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Lee entered the tent and everyone fell silent. They hurried to stand and bow respectfully. Lee inclined her head, then raised her hands. Her attendant came up behind her. “Enough, return to the patients,” he said and everyone turned away quickly.
“Mistress Lee,” Oree bowed to her and smiled, undaunted when she didn’t turn to face him. “Will you see the commander first, Mistress?”
Lee stared at the ceiling of the tent and didn’t indicate at first that she had heard him. After a few minutes of quietly listening to her patients, Lee turned to face him. Oree didn’t flinch as her albino eyes finally met his. He had been trained strictly for working with her and had served her faithfully for many years. They had built a strong bond of friendship and understanding from childhood.
Oree’s eyes flickered once briefly as her presence entered his mind and then he relaxed as she smiled at him, outside and in.
Hello, Oree. It is good…to see you. Are you well?...Yes, you are…Yes, let us work. But, no, I will not…see Commander Liaz now…He is not ready…yet…and he will take much from me…almost too much…I will see him…last…
Lee answered slowly and softly, but Orree had heard her when she was truly tired and he was not worried about her now. Lee’s mind slipped, even now, into her patient’s as she gently examined them to see which needed her attention first. She turned to the patient nearest her. A small child lay on the mat, a girl of about five. Her two parents sat on either side of her, while the attendant sat by the girl’s feet.
“Mistress Lee,” the attendant said. She bowed her head and cleared her mind. Lee entered it and began gently searching for information. She hesitated before entering the parents’ minds, because they flinched and turned away from her, clearly afraid to meet her eyes. She gave Oree one quick, vulnerable glance and he nodded.
You need information…he thought.
Lee entered their minds as gently as possible and then pulled away quickly, shaking her head. Nothing they didn’t tell…the attendant…
Lee sat at the girl’s head, Oree by her side. She waited a moment, as if deciding whether to ask Oree to address them. Then she told them softly, She’s still young…I can heal her…completely…
The parents winced. Then, hesitantly, the mother answered, “You are the best.”
“The only one who could—” the father’s voice broke and the attendant reached out a reassuring hand. Oree saw him lean toward the hand and relax. Of course he trusted the attendant, that’s why they were there. He should have been used to the way others treated Lee, with fearful respect and careful disdain. She is human! he thought and frowned at the ground. Lee glanced at him again and gave him a small smile, then returned to the others.
She nodded and smiled at the girl’s parents, spreading a peace through them so that they relaxed slightly. Then she placed her hands on either side of the girl’s head. Oree placed a hand on her elbow. He was Lee’s anchor, reminding her of her human body and making sure she had everything she needed. Seldom would Lee let him feel a patient’s pain, only when it overwhelmed her, but he often felt their peace once they’d been healed.
Lee tugged gently on the mental cord between them and then raised his protective shield. She gently began to massage the girl’s temple, humming softly. What she had learned from both the attendant and the parents’ minds was something she had seen many times before. The girl had been told a story, this time about man hunting wolves, and she was now having nightmares. Except her nightmares were more violent, and had been going on longer, then was normal.
I am looking for…a solid memory…a trigger… she reminded herself, before slipping into the child’s mind. The assistant had given her Lee’s tea. Lee was a skilled body healer as well as a mind one. She knew many herb secrets and how to care for superficial injuries, yet her special tea, the one named simply, Lee’s tea, was indeed special. It was given to all of her patients to induce sleep, but it also opened their minds and kept them calm and blank. For this reason, Lee entered the girl’s mind easily.
She shifted to the part of the girl’s mind that held her memories like she was made of air. In her mind’s eye, she saw herself floating through the memories, touching them each gently, until she found the one she was looking for. A campfire…a man speaking…a group of frightened children…the girl leading the others as they ran away—yes, this is it!
Lee grasped the memory fragment in her hands. It felt like smoke, intangible at first, but as she tugged harder on it, the memory became more solid, like the rope that connected her to Oree.
She tugged on the memory and it pulled freer. Lee briefly glanced at each nightmare, enough to make certain that she took only what bothered the girl. As she pulled the rope of fear out of the girl and into herself, Lee thought of peace, made it take form and filled the holes with it. Every time she bumped up against a memory the girl considered very happy, she shifted them over to help cover the gaps so that the girl wouldn’t remember anything about her fear.
About halfway down the rope—as far as she estimated—Lee found a knot. She tugged at it, but the memory wouldn’t move, so she dived into it. A group of children near the edge of a village…the girl was among them…suddenly the girl pointed and cried out…the other children turned around in panic…there was a wolf at the edge of the woods…one of the children laughed…another put a hand on the girls shoulder and patted it…they headed back into the village…the girl looked back at the wolf…she wanted to run but she forced herself to walk…that was the beginning of the violent nightmares—
So that’s it! …Lee thought. She dug her fingers into the memory and closed her figurative eyes. On the outside, Lee’s eyes flickered rhythmically and she continued to hum and rub the girl’s head. For a moment she stopped rubbing and clamped her fingers tighter. Orre opened his eyes, not feeling the knot but feeling the tug on their connection and the change in Lee’s concentration. He squeezed her elbow slightly and closed his eyes again, humming along with her in support.
Lee borrowed a little of Oree’s strength, which he gave willingly and finally they both managed to untie the knot in the memory cord. Lee took the memory into herself quickly, pulling in a different memory to fill its spot, then returned Oree’s strength and patched the hole in his shield. She finished tugging the nightmares out of the girl, finding one more knot where the girl had finally entered the forest with her family and encountered another wolf. Having released the first knot, the second one was easier.
When Lee had removed all of the girl’s memories of the wolves, she floated to the front of her mind, where her consciousness was. She took the small ball of pulsing light into her hands and tickled her mind softly. The ball began to glow brighter.
What…what’s going on? Who are you?
Calm down…little one… Rest for…a little longer…Lee made sure that the girl’s consciousness was awake, but filled with such peace that she would remain motionless for a while longer, and then slowly extracted herself from the girl’s presence.
Mistress Lee? Oree called gently.
I’m alright Oree…barely tired…
He waited for her to open her eyes and then said, “Welcome back, Mistress.”
How long?... She asked.
Oree turned to the attendant. “Just half an hour, Mistress.” The attendant and the girl’s parents watched her with anxious expressions. Lee closed her eyes for a moment longer, cautiously probing the girl’s mind, then she looked to the attendant and nodded. The attendant smiled, inclined her head to her and turned to the parents.
“The girl has been healed; she will never have the nightmares again. She will sleep for a while longer, but she is well. When she wakes, she will be confused. We will need to keep her here for an hour longer. It’ll be best not to mention wolves for a few days.”
Lee sat still while she talked, eyes closed, drinking in the lasting peace from the girl’s healing. Oree placed his hand on her elbow again. Lee took away the shield momentarily and Oree smiled as the peace washed over him. They both pulled some out and stored it away inside themselves, giving them strength. Finally, Oree stood and offered his hand to Lee. Lee let him help her stand, squeezed it momentarily and then dropped it. Oree took a step back and bowed to her. The attendant and parents stood and bowed.
“Thank you, thank you,” the girl’s parents murmured over and over. They still refused to look Lee in the eyes, but they bowed repeatedly in thanks and then kneeled and prostrated themselves in utter gratitude. You’re welcome, Lee whispered and walked away.
“Enough,” Oree said in passing, hurrying after her. Lee paused in the middle aisle. She looked over at a patient a few mats down. The man was beginning to wake up, but he was still at peace. Lee called out a warning to his attendant and then turned back to the mat in front of her. A teenage boy was laying on it. His mother sat to one side and his attendant on the other. Lee smiled as she approached and touched the mother briefly on the shoulder as she took her position at the boy’s head.
She had been seeing the boy for two years, ever since his father’s death. The boy was troubled: he had serious memory problems—Lee couldn’t find any memory of his father at all—and he was highly suicidal. Lee was able to curb his suicidal impulses, but only for a fortnight at a time. Without the boy himself knowing why he was acting as he was, Lee couldn’t heal him completely. If he’d been younger…but he wasn’t.
Mistress Lee, the attendant and the mother both greeted her in their minds and bowed.
Madam, Lee greeted the mother, you are well…today?...
The woman nodded and Lee smiled at her.
Good…then I’ll begin…
Oree reached out for her elbow, but had to push the woman’s hand away first. She was always trying to connect with Lee as she worked, convinced that she would be able to help him. She pouted at Oree, but the attendant reached over the boy and took her hands and she relaxed.
Lee placed her hands on the boy’s head and Orre’s on her elbow and they closed their eyes and began to hum. This time Lee took extra time to make sure that Oree’s shield was secure and then tugged on their bond and entered the boy’s mind. Everything was shrouded in a fog. Lee opened herself and began to suck the fog into herself. She slowly floated through his mind, making sure that all of the fog was gone.
She found the knot the contained the boy’s hidden memories. She tugged on it briefly, but knowing that it was secure, Lee poured peace into the hole that was leaking fog. Once it was filled, she took and wrapped the knot in her own fog. Then she quickly walked down the aisle of the boy’s memory, pulling forward the memories that were starting to slip away. Finally, when she had done all she could, she slipped back to his conscious. She gently knelt and prodded him into wakefulness.
What? Hello. The boy, once awake, didn’t remember him at all, but in his state of half awake, half asleep, he had come to know Lee as a healer and friend.
Have you cured me?
For now... Lee’s heart broke when she felt his consciousness sink in upon itself. Gently, she coxed the sadness out of him and filled him with peace. Rest now…dear one… I promise I won’t… let you fall… completely…
Don’t leave me.
I’m here…, Lee whispered gently. She wrapped her vaporous arms around his consciousness and pulled away gently, leaving a piece of herself to comfort him. She began to pull out of his mind. Oree jerked away from him too soon and she grasped for his link desperately, slipping back into the boy’s mind.
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"I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by." --Douglas Adams
"The object of life is not to be on the side of the majority, but to escape finding oneself in the ranks of the insane." --Marcus Aurelius
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love in it'a essence is just spiritual fire
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"According to some, heroic deaths are admirable things. (Generally those who don't have to do it. Politicians and writers spring to mind.) I've never been convinced by this argument, mainly because, no matter how cool, stylish, composed, unflappable, manly, or defiant you are, at the end of the day you're also dead. Which is a little too permanent for my liking." — Jonathan Stroud (Ptolemy's Gate)