His voice shot through her thoughts like an arrow.
Startled, she almost yelped and regained her composure.
“Are you alright?”, he asked and she nodded quickly.
There was no time to overthink everything.
She had to come up with an idea.
Shaking her head to leave those thoughts behind for a while, she stood up and motioned for Tooru to do the same.
He looked at her with a question in his eyes and she nodded again, encouraging him to try.
He hoisted himself up with a quick motion and his hand caught him as he grew dizzy, but with a slower movement he successfully stood to his full height.
Lemsa clapped excitedly and shot a quick examining look at his frame, checking for any red flags.
What she did notice though was the plain cotton shirt and pants he was wearing.
As he was riding out his fever an elder took it upon himself to change his attire so as to not suffocate him.
She remembered that after almost two weeks of being bedridden, he would probably want to refresh himself.
Motioning towards the exit, Tooru was greeted by the afternoon sun in his eyes.
After all of this time, the sun on his skin was a sensation he gladly let wash over him.
“Where are we going?”
He stretched his arms and looked at the small figure in front of him.
Her mouth tried not to throw a grin at him as she motioned to his body, and then pushed her index finger towards something far away.
His eyes trailed in the same direction until he caught a glimpse of the waterfall in the background.
He walked towards the forest with two eyes visibly boring into his back.
He’s been adamant on moving now, since he woke up this afternoon there was no stop to his sheer unquenchable thirst to explore.
Lemsa was always a few quick steps behind or next to him to catch him if he fell into a dizzy state, even though she knew he would probably crush her.
After getting him out of bed and moving, it was high time for a good bath. Not only would it be good for his body to heal itself, but it was an opportunity for her to stall his departure.
She had called for Aztak to help Tooru get to the waterfalls but an unexpected occurrence made everything more complicated.
Aztak didn’t let the man on his back.
Lemsa had called him multiple times and normally he was there in a flash, this time he took his time and reluctantly trotted towards her.
She had motioned the man to come near, and his eyes were full of curiosity.
Slowly he held his hand out to touch the enormous wolf, but before he could come to close Aztak started to build up a growl in his chest.
Backing away immediately, Tooru realised the wolf meant business. He wasn’t so much startled but more wary, his facial expression twisting to a knowing smile.
Lemsa’s eyes darted from her familiar to the man, quickly and in shock.
What was going on here?
She turned around to Aztak and buried her hands in his fur, her eyes questioning him.
The wolf started to whine desperately, nudging her torso with his head away from the stranger.
What is wrong with you today?, she thought to herself.
Aztak was always ready to help, and never cautious about who was on his back.
Why is he reacting so weirdly?
Lemsa shot a confused look at Tooru and raised her shoulders in confusion.
“It’s okay I can walk, I want to move more anyway”, he explained, his eyes still drifting to the wolf for short amounts of time.
Lemsa nodded in agreement, but had her eyes on her patient. He could still hurt himself.
“So are you and the wolf”, he looked the creature up and down earning another growl which she had to control with a sharp whistle, “do you guys have a special bond?”
Lemsa smiled instinctively.
She raised her arms as if to cradle a baby, and swayed it left to right.
“Have you known him since he was a puppy?”
She nodded and touched Aztak fur, and held that hand to her chest. She then held her two index fingers together and rubbed them.
She wasn’t sure if he would understand the sign, it was common to use it for family and siblings, the intimacy of two people raised together.
“Ah, he’s your brother?”
Aztak yelped and Lemsa stood dead in her tracks.
Her look screamed “how did you know?” and Tooru laughed.
“I had that hunch when I first saw him, but I wanted to be sure”, again a smile etched on her face, but she still looked bewildered.
She shook her head and raised her hands to show it and the man looked up, almost embarrassed.
“He’s protective of you”
Ah, well that makes sense but still, why would Aztak be protecti-
Lemsa looked to Aztak who was walking next to her while Tooru was close, but still some steps ahead.
He didn’t look back to her, as if he knew that the realization would make her…
A brother being protective…
Tensing her face so to not laugh she looked to the side and waited for the embarrassment to dissipate.
He was probably just observant, he didn’t mean it like that, Lemsa stop it!
Was what she convinced herself while the man in front of her repressed a smile that was hard to control.
I was just observing, but maybe that was too much?
It was easy to joke around with friends, peers and strangers to undermine his actual mishaps and insecurities, but with her everything felt extremely sincere.
Lemsa suddenly jumped on top of Aztak and he quickly sprinted towards a riverbend with a waterfall pouring in.
The shades of the trees around it danced in the afternoon sun that slowly started to make its way around the sky.
Rainbow droplets of water splashed around and caught the light in beautiful ways and Lemsa waited for the mesmarized man to slowly walk towards them.
His eyes were focused on the beauty of nature, his mouth slightly agape as he watched the river flow its course.
The healer hopped off and sent Aztak to patrol around, which he reluctantly started to do and rummaged in her bag.
She folded open a piece of fabric and laid it on the floor. Inside was a white cotton blouse and a aqua colored sweater vest, as well as some brown and sturdy pants.
With another dip in her bag she brought out two big pieces of soft fabric, and a small brick.
The brick was actually a clump of soap or so it seemed, and Lemsa put it in Tooru’s open hands without looking up from the ground.
Her hands motioned around his general body and then pointed towards the waterfall, before turning around beet red in the face.
The clump in his hand was not used before, but it was lumpy and in a weird shape, obviously handmade.
Is it from her?
He looked up to see the small woman sit on a nearby tree trunk with eyes blindfolded with a scrap fabric.
Her head bobbed from side to side and her feet, which didn’t hit the ground, kicked up and down.
There was still a prominent blush on her cheeks, but it had diminished a little.
To not leave her waiting too long he took the clothes and utensils he was given and approached the roaring waterfall.
The closer he got the louder it was.
He raised his hand to his nose to sniff the soap.
The most prominent smell was olive, and he was pretty sure it was olive oil that was used, but a hint of lavender pushed through.
He tried to jump into the water because he knew it would be cold, and he was right.
The yelp that was about to jump out was stifled by the waterfall and he dipped his head into the stream that came down.
The cold wasn’t the only thing.
To be completely engulfed by the water came with a feeling of freedom, his heart jumped as the adrenaline kicked in and his senses screamed to leave the cold.
He didn’t leave it, only jumped out in a hurry to use the soap that felt soft on his body.
All of the pain, sweat and blood together with the helplessness and worry washed away with the stream.
When he was done, the water felt warmer then the evening breeze he stepped into, and his hands shook to dry himself with the bigger fabrics.
Before he knew it, he was in his old attire, the familiar feel was overshadowed by the heavenly smell of lavender.
Of course they were washed.
His hair wasn’t dripping but still wet and his senses were sharpened to a full extent.
When he approached Lemsa his eyes picked up her whole Form again.
This is the woman who stayed by me for weeks to nurse and care for me.
And even though he knew that already, right now it made sense to think of it again.
Something in him shifted, something felt real and raw and natural when he looked at her.
A few last steps before he stood in front of her and her trained ears picked up his steps in the grass.
She motioned towards her blindfold, not sure if she was okay to take it off.
But then he picked the back of the string and lifted it up, revealing her eyes that revealed to him the earth of which only something beautiful and real could grow.
She blinked in shock, not knowing how to react.
Maybe this was it.
Maybe this is what I have been searching for, the end of my curse of endless journeys and adventures.
Maybe she will lift it all.