William felt pain. His chest and abdomen burned and his arms and legs had what felt like several searing cuts in them. He knew the pain of being cut and slashed, but this was worse. He tried to take a minute to figure out where he was; was he lying on the ground in the field? What happened?
The memory flooded back over him. The bomb, the explosion, and he almost shuddered and pain shot through his body anew. It overpowered all other feeling in his body and clenched his jaws over any sound he might make. He tried to breathe slowly, regularly and wait for it to ebb away.
"Yes sir, he will live," said an unfamiliar voice. "Though I don't know how he didn't bleed to death. Or even survive that kind of idiocy."
"That's enough, Jaks," came the sharp reply. That was General Korgan's voice, deep with command.
William let his eyes slide open and blinked several times, trying to remove the gritty feeling and the feeling of things clinging to his eyelashes. He started to lift his arm, but a gentle hand pressed it back down and he felt the edge of a camp cot under his forearm. "No, milord, allow me." Leaf. William smiled slightly. Leaf blotted at Williams eyes with a damp cloth and wiped carefully.
"Oh, look," said the unfamiliar voice. Jaks, was it? "Our noble idiot is awake. Don't move. I've had to pull more shrapnel out of you and stitch you back up so many times I'm sick of looking at you. You pop those stitches and I'm done." The source of the voice wandered into Williams's field of vision. He was shorter, with a round face, dark hair and black rimmed spectacles. "It's rare you see someone mess themselves up so badly that the red magics can't heal things back up completely."
"Jaks," came the general's voice again. "Stand down." William tried to turn his head, but instead, Leaf lifted his head up and put a pillow underneath it. The first new thing that he saw was his own body. It was covered in strips of bandage, some spots dark with old blood, some bright with fresh blood and some rare spots of unspoiled white. His torso was completely covered, his arms and legs wound in irregular patterns.
"William" said the general as he stepped to where William could see him.
"Yes, sir," replied. "Reporting, sir."
"I owe you my life, William," the general said. "Your men turned the tide of the battle. You and your troll were the tipping point for securing camp. But you just dove on a bomb. What were you thinking, soldier?"
William looked at him and took a breath. "They were trying to kill you, sir. You're the one that masterminded this campaign. I couldn't allow that, sir." He looked around as much as he could. "I couldn't do that, sir."
The general looked at him and turned on his heel, marching towards a table covered with papers and maps. "I do not take my debts lightly, William. I will remember this, but the fact remains, you are in no shape to return to the field. Your injuries were so extensive that even Doctor Jaks considerable skill wasn't enough to get you back on your feet today. From what he's told me, he had to use his magics to keep you from bleeding out and then stitch you again, repeatedly. I cannot put you back in command of your unit."
William felt a lump rise in his throat. That was not what was supposed to... His father never was relieved of command. "I understand, sir." William looked around for something to hold to, something that had survived, and spied his blade leaning against one of the tables in the room. "Sir, what of my gear?"
Korgan smiled at him briefly. "I know you don't like being relieved of command. Hopefully, this will be temporary. But your gear, well, Anton?" Anton stood up from by one of the tables where William hadn't seen him. He held up William's blade, whole and gleaming, as if someone had been cleaning it. Anton then held up William's shield and breastplate. The armor had blackened scorch marks on it and so many holes where the steel curled inward. The shield was broken, the wooden back barely held together by the steel plate on the front.
"My shield," William started. "It's not..."
"No," Leaf said quietly. "Detrious said it had broken before you dove on the bomb. I suppose that's why you dropped it."
"It's good that you did," said the doctor. "The wooden splinters in that would have been much harder to remove and you probably would have gotten gravely ill. Call that a good decision."
William let his head sag back onto the pillow. He felt weak, even after such a short conversation. "What about the camp?" He knew things hadn't gone too badly, evidenced by Leaf and Anton's presence, but he had to ask.
"They are fine," the general responded. "Nothing ever got near them, but your man, Adovan, was livid over not being there for you." The general walked over and patted William's shoulder. "You did more than I could have asked of you, soldier. Rest, and we'll talk about your future soon."