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In the Hearts of Men

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Stiles looked out the window then back at the two bowls of stew that were getting cold. A storm was coming, he could feel it, and it was getting late, but his father was nowhere in sight. He sighed heavily knowing his father wouldn't be returning from town that night. Sometimes he hated living all the way out in No Man's Land. Of course it was the one place in all the land safe enough for someone like him to live.      

No Man's Land was the name given to the three miles wide strip of land between two different kingdoms; Wulfhli, ruled by a family of werewolves named the Hales, and Dræfend, ruled by humans who once hunted werewolves named the Argents. The two ruling families had a treaty, and No Man's land was a buffer that was part of the treaty since neither kingdom had claim over it. If either kingdom sent soldiers onto the land, they had to inform the other why they were there.

  It was the perfect place to hide for that exact reason. Three miles wide and it goes along the entire length of both kingdoms. It was a lot of land to search, and it wasn't worth the time it would take to search for people they didn't even know existed.

  Here Stiles was completely invisible and that was good. It kept him safe. He was lucky his grandfather built this cabin here. Maybe he knew the hell that was coming for people like them. Maybe he saw things like Stiles saw in his dreams or maybe his grandmother did, and he built the cabin because, like Stiles, they couldn't always tell when these things took place. He had to get the ability to see from somewhere right? It definitely wasn't from his mother though.

  Stiles sighed again as he ran a hand through his hair before walking back towards the table. He poured one bowl of stew back into the pot he made it in then sat down to eat his own. He stirred it around in his bowl as he stared at it.

  He really missed his mother. He remembered the day they came for her. The knights that were sent to find and capture any known users of witch craft in Wulfhli. His mother only used her magic to heal people in their village, but she was still well known. His father was in charge of the village guards and tried to convince his mother to leave, but she refused. She couldn't leave when these people needed her, and when the knights came for her Stiles hid.

   He held his breath as he watched them drag her out of their home, dug his fingers into the dirt as they forced her into a cage like some kind of animal, and bit his lip till blood dripped from the corners as they locked her in chains. He wanted to run to her, to scream for them to stop, but he couldn't. He promised he'd stay hidden. She stared straight at him as they started to move away. She was crying, but she was trying so hard not to.

   Tears fell down his cheeks when she spoke, but she didn't speak out loud. He heard her in his head. Her voice cracking even in her thoughts as she sent him one last goodbye. He watched her disappear from sight. He was so scared when his father came up behind him. He was scared a knight had found him too. Then his father moved them here, to No Man's Land.

  His father was still the top village guard so he had to travel to the village and back, but sometimes he had to stay at the village over night. This was one of those times. He wouldn't be coming home tonight and Stiles knew it, but part of him still hoped. When they first came here and his father didn't return at night he was scared they had gotten him too. His father may not have been a sorcerer but he was hiding one.

  Stiles stared at the empty seat across from him for a moment before getting up. He had lost his appetite. He blew out all but one candle because, whenever his dad was gone for a night he left the one in the front window on in case he came back. He wasn't afraid of any of the bandits coming near there. They knew better.

He walked into his room and climbed into bed. The wind howled outside his window as the storm grew closer. He could already hear the thunder in the distance. He hated thunder storms. It always put him on edge, like he could feel the electricity from each lightning bolt course through him. He sat there staring at his ceiling before rolling over and closing his eyes in an attempt to welcome sleep, but as soon as he shut them images began flickering behind his eyelids.

  He was hurt. It was storming outside. Thunder. Why was the thunder so loud? Pain. Pain was everywhere. He was bleeding from a wound on his side, but it wasn't normal. Something was in the wound that made it hurt so badly. Someone was after him. He didn't belong here. Why was he here? A charm. A warding charm he hung on the tree next to him. He wasn't far from his cabin so, why did he feel so out of place?

  Then it all went dark. Stiles shot up in his bed with a audible intake of air as he gripped his side, where the wound was, tightly. He sat there wide eyed and breathless as he tried to figure out if that was his future or someone else's. He looked down at his supposedly wounded side but he saw no blood. He was ok, but he got the feeling they weren't his eyes he was looking through.

He struggled to control his breathing for a moment, before he licked his lips and gulped. He jumped when the lightning crashed and realized the rain was pounding outside his window. It was getting louder, which meant the storm was getting closer. /Why was the thunder so loud?/

   He quickly got out of bed as he struggled to remember any details that could tell him who's eyes he was seeing through, but he couldn't think of anything. Nothing that told him that he wasn't seeing through his father's eyes, and that scared him.

  He frantically searched for his coat and, after finding it hanging on the back of a chair just outside his room, hurried to put it on, before rushing out the front door. The wind was relentless. It howled loudly in his ears, pushed hard against his skin, and sent chills up his spine. The rain was just as bad, coming down in big droplets that easily soaked through his clothes. He couldn't see or hear a damn thing in this weather.

  He had to concentrate. The first thing he needed was light. He needed to see in order to find someone, right? He closed his eyes and took a few deep breaths, in and out, as he held up his arm to focus his energy.

  "Lys føre meg," Stiles whispered before a ball of light formed in his hand and lit the way in front of him. He kept his eyes closed and breaths even. He had to remember the scenery. In what direction was he supposed to go?

  Stiles opened his eyes as he remembered the warding charm. He made them special so his dad could always find his way home. That made his suspicions even stronger, but he had to focus. He had to find who he was looking for, even if it wasn't his father. Someone needed help.

  He ran towards the path the charms would be found on. As long as he followed that path he should find whoever he was searching for. He stopped at every charm he could remember and looked around them thoroughly, but he was still frantic. He was losing focus, and the light was already fading.

  Everything was going by in slow motion, as if he wasn't moving fast enough. A loud crash of lightning and suddenly everything was happening too fast. His focus shattered, the light went out, he tripped, and let out a yell as he fell into mud. Then everything stopped.

  Someone groaned but it wasn't him. What did he trip on? He slowly looked behind him and saw a big lumpy figure laying on the ground by his feet. He quickly leaped up onto his knees and turned around as he realized that this must be the person's who's eyes he saw through.

  They were laying on their stomach, and he couldn't see their face, but, judging by their size, they were not his dad. Stiles breathed a sigh of relief at this realization and turned the male (definitely male) over.  He studied the man's face for a moment, before he focused on what he was wearing.

Judging by the crest on his chest he was from Wulfhli and definitely wasn't some kind of criminal or peasant. He was probably a knight, a highly regarded one at that, but knights generally stayed within the walls that circled around the inner kingdom, meaning the king's castle and the village that neighbored it. Maybe this knight was on a quest of sorts, but knights usually traveled in groups. Maybe they were ambushed?

  Stiles looked around to see if there were any other knights, but, since the storm made visibility low, he couldn't even see passed the trees two rows away. He didn't really have time to search for people that might not have even been there. The storm was only getting worse and this man needed help.

  Stiles got to his feet, sitting the man up as he did so, and got behind him. He attempted to pull the other up by his under arms but the water prevented him from getting a good grip. He leaned over, took the man's arm and wrapped it around his neck, and tried lifting him up. He only made it a few steps before falling, face first, into the mud.

  Stiles groaned in frustration as he got up. He glared at the unconscious man before letting out an irritated sigh and standing up. He looked around one more time then back down at the man. He held his arm out to the knight and focused his energy. "Fly hvor jeg veilede," he commanded.

  The man slowly rose off the ground as Stiles moved his arm upward. The Thunder crashed louder and nearly broke his focus again, but he ignored the growing fear it gave him. He slowly made his way back to his cabin as the man floated in front of him.

  Once he made it inside he brought him to his room and laid him down on the bed before lighting a lantern next to his bed. He hurried out of the room and into the kitchen in search of supplies. He poured water into two bowls from the jug filled with the supply he had boiled earlier that day and placed them on a tray before grabbing two clean cloths and a bandage.

  He brought the tray back to his room and placed it down on his bed side table. He stripped out of his muddy jacket and dropped it on the floor before pulling up a chair, sitting, and lifting the other's chain mail, and other clothing, up enough to clearly see the wound.

  He first lifted his hand up to one bowl and whispered, "Kaldt til varmt," before the bowl started steaming. He dipped one piece of cloth into the water and wrung it out. Carefully he folded it, before laying it on the other male's forehead. Warm towels always relaxed him and he hoped it did the same for the knight.

  He grabbed the second cloth and dipped it into the other bowl before he began cleaning the knight's wound. Knights in Wulfhli are wolves. Wolves heal fast, but something was wrong. Stiles cleared off the wound enough to get a clearer idea of what was the real extent of the injury, then looked up at the other's face.

  "Why aren't you healing?" he questioned as he stared at the other in confusion. He got up quickly, walked to his bookshelf, and quickly scanned over each book before finding the one he needed. He pulled it out and searched through the pages as he returned to his seat.

  He wiped the wound a bit more and applied pressure to it with one hand. He used his free hand to flip the book's pages as it sat on top of his lap. He stopped and tapped twice on the page he was looking for. Something in the wound made it hurt more when he was seeing through the knight's eyes, this must have been it.

  Wolfsbane was a flower used by high ranking Dræfend knights. They made it into a type of oil and rubbed it on their swords, and Stiles never really put it together until now. Wolfsbane was like a type of poison to wolves, which meant, this man was stabbed with a sword, or knife, doused in Wolfsbane oil, used by one of the knights from Dræfend.

He knew exactly how to deal with Wolfsbane, thanks to Scott ofcourse. A girl he met from Dræfend had left her knife that happened to be coated in Wolfsbane oil behind, and somehow Scott cut his hand on it. Luckily for Scott, Stiles had a recipe for a potion that reversed the effects. Unluckily for Scott, it took hours to find that recipe and all night to find the ingredients for it. Hopefully, he still had the ingredients.

  He layed the book down carefully, so he didn't lose his page and began taking off what the man was wearing, or at least the upper chain mail and crested apron. He did not want to see a stranger's privates right now. He picked the book up again and grabbed the lantern, before heading back to the kitchen.

  He set the book and lantern down, grabbed another bowl, and filled it half way with water. He set that down by the book as well. He hurriedly went through the cabinets in search for the ingredients. He carefully grabbed the vials and herbs he needed and piled them in his hands.

  He turned and dumped them onto the counter, before closing the cabinets. He read the instructions carefully and added each ingredient as cautiously as possible. Stiles hated making potions. One mistake and he could be screwed. He really hoped he didn't make any now.

  When he was finished the water turned into a bright yellow liquid. He grabbed a gauze pad and dipped it in the liquid, before rushing back to his room. He pressed the pad to the wound then grabbed the bandages. It wasn't easy, but he managed to wrap up the wound.

  He grinned triumphantly at his handy work. "There, that should do the trick!" he said confidently as he stretched and leaned back in his chair, before he sneezed. "Crap," he grumbled before getting up and going to his drawers. He needed dry clothes before he caught a cold. He grabbed some clean clothes, at least as clean as a peasant boy can get them, and went into the next room.

  He knew the other was unconscious, but it felt weird to change in front of him. He quickly changed, and put the clothes in a basket. He went to the kitchen, grabbed a towel, dipped it in the jar of water, and began wiping his face with it. He cleaned up the mess he had made and sneezed again, before letting out an irritated groan.
Stiles walked back into the room, sat down in the chair, and pointed an accusitory finger at the unconscious male. "Better be damn greatful when you wake up," he said with a small yawn, before he leaned forward, folded his arms on the bed, and laid his head down on them. He closed his eyes and sighed before exauhtion finally took over.