I didn’t know how much time passed. I lost awareness of my body for a time, wholly involved in sweeping out the proteins from the knight’s body to the nobleman’s. When I found the knight’s level reaching to just below the amount that Hal had, being an old man whose bone growth had little inciters to begin with, I observed the amount in the nobleman’s body. It was still low, but it was a good deal better than nothing.
I slowly backed out, healing their palms on the way, to find the knight gingerly holding a handkerchief to my nose. Thankfully, only a bit of blood was on it, to which I smiled to like a good grade on a report card. I was getting sturdier.
“You’ll need more than one person to donate to get your levels to normal. I imagine the levels of this bone inhibitor you’d be wanting are similar to your knight’s, since you love to move so much. But I can’t let your knight’s levels drop too low—though with that in mind, sir knight, please make sure to eat or drink extra dairy and especially nutritious food over the next week, just in case. I gave your body some extra energy so it shouldn’t burn itself out replacing what I just took.”
The knight nodded and returned the glove to his hand. The nobleman turned about his wrist, attention inward, probably to see if he could already tell the difference.
“Now, if you don’t mind, I’m going to take a bit of a breather and then we’ll do your bones. Is there anywhere you’d like me to see to first?”
“My hands. Definitely my hands.”
“Oh, of course. I should have done those last time, functioning without hands is impossible.”
For some reason, the nobleman seemed a might alarmed at this. “You did more than enough last time, my lady, please don’t pressure yourself. This is…this is already more than I could have hoped.”
I bobbed my head, accepting the gratitude, then went out into the hall and…laid on the floor.
Don’t look at me like that. It was a habit this summer was baking into me, and the temple’s cool, polished, pretty marble floors had been asking for it. Not to mention there was, like, no one in the hall. Based off of the sound of a humming organ, they had some sort of service going on in the big hall of Nehcor-not-look-alike statue.
From my pocket I took out a satchel of herbs Hal had prepared for me and set them on my mouth so I could sniff them through my nose.
Oh yeah. Cobblestone had nothing on temple floors, no matter how old and worn down the stones were.
It only took me maybe five minutes before the throbbing in my head had calmed down and I was ready for round two of smoosh and sweep excess bone bits. Cutting into someone still wasn’t easy, though.
I managed to get his arms, spine, and torso done that day. But, I got so focused on my work, that when I finally pulled away I found my chair running away from my seat—or rather, my body decided to tip over sideways without my consent.
Both the knight and nobleman dove out to catch me. The knight caught me, his hard bracers digging against my ribs.
“Sorry,” I muttered. “Can…can I just hang here for a bit until everything stops spinning? I’m really alright.”
“You shouldn’t have done so much,” said the nobleman. “Your eyes…”
I blinked furiously. Hot damn, I felt like lead. “The correct words are, ‘oh my goodness, I feel amazing, look at me move!’”
The nobleman looked taken aback by what I said. After a moment to properly process, he smiled and sat back and did some twists. He even raised his arms above his head and shook his hands.
“I…I really do feel…” he bit his lip and, once again, those unbelievably green eyes grew shiny. “I never thought I’d be able to again…”
“Good man, that’s right. Just be happy.” I patted the knight’s arm. Huh. The cloth he was holding had a lot of blood. Was that mine? My mouth definitely tasted like it. “Sir, if you could nudge me towards the bed, your gauntlet does not a nice pillow make. Ah,” Plomf into the mattress, just below the nobleman’s feet. “That a lad.”
I closed my eyes and nearly fell asleep then and there. Especially when I heard a familiar voice chuckling in the back of my mind.
‘Though he didn’t say it in the most convincing matter, you should give what Damascus said more credit.’
I should probably open my eyes. My nose was probably oozing blood all over Miurian’s mattress. Not cool.
Someone jostled me—wait, when had I been picked up? When had I passed out?
Utterly confused, and utterly tired, I pushed my eyes open, praying that I hadn’t been kidnapped—and if I was, damn Nehcor, why hadn’t you warned me! Or at least woken me up! I was in your temple, damn it!
But I instantly recognized the red and blue livery of the nobleman’s knight. His breath puffing across me as he lifted me out of the darkness of a carriage. He smelled of earth and dew, and something not unlike leather.
The inn’s bell, a noise I would never mistake for any other bell, tinkled.
I blinked my sticky eyes towards the silver head flying my way. Ah. Gus. Dang it, I was in for it.
“She’s alright,” said the knight lowly. “Just over did it a bit with anemia. The temple healer checked her.”
I could hear Gus swearing as he opened the door for the knight and hollered for Hal.
Just as I was starting to feel bad, I fell back asleep, because screw it, I can do what I want.
But I woke up not too long after the knight settled me in my bed. Probably because Gus was burning a hole through my face with his gaze.
I quickly closed my eyes again.
“I know you’re awake.”
I swore under my breath.
Before he could say anything, I said, “It was an accident, okay? I got carried away.”
“How does someone get carried away to the point they bleed out? From their face? Do you have any idea how red the whites of your eyes are right now?”
“It’s really captivating work, crushing bone honeycomb. It’s like popping loads of juicy zits. Oddly soothing.”
His face spasmed a bit, probably holding back a laugh, or a grimace of disgust. Or both.
“You keep this up, you’re going to kill yourself.”
“Hey, I get better every time. It’s not like I’ve had tons of practice with this magic stuff.”
“…wait, haven’t you had this ever since you came of age? You said you were twenty, right?”
I debated whether to tell him or just to hit groggy, anemic self in the face for blabbing without thinking again. Then, figuring it couldn’t hurt and that he’d figure it out anyway (stupid smart kid with his stupid brain voodoo), I just went with the truth.
“I haven’t even had it for a year. I got it when I came to this world, and you already know my world doesn’t have magic.”
He stared at me. Several emotions passed through his face, all of them negative, until he settled on something mixed between fear and worry.
“You’ve been given this much power from the get go?”
“Don’t ‘yeah’ me, don’t you remember anything we read in that book of yours? The obtaining of magic is gradual so the body steadily gets used to it. We can only tell how much capacity someone can have by calculating the rate of growth. Because of that, kids are able to practice magic and figure out their limits when it’s still small and can’t kill them.” He gave another whoosh of a sigh and ran his hands down his face. “Damn it, Lilly…why couldn’t you have come without any magic at all?”
“Hey, show a little gratitude, you would have died without that magic.”
“Much better than…” but he stopped himself with a shuddering breath, hiding his gaze in the balls of his hands. After digging them in hard and clenching his teeth, he gave out yet another sigh and dropped his head onto my stomach, his face turned towards my knees. He didn’t finish what he said, but instead gave a low, weak whine.
My heart clenched. I set to patting his smooth head, scratching at his scalp gently like I knew he liked.
We stayed like that for a while without needing to say anything. At some point I could feel his mind magic poking through to my hand, not to tell me anything, but just to watch my mind as I twisted about his distress and the implications of not knowing my limits. If I hadn’t felt guilty from his lectures before, I definitely felt so now, and his magic conveyed to me his faint satisfaction at that.
But it couldn’t last that way forever. Eventually, Hal came thumping on the door to call Gus to work.
“Your legs still work perfectly fine,” he said.
Once Hal had closed the door, Gus flopped his head around so he was looking at me, though it didn’t work properly because my breasts were in the way, so he ended up propping his head up on his hand before he could get embarrassed.
“You know it would destroy me if anything happened to you, right?”
I nodded. He gave me a faint smile.
“Then, if you really do care about me, remember that.”
And with that, he left me to watch the twilight grow across the ceiling.