A Healer's Calling
The Thinning Veil
Location: Stormholm Caer, Harkania March, Cymeria
Timeline: October 3550
The ride from the river track up to the keep took less than half an hour, but to Mikhael, it seemed as if they had been riding much longer. Every time Wraith's big hooves hit the ground, the jolt ran through Mikhael's body, setting it alight with new pain. Usually, he slowed down at the entrance to the cavern trails that led up inside the holm to the actual keep. This time, however, he barely checked Wraith's headlong gallop. At the top, he did not stop at the cavern stables nor in the adjacent arena and mustering area but continued to the keep's main courtyard. From there, he guided his horse through smaller courtyards, winding upwards until he reached one bracketed by high stone walls, one of which contained a tall, solid iron gate.
The area of the keep they had reached was just outside Mikhael's large, private courtyard. From far below, the sounds of the waterfalls plummeting down to the river could be heard. Wraith slid to a halt, skidding slightly on the slick stones of the outer courtyard but stood still when Mikhael dropped the reins. Taking a firm hold of the girl, he lifted her off the horse and set her far more gently on her feet than he had on the trail. Still not speaking, he swung a leg over the low pommel of the saddle and dropped to his feet, staggering slightly and nearly falling.
Mikhael's expression as he looked at the black wolf and Hawke was a cross between pain and sheepishness, "Send for the battle surgeon," he ordered quietly, now leaning heavily on Wraith who remained uncharacteristically docile. "I was bitten."
The smell…it was the first thought in Oreás' mind, now it made sense. The reason why Mikhael's blood smelled differently. Shifting back to human form, he acknowledged the order with a nod to speed off to summon Marshal Kiernan the fastest way possible. It was the best tactics, leaving Hawke free to protect the High Lord. While Oreás hurried across the castle, his mind raced even faster, turning all he knew about wyvern poisons in his mind.
Hawke swore as he vaulted from Snake's saddle. He landed and took the few steps over to slide an arm around Mikhael to steady him. "I do not mind saying this because I do not get to often but I told you so." The Ryndar began helping Mikhael move unsteadily toward the nearby doorway
The horse was running too fast for Sofi to get a good look at her surroundings, and it was after she was released from the man's grasp and set on her feet, much gentler than earlier, that she got the chance to look around. It appeared to be a courtyard or a garden of some sort, and she swore the building itself was a castle, a goddamned castle. She had to be dreaming, this was not real…right?
Her awe was interrupted by the quietly spoken order for a battle surgeon. Sofi turned and looked at her rescuer, visually looking him over. "You were bitten? By one of those..things..the wyverns?" She asked. "Where, and are they poisonous?" The wyverns had resembled small dragons, which were reptilian in nature and she knew how to treat snake bites. Judging based on the clothing, the weapons, and her surroundings, Sofi figured they probably didn't have a traditional antivenom kit, but she knew the old school treatment as well. "May I?" She asked, looking between Mikhael and Hawke. "I'm a paramedic." She stated, then realized they might not know the term. "I'm trained in emergency medical treatments."
Hawke's eyes narrowed as he looked at the stranger. The words she spoke were unfamiliar, but he could see that she seemed to be genuinely offering what help she could for Mikhael. The Ryndar looked at the High Lord. "Until Oréas returns she is all we have...I will obey your wishes…"
Mikhael flashed Hawke a look of gratitude and allowed his friend to take some of his weight off the injured leg. One thing he had to get out before it became impossible to do so, "Hawke, you are in command should I...fail. Keep Vasily safe." As they continued their slow progress toward the door to his private residence, he turned to look at the woman they had rescued. Another Traveler? Was that even possible? "This way, girl." He was going to have to get her name a random thought whispered in his brain. "The first thing the Battle Surgeon will order is to immerse the injured area in water - as hot as I can tolerate it, something to do with it neutralizing some of the elements of the venom. My attendants will draw the bath." He glanced down at his leg where blood was still seeping from the furrows dug by the creature's fangs.
Hawke helped Mikhael along the corridor. Occasionally the Ryndar would bark an order to clear people from the hallway. Various household servants and random soldiers scattered as the small group made their way toward his residence. Minutes later Hawke let Mikhael collapse to sit on the edge of his bed. The High Lord's weapons and belts lay in a messy heap nearby where Hawke had freed them. He looked down at Mikhael, seeing the sweat sheening his skin and the rigid set of the veins in his neck.
If the taller of the two men had been at full health and not injured, keeping up with, what Sofi assumed due to his long legs, his faster stride. Such was not the case, and she followed along on his other side when he stated she was to accompany them. "Battle Surgeon?" She repeated, dropping down to her knees once Mikhael had seated himself on the bed. Was a battle surgeon like a trauma surgeon? The way they spoke, both to her and to each other, was odd, unfamiliar, and looking briefly around the room, Sofi felt like she'd stepped into another time. Everything was so...old. No technology of any kind that she could see.
A pair of young female servants hung near the door, waiting to see if they could be of assistance. Noticing them, Sofi glanced over her shoulder as she dug through the pile of clothing and weaponry on the floor. "Draw a bath, a hot as you can make it." She turned back around, not finding a knife or dagger small enough for her to feel comfortable using. Instead, she took the tattered fabric of his pants between her fingers and ripped it open further so that she could get a visual on the injuries. "Sorry, I need to see it." She said, glancing up at the men, her expression apologetic. "And why didn't you speak up about this sooner? I could have gotten it cleaned out at least until this Battle Surgeon of yours could take a look." She shook her head, biting back a question on whether he was an idiot. They had saved her life after all, or she might have let the words come.
"I want to clean this, make sure there's no debris or anything inside the wound. Can you find me some clean water and a few small towels or whatever you have?" She asked, turning her eyes over to the one called Hawke. What kind of name was Hawke anyway? "Please?"
Hawke did not move from his position near the High Lord as he watched the woman work but his arm came up, and his fingers snapped sharply. One of the servants appeared beside him, and he glanced at the man. "Water and cloth as she requests...no delay!" The servant vanished as if they had sunk through the floor.
Without being told, the attendants scattered, one to grab clean cloth, the other to set the water running in the bathing pool. The movement of the servants roused Mikhael from his inner battle with the fire coursing through his body. His eyes fell on the tear in his breeches while his mind was briefly impressed that the woman had been able to tear the tough fabric. She did not look all that sturdy or strong. Through the opening in the breeches, he could see the wicked furrows left by the creature's fangs. They were long and still bleeding sluggishly but not overly deep. Perhaps he had struck the animal away quickly enough to not have gotten a full measure of the venom. A shudder wracked his body. Then again, if this was the result of less than a full dose of venom, he never wanted to experience the other.
Movement heralded the entrance of the young man that generally attended Mikhael. He lay a stack of clean gauze cloth next to Mikhael and set a corked glass bottle of alcohol on the table near the head of the great state bed. "The bath is filling, and the Battle Surgeon is gathering what he needs and will be here soon." The tall, lanky boy stepped back, waiting for further orders.
Through the high pitched buzzing of the words, Mikhael brought his focus back to the girl, his mind finally registering her question from earlier. "There was no time to delay on the trail. Stopping long enough to tend the wound would have put everyone in more danger." He paused, "Besides, had I dismounted, I am uncertain whether or not I could have gotten back on the horse. Your name, girl?"
Hawke stepped over and scooped up the bundle of weapons and belts and carried them across the room to rest on a corner table. The Ryndar them walked back over to resume his place next to Mikhael. He let the woman work uninterrupted, but his eyes followed every move she made.
Sofi found herself grateful for the swiftness of the attendants, they brought what she'd asked for without hesitation. Leaning over, Sofi picked up the corked glass bottle from the table and pulled the stopper free of it. The sharp bite of alcohol stung her nose, causing her to scrunch it up slightly. Alcohol was good, great even, so much better than simple water when it came to cleaning out wounds.
She could feel at least one pair of eyes on her as she picked up a few pieces of gauze in one hand and the bottle in her other. Hawke's eyes felt like they were drilling right through her as if expecting her to attack them or something else along those lines. Placing the gauze in her hand under the gouges on his leg, Sofi slowly tipped the bottle of alcohol over, letting the strongly-scented liquid stream out slowly.
The alcohol turned a pinkish-red when it mixed with the blood sluggishly seeping out of the wound. It had to have stung like a mother, but if so, Sofi didn't pick up on any changes in Mikhael's features, which were already contorted with pain. She nodded a silent reply to his words, understanding why he'd said nothing but had continued on their fast-paced ride back to...wherever they were.
"Sofiya Grace." She answered, looking up at Mikhael. "But most people call me Sofi." The young woman turned her eyes back to her task, taking the gauze and carefully, while trying to be as gentle as she could, dabbing the torn flesh. She wanted to make sure that no dirt or debris had settled into the gouges and had refused to wash free.
Mikhael hissed softly as the alcohol oozed into the open wounds but was otherwise still. Trying to distract himself from the growing pain caused by the venom coursing through his body, he repeated her name softly, "Sofiya Grace. So where do you come from, Sofiya Grace, that put you in danger of becoming dinner for a pack of wyverns?"
Sofi glanced up briefly when she heard the man hiss in pain, but to his credit, he didn't move. "You can call me Sofi, Grace is my last name." She spoke softly as she poured a little more alcohol down across the injured area. "And I'm from New Mexico. I was out at Canyon de Chelly, spreading my sister's ashes when I started to feel dizzy. I fainted, and when I woke up, I was in that place, with the rocks and those...wyverns." Her touch was still as gentle as she could keep it while continuing to clean the shredded skin of Mikhael's muscled thigh. "I don't know how I got here...I don't even know where here is. I have no idea who either of you is beyond Hawke and Conan the Freaking Barbarian, and I still don't know where my shoes went."
Hawke's eyes narrowed. "A what barbarian? How does one ‘freaking'?" The Ryndar's eyes went from Mikhael to the newcomer and back.
"It's an expression," Sofi said with a shake of her head. She had a feeling that, with the how different the language they spoke even though it was English, there were probably going to be a few things spoken that they'd have to explain.
The conversation was interrupted as the attendant stepped into the room to announce the hot bath had been drawn. Mikhael gently waved Sofiya Grace off and rose unsteadily to his feet. "Wait for the Battle Surgeon." The immersion in hot water would not draw out the poison, but the heat would help negate some of the poison's elements in the vicinity of the wound. He also needed a bit of privacy.
Hawke turned to watch Mikhael shuffle painfully into the bathing area. His forehead wrinkled with concern as he watched the door close. The Ryndar turned and glanced over Mikhael's weapons, making sure all were present before he turned his back to them, leaning against the edge of the table and crossing his arms, watching the newcomer for lack of anything else to do.