Trying to come up with my favourite scene in my book is not easy. There are so many to consider. But if I had to choose one, it would be this. But first here’s a little background for context.
The protagonist, Nenshi, and his best friend Hordekef had gone to see a fortuneteller to help Nenshi understand a disturbing dream he had earlier. We also know from previous chapters that Hordekef has always been envious of Nenshi and his prowess as a huntsman. Nonetheless, their lifelong friendship is strong. And we also know that Nenshi is a servant, raised by a nobleman and hence afforded some privileges including private tutors and how to use a bow and arrow.
Also, prior to the visit to the fortuneteller, the petition to set Nenshi free had been completed and ready to be submitted. Hordekef had volunteered to deliver it himself to the court’s scribes. But instead, he decided to hold on to the petition for a little while and didn’t tell Nenshi.
On their way home from the fortuneteller, while workers were raising blocks during the construction of a house, ropes snapped and caused the rock to plummet to the ground. A broken piece struck Hordekef.
So now here comes my favourite scene. Nenshi visits Hordekef where he’s recovering from the injury.
I focus on the emotions but not from what is said. In fact, nothing is said between Nenshi and Hordekef. Nenshi’s thoughts project his emotions. He feels guilty for agreeing to have his dream interpreted. If he had not gone, Hordekef would not be fighting for his life. Hordekef, heavily sedated, is hardly aware his friend is in the room.
I like this scene because it highlights the deep friendship between the characters. Emotions are expressed without words. It begs the question, will Hordekef survive to deliver the petition, or will he die and keep Nenshi enslaved forever?
Here is the scene. I’d love to hear your take on it.
Outside Hordekef's room Nenshi sat distraught. With his hands cupped to his chin, his elbows rested on his knees, he reflected and blamed himself for having told Hordekef about his dream. And he should have refused to seek the interpretation of a witch. The remorse strangled every thought, every breath.
The physician walked out from the room accompanied by Hordekef's parents. A look at their faces, their eyes, revealed their pain from the deepest recesses of their hearts. They gave no sign that the worst had passed. It was left to the physician to opine.
"His injuries are serious," he said, in typical physician's fashion. "His leg is broken. Internally, he is bleeding. He's in significant discomfort. I have given him a sedative and a potion to help stop the haemorrhaging. The hours ahead are crucial. I will remain and keep watch."
Hordekef's mother wept, stricken by the accident. His father questioned Nenshi. "Why would you go to that part of the city? Didn't you know it's not a place for our kind, nor yours?"
The accusation cut deep. "Forgive me," Nenshi said. "We should not have gone there."
Hordekef's father shook his head and walked away. Nenshi turned to Hordekef's mother. "I must see him?" His eyes begged for the visit. She understood the friendship and nodded.
The physician put out his hand. "Be aware that he is under heavy sedation. He may not recognize you or even acknowledge your presence. Please be brief."
Nenshi sat by the bed and stared at his friend, immobile and peaceful; a sign the sedative took control. Hordekef’s leg and lower abdomen were wrapped to prevent movement. His sallow face invited death and his breathing became slow and rhythmic. Nenshi wiped the tears from his cheek fearing Hordekef would open his eyes to see his friend, broken.
He held Hordekef's hand. The touch, warm and comforting, caused it to twitch. Hordekef's eyes opened, as slow as the morning sun peered from the horizon. His pupils were dilated, his senses fogged. A short smile acknowledged Nenshi's presence. Hordekef's lips quivered, wanting to speak, wanting to tell his friend not to worry. They exchanged a glance. For that moment the sedative had paused from its purpose, long enough, to allow friends to greet each other. Then Hordekef closed his eyes. Serenity accompanied his long and deep breaths.
Nenshi took a damp cloth and dabbed the perspiration from Hordekef’s forehead. A tear fell and landed on Hordekef's hand. Nenshi gently wiped it with his finger, then rose and left the room.
If only Nenshi had turned around just before he exited, he would have seen Hordekef open his eyes again. He would have noticed his friend struggle to speak and raise his hand. He would have noticed Hordekef point to the corner of the room, to a wooden chest that rested on a small folding stool. In it were the documents, the petition intended to set Nenshi free.
Until next time!