Rae started bouncing between the castle infirmary and her own clinic after that. In the back of her mind, she couldn’t stop thinking about Mirko and where he stood on saving the humans. With his help she could save so many from this illness. The more she thought about it, the more she wondered if maybe he had a point.
She’d seen it. The people dragged away screaming for their lives. Pleas falling on deaf ears. The laws of Vitali were clear. Magic was punishable by death. And since all magic users were born with it, they were born with a death sentence. Maybe this was the only way to save them all.
“Are you okay, Miss Rae?”
She returned her attention to Prince Dante and smiled. “I’m fine. Just tired.”
Rae regarded the young heir to the throne. He was kept alive by steady doses of her magic. The physicians were kept busy with all the sick and couldn’t watch her every second of every day. She would have cured Dante completely if she had the power to do so. With all the sick, she just didn’t have it to use anymore. She barely had enough to do what she was doing.
In addition to the magic, she had him soaking in medicinal baths for his sores. The steam allowed him to breathe in some of the medicines, helping the sores in his mouth and throat. Other medicines she had managed his fever.
She had just completed his medical treatments for the day.
Later, she’d blame her exhaustion and fears for asking a risky question of Dante. “What is your opinion on magic?”
“Why do you ask?”
His voice cracked over the word, but at least he could speak. She knew this was only a short-term solution though. When he woke after his sleep, his voice would be gone once again.
“I’ve been hearing a lot about it since coming to Corthira and was just curious on what you thought.”
He thought about it for a moment then said, “Well, Father says that there isn’t reason to fear all magi.”
“Yes. Father thinks that they aren’t so scary.”
“But the law…”
Dante’s tone dropped to a whisper. “I’m not supposed to say anything, but I trust you. Father doesn’t execute any of the magi arrested in Corthira.”
“What?” she nearly shouted with her surprise.
“Father has them deported. He can’t say anything about it because the other nobles wouldn’t like it.”
Rae’s first instinct was to get angry. He was the King. Why didn’t he just change the law? Then she thought about Vitali’s neighbor to the south, Trysana, who was always trying to eat away at Vitali’s borders. As a result, King Leone couldn’t afford to have any discord between the crown and the nobility. Any weakness within Vitali may allow Trysana to succeed. The only reason they hadn’t yet is that they were just as busy fighting amongst themselves if not more so.
Just because King Leone didn’t feel the need to execute the magi didn’t mean the other nobles felt the same way and to defend against Trysana, Leone needed his nobles united with him. Even Kings couldn’t just do whatever they wished. Not if they wanted to stay king.
Hearing that Leone didn’t just execute those people she saw getting taken away did make her feel better about it all. Maybe this could change Mirko’s mind about helping the humans.
“Thank you for telling me the truth. It makes me happy that you trust me enough,” she told Dante, ruffling his hair. She felt the heat on her hand from his forehead, telling her that his fever was still present. “Now, you need to get some rest.”
He nodded. “Yes, ma’am.”
She stepped out of the room with a tired sigh.
“How is he?”
She jumped a little and turned to give King Leone a sheepish smile. “I won’t say good, but he is holding on.” The smile faded. “The fever is being kept at just barely under the leathal range. The sores haven’t gotten any worse or better. I’m sorry. I’m doing everything I can, but…there’s just not enough medicine to go around.”
“I know you are trying.”
Leone raked fingers through his hair as he stared at the door to his son’s room. It was then that she noticed that she wasn’t the only one that was tired.
“You should rest, my King. If you get too tired the illness could get to you also.”
“I cannot rest just yet. Delegates from Cavos have just arrived and are asking if we need aid.” He turned his full attention to her. “Will you come with me? They will have questions I am not sure I can answer.”
Surprise flicked through her even as she nodded in agreement.
The King led her down to his study where Renzo waited with a man Rae didn’t know.
The stranger seemed to dominate the room and Rae couldn’t quite place why. He seemed perfectly relaxed as he looked out the window at the city below. His clothes were very well made which would usually indicate wealth but that was the only impression of money she got from him. He didn’t even carry a weapon that she could see, just a water skin. When he turned to face them, she had to remind herself to breathe. She couldn’t place what it was about him, but he was almost too beautiful for words.
“Greetings,” he said with a bow. “My name is Captain Cilmion of Cavos. My Overlords sent me to offer assistance to you, our allies, if you need it.”
“And what is the price of this assistance?” King Leone asked.
Cilmion smiled ruefully. “We ask that you alter the law against magic so that they will not be executed but deported to our country instead.”
Leone considered him for a moment. “That isn’t a decision I can make without consulting my nobles.”
“I understand. As a gesture of good faith, I brought this with me.” Captain Cilmion picked up a case from the floor and held it out.
King Leone took it and opened it up. Closing it back up, he handed it to Rae. She looked inside to see several medicinal herbs, including many of the ones she’d been using to treat the plague.
“This will help immensely,” she said with awe and relief. She had been getting worried about what she would do when her supply of vera ran out completely.
Looking up, she saw that the captain was smiling at her. “We are glad we can help. Cavos knows how difficult a plague can be on a city.”
“Yes. We had an outbreak of one in Delta City that was catastrophic enough to still be in our records even centuries later.”
“A Healer saved everyone.” Cilmion’s tone took on a bittersweet note as he looked back out the window.
“When you say ‘Healer’…?” King Leone started to ask.
“I don’t mean a doctor. I mean magic. Healers are not born what they are. They are gifted by the goddess Chesed for a great sacrifice. During the plague, the one in Delta City sacrificed again. Draining all his magic to cure everyone afflicted. It is a tragedy we never want repeated. So, if we can help your city recover, we will do what we can.”
“Thank you,” King Leone replied with a slight bow to show he meant it.
Rae bowed also, her mind spinning with possibilities. But would it be worth it? The price she would pay. In her soul she knew the answer. Yes. Every time yes.