By the Grace of Maim
tbh I'm not really feeling this chapter title, but it's what I got atm. Also, I had no idea how to write any of the content in this scene, so good luck and Godspeed :/ (now that I've written the entire scene, I feel like I could've just summarized everything in it in a paragraph later on.)
also I've been considering for a while not sharing the chapters on here and sharing a link to the story instead?? I feel like I'm clogging up the forums for one reader >.>
The tome fell shut with a heavy thump. Adaellae rolled her shoulders and cracked her neck.
A review of her notes in Fria’s book only made her more certain that Oniman was onto something important-- no, useful, even in this modern day-- in her Codex. And yet, according to her youngest priest, some monk had managed to convince Dario to allow him to borrow the book, only to lose it. At this rate, only Maim herself could provide the manuscript to Adaellae.
A soft rapping at her door startled her.
Adaellae stood up, turning to face the muscular woman who stood in the narrow doorway. “Is something the matter?”
“When the bells tolled,” began Thea. “One of the guards was injured. Two men have brought him here.”
Adaellae raised her eyebrows. “Is it urgent?”
Thea nodded. “Quite. He… he’s bled quite a bit.”
Adaellae paused, then nodded. “Of course. Take him to the dining room. We’ll use the table.”
“We have,” Thea nodded. “Mr. Timmons is cleaning the blood from the wound,” she added as she started walking backwards down the hall.
Adaellae nodded. “Good.”
The young woman dashed down the hall.
Adaellae sucked in a deep breath through her nose, then exhaled slowly. She tied a band around her hair so that it would stay, for the most part, out of her face and out of the man’s blood. With strides as long as her short frame would provide, she set out to the dining room.
When she entered the dim room, she found two shabbily dressed men in a corner whispering with each other. One had a satchel, and the other, a sword at his hip. On the dining room table lay a pale man. Mr. Timmons had cut away the man’s shirt and was cleaning his wound.
“You are?” she asked the pair of men.
“Ah, we, ah, we brought him here,” said the one with the satchel, nodding vigorously. “We were hoping a bit that he wouldn’t be dead by the time we got here.”
“Mr. Tim there said we ought to stay a spell, in case the guard has some questions,” the swordsman added, nodding at the grey-haired man who kneeled by a lit candle sitting on a bench.
“That’s a good plan,” Adaellae agreed. She approached the table, standing over the man.
There was an oozing stab wound, fairly well cleaned by Mr. Timmons now, in the man’s side. On the man’s chest, over his heart, a faded red infinity symbol formed from the cursive names Lilian and William; on the insides, charms to Adaer blessing their love and marriage; protections from the evils outside that might destroy their relationship.
His abdomen was rather bare, but his shoulders, arms, and neck were covered in dark shades of ink. Mostly, it was swirling tattoos insuring Adaer’s protection from some oddity or other, such as illness or pests, but among the lighter colored tattoos, charms from Flead. On the other side of his chest, a mash of symbols-- a moon, the pink and red yarrow of summer, Adaer’s broken spearhead. As well, old scars covered his body; by the looks of it, they belonged to claws, not men.
Nothing symbolized a relationship with Maim. If anything, the man’s body was a stand against a relationship with Maim.
“I’ve set the needle through the flame,” said Mr. Timmons.
Adaellae startled. Mr. Timmons’ held a threaded needle out to her in one hand, and the candle in the other. Adaellae accepted the needle and looked at the man’s wound again.
The man mumbled, maybe a prayer or maybe nonsensically. His breathing was uneven.
“Do you know where Thea is?” Adaellae asked coolly, beginning to stitch the wound with steady hands while Mr. Timmons held the candle close to it for better lighting. She labored to insure the stitches were even, if only for the sake of perfection.
“I believe she’s gathering some of your herbs. It would be best of her.” Mr. Timmons leaned away from her, robes rustling. “Should I check?”
Adaellae shook her head. “No, that’s alright.” She should give Thea the benefit of the doubt. If this guardsman caught some disease, well… disease happened, and so did discipline.
“So, gentlemen,” Mr. Timmons said. He paused when the man moaned, but when nothing else came of it, he continued speaking. “Might I ask what you were doing out in the woods?”
“We live out there,” said one.
Adaellae cut the thread and tied off the string. She wiped her hands on her robes, frowning at the fresh blood on the man’s abdomen. “It wasn’t poisonous, was it? Whatever attacked him?” She looked pointedly at the men who had brought him.
The one with the satchel tugged at the strap anxiously. He looked at his companion.
The swordsman shook his head. “No, no. It was a common beetle.” He voice was absolute. He pointed at Adaellae. “Do I know you?”
“Only if you are religious.” Adaellae looked at the bench, pulled out from under the table and set against the wall. A bloodied bowl, the man’s tattered shirt-- not the green of the Guard-- a pair of scissors, and a bowl of clean water. “Mr. Timmons, if you wouldn’t check on Thea?” Regardless of her personal feelings, it was Adaellae’s job to try and keep the guardsman alive.
Mr. Timmons nodded. He set the candle on the bench and disappeared into the hall.
Adaellae turned her attention on the men. “You live in the woods? That doesn’t seem terribly safe.”
“Monsters don’t tend to visit very often,” said the man with the satchel.
Adaellae’s eyebrows shot up. “In those woods?”
He hesitated, then nodded once. “Indeed.”
Adaellae merely nodded. Large creatures like beetles might not attack men often, but smaller pests filled the void easily.
Thea ran in breathlessly. “Sorry, sorry. I lost the bottle of thyme.”
“Is that why you’re late?” Adaellae asked, taking the bowl of herbs and dressing supplies.
Thea breathed in deeply. “I apologize.”
“Do you remember how to make a yeoman’s tonic?” she asked, rifling through the contents. It seemed like all the necessary oils and herbs were here.
Thea nodded. “I do.”
Adaellae waved her hand in a circular gesture, then pulled out the bandages.
Thea jumped, then grabbed the bowl from Adaellae without asking and set it on the bench. She pulled the ingredients from the bowl, organizing them hastily.
Adaellae took a step closer to Thea, but before she could squat next to her, the man made an intelligible sound.
Adaellae turned and studied him. His eyes were open, barely, and his breathing seemed to have quickened. She rested her arms on the table and leaned closer to
him. “Is Richard your partner?”
His gaze flicked to her, his brows furrowing slightly. “What?”
She paused.“Do you know your name?”
Adaellae nodded. “That’s what I said.”
“It’s--” the man started coughing. Adaellae leaned back, but his shaky voice returned a moment later: “Will.”
Adaellae nodded. “Do you remember what happened?”
“I think I finished the tonic,” Thea said.
Adaellae looked over her shoulder. The young lady was already standing up, taking a step closer to Adaellae. “Then bring it here,” she said.
“Where did they go?” the man asked hoarsely.
“There was those…” Will closed his eyes, breathing in deeply.
Adaellae slid away and nodded her head at the man. “Hold his hand and hold him down,” she murmured, taking the bowl from Thea. “Mr. Will,” she said in a clear voice, “this is going to sting.”
Thea took the man’s hand and said, “You were asking about those things?”
Adaellae put her fingers into the warm, fresh salve, which was a sort of olive color, sprinkled with crushed herbs, and glanced at Thea. The woman’s free hand rested on Will’s chest and she spoke soothingly. She had certainly distracted him.
Adaellae rubbed the goop along the edge of the wound. Will inhaled sharply, then made a little gasping sound. She put her hand in the salve and started spreading it along the other edge of his wound. Thea held both of his wrists against his chest.
Adaellae tilted the bowl some--this was mixed horribly; much to thin--, dipped her fingers in it, and started spreading larger clumps over the wound. Will made a tiny choking sound and Thea murmured for him to breathe, remember to breathe.
When it was covered sufficiently in salve, Adaellae grabbed some gauze. She wiped what remained from her fingers onto the cloth before pressing it over the wound. She grabbed the cloth to wrap around it and looked up, expecting to find Mr. Timmons in the room. Instead, all she found were the two men who had brought Will here.
“Would one of you be a dear and help me?” she asked calmly.
The swordsman pushed the man with the satchel forward.
“Aye-- that’s not--”
“Go help!” the swordsman snapped, crossing his arms.
The man with the satchel stared at the high priestess and her patient. He sucked in a deep breath, set his mouth in a hard line, and walked up to the table until he stood across from her. “Yes?”
“I need you to reach in the man’s wound and look for a hard, sharp object.”
The man inhaled sharply. “O-oh.”
“It’s of dire importance,” Adaellae added, nodding at the gauze.
The man’s hands trembled as he started to reach for the gauze. Then he paused, retracting his hands. “Shouldn’t you do it? You, you are more knowledgeable than me, about what you’re looking for.”
Adaellae snorted. “I just need you to help hold him up so I can wrap this bandage around him.”
“Oh-- Oh!” the man exhaled in relief, one hand against his chest. “Thank the gods above. I can do that.”
Adaellae nodded at him. “Then let’s get to it, no?”
I like the title. I think it's fitting. Also, that was a very nice troll there at the end. XP
I really enjoyed this chapter. I don't know what else to say about it really. Adaellae has a very strong personality and it shows. The narrative felt very concise which seems to fit her as the focus of the chapter and the situation overall. Good stuff. :)
And about linking the story instead of posting. Welp, it's up to you. I'll follow along whatever you decide. ^^