July 15, 2012
Illyana’s ankle had stopped bleeding by the time her carrier dropped her off in front of Sigmora’s medical clinic. The blood angel’s wings were too big to even fit through the door, so Illyana hopped in on her own, grasping the wall for support. She jerked her hand away from the wall when she felt a sliver stab into the skin under her fingernail. She let out a small yelp and fell to the ground.
“Who’s there?” someone asked. A young man–no, a boy by fay standards–emerged from a part of the clinic Illyana couldn’t see from her spot on the floor. He was about ten years older than her, black-haired, light-skinned, and human.
“Down here,” said Illyana. The boy knelt beside her. He looked over his shoulder, then back at Illyana.
“If I pick you up, I won’t be hurting anything vital, will I?”
“I think my ankle is dead.”
The young doctor lifted Illyana’s leg by the calf and looked at the back of her ankle. His lips pressed tightly together as he looked closer.
“What kind of maniac would do this to a little girl?” he said under his breath. Illyana knew the question wasn’t directed at her, nor was she probably intended to hear it, but she answered anyway.
“A blood angel.”
The doctor raised an eyebrow. “Siren, of course.” With a forced smile, he added, “If people ask why you’re on crutches, you can tell them a feather cut your calcaneal tendon.”
“I’d rather tell them I survived a fight with a blood angel. Crutches?”
The doctor shrugged. “That would be my diagnosis. I’m an apprentice here, though. I’ll have the real doctor look at this.”
He placed his arms under her knees and shoulders and picked her up. He rested her on a wood table covered in a few cheap blankets. He took a roll of what looked like toilet paper and tore off a few sheets. He lifted his patient’s foot and placed the sheets under her injury. Then he walked through a door in the back of the room and disappeared.
“Siren?” Illyana said to herself. She’d never heard of anyone being named after a race, much less a fiend race, regardless of the sirens’ good reputation. Maybe it was a northern thing. Or maybe just a northern angel thing. Illyana didn’t know Siren’s past, but she knew all blood angels were angels at one point, and all angels but the very first few had parents. Had Siren abandoned her parents over something stupid like Illyana had? Based on her race, anything Siren did wrong was no small deal. Blood angels, by definition, enjoyed killing. It was more likely that her parents abandoned her. Or maybe she killed them.
The young doctor returned with an older doctor, this one in his fifties with almost no hair. “A dryad?” he said, glancing at his apprentice. “I thought Siren killed all of them.”
“She tried,” said the apprentice. “Look at her ankle.”
The doctor lifted Illyana’s foot by the calf, as his apprentice had. “How old are you, Dryad?”
“We’ll wrap it and give you some morphine. If you’re lucky, this will be healed when you’re twenty-five.”
“Twenty-five?” Illyana repeated. “That’s way too long!”
“You cut a major tendon, Dryad. You live three hundred years, so no doubt it’ll heal before you’re dead, but it’ll never be the same again.”
That stupid blood angel. Illyana would go the rest of her life crippled because of Siren’s temper. Or was it Illyana’s fault? Yes. It was. Illyana shook her head. Of course it wasn’t. She wanted to hate Siren for the injury, not herself. As she thought that, she realized just how right the blood angel was. She was a little girl who acted half her age.
“No?” the doctor said.
“Nothing,” said Illyana. Then she thought of something. “Actually, I’m a healer. I can speed up the healing.”
“Right,” the doctor said. “A dryad and a healer.”
“I’m not lying!” Illyana protested. “I just can’t heal in pain.”
“Honestly,” said the apprentice. “It does sound like you just made that up.”
Why did nobody believe her? Was she just saying it at the wrong time? Yes, only angels could heal–usually. But every fay, fiend, and human on the continent was born with one unique gift, and Illyana’s was healing. She wasn’t the only non-angelic healer on the continent.
“I’ll prove it,” she said. “Give me the morphine.”
The doctor left the room and returned with the painkiller. “If you’re telling the truth,” he said, “you may be one of the most valuable people on the continent. What with all the angels leaving.”
Illyana took the drug. “Angels are leaving?” she asked. “Why?”
“If the Seekers are right,” said the apprentice. “There’s a hidden city that was built for the angels if they ever needed refuge. And now they need refuge because people hate them because two of them suggested democracy.”
“The whole war is ridiculous,” the doctor said. “The only thing that really matters is whether we get democracy or monarchy, and the governor–or king–pays us either way.”
As the morphine began to take effect, Illyana’s senses dulled, and with them, her pain. Finally. She pulled her legs in and looked at her ankle. The blood had dried by now and the tendon was sliced almost all the way through. It hung on by no more than a centimeter of whatever tendons were made of. The cut parts were stretched out, threatening to snap what remained.
“If that snaps, you’ll never walk again,” said the doctor. “Be careful with it.”
Illyana remembered Siren’s attempted healing and wondered how it hadn’t broken then. She pointed her fingers at the injury and let her inergy flow. She needed to speed up the healing process of the tendon and the skin around it. She’d lost a lot of blood, but there was nothing she could do to replace that. She focused on the tendon first, and even through the morphine, her ankle began to throb in pain. It was dull enough that she could still heal, but it would get worse. The doctor and his apprentice watched in silence as the tendon slowly mended itself. With it, her pain increased. After about a minute, her inergy stopped flowing. The pain was nowhere near as bad as it had been before she took the morphine, but it was just bad enough that she couldn’t hold her concentration. Her tendon wasn’t even half healed.
“So you can heal,” said the doctor. “Why don’t you stick around Sigmora? I’ll give you some crutches and if you want, you can work here when your ankle heals.”
“Sure,” said Illyana. A few seconds later, she went dizzy from a combination of the pain and morphine. She was asleep within the minute.