Emanuella had spent a week in the Healer’s Wing already. Her recovery demanded another week yet. All her books were stacked next to her. Only those with “authorized access” were permitted to visit her. Interestingly, this special list included Nixy, but discluded Dar, of all people. When she inquired, only glances amongst her comrades and friends, of a somewhat downcast and guilty nature, were returned. Apparently, Dar was not to be informed, at any cost. She was not told why, but left to ponder it during her recuperative marks alternately dozing over her kyor books and contemplating life in general. Even Master Barcik was in on this deception.
She recalled nothing of the mysterious circumstances that landed her here. Her memory was murky at best. She knew what she’d been told: that a Detention had been issued. This Emanuella remembered. She remembered receiving the Detention, but beyond that day’s evening meal, she had no recollection. Master Barcik told her this was characteristic in those who suffered injuries to the head. Rick’s eyes had narrowed when he’d said that and Fiorra had dug him sharply in the ribs, and he’d stalked out. When next Emanuella had seen Rick, he seemed to have accrued some injuries himself, but he claimed simply that some of the lads in his Cycle were bigger than he – a few bruises now and again were normal after practice.
From what she was told, she was attacked either at or after Detention and left overnight outside in the snow, maybe for dead. Now Emanuella thought of it, perhaps that was the reason Dar wasn’t informed of this. Any one of them that had ever been injured and off he was, ready to battle someone to the death.
She did wonder who had attacked her or why, or if she had at least fought back. Try as she might, she could not pierce the darkness of that night’s memories.
But she did know one thing – they hadn’t won. They hadn’t killed her. They had left her for dead and she had survived. And she would be sure to show it when she got back in the Practice Ring.
Meanwhile, Nixy helped her study, kept her current with her classes, often opining how glad she was that she showed no aptitude for kyor, for she herself wouldn’t be able to stay awake long enough to learn a charm. Ander, Fiorra, Rick and Nixy each took turns staying with her, and only the most trusted of Healers saw to her when Master Barcik could not himself.
Dar did try to see if she had been admitted once, but Ander threw a hasty illusion over the Admissions Book, so that her name was not overtly visible there.
In actuality, it was there, for legality purposes, mainly to mollify the Chancellor, explained Master Barcik. Ander had Scryed to Gabriella, who was furious. They had worked out an arrangement of some sort, the Chancellor and Gabriella, Ander reported, though he didn’t know what it was and was not going to be told, Gabriella assured him quite pointedly. He thought, though, that it basically involved the Chancellor muzzling his hound dog or she would come out there and do it herself. Whatever it was, all of them now had authoritative excuses from classes “within reason” as Master Barcik intoned sternly, for as long as was necessary. And all of Emanuella’s entire absence was of course, excused, the Adept told her very seriously. Nixy told her privately that sometimes students wound up in the Healers’ Wing from Detentions or other such “accidents,” and never got excused at all but even incurred demerits upon returning from being absent, or even failed the class. Emanuella privately wondered, however, how Ker Torvan would receive her reinstatement in the Practice Ring, now that she was to some degree untouchable. If she was protected administratively, he would find another way to get to her, she was sure. Torvan would loathe her all the more now.
But the secrecy guarding her existed for more than simply restraining Dar from heading off on a bloody head-hunt. They were unsure that she was safe without protective safeguards in place. This Emanuella mused upon most of all. They made it sound as though there might be some conspiracy to literally kill her, end her life. How bizarre that seemed. As if she were some important persona. They explained that if she remembered who had attacked her, and she complained to the Chancellor, it came down to a matter of who he would believe. Since others only knew that she had enough connection to have skipped two and three Levels upon entry, it appeared that possibly the Chancellor might favor her rather than disbelieve her… and dismiss or hunt down the culprits. It was a unique situation. So Emanuella remained guarded day and night, regardless of her professions of absurdity for the whole notion. She hardly believed they would return to “end what they had started.”
But the prophecy had so nearly been disrupted.... It was no small wonder that Gabriella was furious.
Fiaz she missed sorely. She wished he could be smuggled in so he could lay next to her. Hm! Not a soul would dare to lay a hand on her if they knew of him or saw him in his raw ferocity. But she just wanted to sleep next to him – only he truly made her feel safe now. Only he could ensure she wouldn’t wake up in a Healer’s Wing again. In a way, she mused, he was like Dar… they would both kill anyone who attacked someone they loved. But Emanuella preferred Fiaz any day to Dar’s old broadsword and boastful pride.
Thinking of swords, part of her tingled with anticipation of stepping back into the Practice Ring… and part of her found the idea daunting. But some bastard, or bastards, had tried to kill her. They had broken her teeth, her swordwrist, her nose, her ribs… she was going to have scars for a while, said Master Barcik, but they would go away with time. All the QuickHealing he had performed surely earned him a special star up among the Sisters, for Emanuella’s ribs, while sore, were whole again, as were all her broken bones; even her teeth were regrown again.
The more she thought of it all, though, the more she wanted justice, burned for it almost… justice for this assault upon her, this attempt to – remove her as if she were less than human. Yes. She would exact justice….