A cordial atmosphere settled in on the room, pushing out the sour tension like a cool breeze blowing out a heavy smell. Gus and I were happy to listen while the nobleman and the older healer talked with occasional inserts from the knight. The cheese was hard and sharp, but I was hungry enough to enjoy it even though it wasn’t to my taste. When the priest returned with a beaker of water, I happily wash down what was left.
Meanwhile, Gus kept his fingers to my elbow, the squiggly tendrils of his mind magic watching my thoughts as much as the conversation.
When I couldn’t swallow anymore, I thought towards those tendrils: are you ready?
In answer, I got: There really is too many people in here. I can hardly breathe. Won’t the healer lady notice? Wouldn’t she know what healing magic can’t do?
So, I cleared my throat.
“I’m sorry, it’s getting a bit too crowded in here, it will be difficult for me to concentrate on the last part.”
The little healer, Dorius, reacted instantly.
“Oh! Of course, I should have thought of that. I’m so sorry.”
“No, it’s fine—“
But she wasn’t listening. “That means you, your holiness. Out out out!”
She pushed Miurian out the door. “Sir knight, you just imitate a wall like you usually do, you’re good at that.”
The knight frowned.
“I’ll check your nose for you when you’re done, if you like,” said the healer with a friendly smile. “Good luck, dearie!”
And she snapped the door behind her.
I felt kind of bad having kicked the priest out of his own room. But, still, it fixed the problem.
Gus shrugged, forgetting momentarily that no one could hear what he was shrugging to.
“Sir,” I addressed the man relaxing on the bed. “Would it be alright if my assistant helps with your eyes? I’d like to assign him a small fix that would be good practice for him. There should be no pain with what he’s doing.”
“Of course,” said the nobleman with an easy smile. “I’ve never been attended by so many healers in the same room before, I am quite lucky. I can tell why you wish to stay anonymous.”
I had been told ahead of time in the letter that this man and his knight had given an oath, one of the many collected by the temple, to not disclose my identity or anyone who came with me. I only wondered why no one had asked me to take an oath as well, but, then, it wasn’t like I could even begin to guess who this pretty guy was, let alone tell anyone else. And now that I’d transformed his face I doubt anyone would be able to recognize him anyways.
Still, Gus’s hands were shaking as they settled on his head next to mine. His nerves were so high I could practically feel them prickling through the air towards me like quills.
“Don’t be afraid,” I told Gus. “You’ll do fine. I’m right here.”
He looked like he had a lot of smart aleck things he wanted to say to that, but he blew them out and closed his eyes.
“Tell me when to start.”
“No, you should take a look around the eye while I’m working on the bone so you get an idea of what you’re dealing with. I’ll let you know once I’ve cleared the bone away. There’s no point of you doing anything until then.”
Once he had nodded to show he understood, I too closed my eyes and breathed out my magic once more past the barrier of the skin.
The blood inside his head was thick with calcium. I brushed some towards the little cut on his cheek just to clean up a bit, squeezing it out with my fingers without looking and trying my best not to think about the face I was touching. Then I got to work dissolving the bones crowding his eye socket.
“Okay, Gus. It’s clear.”
I kept my senses in to watch as Gus’s magic threaded through to the optical nerves and curled around it. They were tentative at first, dancing around in a circle where it had been since I had started. But then, like a lasso, they tightened and heated.
Moments later, when they pulled back, the jagged edges of the metal smooth nerves had healed over, becoming thick and strong.
Satisfied, I pulled back. Gus followed suit, his bottom lip a little swollen from being gnawed, pulling back from where he had kneeled up on the side of the bed.
“Alright,” I healed the little incision on the man’s cheek. “Open your eyes and tell me how things look, sir.”
The green eyes flickered open. For a moment, he just lay there, blinking up at the ceiling, hardly breathing. Then his eyes flickered to Gus, then me, and stopped breathing completely.
When he didn’t say anything, I got worried.
Then the man did something completely unexpected. He raised his hand to touch my face. His fingers were hard from calluses, but smooth and warm.
“Is this real…?”
Unnerved by the awe in his gaze, I gently pushed aside his hand, startling him.
“I’m—I’m so sorry miss, I…”
“I take it your sight has returned to normal?”
“Yes…yes, I had forgotten—it’s been so long since…I don’t think I’ve even seen this clearly since I was a child.”
“Then I guess that concludes this session, at least. I’ll take a few days to heal up and research into the property of blood that will calm the bone growth. Would you be able to meet me back here in two days at the same time?”
“Yes. Yes of course.”