Sunday, June 10, 2007

"Heal Thyself" at 30K and a snippet

The relationship between my two main characters is becoming clearer and clearer as I move into the middle section of their story. It's been an interesting experience confining myself to their 2 points of view. I think had I directly moved to this story from either "Wings" or "MindBlind," I would have felt constrained by only writing through 2 characters' eyes. But I came to this story after the first person narrative of "The House of Many Doors," so adding a second POV feels like a luxury.

I also think that moving from 1st person back to 3rd person has enabled me to write a closer 3rd person that I had been able to before.

“Healer Tor.”

She stiffened. He was at her elbow bringing with him the scent of smoke and blood.

“What happened to you?”

“Not now,” he said, forcing a smile to his face and his walking pace matching her own. He was making an enormous effort not to limp and he held his right arm awkwardly at his side.

She took what she needed with her healing sight, though it only confirmed what she already knew. The arm was re-injured. Not broken again, thank the gods. And seeping blood from slash wounds. The headache had been his. Garden variety aches and pains she ignored, but the hip had a deep bone bruise.

“Does the concept of rest mean nothing to you?”

“Only the dead rest.”

“If you keep abusing yourself this way, you’ll discover that for yourself.”

Hal Jahnissim walked close by, but without touching her. To a casual observer, they were two friends walking and talking. The inn seemed a lot further away than it had been before and his stamina was failing. If he faltered, she would just have to take his arm and pretend he was a drunk lover, his prohibition about contact with women be damned. He made it. Just barely and Lilliane could measure just how much the walk had cost him.

She led him to her room past the leering innkeeper. Apparently it wasn’t as odd as Hal Jahnissim thought for a Tisreen and Rimlander to be seen together. Lilliane only hoped that there were no Rimland soldiers looking for the two of them. For the right price, she was sure this innkeeper would remember them.

“I need to be able to ride.” Hal Jahnissim stood swaying in the middle of her small room.

“Ride? You can hardly stand.” Lilliane pointed to the bed. “Lie down.”

It was likely a measure of his condition that he didn’t argue with her as she unwrapped the fabric wound around his right forearm. She glared at him. “You were in a knife fight.” He didn’t answer. “Don’t move,” she said. He closed his eyes. When she returned with a basin of water and a cloth, he seemed to be asleep. But he would wake instantly once she started cleaning his wounds.

Lilliane shuffled through the pouches at her waist looking for the blood-flower. She crumbled a pinch of the dried leaf and sprinkled it onto the water. It would sting them both, but knives could carry disease into the body. She didn’t think the wounds had bled enough to cleanse the arm. “Shallow wounds bite deep,” she muttered, shaking her head.

Without giving him any warning, she dribbled the treated water over his cuts. They foamed and bubbled while he hissed through clenched teeth. Her right arm burned, but she’d known what to expect. It wouldn’t last long and there would be no risk of infection afterwards. She continued to focus on the arm, looking deeply within it to assess her handiwork from the day before.

“You’re lucky I do such good work,” she said.

“And so modest and demure too.”

She couldn’t help herself. She laughed and her anger dissolved like the powdery herbs in the water. The break was healing as well as she could expect. At least his latest activity didn’t displace the bone any. She bandaged the forearm with strips of clean cloth coated with medicated salve.

“Take down your trousers.”


She closed her eyes briefly, praying for patience. Reaching into another pouch, she pulled out a small pair of bandage scissors. “I need to see the damage. One way or another.”

He turned partially onto his right side and rolled the top of his trousers down. The hip was purpling, the bruise spreading out from the bone through the broken blood vessels in the muscle. “What happened to you?”

“I was kicked by a mule.”

“The hell you were.” Slipping her sight between the layers of tissue, she sealed broken vessels and washed away pooling blood. The rest would mend with time and Lilliane was tired. “Fine. And the slashes on your arm. Falcon? Lion? Or was your mule carrying a knife?”

He didn’t answer. Lilliane turned away and shoved her supplies back in her kit.

The bed groaned and she heard the rustle of fabric behind her. “Thank you.”

“It’s not like you give me much choice, Tisreen.”

“No. The Divine rarely grants us that luxury.” His voice was gentle. It was as much of an apology as she was likely to get.

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