Axel watched until Lynus was out of sight as he headed to the hospital once again, before he allowed a frown to appear on his lips. He knew that Lynus was a dedicated medic and that his skills were beyond extraordinary, but there were times that Axel was honestly starting to feel that the violet-eyed medic was taking on too much.
Perhaps he was just being protective, maybe a little bitter that he wasn’t able to spend as much time with Lynus as he would like. And he totally understood Lynus’ need to be constantly useful. He just wished that he would understand that there was more to him and his role in life than healing.
Besides…something about his request to the hospital just didn’t sit right with him. Dr Stiles valued Lynus’ input, but he had never sent a guard to the inn to request his presence at the hospital. Just to inspect a patient.
“Damn it,” Axel muttered as he roughly ran his hand through his hair and headed off toward the tearoom to brood for a bit. “I’m completely over protective…”
As he walked into the tearoom, he immediately noticed that it was occupied by three of his guildmates. Jhon was stoking the fire place, Tobyn sat on the couch as he flipped through a codex of his, and Macerio sat at the table in the corner of the room, his face buried in his folded arms atop the table. He looked to be asleep.
After throwing a log into the flames, Jhon turned his head toward him and nodded with a slight smile. However, his smile faded slightly when he glanced behind Axel, seemingly confused as to why he was alone.
“Axel?” Jhon questioned he pushed himself to his feet. “Where’s Lynus? Weren’t you two planning something for his day off?”
Axel folded his arms across his chest. “He’s been requested at the hospital,” he said simply.
“What?!” Macerio unexpectedly squawked from the corner of the room, lifting his head up off his arms to look over in Axel’s direction with a disgruntled expression. “But it’s his day off!”
Axel felt the corner of his mouth twitch into a half smile, inwardly feeling better that he wasn’t the only one disappointed that Lynus had been called into the hospital yet again. “The cons of being a highly skilled medic, I suppose.”
Macerio snorted loudly. “Work him too hard,” he muttered before he abruptly buried his face in his arms again.
“Another Code Blue?” Tobyn asked as he idly flipped a page of his book.
“Not this time, it seems,” Axel answered as he dropped his arms from his chest and crossed the room to drop himself onto the couch next to the blond-haired survivalist. “Dr Stiles wanted his opinion of a patient or something.”
Tobyn slowly lifted his head up, his brow deeply furrowed as he turned toward Axel. “That’s odd.”
Axel was again inwardly relieved that he wasn’t the only one who felt that way. “Yeah. I think so, too. I wonder if something’s happening at the hospital.”
They lapsed into a contemplative silence for a while, only the sound of the crackling fire, the turning of pages, and the occasional snore from Macerio interrupted the quite.
There was then the sound of the bell at the front counter being rung and a voice calling out. “Hello?”
“In here!” Axel shouted upon reflex and it wasn’t until the sound of shuffling feet did it dawn on him that he recognised the voice.
“Huh,” he muttered as a nurse with long blonde hair pulled up into a ponytail all by dragged herself into the room, his shoulders drooped forward and her eyes somewhat glassy. “Long time no see. You all right?”
Nurse Angie, however, didn’t appear to have heard him. “Ah, I’m just stopping by to tell you that Lynus will probably be at the hospital until tonight,” she said quickly.
Axel had honestly feared as much.
“Trouble at the hospital?” Axel asked casually as he pushed back his suspicions.
“Yeah,” Angie surprisingly answered. “There was an influx of critical care patients last night and we can’t figure out what’s wrong with them. We’re hoping that Lynus could.”
“If anyone can, it’ll be him,” Axel said in a comforting manner.
However, that sounded like it should have been confidential information. Angie must be so exhausted that she had forgotten.
“Critical care patients…” Tobyn repeated as he abruptly snapped shut his book. “I don’t remember hearing anything happening in the labyrinth last night.”
Angie shook her head. “That’s just it. The patients aren’t explorers.”
Now Axel was really suspicious.
“Ok, thanks for telling us Angie,” Axel said as he granted the young nurse a small smile. “Don’t collapse on your way back.”
“I’ll try,” Angie muttered tiredly as she shuffled from the room.
Axel waited until he could no longer hear the sound of feet walking away before he drummed his fingers atop of the couch’s arm rest in an irritated fashion. “I don’t like it,” he muttered.
Jhon made a noise of agreement. “Want to check up on the hospital?”
Axel was already pushing himself to his feet. “A quick look wouldn’t hurt, I suppose.”
As he turned to see if Tobyn and Macerio wanted to tag along, Axel noticed that they, too, had already pushed themselves to their feet. Again, it was somewhat reassuring to know that he wasn’t the only protective one.
Axel whipped around to face the door of the tearoom before abruptly hauling himself through it and toward the foyer of the inn. He recognised that voice. And the sense of alarm. “What’s wrong?” he all but demanded when a certain red-haired medic skidded to a halt in front of him, panting as if he had ran all the way from the hospital.
“The hospital,” Darrell said breathlessly. “A gunner is holding Lynus hostage.”
… … … … …
Lynus could hear voices calling out to him in alarm, but all he could see was a gun, levelled directly at his head. And behind the gun was a man with pitch black hair and light green eyes staring wildly at him like he was some kind of dangerous animal.
Strangely, only one thing ran through his mind. And that was Axel.
And it somehow instilled a sense of calm upon him.
Lynus kept his gaze locked firmly on the silver barrel of the gun, his heart thundering painfully in his chest. Yet, somehow, he managed to speak without stuttering. “Darrell, the window and then the inn. Now.”
From the corner of his eye, Lynus could see Darrell hesitate for a moment, inwardly debating whether or not there was something else he could do rather than to run away. However, he muttered darkly under his breath before he placed his hand on the counter of the staff room before vaulting surprisingly effortlessly through the open window.
Thankfully, and for whatever reason, the deranged gunner didn’t notice Darrell’s abrupt exit. Instead he seemed to murmur something under his breath, something along the lines of ‘protective shield’ before he reached out, snared Lynus by the collar of his coat and dragged him toward him.
The next thing Lynus knew was that he had his back toward the gunner, a strong arm around his throat, and something cool pressed against his temple.
He could barely believe it…
He was…he had been…taken hostage. Inside the hospital!
Over the screams and shouts of horrified onlookers, Lynus tugged desperately at the arm around his throat as he was dragged through the hospital. His actions to get free were for nothing, though; he couldn’t do a single thing. The gunner was impressively strong. But was it because of years of training or because adrenaline levels in his body had increased substantially due to his madness?
The gunner was crazy, no doubt about that. But not because he was mentally ill, but because of a curse. Even under these circumstances, Lynus could sense that his sixth chakra was blocked, just like that of the others patients suffering in the hospital. A simple refresh would be enough, but because of the gunner’s irrational behaviour, because he had his back toward the man, an arm around his throat and a gun to his head, Lynus wasn’t able to physical turn around and clear the blockage.
He needed to find some way to get him out of the hospital. Get him outside and into a more open and secure area. Darrell should have reached the inn by now.
“They’re following. I know they’re following. Slippery bastards.”
Lynus had no idea what kind of monsters or demons the man was fighting in his mind, or whether or not the gun he had to his head was loaded, but staying silent and submissive in his hold was the best thing he could do. To react violently, to scare the gun-wielding man could lead to dire consequences.
He stumbled over his own feet as the gunner hauled him roughly and effortlessly through the corridors of the hospital. Lynus recognised the halls they were moving down and felt a very slight sense of relief; they were heading toward the back exit. And hopefully they’ll head outside into the small courtyard. They would be outside, away from the patients, but in an enclosed area to ensure the safety of those outside the hospital as well.
Lynus squeezed his eyes shut as he was dragged out into the sunlight of the courtyard, stumbling to a halt as the gunner suddenly stopped. He looked around skittishly; obviously he hadn’t anticipated reaching such an open area.
“No good, no good,” the man muttered as he made the motion to head back inside. “They come from the sky. Can’t win here. No good.”
Whipping violently around, the gunner tugged Lynus closer to him as he raised his gun, levelling it toward the doors leading back into the hospital. “Don’t come any closer!” he shouted.
Though the man’s arm around his neck was making it difficult for him to move, Lynus turned his head to the side to see who it was the man was threatening. When his gaze fell upon Axel with Hamza and Jhon with him, there was a sense of fear and relief. Fearful that they could also be hurt by the deranged gunner. And relief that if anyone could prevent any causalities from occurring, it was Axel and their guild.
As the arm around his neck was once again readjusted and was forced to take a few steps back, Lynus locked eyes with Axel and mouthed the word ‘cursed’ to him. Thankfully, Axel understood what he said and meant and nodded his head sharply. He then turned to Hamza and whispered to him.
“Easy, my friend,” Hamza said in a professional and calm manner, even as he signal for Axel and Jhon to stay back. “I just want to talk.”
The gunner made a noise of suspicion. “How do I know you’re not one of them?” he spat.
Hamza took a moment to consider his words carefully. “Would I be calmly talking to you if I was?”
The gunner, surprisingly, seemed to accept that response and nodded his head frantically. “They come from the sky,” he muttered.
An expression of confusion spread across Hamza’s face as he became silent, no doubt trying wonder who or what the gunner could have mistaken him for. Instead, he shook his head slightly and took a half step forward.
“How about you let him go?” Hamza suggested as he indicated toward Lynus with a purposely slow wave of his hand. “He’s a friend to you as well.”
“No!” the gunner shouted as he shook his head frantically. “He keeps them away.”
“He can’t do that if he’s scared, now can he?”
“You don’t understand. It’s the only way.”
His captor tightened his arm around his throat and Lynus had to literally hang off of his arm, his feet off the ground in effort to keep his ability to breathe.
Hamza was still trying to calmly talk him down, but his words were only having a slight effect. And Axel looked murderous, both he and Jhon giving the indication that they would like nothing more than launch themselves at the gunner and take him down physically. Lynus was most certainly sure that the reason why Axel hadn’t done anything yet was because he was afraid he might accidentally hurt Lynus in the scuffle.
But something needed to be done soon. The gunner was falling deeper into his own madness as he unexpectedly and wildly wielded the gun in Hamza’s direction. His grip on the weapon tightened, but his aiming shaky and wild.
“You’re just one of those dark slimy bastards in disguised!” the gunner shrilled manically. “You tricked me!”
The gunner suddenly yelped when something (an arrow?) bounced off of his gun with a sharp clang. Immediately after that, the gunner’s head reeled back as something bounced off of his forehead and the sound of a loud gunshot echoed through the area. The arm he had around Lynus’ neck lessened slightly, but he was still pulling Lynus down with him as he fell backwards.
What happened next was a bit of a blur. Someone had managed to grasp a hold onto Lynus and haul him to his feet. A split second after that, he felt an arm wrap around his shoulders and he was abruptly huddled away.
Snapping his head up in surprise, Lynus quickly realised that Hamza was the one comforting him as Axel and Jhon were both trying to grapple with the still very delirious gunner.
Despite having two very powerful and strong explorers pinning him to the ground, the gunner was thrashing about, screaming about not willing to go down yet. He was still deep within his own illusions.
Although the ordeal had left Lynus feeling greatly shaken, he was still a medic and he needed to end the drama right now. “Lay him on his back,” he instructed as he pulled himself out of Hamza’s grip.
After a few seconds of flailing limbs, loud curses and barely restrained desires to simply knock the gunner unconscious, Axel and Jhon had managed to roll the man onto his back and pinned down his arms and legs.
Crouching down next to the gunner, Lynus wasted no time locating his sixth chakra wheel and murmuring a refresh spell. He gritted his teeth and grimaced when he felt a sharp pain in his chest, but he ignored it as he had done throughout the day.
The results were instantaneous. The gunner stopped thrashing about and fell limp into the pavement, his eyes staring straight up into the sky unblinking. He then suddenly wheezed and fell boneless, exhausted.
He looked absolutely confused when he realised that Axel and Jhon were restraining him and that he was outside the hospital. “Wha-?” he grunted. “What the hell happened?”
Lynus breathed a sigh of relief. He slowly took to his feet and staggered a little, absentmindedly rubbing his chest with his hand as he turned to look toward the guardsmen that patrolled the hospital. “Please take him inside for observation,” he instructed them.
Axel and Jhon were noticeably, and understandably, cautious of leaving the gunner unrestrained, but the patient was back into full consciousness now. Whatever hex that had put him in that state of confusion and delirium had been cleared. He was going to be fine.
Watching the gunner warily as he was taken away by the guards, Axel pushed himself to his feet and made his way toward Lynus, immediately pulling him into his arms and holding him tightly. Lynus murmured a soft sigh as he nestled closer into Axel’s strong chest, finding safety and security in his loving arms.
The whole ordeal felt so…surreal. And it happened so quickly. There was literally no warning, no foreshadowing of any kind. One second he was musing about the recent influx of curses, next he had a gun pointed at his head!
The realisation of what he had just gone through would no doubt hit him later, leaving him a nervous mess. But right now, it felt…over with. It ended as swiftly as it had begun.
Speaking of which; where did that gunshot come from?
“Hey! Hey, is everything ok?!”
As Lynus turned around to look toward the source of the voice, he abruptly found himself pulled from Axel’s arms and wrapped up in a large bear hug. Axel uttered a slightly annoyed ‘hey’, but seemed to make no attempt to remove the person hugging the breath out of Lynus. He uttered a sound of surprise and even took a couple of steps backwards from the force of the embrace, but he soon found a soft laugh passing his lips when he recognised the brown-hair and leafy green overcoat.
As quickly as Macerio had hugged him, he pulled back to grasp at Lynus’ arms and look him straight in the face. “You ok?”
“I’m fine,” Lynus said with a smile, noticing as Tobyn stepped up next to Macerio, his bow hitched upon his back and subtle look of concern on his face. “I’m still a little dazed about what happened, though.”
“Tobyn shot an arrow at the guy’s gun to distract him,” Macerio abruptly explained as a grin that was tinged with both pride and relief appeared on his lips. “While I was able to get a good head-shot in with a rubber bullet. Totally Hamza’s idea.”
Lynus found himself sighing with relief once more as Axel pulled him back into his arms. “Thank goodness it was you two,” he said as he continued to rub his chest absentmindedly. “I would have probably panicked if it had been anyone else.”
Macerio’s grin got a little wider while Tobyn seemed to flush lightly, lifting up his red scarf to hide the bottom half of his face. It was no exaggeration to say that the two held amazing skill and accuracy with their weapons. They could shoot a venomfly in mid-air, leaving the wings perfectly intact. If anyone could shoot a gun out of a gunner’s hand, it was those two.
“Dr Stiles?” Lynus questioned as he turned toward the doorway back into the hospital to find the brown-haired head doctor hurrying over to him.
“Darrell told me everything,” Dr Stiles said the moment he reached him and placed his hands upon Lynus’ shoulder to get a good and proper look at him. “Are you all right?”
“I’m fine. Really,” Lynus insisted, his tone reassuring. “He didn’t do anything; just dragged me around for a bit.”
Dr Stiles stared at him for a moment, gauging his honesty before his shoulders slumped with relief. “Thank goodness,” he muttered as he removed his hands from Lynus’ shoulders.
Lynus granted the man he saw as his mentor a small smile as he subconsciously moved back to rest his back against Axel’s chest, feeling his landsknecht wrap his arms around his waist in return. However, despite the comfort and security Axel’s touch and presence brought him, he couldn’t help but frown.
“What about him, though?” he asked, referring to the gunner that caused all the drama. “Where did he come from? Was he a patient? Was anyone else hurt?”
“Initially, yes, he was a patient,” Dr Stiles explained with an expression of weariness on his face. “His guild brought him in because he was acting strangely, but as a nurse asked that he remove his gun, he shouted something about being one of them before running off. Thankfully, no one was hurt.”
Lynus nodded his head slowly before he sighed. “He was cursed, too.”
Dr Stiles pursed his lips together tightly; clearly he was not happy by what he had learnt. “Was he now?” he muttered.
“This has never happened before,” Hamza commented, interrupting Lynus’ conversation with Dr Stiles. “What in the world is going on here?”
“Come inside,” Dr Stiles said as he made a motion with his hand for everyone to follow him. “We’ll explain there. Before that…”
Before anyone could say or do anything, Dr Stiles abruptly turned back around and grabbed Lynus by the shoulders, and practically glared at him, his glare fierce enough to earn a soft squeak of surprise from Lynus.
“Lynus,” he said lowly. “You should have told me that the removal of these hexes was hurting you.”
“S-sorry, I figured that I could remove these curses and be done with it,” Lynus quickly explained when he realised that he was on the receiving end of several stares of disapproval. “I wasn’t…expecting so many. “
“Derek?” Hamza thankfully prodded, turning the doctor’s attention toward him instead. “I think it would be best to discuss what’s been happening now, don’t you agree?”
Dr Stiles immediately removed his hands from Lynus’ shoulders, Lynus slinking back into Axel’s arms once more. “Ah, yes, come inside to my office.”
In a matter of minutes, they had all trekked back inside and clambered into Dr Stiles’ office. The moment Dr Stiles sat down in his chair, the door closed tightly, he launched into a quick, but surprisingly detailed explanation of what had been occurring at the hospital. From what had started late yesterday afternoon to today.
“Hexes?” Tobyn muttered in surprised after Dr Stiles had finished speaking.
“Yes, hexes,” Lynus sighed with a tired shake of his head. “These curses are definitely not from monsters.”
Hamza held his chin, his eyes narrowing slightly. “This is troubling.”
Yes, it truly was. And Lynus wasn’t sure if he could spend another day removing curses from people. His chest ached enough after doing two wards, total of sixteen people. Honestly, for him, healing sixteen patients at the hospital wasn’t a big number. He had done twice that on busy days. What was alarming to him that was the quick onset of fatigue he experienced from releasing the hexes.
There had to be a better way.
“I need to do some research,” Lynus murmured to himself.
However, Dr Stiles heard him and immediately snapped his attention toward him. “After you’ve rested.”
Lynus resisted the automatic response to press himself against Axel’s side to hide and instead sent the head doctor a weary smile. “Hm. Your stern glare isn’t nearly as potent when you’re on the verge of exhaustion yourself.”
Dr Stiles stared at him through narrow eyes for a moment before he sighed loudly and dropped his head forward. “I can’t argue with that. But I’m still going to ignore it.”
“Right, right,” Lynus said in a pacifying manner. “I have a few books at the inn I want to check out anyway.”
“I will stay around here at the hospital,” Hamza said, no doubt attempting to put minds at ease. “To ensure that things stay peaceful.”
Jhon glanced over at Tobyn and Macerio before nodding and turning his attention to Dr Stiles. “Anything we can do?” he asked.
Dr Stiles granted Jhon a grateful, albeit haggard look. “Having you on hand for any difficult patients would put minds at ease.”
Jhon smiled politely. “Then we’ll do that. Shen and Magnus will ensure that inn remains peaceful, too.”
“Axel,” Dr Stiles said as he turned his attention to the redheaded landsknecht. “Take care of Lynus.”
Axel already had a hold of Lynus’ bag as he kept an arm tightly wrapped around Lynus’ shoulders, pulling toward the door. “Needless to say really.”