“Citizens, as your king, I am delighted to announce that today is the day we celebrate our centennial year of peace! For such a fantastic announcement, there shall be a feast in honor of those who fought for our peace so long ago!” At the king’s words, a cheer rose up from the crowd. Looking up at the richly dressed king, gilded crown perched atop his head, Tom narrowed his eyes.
Turning on his heel, Tom walked away from the celebrating crowd, and through the empty main street to his shop.
“Welcome back Tom!” Looking up, he saw a young girl, Ara, hanging off of the ladder, beaming down at him with pure white teeth.
“You know,” Tom mused, “You could fall and break your head open.” Ara pouted at him whilst she was sliding down the stiles of the ladder. Bouncing on her heel, she walked up to Tom and announced with a very posh voice,
“No one had arrived while you were absent.” Tom nodded, knowing that there was a very slim chance that anyone would have come in during the calling for citizens to gather before the king. Moving to behind the counter, he pulled on his apron and gloves, and gestured for Ara to follow him into the back garden
“Anything we are short on Ara?” Tom asked as he began tending to the plants, pulling weeds and checking for disease. Ara gave him a look, then sighed and recited the plants from a mental list.
“We don’t have much mandrake root left, belladonna is on the rise since the women in italy discovered what is does for their eyes, so we need more of that. A large jar of thyme was bought by the castle physician, oh don’t turn your nose up at him Tom, he’s a perfectly lovely fellow.
And the last thing we need is mint.” Tom tilted his head in acknowledgement, but let out a snort at the idea that the castle physician, Caspian, was lovely. “Tom!” Ara exclaimed, “Physician Caspian is a perfectly lovely fellow, young and handsome too!” Tom turned his head to look at her with a raised eyebrow and spoke incredulously,
“Are you one of Caspian admirers? Because if you are, shame on you Ara, I thought you were better than that.” Ara’s cheeks turned as red as a Laceleaf flower. Looking a bit miffed, she spoke with an indignant tone of voice as Tom crouched down to gather Mandrake Root.
“I am not in Caspian’s fanclub, I just observed the fact the he was handsome. He is also the youngest physician to be appointed to the castle, that is a remarkable achievement. Just because you don’t like him, doesn’t mean the rest of us have to hate him. Plus, I don’t even know why you hate him in the first place!” Ara continued ranting as Tom gathered the rest of the herbs. When Tom was done, he turned to Ara and shoved the basket of herbs into her arms, and planting his gloved hands on his hips.
“Now then Ara, you can talk on and on about all of his ‘lovely’ traits, but you won’t change my mind. Now we need to take these to the front, wash and put them into the jars.” Finishing, Tom turned on his heel, and walked off to the door, with a soft smile, Ara followed him, the basket clutched in her arms.
Later that night, as they sat at the table, eating dinner and laughing at each other's stories, there came a frantic knock at the door. Looking at each other, Tom went up to the door. When it was opened, Tom opened his mouth and began to speak, then he caught sight of what was in the farmer’s arms.
Cursing, Tom gestured them inside, and as soon as the body was lain on the table, Ara turned and interrogated the farmer as Tom set about treating the man that lay on the table, barely moving.
“Why didn’t you take him to the physician? The man is clearly injured, and needs medical treatment.”
“Miss Ara, he’s truly injured, and the castle physician refuses to take people tha’ don’t work in the castle, are nobles, or are merchants. Mistah Tom ‘ere has trainin’ as a physician, just never got a license.” Ara opened her mouth to further interrogate the farmer, but Tom interceded, his tone suggested that he was not to be trifled with at the moment.
“Ara, grab a bucket of water, a lot of bandages, thyme, and some quartla paste.” Ara, looking slightly chastened, scurried off to find the things tome requested. Rolling up his sleeves, Tom began to strip the clothes off the man’s torso to reveal deep gashed across his chest, arms, and stomach.
“Here.” Looking up at Ara who was averting her eyes from the man’s bare torso, and holding out the herbs and supplies. Smiling softly at her, Tom turned back to the man on the table and spoke quietly,
“I suggest you get Mr. Johnson out of here and then you go upstairs. It’s not going to be decent or pretty, and I would rather that you not throw up all over the floor.” Nodding, Ara ushered out the farmer and speed-walked up the stairs.
Pulling off the man’s trousers, he methodically began attending to the wounds on his body, cleaning the gashes out, then applying quartla paste to the edges of the long, deep gashes, and wrapping the wounds in the bandages.
After about an hour, Tom was done. After putting a sprig of thyme under the man’s tongue, he collapsed into a chair next to the table.
“Tom?” Cracking open his eyes, he saw Ara looking down at him with a very concerned look on her face. Closing his eyes, he shifted slightly and hummed in question. “Will he be okay? I mean, the cuts looked pretty deep, and there was a lot of blood.
You just spent over an hour of cleaning and bandaging his wounds and he still looks bad.” Sighing, Tom began to speak, his voice hoarse,
“He lost a lot of blood, so we will have to keep an eye on him. But he should be fine, none of the cuts hit his arteries. The quartla paste should both numb the pain of the cuts and speed up the healing process. There is thyme under his tongue because?” Tom turned to Ara, knowing the answer, but wanting to make sure she knew as well, Ara was his student after all.
“The thyme is there because his body would have gone into shock with the multiple grievous injuries littered all over his body. Thyme is a soothing herb, and is a great treatment for shock. There is the added benefit that if he wakes up before either recommended time, or wakes up on his own, it will prevent his body from going into shock.” Ara’s response was, as usual, correct. Nodding, Tom got up and brushed his hands on his trousers. As he walked up the stairs, Tom’s voice trailed back to Ara,
“Watch him. I need to change my clothes, there is blood everywhere. I doubt he will move, but just make sure.” And with that, Tom disappeared up the stairs. Sitting in the chair that Tom previously occupied, Ara took the time to observe the man that was shallowly breathing on the table. His torso, arms, legs, and neck were all covered in bandages that were beginning to have small splotches of blood seep through. The man’s visible dark skin was pale, and his pitch black hair was clinging to his sweaty forehead. Ara found herself relaxing subconsciously, the man was unusual, he was shorter than Tom, but most people were. Ara would put him at 5’ 9”, his skin looked like coffee with a bit of milk, his hair was black as the night sky when the stars were absent. His skin and hair were very out of place in the world, as their tone was not like the white and shades of blonde, light brown, and red that populated this planet.
His aura was the most unusual thing about him. Most people couldn’t sense auras, it was a rare gift. If a person had it though, it was to be hidden, magic was considered vile and unethical by the King, and so most of the people followed. However, Ara had this gift, and she hid it well. Tom had rescued her from a group of bandits, and she had been with him since.
Back to the man’s aura, it was the most unusual thing she had ever felt. It was a protective aura, but there was a taint of violence, as if he had fought in a war, but that was crazy, there hadn’t been a war in over a hundred years. Then there was the gilded edge to his aura, which she only found in wizards, but this was stronger. There were so many components to his aura that it was impossible to make out everything in it.
Ara hadn’t realized that she was staring at the man with a look of concentration on her face until Tom shook her shoulders. Tom was cleaned up, and looked rested. Lifting her out of the chair, Tom took Ara upstairs, laid her on her bed, and wished her goodnight.
Author Notes: Part Two of my book up for review