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Blue eyes that were almost green, unlike any he'd ever seen before, stared down at him: first at his hand and then the ground and then into his face. "On second thought, maybe I'll just stay where I am."
"Stay? But you said..." Jael blinked and frowned. Maybe the odd man really was wounded. He reached out again, more insistent. "Come now. Falling out of the tree would hurt."
"Yes, I'm sure it would." The man wrapped his arms more firmly around the trunk. "That's why I'll stay right where I am. As long as I keep talking I won't bleed to death, right? That is what you said."
"I did not. I said you couldn't talk if..." He sighed and whistled for Sernes, sliding back down the trunk with a mental shrug. He'd give the man a moment; perhaps he was frightening. He didn't think he was particularly threatening, but he had just killed a bear alone. Oh, Naki would have to be impressed by this. Have to. He pulled his blade as his feet hit the ground, heading for his kill. "You want some of the meat? You did find it, after all."
"Wait! Where are you going? You can't just leave me here!"
Oh, now this was ridiculous. Jael stepped away from the tree, hands on his hips. "You just said you were staying up there. I heard you."
"Not by myself I'm not! Besides, you said if I was talking I couldn't bleed to death and then you said that wasn't true at all." The man glared down at him for a moment and then whimpered and clung more tightly to the tree.
A drop of something fell down and hit the ground next to Jael. Bending, he touched his finger to the spot; it was red.
"If I come up and help you, will you come down? I've got water and blankets and some binding cloths." Jael began the climbagain. "I won't hurt you."
"Oh, water would be lovely. I feel so dirty. I've been dirty all day. I was going to stop. I should have stopped, then the bear would have decided to eat someone else. I don't think I'd even be very tasty to a bear. I don't know why he was picking on me. Oh. You're very large, aren't you? Rather like that bear."
"Don't like being dirty?" He climbed quickly, worried at the confused, sing-songy tone. "There's a river about a half candlemark's ride away. We'll get you down and patched up and go, if you'd like. I could use a bit of a wash and so could the bear, I think."
The man seemed to cling even tighter to the tree. "I thought the bear was dead!"
"He is, but he'll be a better rug after a dunk." Jael laughed, hoping to put the man at ease. "And he'll taste better too, wouldn't you think?"
"I think I'm going to be sick," the man informed him, voice tight, almost prim.
"Wait 'til I'm up or you're down." Jael reached the man and scooped him close, balancing the vaguely green-faced man against his chest. "There now. Just close your eyes and we'll be down and I'll find you a bit of water."
Long, thin fingers grabbed at his tunic, wrapping themselves in it in a death grip. "I'll find the water. That's what I do. I just need a minute and I'll find your water for you."
"You're a dowser? The chieftain will be glad to hear that. We've been worried about the water since the seer starting warning last winter. Hard to keep a tribe without water." Jael chattered softly, watching the ill-look fade slightly. Then he quickly and carefully carried the man down the tree.
"Pshaw. Dowsers are charlatans. You dig deep enough you can find water anywhere. I bring it to you. Oh. I usually don't tell people that. Not right away. Sometimes not even at all. But you did just save my life from that horrible bear who was going to eat me all up. Thank you."
"They are?" Jael settled the man on the grass, looking him over carefully. There was a nasty gash on one leg, but otherwise the man seemed well. He whistled for his horse again, pulling down one of the saddlebags and pulling out a water skin. "What's your name? I'm Jael."
"I'm Quan. It's nice to meet you, Jael. Thank you for rescuing me." The man looked down at his own leg and grew pale. "Oh my, that seems like an awful lot of blood..."
"Oh, it's not so bad. Looks nastier than it is. What kind of name is Quan? I've never heard it before." He winced as his cut thumb began to sting and raised it to his mouth, sucking it idly. He poured water over Quan's wound before binding it up.
"My people are--oh! Ooooooohhhhh." Quan stopped speaking, a small smile playing about his face as Jael cleaned the wound.
"The ache should ease soon. It wasn't too deep at all." Jael tied the last knot and stood. "If you'll rest a bit, I'll set that old bear onto some sticks and we'll head down to the river."