The Cyneweard

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Part I - Bringer of Storms :: 23

He woke to immense pain. His entire left side was stiff and burning. The bed was too comfortable. He blinked once, twice, and then turned his head side to side. His arms bunched up and tossed the cover off of him. He looked down; he was naked save for a pair of soft briefs. His hands rolled over his chest and stomach, registering a bulge at his left side. The skin there was hot and was throbbing in waves of pain.

Warm sunlight bathed everything in its mid-day glow including his weakened, dry eyes. He squinted and turned his head out of the sun. The room was all wood, littered with old, out-of-style furnishings. At least as far as he could tell. The entire place was infested with books. They covered just about every flat surface and were spilling onto the floor. Some were in the holy Chamatrian script. Others looked to be novels or books of poetry.

Sitting up took him some time and maneuvering. The pain in his side was a symphony and every movement he took woke the composition with a crescendo. With much effort, he managed to swing his legs off the side of the bed. They were numb but responsive to his commands. He started to rise.

“No, I haven’t seen anyone that looks like that. No. No one’s been by.”

The muffled voice shook him. His heart sped up and his eyes darted back and forth, searching for a place to hide.

“I don’t think so, no,” came the voice again. It was soft and feminine.

He turned and had to bite his tongue to keep the yelp of pain from escaping his mouth. A tear crept to the corner of his eye as he reached down to feel at the spot where the slug had hit him.

The slug’s still in there, he thought as his fingers found a large round lump just below the area where the wound had been. Idiot healer. The foreign object could get him killed. He gave it a squeeze and had to bite back another howl. It would have to come out.

“Thank you. Yes. I will. Thanks!”

He heard a door shut. Footsteps thumping on stairs.

“Just one last check on him before I go,” came the voice, right outside the closed door.

The Cyneweard pushed the pain aside and put on a deep scowl. He watched the door opened.

A short calico-furred felina Animas entered the room. She wore a small bow in front of one of her triangular ears and her bright green eyes were nearly twice the size he would have expected them to be.

Young, he thought. Those large eyes went to the bed, traveled along its emptiness, and fell to rest on his face.

“’re up,” she squeaked, placing a hand on her chest.

He nodded.

“ are you feeling?”

“In pain,” he grunted. “You fucked up, healer.”

She winced at his gruff words but took a step forward. “I’m sorry?”

He pointed to his side. “You didn’t take the slug out.”

“It’s still in there?” she said, cocking her head to the side. She took another step forward. He responded by taking as step backward.

“Stay there.”

“O-okay,” she replied.

“We have to get the slug out or all the magic in the world won’t do any good.”

“What do I need to do?”

“Get me a knife,” he replied, pointing at her.

“I-I won’t.”

“I’m not going to hurt you,” he said, though his tone betrayed that sentiment.

“Are you sure? The Sigil are looking for you, I think...”

“And I thank you for not letting them find me. Now get me a knife or you’re going to have a death on your hands.”

Her eyes widened at the thought and she turned. “I’ll be right back,” she told him and rushed down the stairs. She returned with a short but sharp looking blade.

She pointed to him. “Can I?”

He nodded and she approached, holding the knife out hilt first.

“Filleting?” he asked as he took it.

“I cook from time to time.”

“Lovely. You got a cloth or washrag I can have?”

“Does it need to be clean?”

He shrugged.

Off she went again, returning with what he had asked.

The Cyneweard rolled the small rag into a cylinder and tossed it into his mouth.

“Look away,” he said through the cloth.

“Huh?” she asked, leaning forward from her spot near him but he had already begun cutting his side open.

Blackish red blood oozed from the wound. Tears were flowing freely from his eyes now as he grimaced. The cut needed to be big enough for his hand and it felt like years before he had finished the job.

The healer’s face grew slackjawed, her eyes wide, and her shoulders slumped. He could see sweat began to discolor the fur at her brow.

Warm air hit the wound and sent tendrils of shocking paid up his back and down his leg. He grunted and spat, breathed through his teeth, and started to probe the slit.

The feline’s face’s incredulous look grew stronger and she finally averted her gaze.

Every movement of his finger and thumb brought more blinding heat to his left side. When they found purchase on the crude metal ball, his entire body burst into tormenting flame. He stymied his loud growl into a long, deep moan as he pulled and pulled on the slimy chunk of metal.

A few eons later, he pulled the slug from his side. Fresh red blood followed its exit and splashed onto the floor.

“It’s over,” he breathed, sweat pouring from his scalp. His entire body was shaking. She turned and looked at him.

“Oh no,” she yelped and rushed to his side. She ran her hand a few inches over the incision and she began chanting in a language he would likely never understand. He watched as her hand began to glow with a bright blue light. The wound began closing up, a strange sight and even stranger feeling.

Once it had closed, the pressed on it a few times with her index finger. Fresh waves of pain shot through his side.

“It still hurts?”

He nodded and grunted. “Thanks,” he muttered and shuffled away from her.

“You need to lie down.”

“No time,” he replied. “I have too much left to do.”

“But your wound, it will need some natural internal healing. You’ve not recovered enough of your blood yet.”

He waved her away as she tried to come closer to him. “No. I must go.”

She frowned and watched as he sat back on the edge of the bed, panting and shaking.

“My clothes,” he demanded.

“Ruined with blood.”

“Doesn’t matter,” he said. “I can’t go out like this.”

“We agree on that.”

He looked at her, momentarily pushing his pain to the background. Her eyes met his and lingered there for a while.

“I’m not going to convince you,” she stated. “Fair enough. If you go out there, it’s on your own accord.”

He nodded. “Thank you for the heal.”

The healer sighed and pulled out a satchel from under the bed. “Alright Weard, here you go.”

He took the bag and raised a brow. “Weard?”

“Your name. It was on your Machine ID papers.”

The man laughed. “Ok. Thanks.” With another great effort, he got back to his feet and pulled the gray coveralls from the bag.

“Is that not your name?”

He buttoned up the front of the stained uniform before looking at her. He said nothing but hoped the expression he gave her told her the truth.

"It was good of you to do what you did, healer," he said, limping over to the door. "Now show me a back way out of here."

"My name's Leona."

He tipped a hat that wasn't on his head. "Pleasure. Now show me the way out that won't get me caught."

She gave him a small grin. "This way. I have a fire alley behind the building."

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