A tale of artists, intrigue, and the magical renaissance

2.5 – Filo Elici {Threaded Cog}

How are all of the rooms in the palace so bright? Despite the urgency in the others around her, Elena’s thoughts were idle, almost unconcerned. There have to be some rooms that aren’t full of windows, but then I’ve only ever seen a tiny fraction of the rooms of the palace, chances are I’ve just not encountered them before.

Cofrancesco and Vecelio carefully led Elena down the long double line of beds, supporting her every time she got too dizzy and nearly fell. Every bump and jostle was enough to send another blossom of pain up her arm to join the sharp throbbing that shot from the palm of her hand all the way up to her elbow.

Deia, Elena what happened?” Arta rushed up to the group as soon as she saw them, leaving Arturo laying in his bed at the end, bandaged foot propped up on a stack of pillows. Next to his bed, Masters Artemis and Apollo had been sitting, but they both rose as well.

“A knife happened,” Ele said darkly.

“We were just with her less than two hours ago!” Master Apollo said, “you have quite a way of attracting danger to you, girl.”

“Lucciano has helped us uncover a spy for the smuggling ring we’ve been investigating,” Vecelio said, as the two of them helped Elena into a bed across from Arturo.

“On her first day helping us,” Cofrancesco added.

“He attacked her for her troubles, most likely to protect his fellow smugglers by silencing her,” Vecelio tucked an escaped hair behind her ear, “I’ll have to bring in another accountant to check over everything Be Pullo has done this entire time…and perhaps we’ll search his rooms, though I doubt he’d be so careless as to leave anything behind there.”

“You sussed out spies?” Master Artemis raised her eyebrows, “I’ve never encountered a Storm able to do that before. I can think of ten uses for it without having to ponder.”
“I’m telling you, she’s destined to be Hephaestus,” Master Apollo said.

“I couldn’t…I’d have to be in charge…” the room was spinning around Elena, and she was starting to feel sick, “Storm doesn’t work unless I’m in charge.”

“Well, I doubt Master Zeus would be pleased with that. We should let him know he’s got competition ahead of time,” Master Apollo grinned.

“Shouldn’t…is someone going to help Elena?” Arta asked.

“I’ve seen worse, she’ll live, but…” Vecelio looked around her, concerned, “normally the medicos are in this room…”

“Master Asclepius sent them away, since we’re in the palace anyways he figured he could take over their work. He’ll be back soon,” Master Artemis said. “And the man who did this? Did he die?”

“For some reason they decided to keep him alive,” Ele glowered.

“No harm came to him, the swine,” Vecelio frowned, “we’ve got guards taking him down to the dungeons now, he can share a cell with his friend, the kid we picked up last week.”

“Elena are you alright?” Arta stood close by the bed, wringing her hands and watching Elena closely. For her part, Elena was knitting her brows, focusing on her arm.

“Storm tells me…how to fix…things that are mine,” she managed, before falling back into silence. There should be prickles in her temples and fingertips, the Storm should be telling her how to fix her arm, how to stop the pain, why wouldn’t it?

Does my body not belong to me? she thought, forlorn. The memory of the rebels threatening to cut her palms so that she couldn’t work as a Fabera again had been playing through her head on a loop; it was the worst time for her Storm to start acting strangely.

The project is still mine, she thought, refocusing herself and trying to tune out Master Apollo and Vecelio discussing other arm wounds they had seen in the past. Instantly her head was awash with a flow of information, taking her attention even further from the pain in her arm. Her storm seemed almost eager to help her, giving her an amount of information small enough to comfortably consider, but not enough to overwhelm.

“Ah, here he is now. Master Asclepius, we’ve got another patient for you,” Master Apollo called. The man who had entered was younger than Elena had expected, even though she hadn’t really been thinking about what he might look like. He had brown hair cut so close she could see his scalp through it, and although he wore a white cloth tied around his mouth and nose, she could see the smile in his eyes.

“Master Apollo, exactly how many children do you plan on carving up while I’m here?” Master Asclepius said wryly as he approached.

“The blame for this one isn’t-”

Elena’s temples buzzed, so suddenly and fiercely that she couldn’t pay attention to what the Masters were saying.

Pay attention, stupid little thing. The voice of her Storm said in her head. Now that Elena could compare it to the voice of the real thing, she could identify that this one sounded almost entirely different. It felt younger, more combative, more…angry. Elena focused on her Storm, trying to listen to what it had to say. Surprisingly, what it had to say was very simple.

The Vecelio project belonged to Elena, which meant her Storm covered everyone who worked in the network.

This meant that she knew of actions taken in relation to the Vecelio project.

Be Pullo was not officially removed as a member of the project, and his decision to strangle the fellow smuggler that would be sharing his cell was related to the Vecelio project, and it buzzed in her head like an angry wasp.

“Stop them,” she gasped, reaching out and grabbing Vecelio’s arm. Without thinking she had used her slashed arm, and the pain was enough to send her reeling backwards, dizzy again.

“Easy there!” Master Asclepius cried, rushing to her side.

She pressed through the pain, “Be Pullo is going to kill the other one, don’t let them in the same cell.”

“Go,” Vecelio nodded, and she and Cofrancesco left the room at a run.

“If the rest of you don’t want to be kicked out as well, step away from the bed as well. You, I take it you’re her Echo? You can stay.” Master Asclepius took Elena’s arm carefully, holding it out and examining it carefully. He produced a piece of cloth from his pocket and dabbed away at the blood that covered the slashes, then clucked sympathetically. “Ah, I’m afraid this is going to be a bit rough, my dear,” he said, laying her arm back down on the bed, “to heal this the best we’ll need to seal your skin and flesh.”

“Are you a medico?” Elena asked. Her knowledge of medicine was nearly non-existent, but content to simply lay back and watch the man move, confidently and smoothly pulling materials from the small table at the end of the room.

“Of a sort,” Master Asclepius nodded, “I’m actually a Faberi.”

“What does a craftsman know about healing?” Elena asked, then realized it was a rather rude question to ask, “I mean…I’m sorry.”

“It’s a fair question,” Master Asclepius didn’t seem much offended, but Elena didn’t like the look of the instruments he brought over, setting them down on the bench at the foot of her bed, “my Storm works strangely, and rather uniquely. Instead of real craft, as far as I can tell it works by pretending that people are objects like furniture or tools. Whenever I try to practise real medicine it…well, things turn into a real mess. If I’m trying to balance humours I miss more than I hit, but if I just go along with my Storm, things work out much better.”

As he spoke, Master Asclepius lit a candle, arranging his tools along the bench out of Elena’s sight.

“Is that going to be hot enough?” Ele asked.

“Hot enough for what?” Elena’s heart beat faster, and each heartbeat sent a shock of pain up her arm.

“To seal skin and flesh together, a medico has to…has to um…” Ele looked uncomfortable.

“Please just tell me, Ele,” Elena whimpered.

“They have to burn it,” Ele said, not meeting her eyes, “they burn it closed.”

Elena looked down at her arm, imagining how much it would hurt, imagining the long and nasty scar it would leave.

It’s better than losing the arm, she thought, although her vision was blurry with tears, and I’ll still be a Fabera when it’s all over.

“Actually, that’s not what we’ll be doing,” Master Asclepius said matter-of-factly. He was holding something inside the flame, something that Elena couldn’t see through the tears.

“Is that…do you have a needle and thread?” Arta asked.

“I thought I said to step back?”

“You said Echoes were alright.”

“Ah, very well young lady, yes, this is a needle and thread. As I said, I’ve learned to trust my Storm, no matter how strange it might seem, and while miss Elena is in my care I hope she’ll do the same.”

“You’re going to sew her up?” Ele asked, his voice equally incredulous and angry, “like she’s a rag doll with a rip in it?”

“It’s not the weirdest thing he’s done, not by a long shot,” Master Apollo said from the window he’d retreated to, “you can trust him Hephaestus, he’s the oddest medico you’ll ever see, but if you let him do his rituals, the man can cheat death itself.”

“Why does the needle have to be so hot?” Ele asked.

“It doesn’t, I just have to pass it through the flame before I use it,” Master Asclepius said calmly, apparently unrattled by the Echo’s skepticism, “and before you ask, no, I have no idea why.” He set the needle down on the bed, then turned to a bowl full of water and dipped his hands within.

“Why do you need wet hands?” Arta asked.

“Look…it helps to think of it as a little prayer ritual I go through,” Master Asclepius sighed, “the mask, the water, the candle, there’s no real reason for any of them, but if I don’t do the ritual, my Storm is less effective, and that’s all there is to it.”

“But…that’s not how…” Ele spluttered.

“Drink this please,” Master Asclepius passed Elena a small glass flask filled with a yellow liquid. Elena swallowed it in one gulp, then gasped and blinked.

“It burns!” she coughed, “oh it burns!”

“That’s because it’s nearly entirely alcohol,” Master Asclepius said absentmindedly, threading the needle carefully, “it’s called ‘vodka’, I’ve had it brought in from Rusk.”

“Let me guess, you don’t know why you had her drink it?” Ele asked, as Elena continued to cough, her face flushing.

“Oh no, I’m quite aware why I had her drink it,” Master Asclepius said, using a thin knife to carefully remove the slashed and bloodstained sleeve from Elena’s dress with a few swift strokes, “I had her drink it because this…this is going to hurt quite a bit, I’m afraid.”

***

It had hurt, almost as much as the original slash had, but the warmth that had spread through her face and chest made the entire thing much more bearable, as if she was wrapped in a safe warm blanket and only watching the pain happen to someone else.

Master Asclepius’ hands were gentle on her skin and very steady, and Elena had watched him work with a kind of fascination, ignoring the odd tingles that his touch sent through her overly-hot head.

Now, though her entire arm throbbed numbly, Elena felt less dizzy and shaky. Her thoughts were a little fuzzy, the information from her Storm passed through it slower than normal, but she mused over what information she did have.

“You’ll want to rest, and be very careful with that arm for some time,” Master Asclepius said, washing the blood from his hands in the bowl, “and I would like for you to get some rest for at least a few days.”

“Can I stand on my feet for a few moments?” Elena asked, biting her lip and glancing towards the door towards where Vecelio and Cofrancesco watched. An idea was turning around in her head, fuzzy around the edges, but her Storm seemed to be in favor of it, “just a handful of minutes?”

“You could, but nothing strenuous,” Master Asclepius furrowed his brow.

“Good.” Elena slid out of the bed, looking at the stitching along her arm in grim fascination. “Vecelio, would you please help me down to the dungeons?”

“Elena…” Master Asclepius and Ele began in unison, both with tones of concern, but they were overwhelmed by Master Apollo’s laugh.

“Your first thought is to taunt the man who tried to slice you up?” He chuckled.

“Not taunt him, no.” The warm blanket had solidified somewhere in the pit of Elena’s stomach, where it burned like a furnace of anger that warmed her entire body, “he’s got some information that he needs to share with me.”

“Alright, you have my interest,” Master Apollo stood from where he had been lounging, “I’m coming with you, if only so I can see a tiny little girl get information out of a court-hardened smuggling palace spy.”

“This is a horrible idea,” Ele said.

“Do you want me there with you?” Confrancesco asked, as Vecelio began leading the way. Elena paused for a moment, the flame in her stomach surging through her veins.

“Meet us in the dungeons, but first,” her eyes flashed, “find me a hammer.”

***

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***

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22 responses

  1. I don’t do it often enough, but I’d just like to give a huge shoutout to all my lovely readers, especially those who support me on patreon and vote on TopWebFiction (fourth place! Wow that’s crazy!)

    Thank you all so much!

    Liked by 2 people

    2015-07-12 at 10:50 pm

    • AvidFan

      Wait a second… What? I thought Maddi was the author!? I’m confused now. x_x
      Probably gonna be embarrassed once I click Post Comment.

      Liked by 1 person

      2015-07-13 at 6:21 am

      • hehe, no embarrassment needed, confusion was expected :)

        I am indeed the Artist Formerly Known as Maddi. Between the release of the TC eBook, becoming more active on communities like reddit and WFG, and a super-secret project I’m working on, I’ve decided to make all of my profiles a single “standard” handle, aka Inky Llama.

        I’ll continue to publish smut under Maddirose though, so the pen name won’t disappear entirely!

        Like

        2015-07-13 at 3:59 pm

  2. dogripper

    Oh man, she’s going to bring down the hammer. I’m excited!

    Like

    2015-07-12 at 11:02 pm

    • AvidFan

      It’s hammer time!

      (I will gladly accept the punishment for that pun.)

      Like

      2015-07-13 at 6:22 am

  3. A minute in Wikipedia tells me that vodka isn’t mostly alcohol and it hasn’t historically been, though I guess the medic could have been exaggerating or just misinformed.

    I found this reference to modern medicine interesting! He has to wash his hands first, and sews woulds rather than cauterizing them, and disinfects the needle! This person and their storm could single-handedly invent modern medicine if they were to bother to write the method down and experiment with it. Heck, he’s probably the best medic in the world.

    I wonder what relevance the Fabera’s touch has. I don’t think it’s going to be something as overpowered as Elena suddenly getting his power, but I can’t help but to notice she is taking a tool with her and she was being worked on with tools.

    Thanks for the chapter! Fourth spot is a huge achievement.

    Liked by 1 person

    2015-07-12 at 11:17 pm

    • Aaah! The title pun!

      Like

      2015-07-13 at 12:01 am

      • AvidFan

        Punny, isn’t it?

        (I wonder if the punishment for puns stacks exponentially…)

        Like

        2015-07-13 at 6:24 am

    • Now this is an interesting research breakdown on my part!

      His assertion that the vodka was ‘mostly alcohol’ was an exaggeration, but it was based on the *current* levels of alcohol in vodka (up to 40%) as compared to the levels of alcohol in beverages served in the 16th century (around 5%)

      However, little did I know that vodka in 16th century Russia was actually MUCH less alcoholic than its modern day counterpart! It still works for the story, but I might change Master Asclepius’ line there in the edits.

      Thanks for the catch!

      Like

      2015-07-13 at 4:04 pm

  4. Typo train, choo choo!

    Vecelio said, as he two of them helped Elena into a bed across from Arturo.
    -> as he and two of them.

    Like

    2015-07-12 at 11:17 pm

    • CK

      I think it might be “the two of them,” not “he and two of them,” because it was Cofrancesco and Vecelio supporting Elena. Also the wording “he and two of them” would be an awkward way to refer to three people helping one other person lie down.

      “it was the worse time for her Storm to start acting strangely.”
      -> “it was the worst time”

      That is really curious, that Elena’s storm–or should I say THE storm–doesn’t work on her own body.

      Like

      2015-07-13 at 12:37 am

      • Maybe it’s hard to own something that you are?

        Like

        2015-07-13 at 1:17 am

        • Well, the argument could be made that she isn’t her arm, and maybe even that she isn’t her body. Hm! I wonder. Were Elena to have a part of her body cut off, would it be considered hers still? Well, I guess it’s a moot point since the Storm refuses to consider her body as hers anyway. Could Elena be a doctor, though?

          Think about this. Someone signs a document giving Elena ownership, then the person takes a dose of something to put them to sleep. Legally, she owns this person. Ethically, any decisions about this person’s life are in her hands; neither family or friends can or will intervene. She would intend to return ownership eventually, though (right?) so I guess her storm would refuse to cooperate.

          Like

          2015-07-13 at 1:35 am

          • CK

            Oooooh, we’re getting into the mind-body debate here. Is she her body, or is her body something that is separate from her mind, and therefore belongs to it? Does her part of the storm reside in her mind or body, or is this a moot question because the two are inseparable? I a part of Elena was removed from her–let’s say her hair, because it’s the least gruesome–is it still part of her body and therefore part of her, or does it become separate from her self and/or become her property and something her storm could work on?

            Like

            2015-07-15 at 6:37 am

            • Welcome, ladies and gentlemen, to another round of everyone’s favorite show: “Damnit-Llama-why-would-you-give-us-an-answer-that-just-raises-more-questions?!”
              ♫DLWWYGUAJRMQ theme music♫

              If Elena were to remove a lock of her hair and give it as a gift to someone, her Storm would work on it.

              and that’s all, folks!
              ♫DLWWYGUAJRMQ theme music♫

              Like

              2015-07-15 at 2:55 pm

    • Fixed, thanks CK and Zim!

      Like

      2015-07-13 at 4:06 pm

  5. automeris

    Excellent chapter, and three days earlier than the date given for it on the main page!

    Like

    2015-07-13 at 3:07 am

    • Heh, oops….I know how dates work, I promise >_>

      Like

      2015-07-13 at 4:13 pm

  6. AvidFan

    Hmm… You know, Elena was visited by the Storm and told about how it had planned for her to become Queen of the world, JUST before things have started to happen (everything before it was pretty much her learning about her storm and gathering her adventurers party, preparing for her adventure, so to speak, and now she’s officially started). It’s feeling more and more like it’s all going according to its plan.

    Like

    2015-07-13 at 6:31 am

  7. So, I’ve been thinking quite a bit about this, and I am utterly terrified of Elena. The Storm said it wanted Elena to be the queen of the world (or were those Elena’s words?), but Elena can be something worse and more powerful. Far worse.

    Let us assume Elena’s storm can be used to heal people. Can you imagine the consequences of this? Someone is terminally ill? Someone lost their sight and can’t fathom living without it? Someone lost an arm? Someone is bleeding to death? All you have to do is give yourself into Elena and everything will be all right.

    Are you afraid of the uncertainty of life? Are you anxious? Do you have problems looming over the horizon, imaginary or otherwise? Give yourself into Elena, and she’ll take care of it. You don’t have to live under uncertainty anymore; Elena knows best and she’ll do what she can for you. If something bad happens anyway, maybe it’s a test or something, iunno.

    Elena can become god.

    Elena can start her own religion and take over the world, because as opposed to any other religion and mythology, she can perform miracles whenever she is asked to.

    Now, of course, any Stormtouched can perform “miracles”, but not many can do practically anything with the things they own, and the thing is that Elena would have the most devote of followings because they have to give themselves into her for things to work. Other Stormtouched don’t have this. This following would spread over time.

    Though after a bit more thought, I realise things wouldn’t work out quite this way. Elena understands things but she doesn’t /do/ things. She would be able to tell medicos how to heal people but she couldn’t do it herself. Well, I’m sure Elena can figure something out if she wants to become god; it’s a perfectly viable option.

    Oh, and I wonder if Elena can own concepts, like “her own words”.

    Like

    2015-07-14 at 2:10 am

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