A tale of artists, intrigue, and the magical renaissance

4.09 – Patet Senes {Clear Head}

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Every step sent a jostle into her injured arm that made Elena wince, but it was better now that they were deeper into the trees and could slow a bit. Behind her, Ele was still casting glances over his shoulder for pursuing soldiers, but Master Apollo seemed entirely at ease at this point.

A part of Elena wondered if she should be worried like Ele. It was as if the numbness had slipped from her arm into her head, leaving her with all of the hurt in one and the fuzziness in the other. Maybe without the fog, she could’ve focused on  When she caught sight of the flicker of lanternlight between the trees ahead, Elena allowed herself a breath of relief, less because of the safety and more because Master Asclepius could heal her arm.

“Apollo, you’re back,” Owl emerged suddenly from behind one of the trees where he had been keeping watch. Elena was detachedly impressed, she hadn’t seen him even though she knew he was keeping watch. “Where are-”

When he caught sight of Elena, his face lit up, but then he tilted his head to one side, his more familiar serious expression taking over.

“Something’s wrong. What happened?” he followed Apollo, Elena, and Ele as they continued on toward the lanterns and the camp.

“What happened was we killed Del Farvero,” Master Apollo said cheerfully, “another Twisted put to rest.”

They emerged into the little space where the rest of the camp had been made. Frederica sat cross-legged at Belloza’s side next to a small fire, over which Asclepius was tending to a small pot of boiling liquid. The Calaetor was busy carving a small block of wood, but she stopped and frowned as soon as the little group stepped into the light.

“What’s wrong with Elena?” She asked, while at the same time Owl said “where’s Emerald, did something happen to her?”

“Emerald is back at the city, but she’s not in danger,” Elena said. “And I’m fine, both of you, I’m fine. Marsillo did something to my arm, but Asclepius can sort it out.”

She caught the look that Owl exchanged with Ele, but neither of them said anything, and she didn’t have the energy to ask. She didn’t have the energy to do much of anything. Marsillo was dead, and if Belloza wasn’t still doing well, Owl would have mentioned it.

I should be happier, she thought to herself.

“Now, before you begin scolding,” Master Apollo held up a hand in Asclepius’ direction, “you should know that whatever injuries have been sustained, another Twisted has been laid to rest.”

“The cost of each Twisted appears to be rising,” Master Asclepius said, already turning to the chest that rested next to the tree he had been sitting by.

“Is Elena’s arm that bad?” Owl asked, concern etched on his face. “She said she was fine-”

“I am fine,” Elena said, “we don’t have time to waste on me when there are still two Twisted out there.”

“Now now, there’s no need for worry,” Master Apollo said, “if anything we have cause to celebrate, after our recent victory-”

“Our ‘recent victory’ was only possible because Fulvio was guarding the wrong gate. If she hadn’t been, we would’ve died,” Elena snarled. “If Marsillo had been a little more careful, we would’ve died. If he had brought so much as a single Lanisti with him we would’ve died.”

The little group was quiet, but Elena didn’t care. Everything was too dark, too grim, too hopeless to handle, and their attempts to look on the bright side rankled her in a way she couldn’t quite describe. Her arm throbbed, her head throbbed, and between all of the anger and the pain she could hear the crunch of her hammer on flesh and bone, and-

“Elena,” Master Asclepius said quietly, “look at Belloza.”

Elena glanced at her Sagitara friend, laying stretched out on a pile of cloaks and blankets near the fire. “I appreciate your help, Master Asclepius, I do,” Elena said.

“No, I mean really look at her,” Master Asclepius said again, gathering materials from his chest. Something in his voice made Elena pause, and she knelt down next to the girl. The last time she’d seen Belloza, her friend had been burning up, soaked in sweat and muttering feverishly beneath her breath, the wound on her shoulder a swollen mess of infection and swelling.

Now, the girl may as well have been sleeping. Belloza’s forehead was cool and dry beneath Elena’s touch, and her breathing was deep and calm. A clean bandage was tightly pressed against the wound on her shoulder, and Elena could tell just by sight that it no longer covered the angry constant-bleeding gash that was there before.

“You healed her,” Elena said, some of the anger in her draining away. “You helped her more in a day than we’ve been able to since she was wounded.”

“I haven’t been able to save everyone I’ve tried to save,” Master Asclepius said, “many men and women have died under my ministrations. But my Storm has never made anyone worse. My Storm has never failed me.”

Mei Dei, Master Asclepius, how bad is this healing your Storm is telling you to do? Am I going to lose the arm?” Elena rose to her feet, “whatever you need me to do, I have enough reason trust you.”

“Good. You’ll have to.” Master Asclepius jerked his head, “come with me.”

Although Apollo and Ele hadn’t talked at all on their way into the forest, it seemed even more quiet now, following Master Asclepius. The lantern he carried cast speckled patterns in front of them, conflicting with the dappled shadows the setting sun cast through the trees. Elena crossed her arms to keep her wounded limb from jostling on each step, content to let the silence stretch so that she could focus on her thoughts.

Asclepius stopped abruptly and glanced around him, before setting the lantern down and indicating that she should sit against a nearby tree. Now that she was a little closer, Elena could see that he carried scraps of cloth, a few wooden sticks, two glasses, and a bottle of clear liquid. Even before Asclepius opened the bottle and the strong scent filled the air, Elena recognized the liquid inside. She watched, concerned, as he halfway-filled both glasses.

“You only gave her a few swallows of that when you sewed her arm together,” Ele said, also clearly recognizing the vodka, “what on earth did Marsillo do to her, and what do you have to do to fix it?”

Master Asclepius pressed one of the glasses into Elena’s good hand, then began carefully wrapping her other arm in the cloth, using the wood as a splint. “Some points on the body connect to far more than one might think,” he said as he worked, “instead of breaking a bone or doing permanent damage, it seems Marsillo’s goal here was to cause the most pain he could while keeping you conscious to feel it. He struck you to pinch…something.”

“He pinched ‘something’?” Elena raised an eyebrow.

“Yes, well, if my Storm were more specific with me, I could be more specific with you,” Asclepius chuckled. He stepped back and gave the sling a critical look, “luckily, I don’t believe there will be any permanent damage. Rest the arm, don’t fight for a few days, and you’ll be alright.”

“That’s it?” Ele blinked, “you had us worried that the arm was going to be unsalvageable.”

“The arm isn’t the biggest wound Elena has sustained.” Master Asclepius passed one of the glasses of vodka over to Elena. “Drink.”

Elena remembered the numbness that the drink had brought with it the last time Asclepius had attended to her, and she took a deep draught without hesitation.

“Now, talk.” Master Asclepius said.

Elena tilted her head to one side, “Master Apollo can probably give a better report than I can,” she said, “I was blacked out for part of it.”

“Not about what happened in Venecchi,” Master Asclepius took a sip from his own glass.

Elena frowned, flushed with the alcohol. “What is there to talk about, then?” she asked.

“Whatever is on your mind,” Asclepius waved his hand, noncommittally. “Talk about…how you think your quest is going so far. About how you feel about the Twisted. Talk about boys for all I care. But don’t talk about what you feel I need to hear, talk about what’s been occupying your mind the most, recently.”

Elena couldn’t think of anything she’d rather do. Recently her mind had been occupied by crushed bone and by hopelessness, by compatriots she’d betrayed and friends she’d caused hurt.

Recently she hadn’t been able to think about anything else.

“It’s-” Elena cleared her throat and attempted a casual air, “it’s funny you mention boys. I’ve been thinking that I might have feelings for Owl, recently, that’s definitely been occupying my mind-”

“I thought you said that you’d trust my Storm,” Master Asclepius said, returning her gaze evenly.

Elena flushed again. “Somehow, I don’t think your Storm much cares what I’ve really been thinking about,” she snapped.

“You’d be surprised,” Asclepius said. Elena glared, and silence stretched between them for long moments.

“Elena,” Ele finally said. She had been hovering on the edge of a decision, and somehow her Echo’s single quiet word tipped her over the brink. Elena took another large swallow of the vodka, and then a deep breath.

“I keep…” she began, then paused, searching for the words, “…I keep seeing Lucrecia’s face. I keep remembering what I did to her. I keep wondering if I’m the good guy in this fight.”

“I see,” Master Asclepius nodded, no judgement in his face. “How does that make you feel?”

Elena threw her head back to gulp down the last of the vodka.

“I feel like that would take all night to answer, Master Asclepius,” she said.

Master Asclepius uncorked the bottle and refilled his glass.

“We’ve got the time.”

***

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4 responses

  1. Ransal

    Haha! I knew his power being so vague with him would mean it was more than just physical healing..

    Like

    2016-11-11 at 10:29 am

  2. Oh that’s neat!

    Like

    2016-11-11 at 10:40 am

  3. I’m glad to see the positive reaction to this turn of events :) for whatever reason, psychology-by-way-of-renaissance-understanding was difficult to write, and I hoped to do well by such a touchy subject

    Like

    2016-11-14 at 5:54 pm

  4. jim

    His storm could do a lot more if it explained things to him but if it covers all areas of health to even the same basic extent it covers injury’s, fevers, and mental health then he can get all the knowledge he needs to start a medical revolution. In an age of medical medicine he’s a way bigger advantage then you would think

    Like

    2016-11-16 at 1:50 am

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