The Patient Healer
“Who are you?” Roderick asked Sophie, “You get a little fender bender and royalty everywhere gets the blood drained from their faces.”
“A little fender bender?” Sophie whispered. Too weak to speak louder, she felt it her situation to be graver.
“The poison you took was a fake. The problems you are experiencing are just side effects from the anti-dote.” It was necessary to make her feel strong, even if she was not.
“Then why are you here? I’m sure these side effects are not worth crossing borders,” she challenged.
“I know that. You understand that. But not the Queen.” He handed her a glass full of a blue green liquid which made Sophie grimace. “And that brings me to my original question, who are you?”
“For the starlites maybe,” he said, “but what about the empress and the nymph?”
“Queen Crysta?” Sophie was so shocked that she forgot for a second about Maya’s coronation.
“Yes, she wasn’t as pained as the others, but I saw the dread in her eyes.” He took Sophie’s wrist to check her heartbeat. “You know a much high ranking official just died and they aren’t even concerned.”
“I never got to thank him,” Sophie said, “you know, for trying to save my life.” Sophie knew about Edward’s demise but not the circumstances surrounding it.
“Well, t-” His sentence was left hanging when Sophie screamed, “NO!!!!”
Roderick saw that her eyes were focused on air and knew that she was seeing something else. Quickly, he called for the servants.
She was screaming and thrashing by the time they came and gagged her. He force-fed her a sleeping draught and with a sigh, proceeded to the empress’s quarters.
“It has been three days and I can’t see any improvement in her,” Natalia growled.
“These things take time, Your Highness.”
“How much time do you need?”
He did not know why the girl was important to them, but it was not his place to ask. “Three months,” he replied.
“And she’ll be healthy as before?” There was hope in the voice.
“The mind is a very complicated thing. She may retain little lingering feelings of fear. But she should be able to perform her duties as before.”
“You mean, lead a normal life?”
“Her life was never normal,” he said and immediately regretted it. He wondered if he had crossed a line.
“What do you mean?” she asked.
“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean anything.”
The line was crossed. There was no turning back now. “The way everyone is treating her, she is someone special.” ‘Even if no one is telling me,’ he added to himself.
“She is the most normal person I have ever met.” Natalia told him.
“Then why is everyone so concerned?”
“Because we are not,” she smiled remembering what Sophie had said in the game room, “normal.”
Roderick did not ask further. Instead, he saluted her and went away. His questions were still unanswered. Surely the empress didn’t mean that his patient was special because she was the most normal person they could find. But he was smart enough to not question the royalty. And smart enough to know that the reward he was going to get for this patient would exceed all other. Not one, but two empires would pay for her, one in coin and the other in gratitude.
The patient herself was obedient to a fault. She may argue with him on other things, but took her recovery very seriously. Even the blue green liquid verigfatsk that burned her throat was gulped down with only a flinch.
And whenever he poked her with needles, she would grind her teeth and zone out of the pain. It felt like poking a ragged doll.
The treatment was long and tiresome, for the healer, for the patient and for all those waiting for her recovery with their breaths held.
He had seen numerous sick beds to separate the friends from the foes, desperation from relief, but this was something new for him. The nymph especially made him nervous. She enquired after his patient as if Sophie was a dress or perhaps a battle-armour that needs to be perfect before she went to the war. A war she was in a hurry to win before her time ran out. It did not take a medic to know that she was dying.
Three months passed by and the patient was on the cusp of full recovery. Roderick informed the king of the same. Since he was a starlite, sent by a starlite, for treatment of a starlite; his loyalty was still with the starlites.
“The empress tells me that you think a little fear may still linger in her,” Suffle asked.
“I fear it may, Your Majesty. But I don’t think it will be of much concern.”
The king smiled. “You are right. A little fear will do Sophie good. When do you leave?”
“Tomorrow at first light.”
“And when can she be moved?”
“She was ready to be moved a month ago. It was considered unnecessary to move her half way through the treatment. She may even start her regular life in a week.”
“It will be good to have her moved immediately,” Suffle murmured. He had got some disturbing news just an hour ago.
Roderick left the king to visit his patient one last time. The room was dark and the only source of light was the little flame of his candle. Sophie was sleeping without the help of a sleeping draught. Roderick wondered if he had done the right thing by not allowing her to know the truth about the poison and Edward. Medically, he was right, morally, not so much.
He closed the door and moved out without a noise. The noises in the next room caught his attention. He could see that the door was only half closed and he could hear the angry voice of the king. “You killed him.”
There was a whisper that Roderick could not comprehend. He moved nearer.
The king spoke again. This time his voice was hushed. “I know you love her but that does not justify killing someone without a trial.”
‘It’s good that we starlites don’t love. Being in love can’t be an excuse to kill,’ Roderick thought. He wondered who they were talking about.
“I did not kill him.” It was a man’s voice. He still spoke in a low voice, “If I were lying, I would cook up a better lie.” He paused. “If you don’t believe my truth, at least believe in my capability of telling lies.”
“I believe you,” the king whispered, “but the majority won’t.”
“Making people believe is not a problem that I concern myself with.”
“Yes, there are bigger problems waiting for you.” Suffle agreed.
“How is she?” the other man asked.
“Better than before. Nothing long lasting other than a little fear instilled in her,” he answered, “Tell me about your adventure.”
“In time,” he whispered, “First I must fly back and make my formal entry.”
Roderick was stupefied. Upon hearing the word love, he had thought the man to be a human. But now he was talking about flying. His first thoughts revolved around a hearing mistake. But he knew what he had heard and what it meant. He hid as he saw the king coming out of the room. Roderick checked the room to be sure if the man had really flown out. The room was empty.
Things started making sense during midnight. He decided that either the king was talking to a human who had flown out of the window with the help of an starlite. Everybody knew the rumours about shadows. The king may have been talking with the man with one of his assassins standing in the room.
Sleep eluded him and he left at first light as promised.