The Story Continues

Shades of Healing

Lynus idly fiddled with the strap of his bag that sat upon his shoulder as he stepped out of his room. As he walked away from his room and down the stairs, his mind drifted to what possible scenarios he would encounter during his shift at the hospital. The more areas and floors they discover of the labyrinth, the greater the risks they face, and more reckless the rookies become to outshine the current top explorers of Lagaard.

So it was no surprise that the hospital has only grown busier during the past few weeks.

As he was about midway down the stairs, sometime from the corner of his eye drew Lynus to a stop. He turned to look and realised that Rahas was entering the inn, his hands shoved in his pockets and his shoulders slumped in a posture that Cedric had dubbed ‘The Angsty Emo Brat’.

Cedric was, of course, drunk when he said that, but it made Lynus chuckle nonetheless.

He couldn’t help but notice, though, that Rahas appeared a little…moodier than usual. There was a slight scowl on his face and he appeared to be fidgeting. That could only mean one thing; Guild Cosmos (and mostly importantly, Simmons) must be spending time in the labyrinth somewhere. And Rahas was, for a lack of a better word, a little ‘pissy’ that he didn’t know exactly where they were.

“Are you done with training, Rahas?” Lynus asked as he stood close to the railing of the stairs.

Rahas glanced up at him, momentarily surprised that he hadn’t noticed him before he shrugged carelessly, his hands still in his pockets. He didn’t attempt to verbally reply, though.

Lynus stopped himself from uttering a sigh. Things were still tense between them, but that tension had ease significantly over the last few days thankfully. Still, Lynus wished that Rahas would spend a little bit more time with his guild, the Guardians.

“Guild Cosmos in the labyrinth today?” Lynus asked with a small smile on his lips.

Rahas twitched slightly before tilting his head back in a manner of exasperated surrender. “Fine,” he sighed loudly. “They’re doing a quest, ok? Gathering materials from the gathering points, alright?”

“Ah,” Lynus made a noise of understanding as he continued to smile. “Good to see that they are being more responsible. Did Simmons tell you this?”

Rahas didn’t answer. He, however, tried to scowl at him, but honestly it came out more as a disgruntled pout. “So what if he did?” he countered as he crossed his arms aggressively across his chest.

Lynus had to resist the urge to chide him about being so defensive. Instead, his eyes widen slightly in realisation. “Speaking of Simmons, I’ve noticed that he has been carrying around this adorable little plush bunny with him everywhere.”

“I don’t know where he got it from!” Rahas unexpectedly snapped, his posture bristling with over defensiveness.

“I…” Lynus murmured as he looked at Rahas in surprise. “Wasn’t asking if you did.”

“What’s with this interrogation?”

“I was merely making an observ-”

“It’s a cheap piece of shit anyway!”

“What are you-?” Lynus muttered as Rahas stormed up the stairs past him.

“It’s nothing, ok?!” Rahas continued to exclaim adamantly as he all but childishly stomped away. “Whatever he tells you is a lie!”

Lynus blinked and stayed quiet as Rahas stomped out of sight. He continued to be silent as he listened to the sound of stomping feet followed by the telling slamming of a door. After that was a strange sense of stillness.

…Honestly, Rahas, that wasn’t suspicious at all.

“Teenagers,” Lynus murmured under his breath as he sighed and continued down the stairs and toward the exit of the inn.

The path to the hospital was one that Lynus had trodden many times in the past, so it wasn’t long before he found himself entering through the staff entrance, nodding his head in greetings to the passing hospital staff.

“Ah, good,” Dr Stiles said the moment Lynus walked into the staff room, a half smile of relief on his lips. “Just in time. Guess who just showed up.”

Lynus felt a frown tug at his lips. “Not Guild Cosmos again?” he asked, simultaneously exasperated and concerned.

“Only minor injuries,” Dr Stiles continued as he automatically began to lead Lynus in the direction of the outpatient wards. He, however, paused in his steps for a moment to look over at Lynus, a rather perturbed expression on his face. “But could you look at Simmons for me? He’s acting a little out of character, I suppose you could say.”

“Yes, of course,” Lynus replied without hesitation, earning himself a grateful smile from the head doctor in front of him.

Lynus followed Dr Stiles around a few corners before he was led to a room with a door slightly ajar. Without a word, Dr Stiles nodded at him, once again appearing grateful for his assistance, before he moved off.

Idly running a finger over the stitching on his bag, Lynus pushed over the door and stepped in. Immediately, he spied Simmons sitting on the edge of the hospital bed with his arm in a make-shift sling. He had his head turned slight as he gazed out the window, appearing uncharacteristically quiet and sullen.

However, he turned toward him when Lynus walked into the room and sent him a grin that Lynus was more accustomed to seeing. “Hi, Lynus.”

“Hello, Simmons,” Lynus greeted in return as he dropped his bag onto a vacant chair and made his way over to Simmons. “Getting yourself into trouble again, I see. Let me have a look at you.”

Simmons stayed patiently still as Lynus inspected his arm. As Dr Stiles had informed him earlier, his injuries were only minor. A light cut to his upper arm and a mild muscle strain. Simmons had experience far worse injuries before, so it was a bit of a surprise to find him willingly in the hospital. Perhaps Gerald or Kerri had insisted he go? Perhaps he had been worrying them, too.

“Just a minor wound,” Lynus said as he quickly and easily patched up the torn skin and pulled out a roll of tape to wrap around Simmons’ arm and shoulder to ease the strain. “Shouldn’t scar. But you have pulled a muscle as well, so you’ll need to keep your arm in that sling for a little while.”

“Kay,” Simmons replied simply as he idly toyed with a loose thread on his sling and cradled his arm against his side.

Lynus was honestly a little surprised and concerned with how…passive Simmons was acting. Usually, he had to argue with the blue-haired landsknecht to keep him still enough to administer healing before unlocking the door and watching as he bounded away in a rush. He understood why Dr Stiles seemed to be concerned. Simmons’ lack of his usual enthusiasm was slightly alarming.

“Is everything all right?” Lynus asked as he rested his hands on his knees and leaned forward so that he was eye level with the other man. “You don’t seem to be your bubbly self today.”

Despite having his arm in a sling, Simmons was nervously pressing the tips of his index fingers together. “Promise not to tell Rahas?”

Lynus tilted his head to the side. “Hm? What is it?”

Simmons simply reached around behind him and spent a moment searching through one of his explorer kits he had on his belt. When he pulled his arm back around, in his hand was a fluffy bunny plushie that Lynus had noticed from afar. However, this time it had one arm dangling by a thread.

“This is…?” Lynus questioned.

Simmons looked sadly down at the plushie. “Rahas gave it to me.”

Lynus felt a smile tug on his lips. He had his suspicions, but was happy to hear a confirmation nonetheless. “He did? How thoughtful of him.”

“But I broke it,” Simmons continued, his tone honestly quite heartbroken. “And now he’ll be angry with me.”

That was why he was acting out of sorts. It was actually quite adorable.

“Ah,” Lynus uttered a noise of understanding as he pushed himself to stand up straight again. However, the slight smile of amusement turned into a soft frown as his gaze flickered over to Simmons’ bandaged arm. “Did you hurt yourself trying to get it back?”

Simmons winced slightly, as if he had just been caught with his hand in the cookie jar.

“You shouldn’t have done that,” Lynus couldn’t help but chide, a strong sense of maternal protectiveness appearing in his chest. “Rahas would be more upset if you hurt yourself badly by retrieving this trinket. Not to mention your guild.”

Gerald and Kerri especially. He didn’t know much about Tiffany, but he was certain she, too, would be upset if something bad were to happen to Simmons.

Lynus’ gaze and tone soften, though, and he grabbed a chair and pulled it in front of Simmons before he sat down on it. “But it’ll be all right,” he said in a comforting manner as he reached out to gently lay his fingertips upon Simmons’ hand that was holding the plushie. “I won’t tell Rahas. In fact, I think I can fix this.”

Simmons immediately perked up. “Really?” he asked with a sincerely and innocently hopeful tone.

“Yes,” Lynus said as he carefully and slowly took a hold of the plush bunny, Simmons allowing him to. “It shouldn’t be too hard. I’ll fix it now for you, all right? Just promise me that if it gets damaged again, you won’t hurt yourself retrieving it, ok?”

Simmons nodded his head enthusiastically. “Ok.”

Placing the plushie upon a work bench, Lynus took a moment to inspect the toy. The bunny’s arm had been torn in a jagged manner. He wouldn’t be able to make it look brand new, but Lynus was fairly confident that he could reattach the arm and strengthen the stitches. He felt an amused smile slip across his lips as search through his bag for a needle and thread, noticing from the corner of his eye that Simmons was all but hovering over his shoulder.

Grabbing the tools he needed, Lynus set to work. It should only take a few minutes.

“Does it have a name?” Lynus asked.

Simmons made a slight sound of confusion. “A name?”

“Yes,” Lynus said with a nod of his head as he carefully positioned the arm in its original place, slowly threading in the stitching. “Since this plushie is so cute, I thought it would have a name.”

“Hmm…” Simmons hummed for a moment in thought before answering firmly, “Sandra.”

Lynus tilted his head to the side to glance over at Simmons. “Sandra?”

Simmons nodded his head in a definite manner. “That was my mom’s name,” he said with a slight smile.

Lynus immediately felt a strong sense of empathy. Was? Did that mean…?

“How sweet,” Lynus said instead as he smiled and idly tied off a stitch.

“Sandra the Landshark,” Simmons continued with a bright smile on his face. “That’s what they used to call her.”

Ah, good, the Simmons he was more accustomed to was starting to return. “Oh, your mother was a landsknecht?”

Simmons all but beamed at him as he happily sat himself back on the edge of the hospital bed. “Yup! I look like her. That’s what Cass tells me.”

“I bet she was good friends with Cass,” Lynus said as he set about finishing he stitch work.

“Heh, there’s a picture of her at the bar,” Simmons eagerly informed him.

“I’ll be sure to visit and have a look for myself later,” Lynus stated as he tied off the last and final stitch, and presented it toward Simmons. “Here we are. As good as new.”

“Heh. Thanks, Lynus!” Simmons said as he happily retrieved the plushie from him and placed it into the sling with his injured arm.

“You’re welcome,” Lynus said with a chuckle, unable to prevent himself from reaching over to ruffle Simmons’ hair.

However, as soon as his fingertips brushed against the blue strains, a sharp pain appeared in his chest, a pain he would only feel when he encounter a terrifyingly powerful dark spot within someone’s aura, and he made a sound of surprise. “Oh!”

His first reaction was to pull his hand back, but his second was to push forward, pressing his palm flat against Simmons’ forehead. He leaned forward slightly in his seat, his brow furrowed as he concentrated on Simmons’ aura.

There was…a very dark spot on Simmons’ mind. Not on his brain; his mind. Something was being blocked and supressed within his subconsciousness. He had only really encountered something like it once before. An explorer who had selective amnesia after barely surviving a deadly encounter in the labyrinth.

It was buried so deep. If he had not developed his skills of assessing auras, he may not have even known it was there.

“Eeh?” Simmons murmured in surprise.

“…S-sorry, it’s nothing,” Lynus stuttered when he realised how sudden and alarming his reaction of touching Simmons’ hair must have been. He pulled his hand back and leaned into his seat. However, he kept his gaze focused entirely on Simmons. “Do you…suffer from many headaches, Simmons?”

Simmons blinked at him for a moment before he looked slightly uncomfortable, his uninjured shoulder giving a jittery shrug. “Only after hearing a certain noise.”

“I see,” Lynus murmured, mentally filing that information away. “What about…nightmares?”

Simmons unease increased. “…Sometimes,” he muttered truthfully.

“Do you?” Lynus said as he frowned in concerned.

However, he smiled softly a moment later and reached out pat Simmons’ gently on his injured arm, idly emitting a refresh spell as he did. He honestly wanted to ask more, to know more, but he could see how uncomfortable Simmons was at the moment and he didn’t want to push him into giving answers he may or may not actually understand or know himself.

“Well I might be able to make you a tonic that will allow you to get better quality of sleep,” he said. “But for now, let’s take care of that arm. No training or exploring for at least a day, ok? I’ll be upset if I find you training.”

“I promise I won’t train,” Simmons’ readily promised, though that cheerful smile on his lips gave Lynus the indication that the promise may only last for an hour or two.

“Good boy,” Lynus said as he stood up and took a moment to ruffle his hair. “Now, off with you. Your guild will be waiting.”

“Kay,” Simmons said as he all but leapt off the bed, eagerly making a beeline for the door. He opened it and stepped out before turning and smiling enthusiastically at him. “Thanks, Lynus!”

“My pleasure,” Lynus said as he waved Simmons off, watching as Simmons went off in search for his guild.

As soon as Simmons was out of sight, though, the smile on Lynus’ lips disappeared and an expression of concern and confusion appeared on his face. He looked down at the floor as he placed his hand against his chest, over his heart.

That dark spot on Simmons’ mind…It was strong and deeply entrenched into his psyche. He was suppressing something. A painful memory. A tragic memory. A possibly deadly memory.

Lynus might be able to release it, but…No, it was too painful. What Simmons have had experienced or witnessed was so distressing that the only way for him to survive, to carry on with life, was to supress it. To release it now…

Might just kill him.

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