Sylvia let out a loud scream, her voice echoing a little before dying out among the forest's thick trees. The man on the ground suddenly groaned, startled by her cry. He struggled to look towards her, his face clearly pained from the exertion. When their eyes met, he tensed up and pulled out a knife, eyeing her warily despite his weakened state.
Sylvia stood there frozen, unsure of what to do or think at that moment. She had come out into the woods as part of her daily routine of picking herbs for the master’s house. Yet today she had come to make a most unusual discovery of a frightful sort. The man on the ground continued to stare at her, his body covered in terrible-looking gashes that left him bloodied everywhere. His eyes were a dark red color, something she had never seen before, and his features looked so foreign that she could not imagine to what people he belonged.
"Frya! Frya!" (Go! Go!) he shouted, holding up his knife again.
She jumped and backed away, startled by his loud voice and harsh-sounding words, still not sure what they meant or to what language they belonged.
"Frya! Fr—!” (Go! Go—!) the man repeated, abruptly cut off by his own pained coughing.
Then his arm dropped to his side as he continued to cough and wheeze, his body too weak to support him any longer. After a moment, he stopped moving, and Sylvia concluded that he had lost consciousness. For a moment she thought about running away, back to town and back to her work, as if she had seen nothing strange at all that day. But then she glanced at the man’s battered body again, feeling deep pity for whoever he was. She was shocked by his strange appearance and language, yes, but he could die if she left him alone like this.
Very quietly, Sylvia came closer to get a better look at his wounds. She could see that most of the cuts were just on the surface, though his leather clothes had been torn in the process of producing those cuts, and there was a good amount of blood. Then she noticed a larger gash spanning from the back of his left hip to his mid-stomach area. It was not deep enough for internal bleeding, but it was still a prime candidate for infections. She stepped just a bit closer, hoping to properly assess if she could mend the wound on her own, as there was no time to fetch a doctor. However, before she could fully decide on the matter, the man suddenly turned to her with his burning eyes and a frightening expression. He swung his knife at her once more, and Sylvia had to fall back to avoid getting cut.
"FRYA!!" (GO!!) He roared angrily.
Sylvia jumped up and ran behind a nearby tree, watching him from a safe distance in shock. Why was he trying to attack her? She was only trying to help him! Would he truly rather die than let her see to his injuries?
The man suddenly dropped his arm again, looking too tired to hold it up any longer. He moaned in pain and shifted his body with a grunt. Then he spoke, as if he was trying to call out to someone. "Finna? Finna?!” he called weakly, a sad tone evident in his voice.
Sylvia examined the area around them again, but saw no one else there. She continued to watch with pity as the man continued searching for someone who clearly wasn't around. It was then that she raced back to where the man lay, startling him as she approached. She knew he was probably feeling vulnerable and frightened, but he simply would not survive if she did not tend to his wounds! So, before he could swing his knife towards her again, Sylvia grabbed it from his hand and threw it aside. Unfortunately, she saw that he had another dagger on his hip in a holster, which he was trying to unsheathe. Sylvia quickly threw her own hand on it, and for a moment the two of them struggled over it. Despite his injured state the man had a strong grip and put up an impressive fight. Eventually, though, his body gave out on him again, proving far too weak to fend her off any longer.
"Nyo! Frya mone dugh!" (Stop! Go away from me!) he said, gazing at her angrily.
She ignored his cold tone as she threw his second knife away and began examining his wounds. He tried to stop her as she unbuttoned and removed what was left of his shirt and leather jacket, but she easily knocked his hands away and continued her search.
"Nyo, nyo!" (Stop, stop!) he whispered weakly, sounding angry and possibly afraid.
"Just be quiet and stop moving! You will only make the bleeding worse!" Sylvia snapped, fed up with his stubborn antics.
The man examined her face with confusion, trying to understand the meaning behind her words. She ignored him as she gently felt around his chest and abdominal area. Sylvia let out a silent gasp as she found the deepest and most painful of his wounds. She had been right, the long gash across his middle was indeed very serious! It was a perfectly inflicted cut, one that would easily be prone to infections.
"Suga lu me?" (What are you doing?) the man asked her with accusing eyes.
Sylvia looked at him and gave a small smile in an effort to put him at ease. "Please be still, I am just trying to help," she said quietly.
The man gazed at her warily, searching her eyes to try and suss out her intentions. However, she had no time to spare waiting for him to decide on whether he could trust her, so she broke eye contact and started removing the fabric scraps from his cuts. He watched every move she made carefully, though she was sure he understood that he was too weak to try and stop her. Whenever she came to a particularly painful spot his body would tense up and his gaze would turn menacing, like he would kill her if only his body had the strength. Then the man suddenly let out a gasp as Sylvia lifted a thick piece of leather off a smaller gash near his hip. The blood underneath looked to be partially dry, which meant it had not been received at the same time as all the others. It was even deeper-looking too, perhaps more like a knife stab than a cut. The man gritted his teeth and began panting heavily as she touched the tender area surrounding the wound. Sylvia backed away and met his cautious gaze with scrutiny. These injuries…they had all been inflicted by a sharp weapon, perhaps a sword. He had obviously been attacked by someone, or a group of people even, with the clear intent to kill him. Perhaps this was the reason for his caution towards her.