A Rogue's Tales: The Ties That Bind

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#7 - Help needed

Cutting between Ingleside’s outer fields Carr focuses on the centre of town. I can’t wait to see Violetta. She’s probably gonna kill me for showing up in the middle of the night. Then she’ll resurrect me to bite my head off before healing me. At least I have coin, this time.

Between the elder’s houses he walks into the centre of a dark, still town. Making his footsteps on the dirt seem loud. Attempting to be quieter he tries to step lightly, only to falter scuffing the ground.

Taking the middle road south Violetta’s place stands out by a lit oil lamp in a window. Signifying to others she’s there and available.

Approaching the old stone building Carr notices the straw roof needs repair. Taking a deep breath knocks on the wooden door putting his best smile on.

The door opens, a tall woman stands in the doorway. Her strong almost masculine hand is perched at the hip. Displeased by his smile she studies him, “I had a feeling you were going to show up, tomorrow.” Noting his pale color she calms but not enough for Carr to notice. “How bad is it this time?” With her red hair done up tightly she appears angrier.

Carr tries to play it down, “It’s just a scratch.”

“Scratches don’t require trips to a healer in the middle of the night.” Shaking her head while stepping aside allows him in, “Lets have a look.”

“Thank you Violetta,” Carr speaks politely, “I am truly sorry for showing up so late. Again.”

“Just get in here, fool.” Violetta points out the all too familiar healing room, “You know what to do.”

Carr enters a room in front of the main door, “I might need a hand with the armor.”

She notices the new glistening gash on the shoulder’s covering. “How deep is it?”

Sitting on a heavy hardwood table, Carr sets the swords aside to attempt removing the backpack, “Ah, it’s deep. I saw bone.”

Disappointment in Carr forces herself not to slam any doors while closing the front one. “What stupidity were you up to now?”

Standing in the room with a furled brow she watches him struggle with the pack, reading his emotions, “So you ripped somebody off and they caught up to you.”

Knowing he can’t lie to her, sighs before answering, “Well kinda, but it’s a good cause.”

Hearing that angers Violetta to speak sternly. “There’s no good reason to go get yourself killed. Just get that stuff off.” She heads to the kitchen to gather some things, and cool down.

Knowing it’s best not to speak, right now Carr contends quietly with his gear. Listening to her bang things around.

Returning with two large metal bowls and some clean rags, she passes barely glancing at him. Setting a bowl of hot water and herbs on the table corner, the rags beside.

The second larger and empty bowl she places on the floor under the table. Getting up Violetta watches Carr, obviously seriously wounded and nearing death’s door.

“Here, let me help you.” Violetta calms, taking the pack off the table, “I take it by the weight of this you can actually pay me. Or is it another statue?”

Wincing, Carr replies. “No, I can pay you.”

She helps remove his body armor, “I’m not taking any more stolen bric-a-brac.” Setting the armor aside she sees the snuggly wrapped bandage is soaked with blood and there’s a huge bruise on the left arm, “Did you fall out another window?”

Carr drops his head, “Ah yah.” The lack of blood keeps his face from blushing.

Unwrapping the bandage Violetta closes her eyes frustrated with the damage done. “Oh Carr, the herbs go on a wound, not in it.” She tosses the wrap aside. “How long ago did you get this wound?” She notices gangrene forming and the split muscle, “This is going to be hard to heal.”

Unsure of how much time has gone by he mumbles, “Almost a day.”

“Lay back.” She assists and adjusts Carr on the table. “I’ll need some other items, hold on a moment.”

“Sure, thanks again Violetta,” Carr watches her leave the room, wondering how bad is it.

After rummaging through an apothecary cabinet she returns hanging a medallion around her neck. Removing a vial from a pocket she hands it to Carr, “Drink half.” She sets up a chair beside Carr’s head, positioning the floor bowl under the wound.

Carr does what she said, not liking the taste, “Eee, tastes like moldy buns. What do you want me to do with the rest?”

“Hold it.” She dips a rag into the water, “Hold it tight.” Gently touching his head Violetta says in a soothing tone, “You’ll live but this is going to hurt, a lot. Try not to move too much. You want something to bite down on?”

Carr remains calm, “No, go ahead.” Studying her pretty face he gets lost in her emerald green eyes, “I have faith in you.”

She almost smiles, “Try not to scream, people who work to live, are trying to sleep.”

Taking the soaking rag she begins cleaning out the gapping shoulder wound. Carr’s fists, toes and teeth clench, managing not to vocally cry out.

Carr comes close to passing out from pain. She stops flushing out the wound and gently wipes off the shoulder.

Wincing, Carr’s shoulder throbs, “How bad is it?”

“Looks like a sharpened blade.” She examines the wound more, “That’ll give you got a better chance of healing. I can’t promise full use of the arm.”

Carr sighs and his speech slows, “I understand, but I do… appreciate you efforts.”

Violetta knows he’s about to go unconscious, “Carr pour the rest of the vial on your wound.”

“O… kay.” Carr does.

She takes the empty vial slipping it in a pocket, “Now you can sleep if you want.”

“I… am… o… kay.” Carr tries to smile through the pain.

Seeing him helpless she strokes his head, “It’s a good thing you and your mother are dear to me.”

Rubbing her hands she clears random thoughts from her mind and focuses on the wound.

Beginning a chant she spreads out her fingers hovering over the wound to perform a lay-healing. The palms seem to glow as she glides them, hairs over the wound.

Repeating the calming chant she maneuvers the hands trying to close the wound. Absorbed by her voice Carr slowly losses consciousness.

Gradually the muscle tissue and veins stretch out reattaching, to pull themselves together. The bleeding subsides as the veins reconnect.

Hours of chanting go by before the lay-healing seals the wound, leaving no scar. Violetta takes a much, needed break.

Shaking out her arms and hands to disperse negative energy gets a thought of soldiers in the village searching buildings.

She grabs Carr’s sword and body armor setting it outside the healing room.

Pulling the apothecary cabinet away from the wall she removes a nail from a support timber. Then pushes on the lower wall section opening it into a hidden room.

Assorted magical garments hang from the timbers. The floor is lined with bags, small chests, statues and carvings. She places Carr’s gear inside, removing the rest of the scale armor as well.

On all the armor she finds brown animal hairs that she notes don’t smell like horse.

Looking outside Violetta doesn’t see Bressi or any other horse.

Curious to what the young thief has been up to she checks his pack before stowing it in the hidden room. She examines every bag, sack and making her wonder is the socks.

Violetta puts most things back in the pack, except for a couple pieces of jewelry that caught her eye. Also a dozen specific gems and fifty platinum coins for the healing.

Inspecting the powder she is uncertain of its nature. Not wanting Carr to have it, just in case, she places it in her cabinet. Thinking the next visit to the alchemist she’ll have him identify the powder.

Violetta adds a small vial of healing potion, wrapped in a bandage to the pack, along with a pouch of healing herbs, in a second bandage.

Closing up and returning the cabinet, Violetta takes an ointment to Carr.

Sitting down she rubs the ointment over the shoulder. Chanting something a little different she gently massages the entire shoulder. Carr’s breathing is very slow. Muscles so relaxed his body seems lifeless.

A rooster greeting the morning sun stops Violetta. Getting up she shakes out her arms and stretches the neck, popping a few spine bones back in place.

Having taken a long look at Carr’s necklace of protection and studied his aura she goes to remove it. Noticing Carr’s tiny necklace pouch she sees there’s more than a coin in there.

Taking both off, she covers him with a blanket.

Closing the door and pocketing the medallion she exits the room.

Getting a bite to eat while brewing a tea she examines the contents of the tiny pouch.

Pulling the rings out recognizes them, but can’t place them. Two matching platinum rings, different only in size, simply engraved.

Reading an old rune inscription on the inside she remembers to whom the rings belong. Violetta’s fingers wrap around them, looking towards Carr with a smile on her face. Bringing them up to her chin with eyes welling up, “Oh, Carr. You young fool. And carrying them over your heart.” Hoping he’s finally using his skills for the better, Violetta inserts them back into the pouch and hangs them around her own neck. Concealing them under her clothes.

Sitting down with legs crossed she sips tea relaxing, thinking about young Carr.

Setting the empty cup down she closes her eyes, clearing her mind to meditate.

“Bang, bang, bang.”

Snapping to, hours later to pounding on the door, Violetta tries to focus, “Who is it?”

“Open up in the name of King Darvel.”

Violetta rolls her eyes standing up, “Come in quietly, please.”

Carr wakes, listening motionless in the closed room as two of King Darvel’s armed soldiers enter.

Spotting and remembering the healer the older and hairier of the men speaks to Violetta, “Good woman we’re searching for a thief who killed six of the King’s men and stole his tax collections.”

Sensing they don’t really know who they’re looking for, Violetta replies. “That’s terrible who would dare kill and steal from the King?”

The second man starts opening the door to the healing room.

Violetta tries to distract them, “What does this scoundrel look like?”

“A young small Human male with long black hair,” states the older man

“Who’s this than?” Asks the younger one opening the door looking over Carr, “He matches the description.”

Quickly she utters. “Hey let him be, he needs rest.”

The older man steps back to look, “He does. What do you have to say?”

“Hey,” she comes up behind them, “he staggered in around midnight last night. Gored by his, own bull. Walked here from his farm near the Cirran river.”

The men pull back the blanket studying Carr, as he does an excellent job of faking sleep.

Noticing many scars about his body, the younger man asks. “Where did he get gored?”

Knowing all the marks on his body she replies. “It’s the small red circle on the right side. Now let him be.”

Both men look over his body not seeing it.

Pointing to Carr the young guard expresses his thoughts, “He’s got plenty of scars that doesn’t sound like a farmer.”

The older man states his opinion. “What are you talking about man? One can get hurt pretty bad farming animals and working the land.” He turns to Violleta, “I wanna believe you but he does look like the person we seek and some of the villagers said they saw him come this way last night.”

Violetta asks. “When was the King robbed?”

“Almost two days ago,” The older man states.

Seeing Carr’s freedom Violetta states a fact, “It takes over a day to get here on horse back, if riding constant and fast. He walked here last night. Collapsed on the table.”

The younger man suggests, “He could’ve rode his horse to death and walked the rest of the way.”

Violetta points out, “Look how filthy he is, only those that labor hard get that dirty. The King’s men took his horses as tax payment. Forcing him to walk here. With no coin I had to heal him for free.”

Carr listens to her and can’t believe the lies she’s spinning. The men are thinking it over.

The younger man reminds his partner, “Didn’t the Captain tell us to bring back, anybody that comes close to the description?”

“Oh, great.” Violetta goes on, “So he barely makes it here due to the King’s men. I waste my energy to save him, for free. And now the King’s men are going to cart him off. Most likely to his doom just because he’s got long black hair.”

“Easy, ma’am,” the older male tries to calm her.

She still continues. “You know, no matter what he’ll say to defend him self, he’ll be accused of lying and jailed. Why don’t you just kill him while he sleeps.”

Surprised by her words the men aren’t sure what to say and look at each other. Carr’s wonders if they will stab him where he lays.

The older man speaks in an annoyingly calm manner, “Now easy there good woman. I trust your character after all you are a cleric.” Turning to his companion he explains. “This good natured healer’s only concerns are the suffering of others.”

“That’s right,” Violetta nods with arms crossed.

“Ma’am your reputation of a healer is known throughout the continent,” The man points out, “You also turned down King Darvel’s request to be his personal healer.”

Violetta grins, “I remember that day. He was so offended that someone would dare say no to him.” She recovers Carr.

The younger man looks at her strangely, “You said no? To the King?”

Violetta rolls her eyes at the young man’s naivety, “It’s like I told your King. Every being has a right to live. My oath is to make sure to ease the suffering of others, not to become wealthy from it. I’m certainly not interested in wiping the runny noses of the rich and powerful.”

“Ah, don’t worry about him.” The older man lets her know, “The King did find a competent cleric but he’s not as attractive as your self nor as voiced.”

Violetta pastes a smile on, “Oh thank you for the kind words good sir.”

The younger man asks. “Shouldn’t we get the Captain’s opinion?”

“If she’s not going to help a King, I don’t think she’d help a common thief.” The older man recommends, “But check around for any armor, weapons or bags of gold.” Turning to Violetta, “Your okay with that?”

She doesn’t have any real choice. “Go ahead.” She’s not worried about them finding anything, as it’s hid.

The older man steps closer to Violetta, “I believe you. If he finds nothing we’ll just leave you in peace.”

The younger man searches Violetta’s bedroom. Carr’s hoping that his stuff is concealed, especially the short-sword and pack.

Still wanting to talk with Violetta the man says. “I am sorry for disturbing you,” he escorts her out of the room closing the door. “I also want to thank you.”

Curious Violetta asks. “A thank you? For what?”

He explains. “A few years ago you saved a young boy, from the northern village of Tess. He was run down by a raiding party.”

She only has to think but a second, “Oh yes. I remember the poor boy and that poor village. So many needlessly died there. He had so many broken bones. How is he?”

“To watch him you’d never know, he suffered so.” The man points proudly to his chest. “That’s my great nephew, Mathewe. He’s strong and fast and will lead a long good life, thanks to you.”

With a genuine smile she replies. “I’m glad to have helped and it’s wonderful news to hear he’s doing well. Of course you’re welcome.”

The other man exits the bedroom shaking his head no, while passing his partner to check the open kitchen and sitting room.

Carr remembers the trip north that year with Violetta and Hal. They went to help, finding the village nearly wiped out. He was the one who found the mangled boy while looking for valuables to take. Instead of helping the villagers, they had to build a huge funeral pyre, a very sad and sobering journey.

Violetta tries not to watch the man search her stuff, suggesting to them, “If it’s a thief you’re after, why not try the guild to the north.”

The older man nods, “The King thinks so too, he’s dispatched his best company of horsemen there. We’re to split up if we don’t find him here. Soldiers are scouring the mountain range and another group was sent to Lafhee. Some of us will take the road to Lahfee. Two are already taking the road to the Cirran River. The rest headed to Ahn.”

“There’s nothing here,” the young man states.

“Lets go.” The older man smiles at Violetta, “Sorry for the intrusion ma’am. We appreciate your help.”

Violetta shows them the front door, “I understand your just following orders.” She opens the door for them, “May your duties go safely so you can help Mathewe become a man.”

Exiting they simply say, “Take care.”

As they cross the dirt street to bother other villagers she mumbles. “Ma’am? Insulting, disrespectful, mindless fools.” Returning inside she is focused on the healing room.

Carr hears the front door close. Peeking to see he’s alone in the room opens his eyes. Violetta pushes open the door and quickly approaches.

Cuffing him upside the head she speaks sternly, “Alright fool, an explanation. You stole from a King and killed his men. Keep in mind I saved your skin, twice, today.”

Carr rubs his head, “You don’t have to hit me. Even though I deserve it.”

“Alright,” Violeta slyly grins, “Speak the truth and I won’t infect your little fuzzy nuts with some awfully itchy disease.”

“Okay, okay. That won’t be needed.” Carr sits up hanging his legs off the table, “Violetta I always appreciate what you do for me. I thank you, greatly. If it wasn’t for your blessed hands I’d be dead a dozen times by now.”

She grumbles. “At least a dozen.” She reads his emotions as genuine.

Carr explains his side, “Yes I did break into the tax collection building and steal. I’m sure you had a look at all I took. I can’t carry much more than that. It’s that Lord Piate, the tax collector. He’s stealing from the King. I found a chest in the man’s bedchamber, full of treasure. I’m sure the King isn’t unaware of. Piate’s probably using me as a scapegoat keeping the tax collected for himself.”

Violetta calms some, “I believe you for two reasons. I met that Lord Piate. I would never trust that slob of an excuse for a man. I also know you work alone and couldn’t steal all that’s collected, without the help of magic.”

“You forgot one other reason.”

“Yah?” Violetta looks him over, “What’s that?”

He smugly smiles noting, “You were reading my mind as I spoke.”

Astonished, touched and a little offended by his true accusation, she sways the conversation, “What the hell’s wrong with you? Going after a King’s treasure. Rightly or wrongly collected, your just asking for trouble. Why didn’t you j...” Frustrated she changes the subject, again, “Just take the bed in the loft. You’ll need plenty of rest. Before you leave in the morning.” She helps him off the table.

“Sure thing Violetta.” Carr swallows raising the courage to ask, “Ah… can I ask another favor?”

She loudly exhales, “What is it?”

He asks softly. “Can you find me a new horse?”

“A new horse?” She looks into his eyes. “What happened to Bressi?”

Sighing Carr replies, “I kinda traded her for a ride to town.”

She senses sadness washing over Carr, “You what?” She looks at him with disbelief, “You loved that horse, and you traded her for a ride into town?”

Staring into his welling eyes Violetta figures something happened out there, “You get stranger and stranger.” She escorts him out of the room, “But I guess I can go see.”

Thinking of what must of happened to Bressi Carr fights back a tear thanking Violetta.

Opening up the hidden room she guides him. Carr ducks in, making his way back to a vertical ladder fixed to the end wall, leading to the loft.

Shakily climbing the ladder Carr tells Violetta. “Take some coins out of my pack to pay for the horses and everything.”

“I will.” Violetta bends down to the pack watching Carr scale the ladder, “You try and get some more sleep. When I return I’ll fix us an early supper.” Mumbling to her self, “I’ll need to sleep early tonight.”

“Thanks again Violetta,” Carr carefully steps onto the upper floor, lit by small round windows on either side of the vertical walls.

Violetta counts out fifty gold, while Carr gets comfortable, more weak than tired.

Closing up the hidden room she speaks softly, “Rest up Carr, I’ll be back in awhile.”

“I’ll be here,” he whispers back.

A.R.T. The Ties That Bind Chapter # 7 Complete

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