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Mind Healer pt3
She scanned each persons’ mind carefully as she met eyes with them. Oree nodded and bowed to her. The commander’s attendant, who had an arm around the Commander’s wife, bowed to her. He squeezed the woman’s shoulders and she glanced up and inclined her head. Lee smiled at her comfortingly. The Prince met her eyes easily; he didn’t smile, but Lee could feel his hidden relief at her appearance. Commander Rao, Liaz’s replacement, had to force himself to meet her eyes and bowed quickly to break eye contact.
Lee inclined her head to the room. Prince, Commander, Madam…I wish we could meet…at a better time…but you honor the commander and myself… by being here…They all winced as she spoke, but Lee ignored it. Oree followed her to Commander Liaz’s head. Lee leaned forward to place a hand on the woman’s hand.
The woman looked up into her eyes again. Seeing her pain, Lee began to fill her with peace, but the woman moved her hand to cover Lee’s. “Please, don’t. Just help my husband.”
Lee patted her hand and nodded. It would help though…if I knew more…
The woman bowed her head in submission. Lee gently entered her mind, pulling Oree along with her. The first memory she found was of last night and it hit her hard. The woman standing over her husband as he twisted and turned in bed…Liaz crying out in pain…he woke up and the woman leaned over him in relief but he didn’t see her…he sat up sharply in bed, knocking her backward… “Call the men! We’re being attacked!”…the woman called out sharply for help and a guard responding…”Sir, calm down!”…”Charge!” Liaz knocked him down and when another guard grabbed him from behind, he collapsed… “Liaz!” the woman cried from the floor and dragged herself over to him…they had brought the commander to the tent that morning…
Lee shuddered, suppressing the urge to destroy the memory and moved on. She watched a few more memories unfold. Commander Liaz had steadily been getting worse ever since he’d been decommissioned from the army. As Lee extracted themselves from the woman’s mind, she sighed. She patted the woman’s hand once last time. I’ll do the best…I can…
She scanned the faces around the room again, but no one said anything, so she placed her hands on Commander Liaz’s head, waited for the reassuring weight of Oree’s hand on her elbow and dived into his mind.
As soon as she landed, she was assaulted with memories of war. There was no way she could replace Oree’s shield. Instead, she set a momentary bubble of peace around them both. Oree clung tightly to her, refusing to let go and Lee’s humming pitch changed to harmonize with his. Once she was sure that they wouldn’t lose each other, she let the peace bubble fall from around them.
Lee tried to catch the memories as they swirled around her, but she couldn’t seem to focus on them. Oree was the one who finally caught a memory, reaching out with lightening quick hands and pulling it in to them. It vibrated violently in Oree’s grasp and Lee took a hold of it, trying to hold it steady so that that they could see the memory. It was the same one that the woman had showed them. Lee squinted her eyes as she watched because the picture was blurred. Then she realized why and tugged Oree closer.
…Liaz woke up from his dream of the war…he saw his wife above him…no it was the enemy and he knocked her aside, calling for help…he saw his wife fall and was horrified at what he’d done…two enemy soldiers charged through the door…where were the other commanders?...”Charge!” he would take them by himself…Wait, no, they were guards, they were trying to help him…ahhh!...
Did you see that? Lee asked Oree.
Yes, he’s not completely gone. He’s still here.
Liaz!...Commander Liaz…! Lee cried out. She took the memory that they were holding and destroyed it, then she took a hold of the next memory, but instead of stopping to destroy it, she pulled herself forward, into the storm. As they went Lee took a steady stream of peace out of Oree and herself and let it trail behind them.
What are we looking for? Oree whispered, his voice quavering in both fear and fatigue.
His consciousness… You will see it…as a ball of light…but I will feel him…long before…we reach him. She was silent for two more minutes- Oree silently counted in his head- and then she stopped suddenly. There.
Oree squinted his eyes and thought he did see a small spot of light up ahead. It pulsed weakly and was shrouded in darkness as the memories were. I can barely see him.
Commander Liaz!...Hold back a little…Lee pulled away from Oree, tugging on their cord until they were a short distance apart and then approaching the ball of light slowly. Commander Liaz…, she crooned, running a gently fingertip over the surface of the ball. Answer me, Liaz...I know you can…hear me.
Yes… a faint voice came. The light pulsed a little brighter as Lee caressed it. Don’t…No…Who are you?...Leave!...leave before…before…
Lee listened patiently as he babbled on for awhile, sometimes making sense, sometimes not. She tried to gently feed him peace. At first he was unresponsive, and then the whirlwind of his mind lashed out at her. Ah! Ohhhh! The ball of light shrunk and tried to pull away from her.
Wait…I’m trying to…help you.
No, go away! Commander Liaz lashed out at her again.
Oree pulled her back quickly, floating away from the light. Mistress, Mistress! Come on! Lee!
Did you… hear him?
I did, but Lee… “Mistress!” Oree dragged himself out of Commander Liaz’s mind and increased his grip on Lee’s elbow. “Mistress, come back.”
Lee sighed and at first tried to resist, but she finally tugged on the cord between them and exited Liaz’s mind. Before she or Oree could say anything, the attendant placed bowls of food in their hands. Oree was leaning forward, his forehead on the floor. Lee took a deep breath, expelling her fatigue and filling it with her reserves of peace. She reached out a hand and placed it on Oree’s back, offering him the strength as well.
Enough, Oree whispered, sooner than Lee liked. He sat up and nodded to her gratefully, then stared down at his food. Lee started to push hers away, clutching her stomach uncertainly.
Oree fixed her with his gaze. “Mistress, you need to eat,” he said sternly. Lee lowered her gaze as if she’d been scolded, picked up her bowl and began to eat. Oree waited to make sure that she had remembered her hunger, then he began to eat voraciously.
Thank you, Lee whispered. Oree grunted in reply, too busy with his food to answer. They ate quickly and when they were done, Lee closed her eyes and took a few deep breaths. How long? Lee asked.
Before the attendant could answer, the woman said, “Nearly two hours, Mistress healer. I was so worried. All three of you cried out and twitched in pain. What happened?”
He’s fighting me…but a part of him…is still conscious…,Lee told her. The woman didn’t know whether to be relieved or worried, so she bowed her head and handed Lee water. Lee nodded to her in thanks. Quietly to Oree she said, Did you…hear him, Oree?...
Yes, Oree said hesitantly.
Do you know…what we must do?
Oree didn’t, but he quieted his thoughts and listened to her plan. Yes, he said, that is what he needs. But do you know if you can…
No, but I have…a chance…She turned again to Liaz’s wife. Madam, she said gently, touching the woman’s hand to let her know that was speaking to her alone. I know what I…must do to help him…but it’s risky…He might not…make it, and if he does… then he will never…be the same…man...
“He’s not the same now. Please, try.”
Lee nodded and repositioned herself over the Liaz’s head. Oree grasped her elbow firmly. They dived in with the bubble up around them. Lee pulled them forward quickly, dropping the peace bubble as she grabbed at a memory…the first to charge into battle…the feel of his sword plunging into an enemy shoulder’s chest…galloping away before he was injured…the victory horn sounding loud…his men turning to him as he stood up in his stirrups, raised his fist in the air and yelled triumphantly…the hundreds of answering calls…Instead of trying to pull the memory away from the Commander, Lee blew it up until it was too big to hold his attention. It exploded quickly, the core shriveling up until it was useless. Lee left no peace as she pulled Oree forward.
Lee blew up memories and floated on, blew up and floated on, until she didn’t think she could anymore. Oree no longer followed her, but leaned against her floating form. He gave her all of the strength and peace that he had and she toted him along, feeding him reassurance. They floated on at a slow pace and Lee grabbed for the next memory. She was compelled to watch it, but she wasn’t sure that she’d be able to really see it.
Wait, Oree…look at this.
Oree groaned, but he slid his head up onto her shoulder and peered at the memory. Huh?—it was late evening…the Commander’s wife was sitting at a table…she looked over at the sun dial in the corner and sighed…Liaz snuck up behind her…he hugged her from behind…and dropped a white lily into her lap…”I’m sorry,” he whispered…his wife turned and hugged him..Liaz smiled lovingly down at her…
A happy memory...finally… Lee sighed, taking a firmer hold of it.
Finally, Oree echoed and let his head drop back down. Lee expanded the memory and it pushed the shriveled memory cores out of the way. Lee could feel the peace and happiness emanating from the memory. She looked back over her shoulder to the Liaz’s consciousness. It winked out of existence for a moment and Lee held her breath, but the light came back a moment later.
More…more… she reached out for a new memory to expand. She did this several more times, loosing track of the count and looked back again. She couldn’t see a light. No…Oree!
Lee pinched him hard and floated backwards, racing to the front of the Commander’s mind. He’s getting weaker. She took his consciousness in her hands. Liaz, where are you…Come back!
No, Liaz, no! She reached behind herself for a memory, but all of the painful memories were gone. Oree…I’m losing him!
Hush intruder! The ball of light gave one more bright flash and then died out completely.
No! Lee yelled. She pushed him Oree away and their cord broke.
Lee! Oree cried inside and out. “Lee!” He jumped into his own body, bending backward with the force, but he kept his hand on Lee’s elbow. “Lee,” he coaxed, whispering in her ear. “Lee, there’s nothing you can do now, there’s nothing you could have done. Come back to me Lee, come back.”
Or…ee… Lee called softly. Oree cringed- this was the tired Lee, when she couldn’t even say his name without pausing. He felt a hand on his arm and turned to look back at the attendant.
“She’s tired. I’ll have to pull her out.” He glanced over at the Commander Liaz’s wife. “Be prepared,” Oree whispered to him and the attendant’s eyes widened, but he nodded. Oree took a deep breath, tightened his grip on Lee’s elbow and was pulled into the man’s mind again.
Lee! Lee! She was curled up in a ball near the edge of the man’s mind. Lee… Oree stooped to pick her up and cradled her in his arms.
You helped ease a dying man’s passage…
Lee’s form slumped into him, her mind mingling with his. Oree turned around and started to draw himself back into his body. Lee… he said softly and she groaned, but obediently floated into her own mind. Oree wasn’t afraid to have Lee in his mind, he enjoyed having her close to him, but she was tired now. He doubted she could handled another switch.
As he came too, he found that his arms were wrapped around Lee protectively. Lee’s eyes fluttered and she moaned. He felt her mind automatically reach out and touch everyone’s in the room. Suddenly she bolted upright, eyes fixed on Commander Liaz’s body. Ahhhhh! she screamed. Everyone, even Oree, flinched.
Shhh, shhh… Oree tightened his hold on Lee and tried to turn her away. She slumped against him, turning her head into the shadowed safety between his neck and shoulders. Oree hummed to her. She shuddered twice and then went still.
Oree look up at the attendant who, without speaking, had pulled the Commander’s covers up over his face. Lee hadn’t lost many people, but her reaction was the same every time. She would fight until she was too tired to exit on her own and Oree would have to bring her back. Then she would forget for a moment and reach out to touch the newly dead person’s mind. It was like torture to her, like the Liaz’s mind had felt as they first entered it. She would scream and cringe until removed her from the tent or she passed out from fatigue. Oree’s heart cried with her, but he held his mind and body firm.
The Liaz’s wife bent down over him, weeping silently. The Commander Rao bent his head reverently. The Prince passed a hand over Liaz’s face and murmured a prayer, a ritual that Oree had seen before. Then the Prince turned and patted Oree’s arm. His eyes were full of sympathy and Oree held them for a moment, then bowed his head. He knew that the Prince wouldn’t blame Lee for this, but he, and maybe his father, would want to meet with her later. Oree would hold them off as long as he could, then say that Lee needed him with her. There was no way he was letting her out of his sight for the next day or two.
Oree started to stand, pulling Lee up with him. He staggered slightly as he shifted his tired frame to accommodate Lee’s limp one. “Wait,” the Prince whispered. He motioned to the two guards that he’d brought. They stepped forward and took Lee from Oree’s arms.
“No,” Oree protested, but it was too late. Lee’s conscious mind stirred, Oree could feel her. In bewilderment, she lashed out at the guards that held her. The guards winced and almost dropped her, but Oree hurried forward and took her back. She relaxed in his arms, her consciousness caressing his briefly and then hiding itself again. Oree closed his eyes and held still at the intimate touch, the corners of his mouth lifting despite himself.
He turned to the guards and murmured an apology, then nodded his head around the room. He bowed awkwardly to the prince and the Liaz’s wife. The attendant held aside the exit flap and bowed as Oree carried Lee out. The attendants around the room looked up and hushed. They had all heard the scream from Lee. They stood and bowed until she had passed.
The family members of the patients still in the tent were uneasy. They had heard just enough of Lee’s scream to feel her emotional pain. But they forgot all of that know as they saw Oree carrying her. They knelt and prostrated themselves. The two woman that had looked Lee in the eyes, perhaps thinking that Lee was hurt, let out a keening of their own.
Oree bowed his head and staggered forward. Though he was clearly tired, none of the attendants tried to take Lee from him. They knew that to do so would only cause Lee more distress and most likely, harm to them. Many times when Lee and Oree were both tired after a day of healing, they would be carried separately to their rooms, but after Lee had lost someone, Oree always carried her to her rooms and stayed with her. While Lee was lost in her own mind, Oree was the only one who was safe.