Solo And Where We End Up

Stuck in a hospital bed, learning how to read

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Syka is a new settlement of primarily humans on the east coast of Falyndar opposite of Riverfall on The Suvan Sea. [Syka Codex]

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And Where We End Up

Postby Merevaika on August 31st, 2017, 9:48 pm

30th Summer 517 - after everything in the jungle

"Can I help?"

Merevaika looked up to find a blue Akalak standing above her. For a second, she almost panicked, forgetting where she was, what she was doing here.

The memories flooded back - of her wandering hopelessly through the jungle, searching for a ruin that only existed in her dreams and blindly following madness that only resulted in injuring herself. That was why he was here. She was here. This was the Panacea, the healing clinic in Syka. This Akalak was the healer here, which she could tell from the almost glowing gnosis on him.

He was here to help her.

"How can I help?" he asked, changing the question to something he didn't know the answer to by just looking.

Merevaika looked down at her leg, then slowly tried to push herself up, hands squashing into the bed she had lay on. He shook his head at her movements, trying to both keep her down and help her up at the same time.

The woman mirrored his shaking head, finally settling into a reclined position on the bed. Reaching down were she lay, she rolled her leg up, allowing the infected wound, and the makeshift bandage that she had tied over it, be clearly visible. Beginning to untie the bandage, she was stopped by the Akalak, who moved over to do it himself.

She heard a deep exhale as he looked at it. His fingers prodded lightly, wiping away the dirt that had inevitably built up, and he took a good look at the snake bite. After what seemed like eternity, he looked up, and Merevaika was ready to hear that she was going to die, or some other horrible news like that.

All he said was, "How old is it?"

Merevaika held up a few fingers, changing her mind every few ticks, then eventually shaking her head with uncertainty. "Morning, today, I think?" she stated, even though she knew it had to be the morning she was referring to. It had been early on in the day, most likely before midday.

He seemed to decided that it would be the best estimate he got. As he took a closer look, examining the redness and the pus that had started to build up, his questions began to increase.

"Do you know what bit you?" At this, she shook her head, because other than a snake, she couldn't tell him anything about whether it was poisonous or common to the region or not. "What did it look like, then? Even if we can't give it a name, it will be helpful for reference, at least for the future.

"Green snake," she forced out, after having struggled with the words for a bit. Her hands then moved out, trying to show an approximate length, "Long. Like a vine. It looks like a vine. Very look." That was not how it was said, but she didn't really care.

The doctor nodded, mentally writing it down, it seemed, as he was still staring at the bite. "What symptoms have you experienced?" Then, realising from the blank expression from Merevaika's face that she didn't know what symptoms meant - or what experienced was either - he rephrased his question. "What have you felt, after the bite? When did it go red, is it sore, stinging? How hard is it for you to walk?"

Merevaika explained, gulping over the words, as much as she remembered about the things happening. How it had hurt, but she had ignored the pain until she had managed to forget about it. How it was hot to the touch, and now she was too. About the lethargic feeling she was having. Her limping. The blood.

"You must have not boiled the water well enough, or else the infection got in after anyway. It definitely seems to be some sort of infection, at the very least. But it could be a reaction to the bite - I hope it's not poisonous." Then he asked her more questions, about where the bandage had come from, the water, how she had boiled it. Merevaika did her best to answer the questions, but she didn't really care for it. Surely, it didn't matter to him? As far as she knew, a healer could just place his hand on her wound, bring forth his healing power, and fix it, without having to know what it was ever.

With all his questions, it seemed like he wanted to write a detailed report on exactly what had happened.

"Well, I'll save the rest of my questions for afterwards." He had more questions? Merevaika didn't know what else he could ask. "This won't hurt a bit. Keep still."

A chime later, and her leg was feeling a lot better. Merevaika got ready to stand up and walk away, but he stopped her even before she could get up off the bed.

"Best you stay here over night. If it is poison, you'll want to stick around until all the venom gets out of your system. Until then, it can still hit you hard, so I want to be able to keep an eye on you." Merevaika opened her mouth to protest, but nothing came out. "Besides, there are more things I want to ask you. Firstly, what were you doing in the jungle in the first place?"

Looking for ruins that had been shown to her in a dream by the son of Caiyha, which may or may not have just been figments of her imagination. It sounded a bit stupid to say aloud, and besides, she didn't know the words necessary for that.

"Explore," she simply stated, aware it was a weak excuse, but it was close enough to what she had actually been doing that meant she didn't have to worry about lying.

"Exploring?" His eyebrows raised in doubt, and his gaze flickered back to the things on the floor beside them. Other than her clothes and the necklace around her neck, it was everything she had taken with her into the rainforest. Namely, a knife and some rope. And everything she had come out with: a bag made from rope and leaves, with three green pieces of unripe fruit sitting inside. "Is that all you brought with you?"

Without thinking about how stupid it looked, she fished the necklace out from under her top and held it towards him, as if it made a difference. "And this."

He stared at it, confused, trying to figure out if it was just an ordinary necklace or if it had some divine or magical or mystical powers that actually gave Merevaika a reason for pointing it out.

"What does it do?" he finally asked, deciding it had to be the second, or else he was dealing with a madwoman.

"Nothing." That answer had been far too blunt. It would have been a better idea to lie, to claim it was some magical talisman and risk the questions, than to look crazy. Now he was probably going to tie her up and throw her in a cage where she couldn't hurt herself or others.

"So you went into the jungle with some unripe fruit, some rope, a knife and... an ordinary necklace? To explore?"

It was too hard for her to admit that she had only found the fruit as she was trying to get out.

Her silence forced him to speak again. "I'm sure you know now from your injuries that it's dangerous out there. Once you've healed up, please don't go wandering around there alone, understand? Take some proper equipment with you, and someone to look out for you. What if next time, you don't make it back here? You need to be careful, alright?"

Be careful? Merevaika wanted to laugh, but she was far too angry to do that as well. He was speaking to her as if she were a child, who didn't know it was dangerous. As if she was someone who ventured out there, unequipped, all the time. As if he believed she couldn't look after herself and needed someone to protect her.

"You know Sea of Grass?" she asked, and he blinked a few times, a little confused about what it had to do with anything, before nodding. "I travel from Riverfall to Endrykas in it. Half season. Alone. Just two walahks - without Strider." She decided to ignore the guide that had gone with them. That wasn't her point. "I still alive. I know how to look after me."

The Akalak had another glance at her things, doubting hard, but he didn't mention it. All he said was: "The jungle and the plains are different beasts. Even if you can tame one, doesn't mean the other won't eat you up whole."

Her boasting had come so easily. So why couldn't she tell him the reason for her sorry state and the lack of items with her were because of the son of a god telling her to do that? Maybe because it sounded ridiculous. Especially considering the outcome. Maybe it would make the Akalak think Alcor wanted her dead.

"Have some rest. I'll go get us something to eat and drink for when you wake."

She didn't sleep while he was gone. She couldn't.

She just didn't know why she couldn't.

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And Where We End Up

Postby Merevaika on August 31st, 2017, 10:38 pm

When the Akalak returned, he had two waterskins in his hands and a roasted chicken, which he set about slicing into two halves while Merevaika pretended to sleep. Instead of closing her eyes fully, however, she watched through half squinted eyes as he worked, first on the chicken, then on some herbs, which she couldn't tell if they were meant for the chicken, or for something else entirely.

"Are you feeling better?" he asked, back turned to her, and Merevaika almost jumped, not having realised that he knew she had been watching him.

She croaked a few times, before finally clearing her throat after realising her nods weren't being seen. "Yes."

"Do you need anything to help you sleep? I can get some herbs of Uta and mix of some sort of concoction."

"I am good." She didn't want to sleep. The woman felt like the rest would only make her feel weaker.

The Akalak sighed, then picked up the waterskins and two plates that the chicken had been transferred to, taking them over to her. She took them gratefully, first trying a little from the waterskin. It was some sort of alcohol, which burned her throat. After the first few sips, which soothed any thirst she might have, she threw it away from her, not wanting to try any more.

Instead, her focus shifted to the chicken, and she began to devour it quickly, enjoying the taste in her mouth. It was warm and fresh and... hey, where did he get the chicken from?

As if hearing her thoughts, he gave a smile and began to explain. "You had this hanging outside your tent. Clearly, you were planning to eat it at some point, and I wasn't going to let it rot while you hung around here. I'm sure half a chicken is decent payment, correct? With a mango thrown in?"

She scowled at the first part, angry that he had taken from her without asking, that he had decided on his own payment, but she had been too weak to stop him, and that was definitely her own fault. At the last part, about a mango, whatever that was, she scowled further, this time with confusion in the mix.

"The fruit," he explained, pointing to the bundle, "Nice basket, by the way."

Merevaika shrugged, not caring. They weren't yet ripe and anyway, she wasn't the biggest fan of fruit. The sweetness, especially from this jungle fruit, was often too overwhelming for her to really enjoy.

"Thanks. I'll be in the next room, working on this," he moved the herbs up, that she realised hadn't gone anywhere yet, "If Uta comes, tell her I'm there. And if you have any problems, just shout."

And so he left her, with a million questions. Three stuck out to her the most. One: what was he working on - hopefully, it wasn't some vile thing for her. Two: who was Uta, and what did he need from her? And three: What was Merevaika meant to do while trapped on a hospital bed, still too weak to walk around and get something done.

Even if she could get up, she knew he'd stop her from leaving the Panacea completely. He did want to help her, after all, and in his mind, that meant watching over her until he was happy she hadn't been poisoned by that snake.

It didn't take long for her to get bored of just lying there, staring at the patterns in the roof. She began to make a pile of cushions. Once it had fallen down the second time, she decided she wasn't cut out for this construction work, and they weren't exactly suitable either.

Then she took the thin sheets designed to be used as blankets if the nights got cold, and twisted them tightly in her hands, forming some sort of rope. She began to tie knots - the simple ones, left over right then through - again and again, forgetting she had actual rope for that purpose.

Then she remembered she had actual rope and did it there too.

Then she stared some more, groaning with boredom.

Then she padded around the area, testing her leg with a few jumps and stamps, wincing when it still hurt and beaming when it didn't.

Then a woman came along, staring a little confused at the woman who must have looked crazy, walking in circles and breaking it up only with a hop.

"Are Jansen and Kalum here? I've got the herbs he requested," she held up some more, similar, but not identical, to what the Akalak had before, "My name is Uta."

Ah, so that was who he had been waiting for. Merevaika gestured towards the bungalow, before settling back on her bed, the snakebite starting to hurt again with all her testing. Perhaps she shouldn't have trusted the healing power of the gnosis as much. Or perhaps it was just the venom and infection coming back.

The other woman disappeared into the lab, and Merevaika could hear muttering, although she couldn't make out what they said. A few times, she thought she could hear her name, but how would they know it?

Finally, both emerged, the Akalak a little entertained by how she had been so bored for the last bell.

"You keep making such a racket. Do you want me to fetch you something? Perhaps you could busy yourself with some sort of stitchwork? Or you could borrow my medical notebook, although I doubt it is the most fascinating reading material."

Merevaika rolled her eyes. The last time she had really done anything with a needle and thread was when she had been a child - and maybe to repair a few tears, but only because it had absolutely been necessary. She found it torture - even worse than being a little bored. And the second suggestion was stupid. Why would she know how to read? The Drykas didn't bother themselves with stupid things like that.

Sensing her displeasure with his suggestions, Jansen - or was it Kalum, now? - moved forward, and placed the book down beside her anyway. "In case you change your mind."

"I am Drykas," she blurted out, feeling as if that gave all the explanation that she needed.

"So?" Clearly not.

"We do not have books." Do not read. She could have just said that, but in some way, it was admitting something she didn't know, and she wasn't exactly happy with doing that, either.

"You can't read?" At least he understood this.

Merevaika's blank expression challenged him to interpret her statement in another way.

"It's not hard. Here, I'll show you. I can get back to you on that, Uta, right?"

The other woman nodded and hurried away, sensing she was no longer needed. The Akalak approached, taking the book up and opening it on the first page.

She didn't want to be taught. Reading was stupid and not necessary and she didn't want him to think she wanted this.

But as he cleared his throat to speak, Merevaika realised that it was a useful skill. Books told you things. Words written down had their uses, when they couldn't be spoken, or signed. Messages could be sent across distances, across time.

Besides, she didn't want to constantly live with the inability to do something.

So instead of shifting away, or towards, she sat there, legs outstretched, watching from a safe distance as she read, admiring his delicate fingers that were used to healing, not fighting.

"J," he said out loud, pointing to the first letter, "J for Jansen." His finger moved in a swoop, copying the shape. It was almost like a horseshoe, only the left side had been cut off, and placed sideways on the right. Secretly, she traced the shape on the bed behind her, hoping he didn't notice.

"A," he continued, pointing to the next letter. This one was smaller, sort of circular, but it had a little line coming off the bottom right. "For... apple." Then "N, for night." Another horseshoe, only flipped the other way around. She copied those two too, feeling like a fool as he spoke to her like she was a child.

Her face remained expressionless, however. "S, for the snake that bit you." It looked like a snake too, wiggling right to left to right to left. "E, for egg." It didn't look like an egg. This one was a weird shape. A smaller circle that hovered above the imaginary line all the letters sat on, with a tail coming off the left hand side and swooping under them all. "Another N." Without looking, she drew the shape, then realised she had drawn the one for A by accident. At least he couldn't see that.

"Jansen." Merevaika wondered why he had just said his name. "That is what it says. J-A-N-S-E-N. Jansen. Got it?"

Nope. She didn't get it at all. E and the noise in Jansen, where the E was located, sounded completely different. So did A and that noise. Why were the individual letters called 'Aiee' and 'Eee' when those weren't the noises they made in the word. And all that A is for apple stuff - what was that about? What did apples have to do about this?

Maybe it would have been a better idea to give up before she even started.

It wasn't like she needed to learn how to read anyway.

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