“Johnny,” Alondra’s soft voice whispered in his ears, “Johnny…”
He opened his eyes and Alondra’s face, framed by flaming red hair, came into focus.
“Alondra,” he murmured, “you’re okay.”
Alondra frowned, confused.
“I am… what?”
“Okay,” Johnny struggled to sit up, “it means ‘fine’, it’s just a word we use back home.”
“Ah… Then, yes, I am fine.”
Johnny’s head throbbed; he winced.
“You hit your head, you almost died,” Alondra nudged him to lie down again, “they saved you.”
“I don’t know, but they are amiable.”
“Where are we?”
“I don’t know. They speak like the Ancients, I understand very little.”
“There were two moons in the sky.”
Alondra nodded, “Do you have the runes?”
Johnny took a deep breath, “Most of them, the R is missing, the book too, and my jacket.”
Alondra widened her eyes, “Raido brought us here, without it, we cannot leave.”
A small sound interrupted her and Johnny turned his pounding head in the direction; the movement nauseated him.
A young man with a long face and aquiline nose approached. His jet black hair stuck up in all directions and glimmered with iridescent blues, greens and purples, like feathers. He held out an earthenware cup and motioned for Johnny to drink it.
Grunting, Johnny sat up. He glanced at Alondra, who smiled and nodded, then pressed the cup to his lips. Cool, fresh water flowed down his dry throat. It was so pure, he could almost taste the soil of the mountain spring whence it came, unlike the metallic tang of the water from the copper pipes back home. It was even purer than the water he’d drunk in Alondra’s time.
The strange man touched a hand to his chest and, in a deep rumbling voice, said, “Belenos,”
“Johnny,” he imitated the movement.
Belenos smiled; it reached his obsidian eyes.
Sweat trickled down Johnny’s face, and he was about to wipe it away with his sleeve, when Belenos stayed his hand and dabbed Johnny’s face with a clean cloth. Johnny glimpsed a bright red spot on the soft white material. Belenos cupped Johnny’s head and turned it to see better in the soft firelight.
For the first time since waking, Johnny caught glimpses of the room. It was cave-like with walls of soft stone, and a tall curved ceiling with glowing embers sprinkled here and there, almost like stars which flickered like candles. As Belenos bade him look sideways, Johnny discerned he lay on a cot hewn into the wall. Fire crackled nearby, and it shocked Johnny to see the fire gurgling from a tiny spring in the ground.
Belenos took a small vial from around his neck and opened the cork. He tapped it like selecting pills out of a bottle. A bright tiny drop-shaped diamond sprung into his open palm. It caught the firelight and plunged Johnny into a kaleidoscope of colored light. Belenos took the drop and pressed it against Johnny’s painful temple. The pain ceased and a comforting warmth spread over his face.
Alondra gasped, “It healed! The wound disappeared!”
Belenos turned to her and beamed. He helped Johnny lay back down on the pillow and beckoned Alondra to follow. Sleep overtook Johnny as he watched them leave, Belenos at least two feet taller than Alondra. As his eyelids closed, Johnny thought he saw wings on Belenos’s back