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Devotionals

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Forsyth was sitting outside of the infirmary tent, running his hands through his tangled hair. It was unlike him, but he was sure he could tell the troops it was only due to stress. They would understand, especially when his co-commander had taken a Mire spell from a Cantor that had been hiding out in the surrounding countryside. Due to the potential threat of a former member of the Duma Faithful, he and Lukas had been sent to deal with.

The threat of a lone Cantor at the time did not seem so noteworthy. That made Forsyth careless. When they reached his hideout, an abandoned ruin manse, the Cantor began to summon Deathgoyles. Their forces were overwhelmed and a fight through stone wings and scythes commenced.

Recalling all the careless mistakes made, Forsyth’s fingers dug hard into his scalp. It was moment like that he sorely missed Python, off on the Frontier. For all his faults, he would have helped him focus on other things besides the way Lukas cried out in pain and collapsed in front of him.

They had brought him back to camp four hours ago. The sun had since set and Forsyth still was not allowed inside the medical tent. It was near maddening. In the five years since the One Kingdom came into being, he had seen Lukas nearly everyday, and in Forsyth’s mind, grown closer. The thought of losing the other man due to his own carelessness kept him frozen to his stool.

“Sir Forsyth?”

His head shot up. The chief Saint in their company, Lisbeth, had exited from the tent, her gloved arms covered in dark stains. Forsyth’s heart lurched, but he stood up and did his best to put up a show of self-control. He was still a knight of Valentia, and it would not do for him to break down in the middle of camp.

“Yes, do you have any news?”

The Saint’s face brightened. “We were able to prevent poisoning from reaching Sir Lukas’s vital organs, so he’s stable. Based on our previous experiences with the Mire spell, he should make a full recovery, though I say it would be better for him to make it back to the capital for further treatment.”

Forsyth exhaled and allowed his jaw to relax. That was good, it was good news. Even if though she was gone, Forsyth sent a small prayer of thanks to Mila. “May I go see him?”

Lisbeth smiled. “Of course, he’s asking for you.”

“...Oh. I… thank you.” Forsyth, however, remained still. His body was trying to catch up with his thoughts, but found difficulty in doing so. He wished terribly to see him, but the knowledge that Lukas wanted to as well felt jarring, even when on any other occasion it would not have. The day’s events had rattled him.

“I’ll be close by if something happens, or one of the other healers will, no need to worry.” Lisbeth took off her stained gloves, and gave a small curtsy, before walking away. Lukas had been the only seriously injured among the group, which meant that he was alone. Forsyth took a few more breaths, stealing himself. Would he be angry? No, that was not in Lukas’s personality, but it did not stop Forsyth from conjuring up scenarios in his head.

Finally, he had the courage to brush the tent flap back and step inside. The remnants of Lukas’s armor sat in a clump in the corner, acid burns prominent enough to make Forsyth flinch.

“Forsyth.” A calm and familiar voice called out, and Forsyth finally looked at the only occupied cot, where Lukas was. He looked better than Forsyth had imagined. Lukas was dressed in a simple tunic that even under the covers, Forsyth could tell was too wide for his frame, and revealed fresh bandages wrapped around his torso and arms. His face looked feverish, and Lukas’s bangs clumped with sweat against his forehead. Forsyth felt a sudden urge to brush them back, but instead settled for sitting in the empty cot beside him.

“I’m, I’m surprised you’re awake. Guess it takes more than a mere Cantor to...” Forsyth tried to make his voice less tense, which like many other times he had attempted to act less tense, failed miserably, and he could not finish the sentence. His hands balled up into his lap.

“Forsyth-”

“I’m sorry,” he mumbled, his head bowed forward. “If I hadn’t acted so rash, you wouldn’t be in this position. It was completely bullheaded of me, and, and I…”

What was he trying to say? He could not find the words.

He felt bandaged fingers gently cart against his tangled hair, putting it back into its usual style. Forsyth looked up and, since the first time he entered the tent, truly look at Lukas’s face, into the other man’s eyes, and found no reproach there.

“I wanted to ask if you were alright. Though, since I can see the gears turning in your head, I don’t think you suffered any physical damage.” Lukas commented lightly, his hand continuing to to sort out the mess Forsyth made of his hair in the past several hours. Perhaps in that moment, he put two and two together, and slowly covered Lukas’s hand with his own, bringing it down so both his hands could cradle it with his own. Lukas’s smile fell, but he did not pull his hand away.

“I… I think I realize why I was so worried,” Forsyth remarked in wonder. Lukas nodded, encouraging him to keep speaking, but then he flinched in pain. “Are you-”

“It’s fine. Just need to lie down.” Lukas reassured him. Forsyth leaned forward, helping ease Lukas back into a lying position on the cot. There would be more time for… for whatever had gathered in his mind that had nothing and everything to do with the stories of gallantry that inspired him in his youth who swore oaths of devotion to the ones they cherished. Lukas might have also been a knight, but that would not stop Forsyth.

As soon as he finished tucking Lukas in, Forsyth made move to take his leave, but was stopped by a request.

“I… I enjoyed having you hold my hand.” Lukas said.

Forsyth sank back into the spare cot, and went back to cradling Lukas’s hand, both his body and mind put at ease and slotting now into the space they were supposed to be.