The young man dressed in red and blue skidded to his knees by the fallen form of a young woman in shades of blue with auburn hair. Behind him stood an older man with a warrior stance and body.
"Dammit..." The young man gathered 'Maya' into his arms. "I'm sorry, Maya. I didn't mean..." He began frantically searching the pouches at his belt.
The experience-aged warrior handed forward a small glass bottle. "Lang."
Lang looked sharply to the warrior, gray-blue eyes still tinged with the berserked rage forced upon him in the battle just won. He snatched the bottle from him, quickly unsealing it and leaning close to administer it. "Come on, Maya. Please. Drink. Drink."
A portion of the elixir entered her mouth, sliding slowly within to be immediately absorbed by her body. Lang dropped another portion, and still another, until her skin held a more natural color. Then she sounded a slight whimper of pain as her face contorted in agony.
"I know," Lang mumbled absently, "but you need to drink it all."
The warrior intensely watched as the young man gently yet firmly served young Maya each drop of the revival elixir, carefully holding her to keep the drinking of it steady and without risk of choking... Then the elixir was empty and Maya collapsed into his arms in the sleep of one recovering from a major battle.
Lang lowered his head as she slept, still held close. "Dammit," he whispered.
The warrior gripped Lang's shoulder. "The blame is not yours, Lang. You were not in control of yourself."
Lang turned on him, gray-blue eyes flashing as he grit his teeth around the words "I nearly killed her!"
The warrior briefly nodded. "Your body and experience, yes. Your heart and self, no. It was the blind rage; not 'Lang'."
Lang shook his head and focused again on the young woman in his arms. "I can't let this happen again, Master. I'm responsible for her."
The warrior smirked. "We are responsible for her, Lang, so we will make sure this does not happen again. Yes?"
Lang silently nodded, expression pained as he saw the blood on her face and clothes.
The warrior gave a curt nod. "Good. Then we will make camp and see what we can do to give you protection from the rage."
Lang carefully stood, cradling Maya's small form in his arms. He clenched his jaw and then stepped after the warrior.
Gray-blue eyes blind with rage; body trembling with blood lust and the thirst for battle. Maya steps back. "L-Lang--?" He charges forward with a shout, ignoring her gasp of fear as she raises her hands and arms to protect her. The pain--
Maya sharply sat up with a scream of "Lang!"
He was immediately at her side within the tent of their camp. "I'm here," he said, eyes charcoal and expression pained. "Are you alright?"
Pain in her side drew her focus as an arm went to her chest. She gasped and cringed, leaning forward.
"No, you're not." Lang urged her back down with a gentle hold on each of her arms. "Lay back, Maya. I'll get you something for the pain." Then he grabbed something from behind him and turned back to her. He measured some powder into a glass of water and then supported her as she drank it. "This should help."
Maya watched his face as she drank, noticing the worry and the hardness. The blame and the fear... She finished the water and continued to watch him as he set the glass aside and again lowered her to the mat within the tent. Her eyes couldn't leave his face and the expressions there. They broke her heart.
"Lang," she said gently. He sat cross-legged beside her and lowered his gaze to his hands as they rested on his knees. "Lang, it's not your fault. We didn't know they had that attack."
"But we'd found that emblem that protected against it. We should have known that there was a reason for it. We never find anything in a maze or dungeon unless there's a reason." Lang balled his fists. "I should have put it on," he hissed.
Maya reached out and rested a hand on his forearm. He didn't look up. He only clenched his jaw. "Please don't blame yourself. I'll be alright."
Lang curtly nodded. "I know," he said in a low voice, "but..." He met her gaze. "I could have killed you."
"Or Kazan could have killed me. Or I could have killed Kazan. Or you. Or each other... But I'm alive. And you're alright. And Kazan is alright. And we've an emblem that can protect us in the future." She shook her head and gave his forearm a gentle pressure. "Please, Lang. Don't blame yourself."
He released a slow and deep breath and lowered his head, nodding and reaching over to cover her hand resting on his arm. Maya smiled and sighed, giving a yawn as she let the whispers and warmth of slumber take her...
...and not seeing the determination and resolve softened by a tenderness in a young man's expression.