The first thing I did was set up the priest’s bed so that my patient would be comfortable. Miurian’s living quarters were a simple one bedroom with a closet holding a magically plumbed toilet and sink (queue instant jealousy on my part). The toilet was as extravagant as it got, though, as everything else was modest. He had many drawings pinned to his walls and a bookshelf stuffed to the gills, though the books looked a little worse for wear.
While I laid the noble man down and folded up a thick towel under his arm, all while under the watchful gaze of his knight, Gus and Miurian set about sanitizing a small knife the knight had offered from his boot with alcohol and the flame of a candle.
“I got to tell you, sir, I’m endlessly impressed by your manliness. I said I’m going to cut into you and you’re not nervous or anything.”
He gave me a smile. “I’m simply used to pain.”
But I looked him in the eye, wishing he could see my seriousness as I said, “No. I saw the state of your muscles. You should be weak and bent over, but you’ve pushed yourself past the pain, more than anyone could be expected to. You’re not just use to pain.”
His eyes shivered somewhere on my face.
As I turned around to receive the knife from Gus’s hand, I saw a small, appreciative smile on the knight’s face. He had very square features, the knight, with short cut brown hair, brown eyes, and thick lips. As our gazes met, he gave the slightest of nods.
Thank you for noticing, his expression said.
I nodded back and turned back to my patient, begging my hands to stop sweating.
“Okay, in case I can’t get everything done today, which I most likely can’t, what would you like to be done first?”
“How bad are my kidneys?” he asked.
“They’ll be fine for a while. You’re not dying.”
“Then…my joints and face…and my eyes, if you could.”
There was a breathlessness to him, as though he couldn’t quite dare to ask what he did, or believe that he was asking it with such ease.
“Okay. I’ll try to make it as quick as possible so you don’t have to deal with the pain for too long, and I’m sorry in advance.” Stopping pain signals wasn’t something I could do, though Gus might be able to. But I couldn’t begin to think how I’d be able to cover up Gus blocking pain, nor begin to think of how I’d convince Gus to try it out when he was already doing something big like fixing someone’s eyes.
“It’s alright,” said the man with another soft smile. “Really, it is. I really am use to pain.”
I still frowned, but sighed and nodded.
I’d never cut anyone before.
My hands shook as I set the tip to the crook of the man’s arm, where I knew where a good sized vein was. But, even after a minute of breathless silence, with everyone watching me, I somehow could get my arm to put forth the pressure to make the first cut.
Gus’s fingers wrapped over mine.
“Let me,” he said.
With the same ease with which he finely diced the vegetables and fruit in the kitchen, he made a quick, small incision about the length of my finger. Instantly, blood welled out.
I put my hand on it quickly and closed my eyes.
First, I cut off the broken ends of the blood vessels with a temporary plug of energy.
Once I was sure the guy wasn’t going to bleed out through his arm, I dove in to the first task at hand: clearing bones, eye sockets, and his face.
It was grueling work. First there was breaking the excess webs and branches of bones into fine dust as quickly as possible, which, thankfully, didn’t send me spiraling into nausea, which told me breaking bones was actually fairly low-energy costing. Or, at least, bones this small. Then there was gathering the remnants into the blood stream and pulling them down towards the incision in his arm, which was a lot like trying to sweep up a room of fine flower with your hands just to push it all up against a hole. I ended up having squeeze out the thick, congealed blood. For everything on the same side of his body the small incision worked, but as I moved down and to the other side I ended up having to ask Gus to make more incisions in order to avoid the kidneys in the blood line, and other magnetic pulls at the calcium that I didn’t look too closely to figure out. I’d heal each incision in an instant as I left it with a deep apology.
“No, it’s alright,” said the man. “Really. This is the most painless healing I’ve ever had. You’re really doing well.”
Which encouraged me to keep going, even when my arms started to grow heavy.
By the time I’d made it up to his face, I felt Gus stuff a handkerchief to my face.
“Your nose is bleeding,” he said.
“I’m almost done,” I said, and thank heavens, as my head ached like many little hammers going at my skull.
The skull was the worst, not because it was overgrown, but because the overgrowth here came mainly in bumps rather than the thin webs or single branches. It misaligned his jaw, making it painful for him to talk, though it was amazing he could still do so with such proficiency. It was probably one of the places he had focused what little upkeep he could afford.
There was no way I could avoid the pain this time. There were lines of vessels through the thick bone here, riddled with lines of smooth pain receptors.
I pulled myself out long enough to give him a warning before going back in, bracing myself, throwing lines out to every bump and malformation till I had correctly outlined the original shape of his skull, and—
Cut and crush, as quickly as I could, all while sealing the vessels left behind.
For the first time he gave out a strangled scream of pain, alarming me out of his body too quickly. Knives spiked across my head and eyes, blood flooded into my mouth and down the back of my throat. I coughed, gasped, even as I toppled off the stool Miurian had given me to sit on.
Gus caught me just in time.
“It’s okay!” he cried.
But I was trembling violently from my own pain and the sound of my patient’s.
“Are you alright? Is he alright?” I asked as I scrambled upright, even though I couldn’t see anything but stars and black still.
“He’s okay,” said the priest, and I felt his warm hands on my shoulders okay. “You did fine.”
“I’m so sorry!” I could feel blood flying out with my spittle even as I said that. Gus pushed the handkerchief to my face again.
“No, really, I’m more startled than anything, my lady, it’s alright,” said the man on the bed, and I could tell his pronunciation had approve. Before it had been slight, but now his words were refined and clean as velvet. “I should be asking you. You’re bleeding so fiercely, we should stop, and your eyes…. This is good for now.”
“No, I still have lots of magic,” which was half true. I’d probably run out of blood long before I ran out of magic. “It’s just the fine tune stuff. I’ll be okay.”
My head was spinning. I felt sick.
I swallowed hard, squinting out as the pain finally died down. Gal, this didn’t feel nice.
And what I finally made out through my watering eyes made me take a double-take.
Hidden by the malformations of his bones and pain had been the most handsome face I’d ever laid eyes on. It was the kind of face one rarely saw even in movies, and if it weren’t for the slightly lumpy looking effects around his eyes, completely captivating. Smooth skin, shaped cheekbones, a strong jaw…