The Forbidden Spark - Chapter 2

May 12 2020

A dull, pulsing pain filled Selenia's consciousness, ringing around the perimeter of her skull. She soon realized that this was not her only hurt: her mouth felt dry as a pit, and her limbs throbbed when she tried to move them. Slowly opening her eyes, she found herself under the pitched roof of a large white tent. Whiffs of blood and antiseptic mingled in the air.

A vague sense of relief settled in her chest as she further examined the surrounding space. The infirmary clearly belonged to the Renisian Army, and its size suggested it was one of Finham's, the military stronghold just east of the Great Gap. She was safe.

She drew in a deep breath, sharp pain flaring in her ribs as her chest expanded. She winced, and felt a weight shifting near her feet. "Selenia? Selenia?!" asked a familiar voice.

The weary face of her mother came into focus. "Hi Mom," she said in a raspy voice.

"Thune Almighty, finally!" exclaimed Nora as she gave her daughter a painful embrace. "You are safe, you are safe…"

"Careful, Mistress Karsten," warned a deeper voice from the foot of the bed. "She is very fragile still." A somber man with cropped hair and a long grey beard stood there, hands clasped behind his back. He wore a long flowing robe, marked over his chest with a downward spear behind a yellow disc. A cleric of the Church of Thune.

"Then mend her fully, Seer Jaiden. I know it is within your power to do so."

"It is," he agreed. "But we try to avoid doing that." He moved to the bedside opposite Nora, resting one hand on Selenia's belly and the other in the middle of her chest. He closed his eyes, and Selenia felt a halo of warmth radiating from his palms, spreading beneath her flesh. "The body needs to feel the world's causality and mend on its own. It is how it learns. Erasing the consequences of her actions in the blink of an eye would be doing her a great disservice, in the long run."

"Yes Seer, this definitely feels like a great learning opportunity," said Nora.

Selenia rested a hand on her mother's and closed her eyes. She basked in the healing waves pulsing within, filled with a sense of awe. In that moment, she knew that she would never view clerics through the same lens again. She'd never required their restorative powers before, and until then had only thought of them as the austere, exacting teachers of her youth. But feeling now the warmth of their mending flows, she caught a glimpse of their softness and compassion, forever altering her perspective.

The pain returned as Jaiden lifted his hands and clasped them back behind him. "You need rest, young Scout. As do you, Mistress Karsten," he said as he excused himself to tend to other patients.

Selenia's eyes lingered on the dark circles pooled under her mother's eyes. "He's right, you know. How long have you been here?"

"Four days now."

"And how long have I been here?" asked Selenia.

"About a week. I came as soon as Lieutenant Reese told me."

Selenia paused at that. "Reese?"

Nora nodded. "He's the one who found you, bless his soul. Found you at the bottom of a crevice, your body beaten to a bloody pulp. Selenia… what happened? Did you run into orcs?"

The scout shut her eyes and kept silent, trying to focus. The ringing pain in her skull grew sharper, pulsing in quick cycles as hazy memories surfaced. Two orcs. A struggle. Darkness. A sudden a flash of heat.

"I don't… I don't remember," she finally whispered. "My head is so fuzzy…"

Nora ran the back of her fingers over her daughter's forehead in slow strokes. "That's okay dear, that's okay."

"Mom, will you please go get some rest? I'm fine here. The Clerics are taking care of me, and you need to take care of yourself. I'm sure the Makers Guild would would be glad to have one of their master crafters back, too."

"They can manage without me," replied her mother, a sharp tone in her voice.

"Mom, please?"

Nora sighed. "All right," she grumbled. "All right. Promise to come see me when you're better?"

"I promise."

Nora kissed her daughter's forehead. "Thune watch over you," she whispered before walking away.

Selenia welcomed the silence that ensued, still processing the flurry of recent learning in her aching head. The pain had retreated ever so slightly since the cleric's touch, or at least dulled somewhat. And though she clearly had a ways to go on the road to recovery, already she could feel a budding restlessness attempting to animate her limbs, beckoning her to get up and seek answers.

Soon, she thought. She closed her eyes and struggled to find sleep, meandering instead in a mental soup of twisted recollections.