Noria wasn't known for its library, but the city did generate a great deal of wealth, and with that inevitably came a vast collection of books. It wasn't a place Silas had visited often, far too interested in learning how to ride or how to fight with a sword in his youth to care much about books. It was something he regretted now that the fate of his house and the city depended on his next actions. Perhaps if he had been more knowledgeable in history or politics, he wouldn't have stumbled headfirst into every trap his enemies had set up along the way.
He walked into the building that seemed dim compared to the bright say outside. The distinct smell of old paper filled his senses as he made is way further inside. He had come for several reasons; he needed to find some magic, some power that would let him fight, even for just a short amount of time. The fight between House Hael and House Varn was inevitable at this point. The only hope was to end it before it started and to do that; he needed his leg whole.
He leaned on his cane, grimacing every few steps as he made his way towards the section on medicine. This was a long shot, and he likely should have left it to a more knowledgeable servant, and he had given this task to them as well, but he hated having servants do everything for him, just as much as he hated this damn cane. He felt helpless, like an animal caught in a trap.
He wasn't sure where to begin so he aimlessly wandered the section, eyeing the myriad of book titles, hoping something would catch his eye.
Oh how she had missed this! Rows upon rows of books. Of course, it was nothing compared to the library she frequented in Rhisoka, nor was it even so grand as the medical library at the sanitarium, but it was a library! The first day she walked through its doors it was Bernardt who consistently had to remind her to quiet, but how could she conceal her excitement when she finally had access to books again?
It had been ages since that little bookshop back in the middle of who-knew-where. Simply ages since the last time she had been able to pick up something new - and, really, one could only read the first two volumes (she still hadn’t managed to locate the third) of the history of the northern provinces, as well as two textbooks on herbal remedy and other general medicinal application so many times before they went mad. And so, the last few days had been spent buried up to her nose in books in Noria’s library.
It had only taken a day for her companion - lover? She still wasn’t entirely sure what to call him, nothing seemed to fit or it made her blush to think of it - to grow bored of watching her pour over books, looking up this and that, making notes of things to remember and books that she wanted to pick up copies of to take with her on her travels. Though she was quite sure that Bernardt would make her cut down the list, it had already grown quite lengthy.
Nea stood atop the ladder that attached itself to a rail along the wall, searching the books on the highest shelf. No, no.... definitely not, no.... A fingertip skimmed the spines of the books as she read them, moving across the shelf looking for, well, she wasn’t quite sure, but she was sure she would know it when she saw it. Hmm, yes, maybe this one.. She plucked the book from its home and added it to the small pile she held in her other arm.
Alright, now the hard part.
She began to descend the ladder, slowly, moving one foot at a time though she couldn’t properly see with her stack of large textbooks in hand. At least her balance had improved since Bernardt had begun training her. Though it kept her from falling from the ladder, the two books at the top of her pile slid and clattered to the floor, practically on top of another person as they entered the section.
“I -“ she paused to steady the rest of the stack, “I am so sorry.”
Luckily nothing else toppled before her feet finally found themselves firmly back on the ground. She offered him an apologetic and somewhat guilty smile before making a joke to cut the awkwardness, “They seem to have a mind of their own, don’t they?”
With a bit of difficulty she crouched down, trying to balance the pile on her knee as she picked the fallen texts up from the floor. Nea added them to the tower, stood, and then turned to take the few steps to the table she had claimed as her own, adding the books to the mountain she had already collected. Perfectly satisfied with her haul she set her hands on her hips a moment while she surveyed the spread.
This was hopeless. We was no scholar and there was a great possibility he was simply wasting his time here. He picked up a book that seemed to deal with the fundamentals of using magic to heal the body. He didn't think it would help. For the vast majority of his life he had been unable to use any magic, and even now could only call on Fire related magic.
He walked, looking down at the text of the first page but not really paying attention to the words, instead letting his mind wander.
He walked down another aisle of books when something solid crashed into his head. He let out a startled noise as he dropped his own book and reached for a sword wasn't there. His next instinct was to call on the fire that burned inside of him, an instinct he pushed back against. It was hard to control, but he had been working on it. His breath quicked slightly as he recovered, looking to see the face of his attacker.
It was a woman carrying a dangerously high stack of books on a ladder. He met her eyes with his own fire tinted gaze. His head swam a bit as he recovered before a kind smile spread across his face. "You are quite alright. I am far too thick-headed to be slowed down by a book," he joked leaning down which caused him a good amount of pain. He tried to contain the pained expression that washed across his face but was only somewhat successful.
He picked up one of the books she had dropped, the large tome that had crashed into him and his own book before standing slowly. "It seems they do," he replied warmly. He eyed the stack she carried. "Doing a bit of light reading?" he asked raising an eyebrow.
"I can help carry those if you would like?" he offered. One hand rested on his cane, but he could hold several in his free arm.
It was the physician in her that noted his expression first, the brief glimpses of a man in pain. His smile was noted second, and his curly hair third. Then the cane. Which probably means the pain was in his leg. He is talking to you, Nea.
"Hmm? What? Oh," she looked from him to the stack of books and then back again, laughing a bit sheepishly, "I suppose you could say that."
He offered to help carry some of the books and her gaze flitted from his face to the stack to his cane to his leg and back again, "No. No. I mean, you don't have to help - though thank you for offering - but I've already dropped a book on your head and I would hate to be anymore of a bother - though it is very nice of you to offer considering that I did assault you with literature. And I would hate to make you carry things around when you...."
She was rambling and she kicked herself internally.
"Though what about you? Can I help you find something? I am slowly commiting these shelves to memory, and it is quite possible I may have already knicked the book you are looking for anyway."
By this point she was wringing her hands anxiously, completely sure she was making the worst kind of first impression.
The Norian Lord tensed slightly at her words. Before having to lead his house, the knight had been one of the most renown warriors in Noria, and even know he was still one of the most skilled swordsmen, though his leg injury likely put a damper on his claim to that title. He was not used to be treated like a cripple. "When I what?" he asked with a raised eyebrow.
Rather than press it further, he handed the book back to her and he let her shift the subject back towards him. The distracted look for earlier was quickly being replaced with one of anxiety. He let out a sigh "I doubt it. I am not sure what I am looking for even exists. It was a bit of a long shot anyway..." he trailed off, the last part spoke towards himself rather than her.
"I won't keep you any longer," he said resting his book of basic healing magic on the table next to her small mountain of books. "Good luck with this," he said with a friendly smile, nodding towards the books and turned to leave. The sudden movement had agitated his injury, sending sharp pains through his leg. He froze for a brief second, hoping it would pass before forcing himself to take a step, and then another, each more painful than the last.
Sweat beaded on his forehead. He needed to sit down, but he wouldn't let himself do so in front of the woman who had already treated him as a cripple, though maybe that is what he was now...
If she could have just cringed herself into a deep dark hole to die she would have done so. Here he was, trying to be friendly and helpful and she had gone and offended him. Did a few weeks on the road really effect her social skills so adversely? Or perhaps she had always been so terribly hopeless - she couldn't quite decide.
Nea could have let him go. It probably would have been best as she wasn't exactly putting much stock in her ability to not completely sabotage her new acquaintance. It would have been best, but it just wasn't in her to leave well enough alone. She glanced to the book he added to the top of her pile, the one he must have been busying himself with when she had so rudely interrupted him with her own carelessness.
"Wait." With a few quick strides she rounded him, placing herself between him and his escape. Maybe this was making things worse. This was probably making things worse. But she had to at least try. Especially if he was trying to perform healing magic.
"Please, let me start over," she held out a hand, "I'm Dulcinea, the terribly clumsy and incredibly apologetic physician whose bedside manner seems to be severely lacking today."
She attempted to make a joke, hoping that it might help him find her at least somewhat endearing and not entirely rude. She tried not to make it obvious she was noting the sweat that was beading on his forehead, the stubborn expression on his features that she knew all too well. Offering him another apologetic smile, she then moved on to continue, "What is it exactly you are trying to do? I assume it has to do with your leg - though it's not polite to assume - I seem to have completely forgotten my manners today. I've been on the road for awhile, though that is not an excuse - but what I'm trying to say is I might be able to help. I mean, not that you would want my help, but if you did, that," she gestured vaguely towards the book he had abandoned, "Is what I do - though that book is utter nonsense, there is a better text written by one of my mentors Tycho Bashir, he's the chief physician at the Imperial Sanitarium in Rhisoka - not that that's important - but...." She finally took a breath, "Please. Let me help."
She clasped her hands, trying to force herself not to fidget. Nea gave a small, exasperated huff of a laugh, "I promise my healing knowledge and abilities are quite a bit more refined than what social ones I possess."
It wasn't hard for the woman to pass him and move around in front of him as he wasn't moving particularly fast. In a mix of slight annoyance and embarrassment for being in his current state, he listened as the woman introduced herself. His ears perked up a bit at the mention of her being a physician.
Silas let out a polite chuckle, having become quite accustomed to picking up on signs on when he should laugh over the last year. Regardless of how funny she was, her words were disarming. He took her hand and bowed slightly before introducing himself. "Silas Hael," he spoke, some of the usual warmth returning to his voice.
She then rather abruptly dove into what was ailing him. It was the sort of directives that Silas could appreciate. So much of his life now was dealing with half-truths and reading between the line. He waited for a moment to interject his approval and gratitude but she kept speaking for some time.
He thought for a moment on if he should trust this woman or not. Did he have a choice? How much longer before he was attacked again, his family attacked again. He looked into her eyes, trying to discern if she was telling the truth before he finally let out a breath. "I would welcome any assistance you have to offer," he said with a nod. "And yes, its my leg. It was injured in a recent attack and, if possible, I would like to put the cane away for 40-50 more years if it all possible," he said with a smile.
"Do you have a place you normally tend to these sorts of things?" he asked assuming she was local. "If not, my home is not far from here," he asked. He would be able to have whatever supplies she would need to be brought to her. He was putting a good deal of trust in this woman, he hoped that it wasn't misplaced.
It seemed she was quite good at holding her breath - not only had she failed to take one while she had rambled on but she held it as she waited for him to answer. When he finally accepted her help she exhaled with a bit of relief, offering him a sunny smile. This Silas Hael made a joke about his cane and she laughed, so very glad that he did not seem to be offended or annoyed with her anymore. At least, not for the moment.
Nea's expression fell slightly as he inquired about her place of work, offering to invite her into his home if it was not close by.
"No. I mean, I do - but not here. In Rhisoka. Though I doubt you would want to travel all the way there, and to be perfectly honest I am not all too keen on returning home myself."
Was it wise to follow him to his home? After all, she did not know him. He seemed nice enough, but what if he wasn't? And what would happen if Bernardt would return and find her not here? Would he worry? Would he scold her for not considering how dangerous it could be for going off with strange men she had just met? Though, to be perfectly fair wasn't that exactly what she had already done? And with a werewolf no less? Besides, the man was clearly in pain she could practically feel it seeping out of him. How could she refuse after offering to help?
The plan was forming itself in her head when she inquired, "Would you mind if I took a quick look? Just to get an idea of what I am working with."
A glance down to his leg and then back up to his face, understanding why he might want to keep it a private matter, she elaborated, giving him her reasons, "My -" Oh goodness, she still hadn't decided on a word, "close traveling companion is expecting to meet me here, and I just want to know whether or not I should leave a note with the librarian letting him know where I have gone. And possibly when to expect me back."
He nodded as she explained where she was from. "My last experience with the Capital was less than desirable so I understand," he said, not wishing to prod into her business.
He could tell she was uncomfortable at the prospect of accompanying him back to his home. He didn't blame her, she didn't know who he was. At the same time, he didn't think the keepers of this place would appreciate an exam taking place here.
"By all means," he spoke, giving her permission to take a look at his leg. He felt incredibly awkward, standing there in an aisle of old books as this stranger looked at his leg.
He thought for a moment, coming up with a diplomatic solution he hoped would make her comfortable. "If it suits you, you can wait on this companion of yours and come later. My home is not far from here, I can leave one of my servants behind to accompany you, and your friend, if you wish when you are ready," he said, looking down at the woman.
Permission was given and she gave a nod. With a turn she took hold of one of the chairs at the table in the aisle, pulled it out to sit. Luckily enough for him, she did not need to lift his pant leg to examine him, she could 'see' just fine. Below the layer of fabric, underneath the skin. Eyes remained on the spot, unblinkingly focused, misty and far away. She had barely perceived it when she recoiled and was brought back for a moment as her attention jumped up to his face in a sort of shock. This was not what she had expected. Wordlessly she went back, searched through further, the burned skin and muscle and tendon, the partially healed bits - thank everything there was not any sort of infection.
Nea half heard what he said, it was hard to understand the outside world when she was lost within the fuctioning systems of the body. Here things made sense, were logically right - the rest of the world was nothing more than confusion. She sat back, finally tearing her eyes away to look back up to his face as he looked down at her. Nea crossed her arms, heaved a bit of a sigh and tried to pick her words delicately, though her success was dubious at best.
"What in the world was used to cauterize that wound? It - well, it is a mess, to say the very least." She came to stand, moved over to the far side of the table and began searching for a slip of paper, or anything else that she could write on. "It will not be easy, and it will not be quick - it will also not be painless. The damage from whatever pierced you is manageable, muscle and skin are easy enough to reform and knit - but the magical damage, those burns - that will need to be removed. That and some of the already healed places. It's all wrong. It is no wonder you need the cane."
Paper had been procured, and something write on it with, she made a few notes, a little list as she spoke, trying to think of everything that she would need. Once satisfied she rounded the table again, held the piece of paper out for him.
"I will need these. The first is an analgesic, the second a sedative. The third and fourth will be to fight infection and to help keep things clean. As for the knife," She pointed to the last thing on the list, "A boning or paring knife is preferable. I would assume your kitchen has one. Clean it and sharpen it, as sharp as you can get the thing. The sharper it is the easier it will be on you."
Nea lowered her hand, clasped them in front of her and she looked up at him. She was asking for a lot of trust, she knew that, but if he wanted the thing done and done well he would have to do as she asked. "I need to look a few things up here, I will meet with my companion and I will come later - which should give you plenty of time to procure all of that. Does that sound like a plan?"
He stood awkwardly as she looked at the leg. He winced slightly as she asked what had been used to close the wound. "I had to do it myself, and my control of magic can be a bit...tenuous at times," he admitted. At the time, he hadn't been given a bunch of options. He had sent Lillith away, hoping to save her from any other assassins who may have been present.
She examined it for a moment longer before standing. He listened as she mentioned it would be difficult, painful but that was not a concern of his. Everything hinged on this woman's ability. The very future of the city would likely be decided by her skill. Perhaps he was a fool to entrust a stranger with so much, but he was almost out of time and options. He remained silent but nodded as she moved back towards the table.
A moment later, he took up the piece of paper when she was finished writing. "I'll have someone fetch all of this at once," he said. "We'll be ready as soon as you are," he said with another nod.
"One of my servants will be waiting outside when you are ready," he said before turning to leave. It was difficult to not rush, the prospect of gaining use of his leg was almost too much but the last thing he wanted to do was fall.
He sent out a servant who had some training in medicine out with the list to fetch the items and returned home to wait.
Silas agreed, assured her he would set a servant to procure everything on her list. Nea offered him a nod in return. Good. He would send another to wait for her while she did some research here, spoke with Bernardt. It was a plan. She watched him as he turned to leave, thinking as she only half paid attention to his retreating back. Plans were making themselves in her head, how she would go about what needed to be done, which books would have the answers to the few questions she was a bit hazy on the answers to. Finally she turned away herself, moving to her piles of books and sifting through him. There was one in here that would be helpful, now where had she buried it?
It would not be the first time she had worked on someone who found themselves afflicted by a magical injury, but she certainly never had a chance to work on one so old. It was possible to persuade the healed body to do this and that, but more often than not it turned out wrong or weak. Scar tissue was not the same as healthy tissue. It was not easy to persuade healed bone to smooth out it's imperfections. It was much, much better to attend to the thing while it was fresh. Unfortunately, they didn't have that luxury. Ah well, she thought to herself as she took a seat, started flipping through pages of one of the books she had picked up again, No use in complaining now is there?
Nea read and read some more, well into the afternoon, brushing up on the best ways to remove compromised tissues. By the time Bernardt joined her she had fully pieced together her plan for his care, was confident in what she would have to pull off only a short time from now. She filled him in on the details, it seemed her ability to make 'friends' where-ever she went both amused and perplexed him. Though Silas had offered for Bernardt to follow along, it was decided that he would go as far as the door, only to know where exactly it was she would be. Then the patient could preserve his privacy and he wouldn't serve as a distraction to either of them. It was decided, and so it would be done.
After they had returned at least some of the books she had collected, or rather hoarded, it was not all too hard to locate the servant that had been left for her. He waited, looking somewhat bored and out of place, just outside the building. After introducing herself briefly, they were off and lost deep in her thoughts it seemed no time at all before they stood at his door. A farewell was said, well wishes were given, and then she followed the servant inside Master Silas Hael's home.
Once in his presence she offered him a warm smile, a much smaller pile of three books in hand. "Well then, shall we begin? Did you get everything I asked for?"