The bruise on Fletcher’s shoulder was gorgeous. The mottling had spread through about six different distinct shades of purple-blue, and the square area was about the size of two dinner plates. The nerve endings at the center of the bruise were blunted and sheared, almost stunned from the blunt force trauma that had caused the contusion. The shape was roughly symmetrical, but extended all the way down his side with a few radiating pain lines down to almost his mid-belly. It was enormous. It was probably the biggest bruise he’d ever had — at least, in isolation of other more serious injuries. Fletcher wound up not healing it out of sheer fascination. (Well, that and a basic healing spell might be of more use to someone else later. This would clear up on its own with a bit of time.)
And the even more fascinating thing, of course, was that his armor had actually dulled about half the damage of the crash. If it hadn’t been there, the impact would have been sharp enough that his ribs might have punctured through the skin.
…Of course, if he hadn’t been wearing his armor, the bruise might not have happened in the first place.
“Fine, you may have a point,” Fletcher said to his wife, as they tromped through the empty streets of Vorimarthos, the Shattered City. “Heavy metal armor might not have been the best attire to climb a hundred foot wall.”
Rozelyn smirked and said nothing. He grinned back at her as he helped her over a fallen stone pillar.
“And you were also right,” Fletcher continued after a pause, “that it would have been much quicker and easier and quieter for all of us if I found a magical solution to the climbing situation rather than trying to scamper up and keep pace with, well, a bunch of nimble elves and a teleporting monk.”
She maintained her smirk. This usually meant that Fletcher hadn’t covered everything yet.
“Also that I should listen to expert advice about rope strength instead of insisting that I understand the weight-bearing strength of hemp.”
“And that when I inevitably snap the rope, that I should find something stronger to secure myself to instead of swinging sideways and crashing into a bas-relief of a minotaur that leaves a gorgeous bruise across my entire torso.”
“And that I should graciously accept the help of my dear, kind wife and Prost when she scampers downwards, practically perpendicular, to help carry her tin can of a husband the remaining four storeys up the wall.”
“These are very specific lessons to learn. I’m going to be rather surprised if the exact circumstances arrive again. How many dead cities do we plan on breaking into?”
She laughed a bit at this, and tousled his hair. Together, they worked through a half-ruined stone building — maybe some kind of hotel? — leading the way as the Inquisitors carefully trailed behind them.
“But yes, dear Prost. I will avoid wearing armor as heavy as this when doing extreme climbing in the future.”
LESS THAN TWO HOURS LATER
Fletcher dug through the enormous pile of draconic treasure and pulled out a suit of bronze-etched mail. “It’s full plate! It’s my size! It’s even heavier than my current set! IT’S PERFECT!”