I raced up the stairs, aching to know what was happening. The servant barely kept up ahead of me, and we rushed forward. I was burning to know – was he hinting at what I hoped he was? Dare I hope it to be true? I knew I was setting myself up for more heartbreak, but I couldn’t help myself. If there was even a hint of hope, I’d do anything to make it right.
We reached the hospital wing where the Healer treated his patients. The room was relatively large, somewhat drafty, and allowed for five beds to be lined up against one wall. Each of these beds were concealed by a curtain for the patient’s privacy. The other side of the wall hosted a large assortment of ointments and liquids in variously sized bottles, all next to a rather imposing and widely varied small herb garden. A wide window let in a fair amount of warm sun, illuminating directly onto the indoor herb garden, allowing for a sufficient amount of light for the patients.
Healer Bron, the same Healer that Zante had in his employ, stood calmly at the end of the farthest bed. He was a stout man, very short, with soft-looking reddish-brown hair that stood to contrast with his numerous wrinkles. His face looked serene and kind, and immediately, his presence soothed me for no other reason than his peaceful countenance.
“Healer Bron, what is the meaning of this?” I demanded, almost begging to know what was happening.
But I was King now, and I wouldn’t allow myself to beg for anything. Which was difficult.
“Your grace,” he greeted, bowing slightly.
I bowed my head in return.
“I believe this is your friend?” he questioned politely. He pulled back the curtain from the last bed he was standing in front of and revealed a prone Renn.
I couldn’t stop myself. I ran up to the bed and knelt next to her. I rested my ear on her chest and heard... dare I admit it... a heartbeat.
She was alive?! I couldn’t help it; a sob burst from my throat, unbidden. Tears welled in my eyes, spilling over the edges and dripping onto Renn’s white, medical shift below. How could she be alive? I watched Larke kill her! I had watched her fall to the floor, unconscious!
“Is she... alright?” I asked, not allowing myself to look away from her for even a second. I felt that if I tore my gaze away, she would disappear.
“In a way,” the Healer replied somberly. “She won’t wake.”
“She won’t wake?” I asked, confused. “But she’s breathing, her heart is beating, she looks... okay?”
“You’re correct, your grace. But that’s all she does. It’s only been a couple days, but I have no way to provide her with nutrients. If she doesn’t wake soon...” he trailed off, eyeing my reaction to his words carefully.
I stared at Renn, really taking in her appearance now. Her hair, still beautifully platinum blonde, was brushed and well-kept. The Healer must have washed her, as well, for her face was bare, fresh and clean. She was covered with warm blankets, with her arms were un-tucked but resting at her sides. I took one of her hands in mine, squeezing gently. Her fingers were warm, just like always.
“Your grace, I called for you because I have had an idea,” he said, jolting me from my reverie.
I had completely forgotten that the messenger had said that.
“Out with it, Healer!” I practically shouted, immediately feeling chastened as the words echoed in the room.
The Healer merely smiled at me. Likely, he was used to outbursts in this type of situation. Emotions were high, eliciting extreme responses. I forced myself to settle down, for I desperately wanted to hear this man’s words.
“My liege, I believe the nature of her magic is the cause of her problem.”
“What do you mean?”
“I believe her magic is leeching onto too much of her personal energy,” the Healer suggested, gesturing at Renn lying on the bed. “She received a rather large dose during the battle, and it sent a shock to her system, as it were.”
“Okay...” I said, unsure of where exactly he was going with this.
“Physically, there’s nothing wrong with her. My magic tells me her body is perfectly fine. Her energy, however, is what is recovering.”
The Healer sounded worried at this. Her energy, like any living creature, was what drove us to exist. Our source of being, it could be called.
“So how do we fix it?”
“I think that if we give her energy a boost, a kick start, if you will, then it may lend her enough energy to allow her to wake. I anticipate that she will have to absorb some additional energy when she does. But that remains to be seen,” shrugged the Healer, nonchalant.
I didn’t understand how he could be so cavalier about something so grave. Though, I suppose in his field of work, he saw things like this all the time.
“I’ve never seen this before, though,” said the Healer, shrugging. “So, I can’t be entirely sure.”
So much for that, I thought.
He turned to me and gave me a serious, stern look. “Do you know anyone that can emit energy?”
I knew exactly who could help her. Thinking of her brought me pain, knowing she was sitting in a cell because of me. She had lied to me, but I had lied to her, too. Everything she did, she thought she was doing for the right reasons. She’d said as much. Me? Everything I’d done was selfish. I’d done everything for the purpose of revenge, of reclaiming what was stolen from me, everything, for me. How could I judge her so? I couldn’t reason away the pain, that much is all too clear. But I couldn’t blame her for at least attempting to do the right thing. It’s impossible to be perfect. I guess all you can do is try, and I don’t think I’d even done that in years.
I needed to talk to her, for more than one reason. In her hands, she held the key to my best friend’s life. And, I wasn’t exactly sure when she had stolen it, perhaps piece by piece as the months passed by and I got to know her – the real her – but she had stolen my heart, too.