“I can help you with that you know,” I huff after Nik has finished explaining how he’ll take Andrei to the elders in another hut. “I’ve learned how to heal.”
“It’s alright. Stay with her. I am unsure if leaving her alone is a wise idea.”
“I can hear you!” she calls from the cot.
“Well, I don’t want to freak you out, but he’s a time mage. He might not know where he is when he wakes up,” I look to Kaede, sitting in the corner chatting with Nik’s grandmother. “Why don’t I send him with you. He can’t do magic, but he’ll just get in our way here.”
“What? I am never in the way! How could you say that about me?” Kaede whines from behind me.
“I’m sorry, Kae, I meant nothing by it. It’s just… healing is a very personal thing, you know. Andrei could use your attention more than us,” I try to honey coat my excuse. He eyes me before agreeing, standing and walking to the exit of the hut.
Nik leans over and picks Andrei up effortlessly in his bear-like arms. I’m a little surprised how small Andrei looks in his arms. In my mind, I try to compare Nik to Cliff… but I can’t picture the two next to each other. How do they get so big?!
“I leave her in your capable hands.” He smiles, slightly teasing.
I give him a wink, not nearly as flirty as Andrei’s. “Don’t worry. I can handle it, see ya.” Once they leave the hut, his grandmother too, I turn to Kat and smile. “Finally, it’s just us girls,” I say, taking a seat beside her.
“So… don’t freak out…” she starts, too late. The words ‘don’t’ and ‘freak’ make me nervous. She sits up slowly, pushing the blanket back. Her face scrunches in pain.
I stare at the mosaic of wounds that were definitely not there the last time I healed her body at the Guild. I can’t get over how often someone can find a way to get themselves hurt. I know my mouth has fallen open… I have to try to be strong for her sake. It’s not easy seeing this, which is precisely why I never wanted to be a doctor.
“Kat… How did this happen?” I ask, pulling my eyes away and look her directly in the eye.
She scratches her head, blushing. “Honestly, I was drunk for most of it. I don’t really remember… please don’t tell Andrei!” her eyes grow wide.
I stare at her in disbelief. “I promise. I won’t say a word,” the whole thing is ridiculous. Besides, if I did tell him, I think he’d die of a heart attack with all the stress he’s been under.
“But… Kat… If you had stayed at the Guild, I could’ve helped you. We all could’ve been there, for each other. It hurt me when you left. I was so worried about you, and then…” I try to say it so it doesn’t reveal too much. I’m sure Andrei would feel the same about some details that have passed.
“Then, when Andrei came back. Well, let’s just say it wasn’t pretty. He could’ve have been there for you too, you know. I think it hurt him a lot when you left. A lot more than any of us expected it to,” I finish.
The silence stretches between us like a festering open wound. I almost wish I hadn’t said anything at all.
“I thought… if I stayed, you would die too. All of you… Because of me,” Kat whispers, head hung, hair covering her face.
“I realize this magic thing is risky. We all realize that. But, honestly, we all decided to join you knowing the risks. I’ve committed to helping you and the Guild, and I think Andrei would risk anything to help you. It would be nice if you trusted us a little more… you know… in staying alive and helping you out,” I reason.
She looks up, orange eyes filled with sadness. “I don’t want you to die for my sake. It’s not right. I should’ve…”
“There’s no point in regretting what Ryan did for you. She loved you and didn’t want to see you hurt. It was unfortunate she wasn’t a Guardian like you and me. But if we want to prevent unnecessary deaths in the future, let’s plan our attacks better, train harder and work more as a team instead of an individual. What do you think?” I ask.
She sighs. “I suppose the only thing we have to lose is our lives and humanity in general.”
“Yup, that’s about it,” I muse. There’s no sugar coating that one. “So, in order to protect everything we hold dear, we need to be in tip-top shape. What do you say to letting me heal you, hmm?”
“Be my guest. Just, don’t overdo it. I don’t think you can do it all today,” she grimaces, struggling to remove her shirt.
“Here, let me help you with that,” I offer. As I hold up the sleeves so she can wiggle out of the shirt without too much effort, I see the extent of the damage from her time away. It’s not a pretty sight and I’m sure as hell thankful that Andrei isn’t here to see this.
“I think I can manage now without using a pool of water. While Naum has been traveling I was practicing a number of things, including tracking water signatures and remote healing, like that time we used the pool!” I smile. I might be a little proud of my recent accomplishments.
Kat smiles a little. “That’s good. Try to focus on the surface stuff… Even I’m not totally sure how to fix the internal damage. Ambrose usually takes care of that.”
“My god, Kat, there’s internal too? I’ll take a look and see what I can manage,” I close my eyes, searching the hut for some water. I sense a few jugs across from the fire and summon it to me. I ask the water to form a protective layer, like a coat or a piece of cloth over her skin. I guess I’ll take care of the easy stuff first, to help ease her discomfort.
After a few moments, I open my eyes to see the water shimmering over her skin. It seems to glow faintly as it heals the scrapes, scratches, and bruises. These are the easy things to deal with. Below the surface, I can sense some deeper wounds. I touch my hand to her stomach, letting my hand meld with the water. She might not know I can do that yet, but I don’t bother to explain. I focus my concentration on the deeper wounds.
I feel my energy draining as the bruises lighten and fade and the scratches close. I seem to have built up quite a bit of endurance, so, with most of my remaining energy, I decide to tackle the gunshot wound I feel in her chest.
“How many times were you shot?” I ask, feeling the sweat drip on my brow.
“Uh… A couple, I think. Nakotah fixed the other one. Grandma complained it smelled funny,” Kat hums, as though it was somehow amusing.
“This one has been forgotten. It’s also festering. It’s a wonder you’re alive,” I whisper, plunging my watery hand into the wound to wash it out. I heal the tissue as I pass, entering the wound. I find the bullet, still lodged in her lung. The tissue around it has begun to turn foul. If I could see it, like a doctor, I assume it would be discoloured. I command the water to enter the cells. This takes a little more effort than I am used to and I feel my energy running on the low side, but I can afford to do a bit more before I quit.
As I work on the cells, I realize I have to remove the bullet somehow. The tissue around the entrance has begun to close, but If I heal that now, I’ll have no way to remove it without causing significant bleeding. The only thing I can attempt is to command the healing cells to stop, creating a pathway for the bullet to exit from.
I take a deep breath, concentrating on the water and the cells. It’s difficult to work on such a small scale. The time slides by as I manage to create a safe pathway for the bullet, then, using my watery hand as a force, I push the bullet, slowly, from its bed in her lung.
“Try to hold still, ok?” I whisper as I focus on the projection of the bullet. “Don’t answer that.”
Kat snorts, trying not to laugh, though her face twists in pain.
“That’s why I said to hold still!” I snap. I work hard to correct the path and continue to push it out. Eventually, it breaches the opening and tumbles on her lap in a gooey mess. I exhale in relief and then, with what little energy I have left, command the water to close the whole.
“There,” I breathe. “That’s all I can do for now. Maybe later I can do some more, ok?” I huff, leaning on the cot for support.
“I think I’ll be okay till we get home. Don’t sweat it. You did pretty well.” she assures me, breathing heavily.
I smile up at her weakly. “Thanks, I’ve been working on different healing methods… wanted to be of some use in case one of you warrior types get injured on a mission,” I close my eyes just for a second, feeling like a nap would be nice right about now.
I guess I kept them closed longer than I thought because when I open them again, Kat’s laying down, her hand resting on her chest, dozing herself. I smile and give in to my tiredness. I think our rest is well earned.
I feel a crick in my neck and shift my weight as I wake up. My body feels stiff and heavy, but my magical energy seems to be already half restored. I crack an eye open as I start to stretch. It appears I slept the entire afternoon and night laying on Kaitlyn’s cot. No wonder my neck hurts.
I look around, wiping the sleep from my eyes and feeling a gurgling hunger in my stomach. I turn towards the fire and notice Nakotah and his grandmother, awake. His grandmother sits close to the fire, preparing the morning meal. I look up at Nakotah, his hulking figure sitting close to us, watching Kat as she sleeps.
“Good morning,” I say groggily. Man, I feel like I need a drink.
“Ah, you are awake. Good morning. How do you feel?” Nakotah smiles.
“Nakotah, don’t ask stupid questions. Get the girl some water,” the old woman snaps. He sighs and moves to fill a cup with water from the jars.
I narrow my eyes at his grandmother. She reminds me of Selene, always knowing what I’ve thought without me saying anything. It’s a little creepy. He offers the cup to me and I take it thankfully. After I down the water I sigh with relief. That tasted surprisingly good.
“When did you all come back in? I ask, turning from the cot and moving closer to the fire. I notice then, Kaede and Andrei laying across from me on some furs that have been laid out.
“Late last night. You two were already asleep, so we decided not to disturb you.” Nakotah explains.
I rub my neck regretfully. “Thanks, I guess. I did what I could, but I ran out of energy to heal the rest. I think going back to the Guild as soon as possible would be best for her,” I say, glancing over my shoulder at Kat’s sleeping figure. I turn back to the fire and catch an earthy brown glow out of the corner of my eye.
I tilt my head, focusing on Nakotah. As I squint, I realize, the glow is coming off of him. My jaw drops open in shock. “Wait… are you… aware that you’re glowing?” I ask him, not sure how much he knows from being with Kaitlyn.
The old woman snickers. “I was beginning to wonder if they were all blind.” She nods to him.
Nakotah rolls his eyes. “I apologize for my grandmother. Yes, I am aware. It is my intention to accompany your group back to this place you mentioned.”
I wave his apology aside. “It’s no problem. I’m actually fairly new to this myself. I am not that good at seeing the auras as Kaitlyn and Andrei are. Not to mention, I don’t think any of us were expecting to find another Guardian so soon! According to what we know, there have been no others for over a hundred years. It’s become our new mission to find those with powers like Kaitlyn and I,” I explain.
“So…” I ask, curiously. “What’s your power?”
“Earth,” he answers simply. “At least, that is my primary ability, controlling the ground, the rocks, the plants. Helping them grow, building our huts, things like that. I have not had much need to use it in a… hostile setting.”
“Wow,” gasp. “You built this?” I say, gesturing to the hut in surprise. “That’s amazing!”
“It’s quite a simple design, really,” he shrugs.
“Still, amazing,” I say with a smile. “My element is water,” I hold my hand in front of us and coalesce the moisture in the hut to form a little fish like I did that time on the cliff at the Guild.
“Impressive,” he nods. “I take it her element would be fire,” he gestures behind me. “We had to put up some wards when she resisted our attempts to resuscitate. Interestingly, she was unconscious at the time…”
“Yea, she has that tendency, unless he’s around,” I point to Andrei. Nakotah hums curiously as he looks at Andrei.
I consider telling him what Andrei’s is, but it’s always fun to see how Andrei explains it when they ask, so I let it drop. “I hope she didn’t cause you too much trouble. She can be hard to understand. I don’t know how Andrei puts up with her sometimes, but, he’s got his ways,” I muse aloud.
“It was no trouble at all. We have been waiting a long time for this,” he says, choosing his words slowly.
“Waiting for what?” I wonder curiously.
“Her,” his eyes fall on Kaitlyn.
Nakotah laughs. “Honestly, you’re the first one to question a prophecy.”
“What? She has a prophecy? I’ve never even heard of it before!” I nearly shout. My voice, however, carries in the close interior and Andrei starts to stir.
I watch as he rolls over and slams Kaede in the face with his arm. I try to stifle a laugh as Kaede wakes up swearing, but it’s no use. It was way too funny.
“I can see why Caroline doesn’t like to share a bed with you. You’re loud,” Kat mutters.
I spin around in surprise at Kat’s voice. “What?” Kaede yawns from across the hut. “I don’t normally get hit in my sleep, you know,” he grumbles.
“Sorry dude. I didn’t realize you were there,” Andrei apologizes.
“Bet you thought I was Kat!” Kaede accuses.
“W-what?” Andrei flounders, not sure how to respond. Kat giggles, and groans immediately after.
“Well, guess everyone’s up now,” I laugh. I mouth the word sorry in case anyone’s looking. I kinda started all that single-handedly.
By Kayla West