Solo Wasted Time

A hypochondriac comes into the Catholicon

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The Diamond of Kalea is located on Kalea's extreme west coast and called as such because its completely made of a crystalline substance called Skyglass. Home of the Alvina of the Stars, cultural mecca of knowledge seekers, and rife with Ethaefal, this remote city shimmers with its own unique light.

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Wasted Time

Postby Adeliz on June 24th, 2018, 10:41 pm

Wasted Time

Summer the 18th, 518 AV

Silas woke to the dimming light of day and the unseasonably cold, summer wind that whipped through the Kalean mountaintops. A Zeltiva native by birth, he was accustomed to the freezing bite of the Bonesnapper, not something even the winds of an exposed mountaintop could come close to comparing to, so the wind usually was more of a comfort than not. This wind was different though. It bit deeper than bone, but it wasn’t entirely unpleasant. It brought with it smells from leagues away, smells that fused themselves into such a cacophony that it deafened his nose to any single one of them. Still, the smell was not unpleasant. It carried an overall sense of cleanliness, like the petrichor of a long overdue summer storm.

Standing up from his mat on the floor, Silas reached his arms to the ceiling, feeling the stretch in his spine as his muscles remembered their work after having relaxed through a long day of sleep. Though he had lived in Lhavit for nearly a decade, their erratic sleeping patterns had not yet become regular for him. A part of him longed to rise with the sun and call the day quits when Syna’s light left. It was the natural order of things, but Lhavit was a place of the unnatural, the supernatural. When Zintila, the Goddess of the Stars, called your city home, you rose with their burgeoning light.

Silas sighed and rubbed his eyes, wandering over to the washbasin next to the window.

Wasted time. That was what these sporadic naps were, enough to waste time but not enough to leave Silas feeling rejuvenated. An unpleasant chill swept down his spine as he splashed cold water on to his face to wake himself up. He wasn’t put off by the cold, but damn it, did a ray of sunshine sound nice about now. People weren’t meant to be up at night, and the body respond well to not seeing the sun. But that was the way of things here.

Another splash of water hit his face, and this time he rubbed vigorously to clean away the dirt and grime of the previous day. He repeated the process several times before taking the towel that draped over the bowl’s edge and drying his face with it. The rough material dragged across his skin, catching on the stubble of the facial hair he usually shaved but hadn’t in the last few days, but the friction brought a warmth and a glow to his cheeks, leaving his face clean and dry.

As he took off his shirt, he looked down at his belly. There was a little pudge gathering there, something that had never happened in all the years he’d lived in Zeltiva, but too many days with too little sleep combined with a job that was generally not heavy on physical labor had added together to add a few pounds to his gut. Of course, he had been younger in those days. He knew one’s body looked different from one’s own perspective, and that others saw him as scrawny. But that didn’t matter. He thought what he thought, so he’d do something about it. Just not today. He’d already wasted enough time.

Filling a cup with water, he drizzled some across his toothbrush, then scooped some paste from an open jar with one finger and spread it across the bristles. He had learned nearly a decade ago that the health of one’s mouth was as important as the strength of their muscles for their overall wellbeing. Brushing the bristles back and forth, he felt the gritty paste scraping his teeth clean. When he was finished, he opened the window and spit the foamy remnants of the paste out into his barren garden. Whoever had owned the house before him had turned it into a miniature paradise, but under Silas’ ignorant care, it had fallen apart. Even the hardiest of plants had died, and now it was only a haven for weeds. It had been a waste of time, both for the previous gardener whose work was now gone and for Silas who had wasted nearly a year’s worth of his free time trying to salvage his failed attempt.

There were plenty of things for him to worry about but not enough time to actually do the worrying or do something about whatever it was he worried over. For now, he needed to be on his way to work. Packing his backpack with a fresh pair of clothes, he headed out the door into the thick fog. The precipitation in the air had been so heavy that he found himself soaked and cold by the time he reached the Catholicon each day.

While the cold the fog brought wasn’t bad, the lack of vision that came with it was off-putting. The going was slow when one could barely see two strides ahead of them, let alone their own two feet. Step by step, he followed the familiar pathway from his front doorstep to the main road and turned in the direction of Shinyama peak. The only saving grace was that this was Lhavit, and the city was as alive with light at night as it was during the day. Soon, but not as soon as he would’ve liked, Silas stumbled upon the twin row of lights that indicated he’d reached the first of three bridges he’d have to cross in order to reach Tenten peak, the mountain top where the Catholicon was nestled.

Road by road, peak by peak, Silas plodded his way across the majority of Lhavit until he was at the familiar front doors of the Catholicon. Pushing them open, he gave a small smile and a nod of recognition to his fellow coworker waiting in the reception area.

She returned his smile with a brighter one of her own. “Good night, Silas.”

That was something he would never get used to. Good night was never meant to be a greeting.

He nodded again before passing her and making his way up to the first loft. There, before moving farther upwards, he stopped to check on the patients from the previous day. There was only one, a young man who had been in many times previously for various wounds he had garnered in feats of daring. Yesterday, he had come in with a nasty gash on his forearm and a head wound as well.

Silas stepped up to the bed side where the young man was sitting up talking with a young woman who no doubt had been the one he’d been showing off for. “I see you decided to stay the day with us.”

“Yes. Alessia made me stay.”

“That was probably for the best. That head wound of yours was nasty.” Silas remembered Alessia showing him how the young man’s eyes didn’t focus. He had been in charge of checking on the man several times every bell to make sure his cognitive signs were improving. “May I check your eyes once more?”

The young man looked annoyed but nodded. Holding a lantern up near the man’s face, Silas noted in satisfaction the way the man’s pupils constricted in unison at the advent of bright light, something they had not been doing yesterday. Alessia had said that was due to trauma of the brain and that the young man should stay in their care until that resolved.

Silas nodded. “You’re looking better. I’ll let the doctors know. One of them should be by shortly to double check and send you on your way.” Silas was about to leave but turned back again. “And do us a favor. Stick with wounds to the limbs. They’re easier for us to treat, and the scars look better there anyhow.”

The young man laughed. “I’ll try to keep that in mind, if I haven’t already knocked all the sense out of it.”

Silas smiled and continued up the stairs to the top floor, reaching the scrub area where he changed out of his damp clothes. He noticed, as he slid on his clean shirt, that there was some surgical equipment that needed cleaning. He was about to start on that task when a voice stopped him.

“Silas, you’re with me today.”

He turned to see the half-Symenestra Alessia addressing him. “Alessia.” He nodded a greeting to her. “I think the young gentleman with the concussion had recovered.”

Alessia smiled. “Good. I’ll have someone else discharge him. I want you to shadow me today, learn some of the basics of an examination.”

It was Silas’ creed to escape attention whenever possible, his way of never having to better himself. He tried to worm his way out of this one. “I’d just to slowing you down if you try to teach me anything. I’d rather not waste your time.”

Alessia’s eyes narrowed around her crimson pupils as if sensing he was trying to avoid a day under her tutelage. “You’d only be wasting my time if you don’t learn.” She turned toward the stairs, calling back over her shoulder. “And, Silas, I expect you to not waste my time.”

Silas nodded in understanding. She wasn’t taking no for an answer.
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Wasted Time

Postby Adeliz on June 30th, 2018, 9:58 pm

Silas quickly fell in behind Alessia and noted, not for the first time, that she looked nearly as good from the back as she did from the front. He wasn’t able to distract himself for long though before she began to question him.

“We should review some things before we begin.” If there was one certainty about Alessia, it was that she was blunt. It gave her a bedside manner that left much to be desired but made her an excellent physician. “What’s the average heart rate for a person?”

That was something Silas had never learned, but he had checked his own a time or two. He answered confidently. That was one thing he had learned. If you sounded like you knew what you were talking about, people generally didn’t question you. “Eighty beats a chime.”

Alessia continued to stride slowly down the stairs. She shrugged noncommittally at his answer. “I suppose that could be true. If there’s one thing you should remember about medicine, Silas, it’s this. The answer is always ‘It depends.’ But for a normal, healthy adult, it’s usually sixty to eighty beats per chime, but that can vary from individual to individual depending on size and other factors. And for whatever reason, we doctors seem to make people nervous. Just by walking through the front doors of the Catholicon, people’s heart rates tend to jump a bit. What about respiratory rates?”

Once again, that was something Silas had never cared to learn, so he said the smartest thing he could think of. “It depends. I think how one is breathing is much more important than how often. Regular, deep, steady breaths with minimal effort is what we want to see.”

That seemed most logical to him, and Alessia seemed pleased with the answer. “Good, Silas. Not many first think about that.”

The woman from the reception area flashed Silas another smile as she handed Alessia a stack of notes. “It’s Gwen again. She’s the only one you have in at the moment.”

“Damn it.” Alessia hissed under her breath. “I saw her less than a fortnight ago.”

“Is there a problem?” Silas wasn’t used to Alessia reacting this way. She was always composed, and as a doctor, she tended to look forward to the mysteries her cases brought her.

Alessia groaned quietly. She was always careful never to insult patients loud enough for them to hear. “She’s a hypochondriac.”

“A what?” Silas had never heard the word before.

Alessia sighed and explained. “She always thinks she’s sick. Truth is, she’s probably one of the healthiest patients I’ve ever examined. I guess I can’t be angry though. She always pays, and she takes everything I say to heart. Any advice I give, she follows. It’s just a waste of my time that she’s in as often as she is. I see her a good half dozen times a season.”

Silas shrugged. Like Alessia had said, this Gwen was a paying customer who actually listened to what the doctors told her. That was better than half their patients.

With one more sigh, Alessia put on a poor smile. “At least Gwen will be a good opportunity to show you what a normal examination ought to be like.”

With that, Alessia stepped into the room and gave Gwen the same smile she’d just given to Silas, a sad attempt and unconvincing. The look on Gwen’s face said she had seen Alessia’s lack of effort and felt something akin to being uncomfortable. Silas couldn’t quite place it. Unwelcome, maybe. When Gwen’s eyes moved to Silas to see if he shared the same lack of empathy, he let a warm smile spread across his face as he met her eyes. As soon as Gwen saw the genuine warmth and care in Silas’ face a bright smile burst across her own. Her head bobbed a quick nod his way.

With her eyes buried in her notes, reviewing what she had already done for Gwen, Alessia missed the exchange. “Good night, Gwen.” Her tone didn’t match what she said. It was too dry. Silas silently reminded himself to help Alessia work on that. The doctor went on. “I hope you don’t mind, but I’m training one of our assistants, so he can be of better help to us.”

Expecting an introduction to follow, Silas waited a moment for exactly that, as did their patient. When it became obvious no such introduction was coming, Gwen let her smile brighten a little more, and Silas noted how white her teeth were compared to most people’s.

“I don’t believe we’ve met before, and I know most everyone here. I’m Gwen.”


Gwen’s eyes narrowed for a moment as she racked her brain for some piece of information, then widened when she remembered what it was. “Silas! You’re the teeth expert.”

Silas laughed. “Hardly an expert, friend. I dabble. But, yeah, I’m that one.”

Gwen’s smile brightened more, if that was even possible. “I make sure to take good care of my teeth. I brush them once each day.”

“Once? That’s good.” Silas held up two fingers. “But twice is better.”


Silas nodded. Gwen stopped smiling and pursed her lips together in an attempt to hide the teeth her smile had been showing off.

Laughing at Gwen’s antics, Silas reassured her. “Don’t hide your smile. You’ve taken excellent care of it. You have nothing to be ashamed of.”

Gwen was about to smile again when Alessia cut their chatter short. “Now that you two are acquainted, perhaps Gwen can tell us what brought her here today.”

Faced with a question about her health, Gwen immediately gave Alessia her full attention. Her health was something she took very seriously. The more he looked, the more Silas could see it. The perfect smile. The way the muscles of her arms moved beneath the short sleeves of her shirt. The bright shine in her eyes. Health was the most important thing to this young woman. It was no wonder she came to the Catholicon any time she felt remotely unwell.

“I can’t explain it. I just feel off, not my usual self.”

Annoyance, dimly masked, flashed in Alessia’s eyes, but she quickly replaced it with a concerned smile. “That’s not very helpful to me, dear.”

Gwen’s face fell. “I know. I’m sorry.”

Alessia’s smile became softer, kinder, more motherly. She had her moments when her compassion shown through. “That’s alright. That’s what we’re here for. Why don’t we see what we can find? Is it alright with you if I walk Silas through your examination?”

Gwen nodded, so Alessia gestured to their patient. “Silas, would you please get our patient’s heart rate?”

“Of course.” Silas pulled up a chair in front of Gwen and held his hand up to her throat just beneath her jaw. “May I?”

Gwen nodded again, so Silas pressed two fingers gently against her neck where he knew he’d feel her bounding pulse.

“Not that way,” Alessia corrected him. “You can get her heart rate, but there you’re not going to be able to tell anything about the quality of her pulse. Try it here.” She took his hand and placed his first three fingers on the underside of Gwen’s wrist. “Right there, just to the outside of the tendons. Do you feel it?”

It took him a moment, but he finally did. It wasn’t as obvious as the pulse he knew he would’ve felt at her throat, but it was there, steady and unending. Silas nodded. “I feel it.”

Alessia grabbed Gwen’s other wrist before she flipped a small sand time glass over, and Silas began to count in time to the beat beneath his fingers.

One. Two. Three. Four…
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Wasted Time

Postby Adeliz on December 7th, 2018, 2:44 am

As the time trickled to its end, the last grain of sand slipping through the glass funnel at the middle, Silas stopped his count. It was a fifteen tick sand glass, he knew that much, which meant that he had to multiply his count by four. His count seemed too low though.

Alessia’s pointed black nails slid off Gwen’s wrist, and Silas’ superior looked to him. “What did you get?”

Unable to come up with an answer right away, Silas’ eyes gazed at the stone ceiling as his mind attempted to come up with the answer. He’d counted to twelve. It ought to have been simple math, but he had to think about it. Four times twelve. It had to be there in his mind somewhere. Rusty from lack of use, his mind struggled through the simplest of math. Four times twelve. Four times twelve. He finally came up with something. “Forty-eight.”

“Good. Me too.”

Silas felt a small amount of satisfaction at that until he remembered their previous discussion on what a heart rate ought to be. “Isn’t that low?”

Alessia nodded, then shrugged. “As with all things, it depends. Normally, if someone came to me with a pulse that low, it’d give me some cause for concern. But I know Gwen.” Alessia gave her patient a rare smile. “She keeps herself in excellent condition. If someone exercises heavily, they can get down to a pulse like hers. Ever since she’s come here, Gwen’s had a pulse somewhere between forty and fifty. Yours at eighty is a little on the high end, Silas. You might want to look to that.” Alessia poked Silas’ belly to emphasize a point.

Silas shrugged. “I’m not in as good of shape as I used to be.”

Gwen gave him a smile and a helpful suggestion, pointing at the dark rings under his eyes. “If you get more sleep, you’ll feel a lot better and be much healthier.”

“Yeah? Well, if you tell this entire city to sleep at night like the rest of the world, then maybe I will get more.”

Gwen laughed. “You’re not a native? Hmm. I think you used to live somewhere coastal. You’ve got a look that says the sea is a part of you.”

Silas nodded. “Zeltiva was home before this.”

“What made you leave?”

Silas could see Alessia getting irritated with the small talk but wasn’t about to be rude to a patient under his care. That question was a complicated one with an answer Silas had told no one, not truthfully and not in its entirety. He gave the easy answer. “Family.”

“Oh, you have family here?”

“No. I had family there.”

Gwen laughed again. That was a good sound in a place like this. Most people weren’t in good humor when coming in for medical attention. “I can understand that. I was a bit relieved when my family left.”

“Shall we continue your examination?” Ever the physician, Alessia got them back on track.

“Yes, please.”

Alessia turned her attention back to Silas once more. “How would you describe Gwen’s pulse?”

Silas took a moment to think about it. To him, it had seemed to be normal, but he had never thought to evaluate such things before. “Good.”

Alessia sighed and closed her eyes to keep herself from rolling them. “Good is not a descriptor we use in medicine. Think about its quality.”

Silas thought a moment again. “Strong.”

Alessia nodded. “That’s better. You will learn the various descriptions the more often you practice, the more pulses you actually feel. Take every opportunity you can. There are several descriptions: strong, bounding, weak, thready. If I get the opportunity to show you any of these, I will. I want you as well trained as you can be. That being said, the exam is far from over.”
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