At the Fountain

Kaelyn and Daisy walked into the Fountain and looked around. Strand was large enough that there was always someone interesting taking a break just now, especially as the day wore on and many of the commercial ventures ended work for the day. At present there were about twenty people of various ages sitting or talking in small groups. Daisy instantly found someone to talk to while Kaelyn searched a little longer...but it looked like Mason was still at the workshop. She ordered a small snack —enough to get home, but not enough to ruin her appetite for whatever Mama was cooking tonight— and sat down at a table near the corner of the room to let Daisy circulate, and hopefully to find one of her friends as well. Although a quiet part of her was secretly glad that she had a few moments to herself.

But that part was to be frustrated this evening. Elloise, the innkeepers daughter and wait staff, brought Kaelyn her meal, and as Kaelyn was eating the door opened.

Ellis, Strand's young new priest, walked in and looked around with a quiet air. Kaelyn hadn't spent all that much time in Ellis' company, and wasn't particularly eager to rectify that tonight, but it seemed that Ellis was looking for company and came and sat at the table next to Kaelyn.

“Healer Kaelyn, it's nice to see you.”

“Hello Ellis.”

He ordered and took off his frock, laying it aside between them. “How fare your studies with Master Colm?” He asked.

“Quite well. Daisy and I are learning much, and I look forward to the day when I can start to serve others in a broader capacity. Colm is a good master.”

“Ah, that is excellent. Healers provide such a needful service, almost as great as the Divine Service. Which...I believe you have missed these past few weeks?”

“Ah, there it is,” Kaelyn thought. “It does appear that way, doesn't it? I'm sure I'll make it this week, Ellis.”

Ellis didn't directly reply. “You seem to be a person of great potential, Kaelyn. Have you ever considered joining the Priesthood?”

“Ah, that is quite direct. But, honestly, no. I am quite happy in my role taking care of the physical bodies of my neighbors.”

“The two are not incompatible. Many priests are good healers and vice versa.”

“That is true...” Kaelyn started, but Ellis seemed to have more to say.

“In fact, Brother Maynard of Aelem started his career as a healer, much like yourself, when he found that infusing the power of his Faith, and of course the power of the Divine, into his healing practices, he was able to increase his abilities greatly.”

Kaelyn wondered briefly if this lecture had been prepared for her specifically or if he was able to come up with these on the fly.

“I of course find faith to be a great comfort and help, and look to the Divine for guidance as do we all,” Kaelyn said, and found that she meant it, to a degree. Perhaps not to the degree that Ellis did, but her faith was extant.

But it wasn't quite enough, it appeared.

“I think you could do great good in the Church, Kaelyn. I think you will find that what you are doing now, working with herbs and roots, is a pale comparison to the true strength of focused faith and will. Your labors would not be replaced, only increased, if you were to spend more time on contemplation of divinity.”

“Thank you, Ellis, I will remember that,” Kaelyn said, eating quicker. Presently she saw Daisy. “If you'll excuse me,” she said and rose, walked calmly to her friend and said “Daisy, we were just leaving,” Daisy saw her look, saw Ellis, and nodded. Patting a new longshoreman on the arm she said, “it has been so nice talking with you!” and left with Kaelyn.

“Thank you, Daisy. Who was that?”

“John? He's been in town a few days now, came in on a merchantman but wants to stay on land for a while he said. He seems nice!”

“I'm sure he does.”

“Don't be like that. We can't all moon around the wizard's apprentice! You should be grateful for John!” Daisy laughed.

They walked past the dry goods merchant just as Brant emerged, leading the runner. “It should be to your house before you,” he said as it took off down the trail with magical determination.

“Thank you, Brant!” Daisy said smiling brightly. Brant just nodded and went back inside.

“That was good timing...or he was waiting...” Kaelyn said and Daisy shook her head fondly.

“Wow, you are in a mood today.” Daisy said and laughed.

The sun was setting behind them, over the ocean, and the sky ahead was flaring up in golds and reds as the sunset painted the clouds and the mountains. The light all around seemed more golden than normal, richer and somehow nostalgic. A breeze shook the aspens and they whispered their secrets, dropping leaves like floating coins as the young healers passed. They walked, now talking quietly of very little, now in silence, until they arrived home, the cool air putting color in their cheeks as they entered the kitchen and put away their things.

“Mama, Kaelyn got you a special fire marble made by the best apprentice in the world!” Daisy sang out and Mama laughed.

“So Sonja is letting Mason enchant his own fire marbles is she? Well well, he must be coming along in his art.” Colm said as Kaelyn glared at her friend. “Well, we can leave our current one in the kitchen full time now, and use the new one in our workshop and maybe get some more time out of the old one. And what's this?” He asked as Kaelyn handed him some coins. Daisy told their master about Brant's injury and his insistence that he cover the cost of the runner that had brought their wares home.

“How interesting. Tell me more about this sore spot you sensed. Daisy, you first, then Kaelyn.”

“Well, master, it And it was pulsing, but it felt out of rhythm with Brant's heartbeat. Slower, I think... Would you agree, Kaelyn?”

“Not yet, not yet, she'll answer next. What else?”

“Um, it didn't feel like a physical ailment, and the healing energies didn't seem to be swarming to it... In fact, I couldn't really detect any injury to his body at all.”

Colm sat back. “I see. Okay, Kaelyn, what can you add?”

“Well...Like Daisy said, it seemed to have a rhythm to it, and, I know you tell us to observe without interpreting, but it felt...sullen. The pulse to it was slower than Brant's, longer waves.”

“Don't doubt your insights, either of you. If you sensed that it was 'sullen' there is something in you that identified it that way. Perhaps I will check in on young Brant when next I go into town. But now, ladies, let's help Mama with dinner.”

Dinner was as always a joyful affair. Sometimes Colm and Mama's children who lived nearby would visit, but tonight it was just the four of them. Colm told old stories that made the apprentices laugh, Mama smiled tolerantly at stories she'd heard a hundred times. After a brief lull Daisy turned to Kaelyn and said, “you know, I don't think you've ever told me why you decided to be a healer.”

“Nor you, which is surprising,” Kaelyn replied.

“I asked first!”

Kaelyn shifted a little and said. “Well, I don't know that I ever decided, exactly. My mother tells it that I was always tending to things; even before I could speak I would watch her in the garden and learned to pick the weeds and keep the plants alive. As my siblings came I spent a lot of time just caring for them, and I guess I started showing some knack for keeping them alive as well. The local healer, Master Davis, said that he thought he should charge double for visits to our house, once for the cure and again for the fact that when I watched him prepare a cure I could usually prepare it myself the next day. It all just seemed so...natural, so simple. So when it came time for me to choose a profession I naturally chose healing.”

“Davis was a good student,” Colm said and Mama smiled. “And a kind boy,” she added. “He met his wife just before he came to us, and used to write her the longest letters. He's the only apprentice Colm ever had to teach to make his own paper and ink, he went through it so quickly.”

“But what about you, Daisy? How did you find your way into the healer's art?” Kaelyn asked.

“Oh, it's not anything that magical; I got hurt a lot when I was young, and spent a lot of time with the healer. Master Anna is also very kind, and she would joke that she spent half her time in the forests near our town looking for herbs and half looking for me, and so she might as well train me to look for the herbs myself. I loved her cabin, it was always so interesting and full of that amazing scent that you only get in a healer's hut. Which...I now know is mostly basil and cedar, but at the time I thought it was what magic smelled like,” Daisy laughed as she finished.

“Oddly enough, Anna wasn't one of my apprentices,” Colm said, “She was an apprentice of my first apprentice. Goodness I'm getting up there in years.”

Mama stood and kissed her husband on the forehead. “That you are, old man. So let's get you to bed sooner so you stick around longer. Ladies, will you clean up?”

“Of course, Mama,” Kaelyn said and started clearing dishes. As they cleaned Daisy and Kaelyn spoke little, it was an easy chore and Daisy had learned that her new friend didn't always need to fill the silences. But as they were putting out the candles she asked, “have you seen that runner? It should have disenchanted and I wanted to stock the firebox.”

“No, I haven't. It was brand new, maybe it headed back to town.”

“I'm sure that's it. Well, good night, Kaelyn.”

“Good night Daisy. Sleep well!”


© 2020-2021 Nathanial Dickson. Written during #NaNoWriMo 2020 Contact me on Mastodon