“Lance!” Drace screamed through his helm. The cry seemed lost to Joe over the sound of pounding hooves.
Drace bellowed again, “Joe, drop your lance!”
Joe continued to carry his lance too high and showed no signs of having heard the warning. Is he trying to take my head off? Drace wondered. The lance would splinter if it hit breastplate, but it wouldn’t hit his face. At the last possible second, Drace knew he was in trouble and involuntary jerked the reins back hard. The sudden pain in Pride’s mouth caused him to check too quickly and he stumbled. At the speed Pride was running, he could not regain his footing and started to fall. Things turned from bad to worse. The fall felt like an eternity and Drace tried to brace for the pain.
Shit, shit, shit! thought Drace in that split second it took Pride and him to go down. Now he knew he was going to get the lance in the face. He jerked his head to the side, then saw bright lights, and then nothing.
Drace slowly regained consciousness. His head feeling like it had been split open. He opened one eye in a tiny slit and saw nothing. He hesitantly opened his other eye; still nothing. Damn, he thought, I’m dead. He felt groggy and his heart raced, thumping wildly against his ribs. He shut his eyes again. Don’t panic, he thought. Oh, Christ, I think I’m blind!
He tried to take a couple of deep breaths but was unable to draw a deep one. It felt as if something was covering his mouth. Somewhere past where he lay, he heard Pride snort fearfully, then a calming voice. The horse quieted.
He tried his eyes again; again nothing. He felt panic start to build as the pain started to radiate from the bridge of his nose. “Ah, shit!” he swore silently.
He tested moving his fingers then his brick-heavy arms. He realized he was still in one piece and raised them to his head. Shakily, he touched his face and found his helm had twisted from the blow of the lance.
“Easy,” a soft voice instructed. “Let me help you.”
The helm shifted slightly and pain shot through his temples and nose and behind his eyes. He gritted his teeth through the pain. One more slight twist and his helmet lifted free. He tried to roll onto his side but his armor made him feel like an upside down turtle.
“I think I’m going to be sick,” he muttered hoarsely to his unknown helper.
Hands grabbed his shoulder and arm and helped him onto his side as he retched.
“Damn,” he coughed. His head felt like someone was hammering against his skull. Spots of light flashed behind his eyelids.
A cool cloth wiped his face. “Lay still now, this will make it better.” Soft, warm hands cupped his face from behind him, thumbs gently pressed against his temples, pushing until he rolled onto his back again. Strange warmth seemed to flow from his temples and spread through his entire body, like entering a warm bath. He felt his muscles relax and the blinding pain in his head lessened to a milder ache.
He braved opening his eyes again…and looked up into violet eyes, “Vashti?” Oh, thank God, he thought, I’m not blind. He blinked up at Vashti and felt the throbbing of his nose, “I think my nose is broken.”
She smiled sympathetically down at him, “I believe you are right, my Lord. Lay still for a moment. You will be fine. Let me tie Pride and then I will help you up.”
Drace felt disoriented from the fall, “Yeah, okay. I’m just glad I’m not dead.”
He turned his head to follow her with his eyes as she went to Pride and with the reins, tied him to a tree
A tree? Drace bolted into a sitting position and looked around. His stomach lurched alarmingly at the sudden movement. “Where the hell am I?”
“Be still, my Lord!” Vashti exclaimed, rushing back to him, “You are weak as a kitten right now.”
Drace still sat with legs outstretched, staring at his gloved hands in his lap, surpassing the urge to retch again. He mentally ran the recent events over in his mind, trying to explain how he came to be outside. The nearest memory was of Pride and him mid-fall, squeezing his eyes shut just before the lance’s impact. Now I’m outside. He felt a second of panic pull at him, quickly followed by a helpless anger at his lack of knowledge of his whereabouts.