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Ilya's Tale, Part 1

Ilya jerked awake in panic.


No, no, no, he thought frantically, struggling upright. His leg shifted on the blood-damp moss and he moaned in pain, almost blacking out again. No… He could not fall asleep again. The bandage was soaked through already; if not for his nightmare he might have been already dead.


Death would be easier, certainly—easier than the three miles he had run on a broken leg towards the thin hope of help. But his life had been dearly paid for. To give up now would dishonor the dead…


The forest seemed to lean in around him, dusk casting long shadows that blurred the air. Panting, Ilya lunged for a fallen branch just out of his reach. He grabbed it and dragged into his lap, stripping off twigs and leaves. That done, he tried to snap the branch but, weakened by blood loss, failed. The branch rolled from his hands and he had to sit back against the bole of the tree, closing his eyes as he recovered his strength. Stubbornly, he opened them again and drew his dagger.


The blade sliced skin as often as wood, but Ilya finally had the branch cut into three sections. These he positioned around his broken leg. Next, he pulled off his overshirt and, starting the first cut with the dagger, tore it into strips. He swallowed—now came the difficult part. Carefully, Ilya unwrapped the hasty bandage from his broken leg, plucking out stray threads left behind in his flesh. A glisten of white bone showed through, and he had to fight down nausea. Steeling himself, he lifted his leg and laid the strips of cloth under the three pieces of wood, then lowered his leg on top, trying to be gentle with his shaking hands. He tightened the first cord of the splint with a whimper.


When the rough splint was finished, Ilya fell back against the tree, sweating and shuddering with pain. His breath came in ragged spurts. Had the night grown darker, or was that his failing sight? With a monumental effort, he dragged himself back from the edge of unconsciousness, forcing into his mind the memory of the carnage and the sacrifice. Was he really going to lie down and die, after everything that had happened? He had survived this far, hadn’t he?


Ilya focused his eyes on a leaf, its green spoiled by a smear of his own blood. He let that leaf become the center of his world, a lodestone to steady his drifting mind and lend him strength. The leaf let him ignore the pain. It let him know what he had to do, hard as it would be. After gazing at the leaf until dusk was almost done, Ilya was ready.


He took a deep breath and cast his gaze around, looking for a branch to serve as a staff. The only likely specimen lay several feet away. Gritting his teeth, Ilya rolled over and crawled towards it, splinted leg slowing him as it scraped across the ground. With this staff clutched in both hands, Ilya levered himself to his feet. He waited a moment, swaying on his feet, knuckles white and face bloodless.


And then he smothered the voice inside that cried out I can’t do this! and took the first step.



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This article has 103 comments. Post your own now!

AsIAm This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Sept. 27, 2010 at 10:29 pm

The good:  This is really intriguing!  I like the details, and the plot sounds really cool - I want to know more!

The bad: Looks good to me!

The random: Can't wait to read on!

J7X

 
apocalyptigirl replied...
Sept. 30, 2010 at 8:02 pm
Hmm. I guess I was just trying to get you curious at this point. The story does continue, and all is revealed eventually...LOL I sound like a Jedi or something. :P But there is more referencing in the 2nd part, I promise, and if you only have one section and can't keep reading then I guess I'd be kind of annoyed to be plunked down in what seems like the middle of the story...
 
Samantha.07 replied...
Sept. 30, 2010 at 8:10 pm
I'm just giving you advice of what I think this is so far. I know I haven't read anything more, and there is more to it, but for a first glance at the first section, that's what I felt.
 
apocalyptigirl replied...
Sept. 30, 2010 at 8:12 pm
Yeah, I understand what you mean.
 
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