This is the first half of Chapter 8
Some minor insight into how the ‘Owls’ of The LifeGuards work; a bit about The Ethereal/Stommigheid/Astatheia; but mostly Medician Deya Beritt takes centre stage. With a hint or two…..
Observing Bleymore’s sudden wide-eye thrashing upon being woken and asked to join the captain at his oculator, Dekyria’s patience was being tested. Being two days short of sleep and with the stump of his leg troubling him was affecting his judgement. He was on the point of forcibly telling Bleymore that anyone who had spent time with The Astatheia should be prepared to face up the presence of The Fourth Realm. Ledgewick holding his bloodied nose was probably of a similar mood.
Before any of the other Owls piled in untrained and also unsympathetic mood the door swung open and in strode Medician Beritt chewing on something and taking a very obvious mouthful from her water bottle, Gerimore in her wake and bearing the martyred look of one who was not to blame but had been.
“Captain,” she gave the briefest of salute, one finger to her forehead “Some fool in the armoury sliced open his palm on a halberd,” she clicked her tongue and shook her head. Dekyria presumed she had to make her feelings at being on demand yet again known in some way. Beritt had been catching up on a long over-due preparation of salves, until called to the armoury. She turned her attention to Bleymore, currently backing into a corner and babbling at the four men about him.
“Oh,” she said, moving that something about her mouth “Oh dear. What have you done to him?” she was allowing herself a certain sourness, since it seemed everyone hereabouts was a clumsy wobbler.
Ledgewick was about to give his own views on this, until Dekyria, behind Beritt raised a warning finger, his own judgement now coming into play.
“I’ll explain once you assured Master Bleymore all is well,”
Dekyria could sense and understand her mood, but she would have to bear with it, he was.
Beritt managed a brief unauthorised glance at an oculator, raised a bemused sliver of a tight grin and gently approached Bleymore now crouched, cornered and hands running through hair. She was not hurrying to close the gap, after all she ‘d administered to him he should be at least very casual, if not a little dozy giving the time of day (fribbit night!). Whereas she had seen many forms of fear, she was not too well versed in the sort caused by footling with The Astatheia; yes she’d seen him once like this, but she was putting the success down to luck, and she was certainly not going to be gifting out anymore kisses, no matter how sisterly. Time to improvise again.
“Hello,” it was always a good starter, and there would have to be the crouching next to him, she made much of casually chomping on the very dried beef her dinner, or was it supper? “Master Bleymore. What ails you so?” At this he blinked, seeming to have some trouble in recognising her, but happily, for Beritt, his panting gave way to a sigh of relief.
“It’s Medician Beritt?” to which she nodded, and managed the smile she kept for the afflicted, while he looked over her shoulder at the LifeGuards, then placed one hand upon the said shoulder “Tell them they are fools,” at this Beritt was seized with the urge to take up the offer but reined in her ill-humoured weariness “They do not understand,” his voice rose as he spoke beyond her “Everyone is looking where they should not!!” At this Beritt carefully moved his hand as she did not care for him squeezing her shoulder, then began to explain in that signature soft, certain, conversational way she used for her afflicted.
“We’re LifeGuard, Master Bleymore. We are the constant arm and watch of the Grand Oaken Throne. Our sole purpose is its defence and maintenance. We are expected to go where we should not, and when we are there; we rescue, we fortify, or, we strike down,” she paused for a slight warm smile and took his hands in hers “In this we are quite insistent,” a brief laugh “So trust me, and let’s walk and see what it might be which concerns you,”
Bleymore appeared to be studying her, which she guessed was better than imitating the actions of a pet rodent; she felt he was peering at her, as if she was a new phenomenon. Goggled at by men seeing a woman hand deep in the business of healing wounds was not new, whereas being considered as something in the World was…unsettling. Although, ironically, he seemed to be quite…settled?
The couple rose, Beritt walking backwards led him to an oculator
Dekyria and his men did not know how she was managing to convince someone to walk to his apparent worse fears. Bleymore found against all rational notions and experiences that he was trusting this young woman.
Beritt for the life of her wondered just how she ended up saying the things she did whenever she was, in practical terms over her head. She just had to assume it was all down to LifeGuard Medician training.
Since she could feel the man’s hands becoming clammy with sweat and his expression slipping back to agitation, Beritt looked over her shoulder towards the screen.
She now had a chance to look longer upon that dark green, reminding her of secluded leafy bowers back home in Jayleen County and Trayon, who her brothers would have killed if they’d known what had transpired. The reverie broken by the passage across the bottom of the screen of a moving line of lights sparkling white bordered with the pale blue of her home’s forget-me-nots.
“Oooh. Pretty,” she said, without any fear or pause for thought and set her attention back on Bleymore “What is there is be afraid of Master Bleymore?” not showing any concern Bleymore’s shaking of his head and gnawing of one finger she continued “This reminds me my home; stars on moist nights, when the mists played blue gossamers around them,”
“Don’t look anymore!” he pressed on “These are pinpricks in the reality that we know. Through these can seep things evil and predatory,”
She had a stab of worry she might have dragged him too far too fast, only to be bothered by a slight itch to her left ear, she idly scratched then popped another sliver of leather tough meat into her mouth. Some confidence and clarity returned.
“I am sure you have seen things Master Bleymore that give you cause for concern. But y’see there are certain consistency in Nature. Now I have had to look at many a wound gone bad and the results of a fever which has taken a decaying hold. There are many bright and twinkling colours but none of them look even the slightest bit pretty. There I suppose would be a possible affinity between us and this, err..Ethereal y’ call it?”
Bleymore nodded, now looking slightly perplexed and just idly chewing on his finger.
“So it would seem, to me, what I see, if it is pretty, is,” she shrugged “Natural. Oh by the way Master Bleymore that chewing on your finger could cause damage,” she offered him a slice of meat “Try this, it is nutritious and is good for agitation,” while his mouth worked for an answer she placed a piece inside.
There was a silence, Bleymore began to work the stubborn stuff while looking at Beritt who looked back, appearing quite calm and confident.
Her heart hammering; she’d not made anything up, but how often did truth and sincerity not work in this world?
Bleymore relaxed, slumped into a chair, vacantly chewing.
“Fascinating,” he said his gaze shifting between Beritt and The Oculator
Dekyria’s file waited for their Captain to make some statement; they received a brief shrug and they all went back to watching as Bleymore tentatively followed Beritt’s lead and pulled a chair over to where she sat down looking at the oculator of Dekyria’s desk, tracing a finger just above the surface.
“Pinpricks of what and how?” she asked.
Bleymore was about to say something all of a hurry, then peered intently at the screen; this intrigued Dekyria since only a short while ago the man nearly floored one of the file for even the suggestion.
“Odd,” Bleymore said then shook his head “No, more than odd. It’s Temporal!”