The World of Stories and Fables Chapter 9

Katy Abbe, Columnist

A drop of liquid dribbled down my temple. I let out a gasp as my eyes blinked open. A trail of moonlight shone through a window, lighting up the dark room with a white glow. Outside, a few crickets chirped gently, singing to the stars with a would-be-calming melody; as in it would calming if my head hadn’t been pounding.

I groaned, bringing a hand to my forehead and immediately feeling something akin to a drenched sponge. I jumped up and a soaking wet towel fell into my lap. My head whirled and I glanced around the room frantically.

I was back in Arthur and Chase’s house. Specifically I was in the guest room, resting in the bed with a bucket of water laying on the floor next to me. I turned towards the doorway and swung my legs off the side of the bed, causing the towel to plummet to the ground with a heavy plop. Pain pulsed through my temples, but I refused to fall back into the inviting bed. Instead, I got to my feet, wobbling a bit on my legs as I struggled to remain steady with the room spinning around me. Taking a few unsteady steps forward, I navigated towards the door just as it swung open to reveal Arthur who was holding a bowl of something steaming in his hands.

“Artemis!” Arthur exclaimed with surprise as I lost my footing. As I stumbled, he quickly shifted the bowl to his right hand and looped his left arm through mine, catching me before I dropped to the floor. He swore under his breath as he led me back to the bed and, with the room spinning and my head pounding, I let him.

He set the bowl down on the nightstand and helped me into bed. I mumbled a few objections, but he ignored me, keeping his mouth shut as he readjusted the pillows and pulled the covers up to my chest. I grunted as my head drummed, but was relieved to find that once my head was propped against the pillows, the room slowed to a stop.

“Damn,” Arthur muttered as he pressed his hand to my forehead. His cool fingers felt lovely against it, and seemed to take the edge off of the pain. I tried to ask what was wrong, but my throat was dry and I was unable to form any clear words with my mouth, feeling like it was full of cotton.

“Hush,” he instructed with a scowl. I frowned, squinting at his eyes, which were clouded over with anger. My heart pounded and I wondered what it was that I did wrong, or if I did anything wrong. I didn’t think I did, I just tried to help the people in the stall..

“Th- th-” I pushed myself up, thinking back to the woman and her baby. Were they okay?

“Stop, stay down, you’re running a fever.” Arthur growled, forcing me down gently with his strong hand. I fell back and gave him a pleading look. He looked so mad, I was sure something horrible had happened. He ignored me though, grabbing a cup of water on the nightstand and putting it to my lips. I looked at him wearily and reluctantly took a sip. The water felt magnificent against my dry lips and throat. I gulped down the drink in seconds- I hadn’t realized I was so thirsty- leaving not one drop in the cup. Arthur took the cup away and left it on the nightstand with a clunk.

“The woman,” I said softly, my voice cracked a bit, but at least it was moist enough to work, “and her baby-”

“Are fine.” Arthur frowned as he stooped to swipe up the towel. He dunked the towel into the bucket and squeezed out the excess water. By then, I had pushed myself up again, leaning over the edge of the bed to see him a bit better. When Arthur stood up again, he glared at me and I leaned back, a bit surprised. He pushed me back down and lay the towel over my forehead. The water felt heavenly, but I didn’t understand why he was so upset with me.

“That’s good then, right?” I gave him a quizzical look, rejoicing inwardly that my headache was steadily growing weaker.

“Artemis.” He held my gaze with his frightfully stormy blue eyes. “What you did was foolish. You put yourself in danger to save them; you could have died.”

“I know….” I said slowly, still not following why he was looking at me like I was a great disappointment. “You’re a knight, you do that kind of thing all the time. You put yourself in danger to protect others.”

“That’s my job, Artemis!” His voice rose harshly as his eyebrows furrowed. “I’m trained to do that, I’m prepared to give everything I’ve got, but you-” he paused, frustrated.

“I what?” I frowned, “I am just as capable as you.”

“That’s not the point,” Arthur snapped, “it’s my job to protect people and that includes you. You almost died back there, when I should have been the one charging into the fire.”

“That’s ridiculous.” I frowned. “If I can do something to help, I should.”

“YOU ALMOST DIED!” He yelled.

“The baby would have if I didn’t do anything!” I retorted with a cracking voice. Arthur turned away, his limbs stiff and his movements jagged with anger. He clutched his hands, his knuckles growing white. I stayed still, watching him with a mixture of bewilderment and surprised. Why the hell had he been worried about me?

“You are reckless, do you understand that?” He asked, his voice sounding like it was being forced through his teeth. “You never think about yourself, it’s always about others. The dragon, your memory, the market, you always rush forward without thinking.” He turned towards me with his eyes flashing. “Do you ever think? At all?”

“I think!” I responded with frustration. “I think about the people who need me, not-”

“Not about yourself.” Arthur finished bitterly. “Yeah, I know. I know very well.” He turned back towards the door and started to leave the room.

“I just want to help.” I mumbled as his hand reached for the door. He stopped, and looked over his shoulder, meeting my gaze with his deep blue eyes clouded over and distant.

“It’s my job to protect.” He answered. “You need to let me do my job.” And with that, he left me in the room after closing the door with a slam. Alone with my thoughts, a headache, and a bowl of soup that was slowly losing its heat.