This is starting to take on a joint writer/reader effort which is fine by me.
So this is the 2nd part of Chapter Three… bit of a long read
Over to you folks….
“No wonder he’s in a distressed state,” Beritt suggested as she tried to come to terms with having a sort of contact with The Astatheia; she reckoned Stommigheid was the much better sounding, it levied a warning on the listener.
“Nevertheless,” Dekyria interposed “I need to know if he truly was looking for us and why,”
“Excuse me for asking captain but does The Major know?”
“He’s in contact with Drygnest, medician,”
‘Squirtz! The Castle! Oh gladsome day! If I do something wrong, I get the Castle dropping a big midden right on my poor little blonde head. Fribbit! I’d rather be midwifing that colonel’s daughter again! Anyways this more a job for an Andliga, except that the LifeGuard keeps all its religious officers at The Castle studying old texts,’
“You’ll have to tell the sergeant and the fileman to let him go Captain. That style of restraint is agitating him,”
Neither man felt her suggestion was a good one and expressed as much with slow shakes of the head. The captain looked at Beritt, she looked back, he winced; she was right but it was still his decision. These medicians did fall into that role of reckoning they had the right to address ethical issues to anyone, irrespective of rank.
“You’ll have to tend to your own injuries if this goes wrong,” he warned her. “Sergeant Erzns, Fileman Creylan when the medician is ready let the man go,”
‘Oh wondrous, the art of the shifting the responsibility’
There was little enthusiasm the pair’s faces; in addition, the other two Norvan and Drell who had been at rest against the far wall, eased off of it and moved in. As Beritt drew closer the man twitched and screamed, his breath coming in that hysterical sharp and high way. She was certain he was trying to speak, and she supposed she would have to try to break through that barrier of terror, so she knelt before him, cold stones at once assailing her knees; his terror now reminding her of her baby brother when pa’s meanest hound had barked at the tot.
Good way to start…
“Hello,” she said softly and managed a gentle smile.
No scream, but a grimace of fear and a pleading look. She thought it might be a start so she glanced up at the soldiers and nodded, Erzns’ men of course referred back to the captain who in turn did his own nodding. At once the man shot up to a crouch and Beritt was left kneeling before someone who previously had been struggling against two very capable soldiers. As he ground his teeth together and hissed in his breath, she was struck by the sudden fear that he would bite her nose, aside from the pain she would have to put up with endless jokes on the matter.
“You are safe,” she said, plainly, but heavy on the apparent confidence. You had to make them believe in you. Truth be known you had to make yourself believe you! He fixed his attention on her as if only now aware she was there, his expression confused, his breathing turning to a simple panting as he looked down, now trying to make sense of this person kneeling, in apparent calm repose “You should sit with me and we can talk about what troubles you,” she knew this was a risk; patching up wounds was one thing, getting into the twists and turns of the mind was quite another, having the possibility five soldiers ready pounce and afterwards call her a fool was not helping. She took some solace she was still wearing her undershorts, so if she did end up sprawling backwards, all would remain hidden.
The man’s mouth worked, wordlessly at first, then he sank to his knees as if the effort to speak was draining him, thus face to face with Beritt who was in turn trying to feel she had this all under her control while not letting on that she was making all this up as she went along. She smiled, encouragingly, then the man suddenly lurched forward, and Beritt was glad she’d not crouched, after all any sort of sprawl was not dignified.
“They…they…. they,” he said, which she reckoned was a start, so she reached out and took his face in her hands.
“Are not here,” she hoped that came out as a statement and not a suggestion. Also she had a problem as she wanted to reach for something out of her mediphsic box while keeping him calm. Never mind the rest watching. Concentrate. She lowered one hand to his chin, fumbled backwards with the other, assuring him all the while he was safe now.
“The dire screams and the burning iron sun!” the words came in short burst, punctuated by more keening breath “Then they saw me, called out my name! Showed me dying…dying innocents, tortured, said I would be next. They loped! They slithered, they reached!!”
Beritt with one hand brought up the slender glass tube. Using her thumb, she flipped open the top and passed it across the man’s nose, while holding her own breath, it would not do for the two of them to slip under its soothing vapours. Easing her other hand from his chin, she swiftly sealed the tube and dropped it into the box. The man blinked, swayed slightly once more surveyed the room, this time his eyes in focus, comprehension taking place of panic as the vapours did their calming work.
“Safe,” she said with a little more confidence “Secure,” she added, and with a sudden inspiration born firstly out of the memory of her baby brother and desperation to get him settled as her feet were freezing and knees protesting, she leant forward to carefully place a light kiss on his forehead. The shock of sudden tenderness caused him to sit down, blush and run his hand through his hair in surprise.
“Goodness,” he said suddenly “An angel,”
Drell muttered a complaint that she’d not done that to him when he’d been afflicted, causing Norvan to ask who would want to kiss a boil on the arse, particularly Drell’s ugly hairy rump.
A glower from Erzns stifled any further commentary.
Meanwhile Beritt was trying not to fluster herself with surprise at her own precipitate action.
“Oh no sir. Just a medician in the LifeGuard,”
“Then I have arrived?” he said, trembled and tears of relief began to flow down his face, as he took hold of her hands “But please don’t give me anything to sleep. Not sleep, they will find me in my dreams. I want to stay awake, there is much to be said,”
Beritt managed another smile, and holding his hands rose. Once they both stood, she turned the man gently towards Captain Dekyria.
“This is the officer sir you should talk to. Captain Dekyria is a fair and reasonable man,”
“She’s obviously willing to kiss a captain’s arse,”
“I heard that Trooper Norvan!” growled Erzns.
Beritt with her back facing the sergeant and looking at trooper Norvan extended her right hand’s middle finger along her nose indicating she’d heard him too. Then with a dismissive sniff attended to the pressing business of putting her socks on. Dekyria either chose to ignore lower rank business or was concentrating upon the fellow and although not possessing Beritt’s capacity for gentleness none the less spoke in his own calm respectful way.
“You’ve obviously had a very troubled journey sir. We will get you some refreshments and we might have some conversation. May we know your name?”
“Bleymore, Geral Bleymore” he said.
Karlyn was untied and allowed to slither off of the horse, Meradat expected a stream of complaints or wild assertions; instead she stayed crouched scratching her shirt and sniffing the air.
“S’there. Long aways, but it’s there. And something new too,”
Beritt did not bother going back to bed, by the time she’d crept into the room of grunts and snores, she knew there would be short space to catch up on sleep, so she eased in, stole away with her uniform and other equipment and went to the cupboard space that was officially a room of medical examination and treatment. Under the pretext of checking supplies and getting ready for the next (or today) day’s duties, dozed head on the table.
In the shortest of spaces there was a persistent knocking at the door.
“Yer,” she grumbled, loudly, as by the marks on the temporal candle there was still another thousand to go before the Medician was ready for the day’s duties. Whoever the careless clown was who’d tripped over in the dark and reckoned severe damage some part of his precious male being she would be telling him what she thought and-
The door opened, fileman o’ the watch Desreg peered in, like most in the outpost his expression was unsympathetic; he’d obviously decided a count of five was quite enough time for her to be up and at the door.
“Major wants to see you Medician, now”
The emphasis in the word ‘now’ suggested she should be there ‘now’ presenting herself to Major Gellgrachen; at this instant.
“My pleasure,” she said; Desreg gave her a questioning look, he was not a man who appreciated the layers of womanly sarcasm.
Major Gellgrachen was seated at his desk, upright and correct, of course. Short hair and trim moustache and modest beard all in place, and his round full face composed. However, he looked concerned.
During Beritt’s tenure of four lunations at Outpost Dorigen, she didn’t think she’d given the major cause for concern. She did though wonder as one of the older officers if he felt ‘girls’ as medicians and looking at, and having to deal with men’s most intimate of parts was a problem. Perhaps she had thought he had a close to a paternalistic worry, that if she looked at one too many dongers she might get over-heated and faint.
“At your request Major,” she said, standing to attention, correct salute, hand to the heart, teeth then clenching to stifle a yawn.
“Medician Beritt, Captain Dekyria has reported to me of his approval of your assistance in calming down our, as it were, ah, guest,”
“My duty Major,” she replied, respectfully, in the approved manner. According to some who had trained her, sewing back a leg with needle and twine so that the man could hop, skip and run, good as new was mere ‘duty. Raising someone from the dead might get a nod of approval. Mixed reminiscences were replaced with apprehension when Gellgrachen began to fiddle with the quill, usually in neat placement two handspans up and two to the right.
“Yes. Quite. Good work medician, but,” he paused, leaving her to wonder just what boundary specific to her womanhood she’d tripped over “I’m not sure though medician about this kissing the fellow!”
“I am sure you meant well. But this is an outpost in hostile country Medician; the men are tensed for action, as they should be. This kissing business tends to put notions into their heads regrading a young woman. It might raise expectations, you should not fulfil,”
Beritt did not reply straightways, she was trying to keep a very straight face and not go into girly sniggers over the ‘raising of expectations’; this lot could keep their expectations in their trousers, or hands or….
He was ‘looking at her’.
Expecting a reply, no doubt.
“I apologise Major,” she said, not snapped as most LifeGuard indulged in when replying to something that irked them, always sounded churlish to her. “And thank you for your advice. You have my assurance this was a tactical decision Major. But it I appreciate it was a bit headstrong. Might put an onus on my sister-in-uniform Equesteria H’senez. It won’t happen again Major,”
“Ah. No excuses. That’s what I like to hear Medician. Splendid,” but there was no dismissal, so she concluded there was more to be dropped on her “Now this guest of ours. As you may have gathered he is valuable, therefore I require that you visit him, morning, evening and any other time when Captain Dekyria feels necessary. You are to check upon his health in body and spirit, as it were. We can’t have the poor chap running riot about the place, though the Good Lord God knows what he has been up to get into this state; Captain Dekyria is coming up with the most lurid hints,” the major realised he had drifted off slightly, coughed and gathered himself “Anyway that’s for another day,” he lowered his tone “And whatever you hear Medician Beritt, remember this. We are LifeGuard. We are the line of defence that cannot waver. No matter whatever is the nature of the foe,”
“I understand Major. As instructed Major,”
“Good,” that measured tone of approval somehow bothered her. “To about your duties then,” and he returned to some papers on his desk; the snatched sight of his weary resignation making Beritt feel he would rather be patrolling some windswept remoteness on the slovosskian borders; she’d heard some impressive tales…
She stepped down the corridor and looked over her shoulder, not certain what to expect. The way of Dekyria’s short lecture and the look in the fellow’s eyes were putting strange ideas in her head.
This was an outpost and you could expect a few nuisance raids from folk as shadowy as they were; but this events of the night and this dawn were making her feel as if a Battlefield was coming to them.