The Flight of The Draykes
We reached Yamal sometime in the evening and I had slept the entire journey despite the rickety carriage and its lack of comfort.
As soon as we reached, Sia, who came out to greet us, sniffed the air and looked at me with concern as she asked, “Are you alright? Whose blood is that?”
I was about to answer when my stomach rumbled loudly and muttering out a quick, “I’m fine. Food first, then talk?”, we walked toward the dining hall together.
Teacher excused himself and went to see Aaron for some matters and so it was just Sia, me, and Ares who had come out a little later.
Sitting on the table and eating voraciously in front of a resigned-looking Madam Amee, I told them what I had done, and what I had to do, while omitting the gory details as much as possible.
I somewhat regretted the fact that I said all that while eating because recollecting the scenes had my stomach churning again.
As Ares and Sia listened with looks of sympathy on their faces, it was Ares who asked, “What now? Are you going to join the hospital?”
Nodding, I fished out the letter that Sir Galen had given me and said, “A doctor named Cratus is the head of the hospital here, and I will be working underneath him.”
Looking at me worriedly, Sia asked, “What about the heart pains and the convulsions?”
Grimacing, I said, “I’ll just have to be careful not to overdo things and I’ll have to work without warforce for the most part.”
Silently, they both looked at me, before a voice drifted over; “Work without warforce? Why?” followed by Damon as he, accompanied by Celine, walked into the dining hall.
Looking up, I greeted the two before I explained the problem that I was facing. How if my warforce drained too much, then my heart would stop beating. So I would have to do most tasks without warforce.
Listening gravely, Damon patted me on the shoulder and said with a grin, “that’s not a problem!”.
“Oh?” I asked as I raised my eyebrows. “How is that not a problem?”
Becoming serious, Damon said, “It’s a form of training opposite to that of the most popular one, which is training with warforce activated at all times. I think Sir Leonidas made you go through it and that’s the reason why you were able to fight on par with us, right?”
Nodding, then shaking my head, I explained how I could trigger my warforce, and it was that which led me to stand toe to toe with people of their caliber and beyond.
Frowning now, Damon said, “But even without warforce, weren’t you able to at least see our movements and keep up a little?”
Conceding the point, I brightened up a little as I thought that I wasn’t in as bad a situation as I thought. At the very least, after awakening, my body had improved quite a lot when compared to in the past.
Looking down at myself, I noted that while I was still skinny; it was not the skeletal figure of before, but rather a lean, muscular figure that lay underneath my clothes.
Lifting my head with a grin, I stretched out my arms and attempted to give Damon a hug, a hug which he hastily avoided.
Then, hands still outstretched, I turned to the rest, who retreated with their hands raised.
Puzzled, I looked at them before I sniffed and then the smell that wafted into my nose was enough to make me regret eating all that food earlier.
Shooting a reproachful look at the four of them, I barreled through the quarters to my room, where I quickly drew a bath and placed it under stones that were quite simply called as heatstones, a product found only in the Merchari Empire, which as the name implied; Quickly heated up the bath and with a cry, I jumped in and began scrubbing.
A few minutes later, I walked out invigorated and again, freshly clothed.
Waving to Sia, I told her I was heading to the hospital and making my way around the city lazily; I asked for directions and finally found the building.
It was a long rectangular block which was divided into many small rooms in which a few doctors, assistants, and patients sat or lay down in.
Making my way inside, I was greeted by a harried looking man with a bald patch who quickly shot out the words, “Problem? Age? Diet? Warforce?”.
Confused, I stared at the man before I clarified, “I’m not a patient, I’m here to see Doctor Cratus.”
The man impatiently ran his hands through his hair as he said, “I’m Cratus, boy. What do you want with me?”
Silently cheering at my good luck, I handed the man the letter that the calm teacher had given me and waited as he read it.
Then the man, looking up with eyes that suddenly became ten times sharper, asked, “Sir Galen sent you here, huh. I don’t have time to take care of you today, so come back tomorrow.”
Taken aback, I watched as the man strode away, before I hurriedly walked after him and asked, “Doctor Cratus, would you tell me what my timings would be?”
Stopping and looking at me with disdain, he said, “Haven’t even started and already talking about timings?”
Silently, I stared back at him, and then with a grunt he answered, “Afternoon 6 to midnight.” and then he walked off.
Relieved, I turned around and headed to my next destination.
Soon, I was standing outside a rundown building with a sign that had a quill above an open book.
Walking into the library, I examined it carefully and saw that it was, for the most part, empty, and had an air of desolation that abounded. But, looking carefully, I couldn’t see a speck of dust on any of the visible books.
Then an oversized man with a large beard shuffled his way from one of the shelves and spotted me.
Coming near, he raised his eyebrows and questioned, “Do you want to read a book, lad?”
Smiling, I said, “I not only want to read a book, but I also want to work here. Do you have any openings?”
Taken aback, the man stared at me before he said, “I can take you on as an assistant, but I can’t offer much in terms of pay. 5 silver per month is the most I can pay you.”
Nodding, I accepted it even though 5 silver was barely half the pay for any other job, and then moving onto my main objective, I cautiously asked the man, “Is it possible for me to read the books after I finish my tasks for the day?”
A smile lighting up the weatherbeaten face of the man behind the beard; He spoke as he waved his hands generously, “Of course you can. You can read as much or as little as you want. After all, this is a library, lad!”
Gratefully, I nodded at him before slapping my hand to my head and introducing myself while apologising.
The man looked at me for a long moment before he said, “So you’re a Drayke?”
I nodded again, and he scratched his beard furiously as he said, “I’ve changed my mind. I’ll pay you…”
Confused by his change of mind, I nonetheless waited with bated breath as the man held up 1 finger, and said, “5 silvers and 1 copper.”
My eyebrows violently twitching, I waved my hand and said, “There’s no need for that.”
Smiling at me, the man beamed at me and said, “I insist. You do not know how much it pains me to give out that one copper!”
Eyebrows twitching even more violently, I was about to refuse again when the man sighed and said, “Alas, this library is too poor now. But, I can still afford the extra copper. So, keep it. You never know when it might come useful.”
In the end, I was hired on a salary of 5 silver and 1 copper, with my working hours being from morning nine to noon.
I was about to leave when I called back to the man and asked, “You never said what your name was.”
Turning, the man grinned at me and said, “Alden, my name is Alden.”
Nodding, I waved to Alden and exited the library.
Then, standing there, I thought for a long moment and then resolutely pulled over a passerby and asked her where the biggest inn in Yamal was.
A few minutes later, I stood in front of a 3 story, square shaped pavilion which encompassed a large area, and entering, I sought out the manager and quickly made my plea for work.
A bit of haggling later, I walked out with another job that was part-time, with the promise of two free meals every day and a salary of 8 silver for the month.
I just had to show up and work from morning six to nine, and noon to three in the afternoon.
Satisfied, I stretched as my schedule had been filled up from morning till night with three hours free where I intended to practice my warforce circulation.
Looking at the sun, I realized I had the rest of the day free, so I headed to the Library to study the books that the calm teacher had given me, but on the way there; I bumped into Sia, who was as surprised to see me as I was to see her.
Looking at each other, she grinned as I said, “Seems like destiny wants us to meet, huh!”
Sia, still smiling, said, “I don’t know about destiny but I was getting myself a job because a girl needs her money.”
Curious, I looked at her and she jerked her head behind toward a tailoring shop that I remembered seeing when we were exploring Yamal. It was dilapidated, but the people inside were diligently at work.
Concerned, I looked at her and asked, “Are you going to be okay? They aren’t going to exploit those fingers of yours, are they?”
At the mention of fingers, Sia guiltily jerked her hands behind her back, but moving forward, I caught one and held it up, only to look at her worriedly.
Her hands and, more specifically, her fingers were dotted with tiny holes.
Looking away, she said defensively, “I’m new to it and I made a couple of mistakes.”
Lifting her hands, I exclaimed, “A couple?”
Defiantly, she stared at me and said, “I’ll get better! You wait and watch, immortal boy!
Shaking my head, I let her hands down and then, summoning strips of cloth from my finite ring, I carefully bound her fingers with my newfound knowledge of stemming bleeding.
She watched as I worked and conscious of her gaze, I flashed a smile at her and, finishing, I proclaimed, “There! All done, and you look like you’re ready to box someone!”
Mock punching me, she chuckled as she said, “I have a ready punching bag right here!”
Laughing, I filled her in on my day and then we walked to the library, which was right beside the tailoring shop, and I bid her goodbye.
Waving until she disappeared in the distance, I heaved in a deep breath and walked inside the dark library.
To a new life.
To new days.
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