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Point of Exhaustion

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Ice fell from the sky, not in sheets like the weather was wont to do in autumn and winter, but in large, sharp icicles which tore through every standing night creature in the area. They were skewered, bleeding and screeching if not outright dead, and even then only lasted the couple more seconds it took for another hail of ice to silence them permanently.

At the center of the carnage stood Sypha, hands outstretched and casting pose, hair flying widely and eyes sharper than the ice she summoned. At least, they were until her eyes rolled back and she collapsed to the snowy ground.

“Sypha!” Trevor called, swearing as he finished off another creature with a solid strike of his whip.

“I've got her," Alucard said, leaving his sword to slash through the last night creature while he sprinted over to where Sypha fell. Careful but quick hands checked her, asking the spine, the pulse, her hands, and even pushing back a loud to look into her eyes. Then Alucard took off his cloak to wrap around her. "She's fine, as far as I can tell. A little cold. Completely out of it. I believe it's exhaustion. We should make camp for the night, give her a warm place to rest."

Trevor looked Sypha over from where she rested in Alucard’s arms. He grunted and pointed back towards the trees.

"Good place we passed before the fight. I think the wagon is still okay."

"Lead on then," said Alucard.

Trevor and Alucard worked in perfect harmony to get the wagon moved and campsite set up. Once a fire was going, and Alucard was wrapped around Sypha again, Trevor got out the little food they had to make a broth. Alucard nodded at the idea, but otherwise kept silent. When it became too quiet, no one moving or speaking--since Sypha was usually the one to initiate conversation--Trevor stopped glancing to the others across the fire and grabbed a blanket from the wagon.

Alucard’s eyes widened as the blanket, slightly musty, draped over himself and Sypha.

“Wasn’t sure how much warmth Sypha would need,” Trevor explained. “And since you’re probably about as warm as a vampire-”

“Yes, thank you, I’m sure Sypha would appreciate it. Though I do not feel the cold as humans do.”

“Then why were you shaking? Just for fun?”

Alucard turned his head away, staring into the flames as they jumped and crackled, casting everything close in sharp relief and everything beyond its grasp into long, deep shadows. “I wasn’t aware you cared.”

“I chose to fight alongside the both of you before we left Gresit.” Trevo huffed and pushed against Alucard with his foot, making Alucard scoot closer to the fire out of annoyance. Then he huffed and plopped back down next to the broth, stirring it. “It would be pretty stupid to get frostbite now.”

“...I suppose you’re right,” said Alucard, tone and posture far less defensive.

Sypha stirred as Trevor was ladling out the broth. “Just in time. Can you eat?”

“What? I think so?” she muttered, accepting Alucard’s help to sit up against his chest. “Ugh. I’m sore all over.”

“That’s what happens when you use too much magical energy with too little rest,” Alucard chided. “Now take the broth, your temperature needs to be higher, and you could use the nutrients.”

“You too vampire,” Trevor said, handing over two bowls.

“Oh, no I-”

“You aren’t going to be a good model for me?” Sypha asked, a little smirk on her lips.

Alucard responded by bringing a bowl of broth to her lips, ignoring her squeak. Trevor smiled, but looked back to the fire, using a little bit of wood to dig out holes in the warmer coals and buried a few starchy roots.

Sypha eventually allowed Alucard to help feed her, realizing how tired she was when her hands shook and arms couldn’t raise past her shoulders. Sometimes Alucard would shift his legs, looking like he was trying to give Sypha more room, but when she complained of the cold he curled back in. After they both finished their broth, and before Sypha began to lull off, Trevor dug up the roots, offering one to himself and Alucard, and two to Sypha.

“Thank you,” Sypha said. “Are you sure…?”

“We’re not the ones who collapsed,” Trevor said, slicing open the root’s skin to let out a plume of steam.

“It’s fine,” Alucard said. “He’s rude, but correct. You need the energy more. Please eat as much as you can.”

“Fine.” Sypha slowly stuffed her cheeks with the food, like a squirrel, getting smiles from both Trevor and Alucard.

Eventually, she and Trevor began to yawn. Alucard did not, but his jaw strained occasionally, holding something in. With a sigh and a stretch, Trevor stood. He grabbed the only other blanket they had and wrapped it around himself.

“Bedtime?” Sypha murmured.

“Yes,” Alucard said. “I’ll allow you to get some rest.”

Sypha nodded and turned further into him, resting her head on his shoulder. Alucard cleared his throat, but did not move. When Trevor went to walk past them, Alucard grabbed the corner of his new blanket.

“Did you get him?” Sypha said, sleepy and almost inaudible.


“Good. C’mere Trevor. ‘S cold.”

Trevor paused for a moment, frowning, turning away, then sighed and sat down beside them. Sypha patted Alucard’s arm, so he opened the blanket and tugged Trevor closer. Trevor was forced into leaning closely against Alucard, Sypha wrapping her feet over Trevor’s lap as he and Alucard wrapped their blankets around all three of them, together.

That night, they all felt a little warmer than before.