! Her fathers a hunter! They live in poverty in a damn broom closet! They couldn't buy an Anglefruit if they saved for months!" The crushing grew stronger as tears fell from her face. "Where is Rose! Tell me! Tell me! When did you replace her! Why come back now!”
Rose coughed again, and fought against the pressure as she struggled to say the few words she knew would save her from this. A sentence the two had only ever said to each other. "I know you fe-hack a..lone. Maybeeeeh we- we can beeh alone… togeeether."
As the words were uttered, Petunia’s eyes welled with tears as she relinquished her death hold on Rosemary, and with a regretful look on face, she backed away, retreating behind the fire, the roots she summoned falling back into the ground. Rosemary simply looked at her friend in disbelief. "What would she have done if I didn't say that?" She questioned in her heart.
The two sat apart without a word, Rosemary not sure what to say and Petunia unsure if she was allowed to speak after what she almost did. The nymph sat in a ball, her wings blocking herself out from the bitter cold, and what she was sure was the scornful look of her only friend. She too questioned to herself what she would have done, but deep in her heart she knew. "I would have killed you." She said to herself, biting her lower lip to the point it drew blood.
The two sat in silence for a long time. Petunia was the first to speak. “How, um…” Rosemary perked her head up. “How does basil get so many ang… magibulbs for you?”
“I don't know. Whenever he and Rowland go hunting dad always comes back with a few. I thought they were common for spellcasters in training. I had no idea they were… so rare, Blackthorn never said anything about it.
“They're not really rare. They’re… guarded.”
“Guarded by what? Rosemary asked as she crawled a little bit closer.
Petunia brought her head up, with tears streaming down her face. “A monster that can't be stopped. One that killed soldiers who survived the war.. The thing that killed my.. my parents. Just couldn't beli… I thought it was replacing you to come after me. I was scared. I'm sorry Rose”
“The shape changer?” Rosemary asked. Petunia I… I didn't know. You never talked about it. I thought they died in the war.” Rosemary by this point had crawled her way to Petunia, and threw her arms around her grieving friend.
“I’m sorry Petunia. I know you miss them. But i'm not going anywhere. No shape changer will replace me.”
Petunia gave a bittersweet smile to Rosemary, and laid her head on her arm. And the two sat there, praying quietly that they may be found before their fire dies and the cold consumes them.
In that moment the two heard a familiar voice carried by a howling wind at the mouth of the Hollow. “My my, just look at the sorry state you two are in.”
Hi im Zelda. I'm 23 and transgender (She/Her).
I'm just here to write my rough draft of the bell flower Malady, seeing how people react to it. Constructive criticism is appreciated.
Judging by the type of stories I see here I may be out of my element, but this website came highly recommended from a friend of mine so I hope it works out for the both of us. :)