202/366 – Picking up the Pieces

Day 60 of 100 Word Prompts: Drink

The blindness left behind in the wake of the stranger cleared from Zhen’s eyes a moment after they had gone. From where he still lay on the floor, attempting to protect Meng from the attacker’s blade, he looked down to find her staring up at him completely uninjured.

“You saved me,” Meng said, her eyes brimming with tears before she threw her arms around his neck.

“No,” Zhen said, shaking his head, “someone else saved us both.”

Meng pulled away, a confused expression on her face. “What? But that thing is gone.”

“There was a bright light,” Zhen began, suddenly feeling awkward on the floor with her. He moved away and got back to his feet, helping her up as well. “Sorry for getting so close. I thought it was going to kill us.”

“What do you mean there was a bright light?” Meng asked. “Like how bright?”

“Blinding,” Zhen replied. “I thought we were both dead. That thing threw you against the wall and moved to stab you. I tried to block it, but there was a flash, and I couldn’t see anything. I heard someone yell something about it being the scourge of the land, and then there was nothing. Whoever they were, they called that thing a revenant.”

Meng burst into tears and fell into a chair, covering her face. Her sobs came in great heaves as her body shook.

“It’s okay, Meng. We’re both fine,” Zhen said.

Zhen wanted to touch her and comfort her, but he was having trouble wrapping his mind around what had happened too. The words had come out of his mouth, but the reality of what had just occurred settled in, and he froze. He knew he had gotten closer to death than he had ever been at the hands of the revenant, but someone had come in and saved them both. A sniffle from Meng snapped his attention back to her, and only then did he realize she was staring at him.

“What?” he asked.

“I just can’t believe we’re alive,” Meng said. “I’m so happy you’re okay.”

“Okay might be a strong word at the moment,” Zhen replied, “but alive, definitely. Who was the person that saved us? Do you know them?”

Meng shook her head. “Probably a cleric or something,” she replied.

“That power,” Zhen said, taking a seat across from her. “As strong as that thing was, I’m surprised that they were able to deal with it so fast. That’s crazy.”

“Clerics are powerful conduits for the gods,” Meng said, wiping the tears from her eyes. “I need a drink. Would you like one?”

Zhen nodded as Meng walked to the water pitcher and grabbed two cups. He watched her pour the water with shaky hands before returning and handing him one. She sat across from him and just stared into the liquid with distant eyes.

“What are you thinking about?” Zhen asked, drawing her attention back to him.

“I didn’t want to say anything,” Meng said, “but I recognized that thing when I saw it.”

“You recognized it?” Zhen repeated, not believing what she was saying.

Meng nodded.

“Who was it?”

“It looked like my brother,” Meng replied, “but it couldn’t have been. Yin died a span ago and was buried.”

“You think it was your brother, then?” Zhen asked.

“The way he was acting wasn’t right. He was a gentle man who cared for others,” Meng said, shaking her head. “I can’t imagine him ever being like that.”

“Do you know what a revenant is?” Zhen asked.

“I’ve heard of them before, but my brother died because he was sick. He didn’t have any reason like that to bring him back,” Meng said. “Besides, who would he take vengeance on?”

“He came here,” Zhen said, “Do you think he wanted to come after you?”

“No,” Meng said. “I sat beside him the entire time. He went peacefully. Whatever that thing was, it was not my brother.”

Silence fell over the room for a few minutes while they both thought about what had occurred. Zhen had a creeping feeling that there could be more of those monsters out there. That somehow something might be going on under the noses of the citizens in the city.

Meng rose from her chair and set her cup on the table. She moved with such forceful effort as she bent and began picking up the broken pieces of her home. Zhen joined her in her endeavor, cleaning the house together until the morning light peeked through the window.

“Thank you,” Meng said as she took the last pieces of the broken door from Zhen’s hands. “I’m sorry that this happened.”

“It’s not your fault,” Zhen said.

“I know what I said, and I know who my brother was, but it doesn’t make any sense. Why else would he come back from the dead and come here? I must have done something. I must have wronged him somehow,” she said, searching Zhen’s face for answers.

“I don’t think that was it. That thing referenced something about sacrifice and a prison,” Zhen reasoned. “Was your brother involved with a cult or something?”

“No,” Meng said, shaking her head. “He lived only to serve the people.”

“You said he got sick before he died?” Zhen asked. “Did the clerics at the temple not help him?”

“They tried,” Meng said. “More than once, actually. They said that there was something else happening. I had assumed that they only wanted money to save him.”

“Which clerics saw your brother?” Zhen asked.

“Ametiel, from the temple of Eldath,” Meng replied. “They tried hard to save him. I didn’t see it in my grief initially, but things were happening so fast. They just couldn’t save him.”

Zhen thought about it for a moment, looking at his newfound friend’s sadness. Though she tried to hide it, he caught her eyes darting to the empty doorway frequently as though expecting to see the revenant again.

“I suppose the market is opening soon, and I should find a carpenter to replace my door,” Meng said with a sigh.

“Let me do it,” Zhen said. “I have to go out anyway. It’s the least I can do for letting me spend the night.”

“Let me get you some coin,” Meng said, turning away from him.

“I’ll be back before you know it,” he called behind him as he ran out of the house.

Zhen would see the carpenter first, but then he needed to make a stop at the temple to see the cleric.  There were more questions as well, like who had known that the revenant was at Meng’s home to arrive so soon after the creature. Maybe he would find some answers there.


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