Noble Sin | VII Deadly Sins Book 1

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Chapter 16

The next few days went as Elivar had predicted. It was concluded that until further notice, Nora would be placed under his custody. Nora supposed that this was still marginally better than ending up in the care of his sister. At least this way she wouldn’t wind up a science experiment and if he kept his word, she might just find out what happened to Sam.

Elivar Saeksinh certainly had a way with words—playing on her vulnerabilities in order to best appeal to her. She couldn’t help but fear that if she didn’t tread carefully, she’d fall into a web she wouldn’t be able to get herself out of but even so… If there was even the slightest chance of finding out information about her sister’s whereabouts, Nora was willing to take the risk. However, there was still something that had been bothering her for a while now. She did not trust his motives and for all that he had claimed to want to help her out of goodwill, Nora got the feeling that there was more behind his reasons but had refrained from commenting on it. Furthermore, the evil gleam that shone brightly in his sea-colored eyes as he rose to his feet when departing from the gardens had not missed her attention.

Nora flinched as a needle the size of a spade broke through her skin. The young male drawing her blood shot her an apologetic look. Nora braved a look in Elivar’s direction, who sat cross-legged on a cushioned armchair with an idle expression on his face. For the second time since having arrived at Doloi’s sanctuary, Nora had been dragged out of bed in the morning without warning and escorted to a well-adorned sitting room where Elivar Saeksinh and a young male physician awaited her arrival.

She cleared her throat once in order to grab his attention. The man in question straightened up at once and turned to face her with a questioning look painted across his features. It had come as a surprise to her when she learned that the unassuming male that had spoken up for her during the meeting, that Anlyra had accompanied her to, and conversed with her in the gardens was of nobility. Although she had initially felt slightly uncomfortable addressing him without titles, the man had later insisted upon her using his first name and left Nora with no choice but to concede.

“I didn’t realize your world had the technology to explore the study of blood cells. I had assumed that more ah…” she shared hesitantly, in a way that she hoped wouldn’t sound offensive, “...traditional means of medicinal treatment were employed.”

Elivar folded his arms over his chest and hummed thoughtfully. “Well you did spend some time in the medical treatment center, I’m not surprised you would come to such a conclusion. How much do you remember about your care from when you were first admitted into the center?”

“Not much. Looking back, when I first came to, I’d already been mostly patched up,” she reflected, “From the moment I woke up though, I distinctly remember Anlyra feeding me a whole bunch of herbal teas and all sorts of concoctions.”

“Yes, I’m quite familiar with Anlyra’s herbal remedies. They’re…” He grimaced. “... a bit of an acquired taste. But that aside, back to the main point I’d like to address, Nora did you ever happen to come across the term tslay’irhn during your stay on kailohk?”

“If I have, I doubt I’d remember it. Sounds hard to pronounce,” she returned blandly. It was no secret that her proficiency in Layri, left much to be desired.

“Then perhaps of the term majik? Correct me if I’m wrong but in your world, humans often speak tales of it, no?”

“Magic? Yeah, that word I do know. A lot of women were often burned at the stake because of that word several hundred years ago.” She winced as she recalled her history lessons.

“Yes well, I believe the french pronunciation of the letter, ‘j,’ of the Latin alphabet of your world would be more accurate in this case, however,” he ignored her side comment and proceeded to correct her.

“Of course it would,” she replied in a dull voice, unsurprised that the man would know how to speak French as well, with how well it appeared that he’d mastered the English language. The dulcet tones that could be traced back to Layri were very subtle in his voice, such that his accent ended up sounding very pleasant to the ear. “Perhaps we should just both agree that my Layri could use some improvement and table it for now?”

“Nora, earlier you said you believed my people to have more outdated means of medical treatment.” He waved her off and elaborated, “In a way you are correct, but this is only because we have no use of much of the biomedical technology and synthetic drugs your world employs to treat its ill.”

“Then how…” Nora’s face contorted visibly in confusion.

Elivar smiled knowingly at her reaction and reiterated, “Majik.”

I’m sorry. You really expect me to believe kailohkians can do magic?”Nora arched an eyebrow.

Elivar went silent for a second and wore a pensive expression as he looked at her strangely. “Nora, you’re human, yes?”

“So it would seem,” she spoke slowly.

What the hell kind of a question was that? She stared at him in incredulity.

Elivar simply regarded her with patience. “So though you are from earth you would not hear anyone call you an earthling would you?”

“Oh.” Nora’s eyes widened as understanding dawned and her ears instantly burned in shame at her own ignorance. “I’m sorry I didn’t realize―”

“That’s alright, most humans have never really cared to use the correct form to address us. For future reference though, juhl would be the appropriate term to use.”

Jewel. Jzh-ewel, Nora attempted to commit the word to her memory in a desperate attempt to save herself from further embarrassment in the future.

“That being said, I can assure you that majik on kailohk is very much real.” Elivar waved a hand dismissively and returned to the topic of discussion at hand. “Our world thrives on it and a small percentage of individuals called tslay’irhn are capable of harvesting it and cultivating its raw state into a usable form, wherein it can be injected into objects.”

“So you’re saying not just anyone can use majik?” Nora inquired after having recovered from the brief lapse of mortification resulting from her blunder.

“No. Simply that not everyone can harvest it.” Elivar tapped his fingers on the armrest of his chair and elaborated, “All juhls possess the ability to use it. Just not when it’s in its natural state.”

Nora scrunched her eyebrows in puzzlement. “Then how do people use it?”

“Majik imbued artifacts.” He stated simply. “The tslay’irhn comprise thirty-six percent of the juhl population and have no need for these artifacts. The remaining sixty-four percent, however, depend on these artifacts to draw majik from.”

Nora struggled to wrap her head around the information and mulled over his words. “Alright, but what does any of this have to do with kailohk’s field of medicine?”

“My point, Nora, is that among the tslay’irhn there are many that are well known for possessing an affinity for certain arts.” Elivar supplied and seemingly noting the look of uncertainty on her face, he took it upon himself to break it down for her, “Take Anlyra for an example. My cousin is renowned for her talent in the art of healing.”

Nora chewed on her lower lip and racked her brain to find the appropriate words she was looking for. “In other words… the only reason I’m walking around right now is that your cousin magicked my injuries away? But if that were the case then shouldn’t all my injuries have gone away?”

Soft clattering was heard as the young male that had finished extracting blood samples from her, bustled about with vials to and fro the small sitting room.

“There is a limit to what majik can do. From what I understand when you fell under my cousin’s care, you were barely hanging on by a thread. Anlyra spared no effort in healing the worst of your injuries, however, the art of healing majik can’t perform miracles. It simply aids in speeding up the body’s natural healing processes. Between yourself and the other victims under her care, Anlyra was practically running herself dry. This can prove dangerous for healers, overexerting oneself carries the risk of draining one’s majik stores dry.”

“What happens when someone’s stores run completely dry?” she probed, out of genuine curiosity. For all that she’d been dubious to believe that such a thing as magic was real, a part of her felt inclined to believe him. He certainly sounded like he wasn’t lying―or at the very least he truly believed in what he was saying.

“In the worst-case scenario: death,” he imparted without reservation.

Nora’s face blanched in response. “Then isn’t it dangerous for her to continue healing people?”

“Not if one practices in moderation. Anlyra knows her limits. Most tslay’irhn are trained to maintain a modicum of self-awareness when it comes to the constitution of their bodies. That’s why when it comes to healing, Anlyra will only treat injuries she deems life-threatening or of significance with her ability.”

“I see.” That would explain all the salves Anlyra would slather on her, Nora figured. She supposed it wouldn’t make sense for the woman to expend her energy on bruises that would ultimately heal by themselves over time.

Most likely having sensed that the discussion had gone stale, Elivar took advantage of that moment to steer the conversation in a different direction. “Speaking of which... Anlyra mentioned that she would like to see you before we leave for the institute today.”

“Did she say what for?” Nora straightened up with a quizzical look on her face.

“I believe she said she wanted to gift you a few items you might find useful during your stay there,” he explained somewhat vaguely.

“About that, regarding my accommodations…”

“I’ve already made arrangements,” Elivar interrupted, “On that note, I’d like to inform you that you will not be able to officially begin to take any courses as of yet. Considering your knowledge of Laydet, or this world for that matter is still rather lacking, I’ve managed to procure the aid of one of the instructors. He will be tutoring you on the language, culture, and history of Laydet until he believes you are ready to attend any classes.”

“My lord, I’ve acquired all that I need. May I take my leave now?” a third voice interrupted their conversation.

It was only then that Nora realized that throughout their discussion they’d failed to notice that the third presence in the room had long since finished his business and had stored away his implements in the garish-looking leather satchel that was currently tucked under his arm. Feeling somewhat guilty for having ignored the younger male, Nora acknowledged his presence with a polite smile which he returned with a tentative smile of his own.

Elivar on the other hand looked completely unfazed and dismissed the man without a moment’s consideration.

“You’re free to go.” He waved the young man off before redirecting his attention back to Nora. “With that being said, I should really be getting you back to Anlyra. She’ll have my head if we leave without saying a word. But rest assured we’ll revisit this conversation soon. There is much you still need to know regarding your stay at the institute.”

Nora’s eyes widened. “Oh, in that case, we should probably get going.”

“Ah, before that.” He raised a hand as Nora struggled to her feet, prompting her to pause for a moment and sink back down onto her seat with a puzzled expression. “I actually have a gift for you myself. Though, I hope you won’t think me too impertinent for it.”

Elivar then proceeded to reach beside him and withdrew a rectangular wooden case that had been hidden from her sight where it had lain propped up against the wall in the nook beside his armchair. Resting the case on the flat surface of the glass table that was situated between them, he then gestured towards the box. Nora’s eyes fleeted between Elivar and the box with curiosity.

She slowly reached out and pulled the box towards her. Positioning her thumbs near the latches, she looked up at Elivar searchingly once more for permission to which he nodded affirmatively in response. Nora then proceeded to unlock the case and lifted the top of the case open. Inside lay an object wrapped in a dark blue silk-like fabric. Not wanting to appear overly eager, she unwrapped the top layer of the fabric unhurriedly, only to marvel at what lay beneath.

Nestled inside the layers of soft material was what was unmistakably a wooden walking stick. But it didn’t look like just any old cane. The dark wood possessed engraved patterns along its length and was coated with a layer of clear varnish that gave the smooth wood a glossy finish. The handle was an impressive sight itself. It was made of a silvery-white metal with embossed designs and letterings that circled the piece connecting the wooden shaft. The ferrule that lay on the opposite end of the handle was made from the same material that comprised the handle. All in all, the entire piece looked like a work of art that belonged in a museum rather than an everyday use item.

Nora’s mouth went dry and her breath got caught in her throat. Schooling her expression, she cleared her throat and inquired dumbly, “This uh... this is for me?”

“Yes well, unfortunately, it’s not exactly new,” Elivar replied carefully, “It previously belonged to my grandfather and was just lying around. However, it’s still in good condition and I figured you might find better use of it. Of course, if you would prefer something that hasn’t been previously used I can—”

“No,” Nora blurted out before cringing when realizing she’d rudely cut him off. Her cheeks heated up in embarrassment and attempting to salvage what was left of her dignity she quickly added, “This is great, thank you.”

Elivar—thankfully—was considerate enough to overlook her faux pas and simply nodded in satisfaction.

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