Solo A Series of Good Fortune (Pt. 8): Storming Out

Silas faces the consequences of an encounter with wild djed

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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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A Series of Good Fortune (Pt. 8): Storming Out

Postby Silas Sticks on July 21st, 2018, 1:35 am

A Series of Good Fortune (Pt. 8 ): Storming Out

Summer the 82nd, 518 AV

Boom! Boom! Boom!

A series of thunderclaps woke Silas from a dead sleep. With the way his body felt, he was pretty sure he’d only been asleep for about a bell. Exhaustion, raw and pure, pulled at every muscle and every limb and, as he opened his eyes, tried to force them back shut, but light flashed several times, brightening the room even through the closed shutters of the window and the closed lids of his eyes. He breathed out.

Boom! Boom!

The deep, low growl of lasting and more distant thunder followed these thunderclaps, and Silas growled back and covered his head with his pillow. One, long, uninterrupted night of sleep was all he was asking for, but he hadn’t got that since he’d arrived in Lhavit from Zeltiva nearly a decade ago. This city was slowly killing him with its forced insomnia.

BOOM!

Not to be ignored, the storm let loose a thunderclap that shook his entire house and caused him to bolt up into a sitting position. Chucking his pillow at the still rattling window shutters, Silas hurled a few curses after it.

“Fine. You win,” he conceded to the storm. Besides, he was wide awake now. There was no going back to sleep in this racket.

To the music of the consistent patter of rain and jarring gusts of wind, Silas readied himself for the day, washing his face and brushing his teeth before putting on fresh clothes. When he felt as ready as he knew he could, Silas threw a change of clothes into his pack and his heavy coat on and stepped out into the storm.

The first thing he noticed was the absolute and utter darkness. Even the glittering light of the skyglass was absent. This was night as Silas had remembered it in Zeltiva, a time where darkness ruled, a true night without the ludicrous sparkle of this city. It was a night empty of light, except when a flash of lightning lit the sky. One such bolt did just that, and Silas froze at the sight. The light that came from this bolt was not the bright white that he was accustomed to with every storm he had ever encountered. It was an eerie crimson, one that carried a density to it as if the light itself took up space, filled what little remnants that were left untouched by the fog. Nothing about it was natural. It was off. It was-

BOOM!

There had not really been a pause between the lightning and the thunder, just enough of a moment to recognize the oddity. This thunderclap felt heavier in the air, oppressive to the point it stole his breath. This wasn’t the sort of storm someone should be out in. And yet, Silas shuffled down the path from his door to the road that led to the bridge to Shinyama with only his feet as his guide. Whenever they felt the raised edges of the side of the road, he changed his course, working by insomnia-clouded memory to guide him down the correct path to the Catholicon.

It was slow going, shuffling his feet baby steps forward at a time until they bumped something, then altering his course slightly to head in what he felt certain was the right direction. In this fashion, he inched across the Lhavit. Only Sharai, if he was being honest. It was two bells before he found the bridge, and he could only tell it was that by pressing his face to it. The glittering light of Lhavit and its skyglass wasn’t enough to break through the fog.

One step out on to the bridge, and Silas knew he’d made a bad decision. The bridge was the least protected place when it came to the winds. In Zeltiva, he had become accustomed to the harsh bite of a strong wind. Nothing Lhavit had to offer had come close. Until this. Out on the bridge, he seemed to catch wind from every direction, and his hands cramped and went numb from the effort with which he griped the side of the bridge as step by step he plodded across it. There were times when, though his feet were stepping, he was making no forward progress against the gusts that hit him head on. Initially, he had worried about staying dry, but less than ten chimes out on the bridge, he was soaked completely through his coat. And though he knew his decision was poor, he pressed onwards, not reaching the end of the bridge for another bell and a bit.

Begrudging every step, Silas made his way in this fashion across Shinyama and Zentia, flinching now and again whenever lightning struck too close for his comfort. It wasn’t until he was on the bridge between Zintia and Tenten that something terrible occurred. Silas wasn’t sure how to describe it, but whatever it was came and went in the space of a few ticks. The only premonition he got was a sense of impending doom rushing toward him.

And then, it struck him, moved through him as if he wasn’t there. Silas knew he was there but knew as well that he was insignificant to whatever it was. He was meaningless. In the brief moments of contact with this intangible and yet very present force, Silas was overcome with a single stimulus. Stillness. Stillness, like the lifelessness that existed between heart beats, like the space that occupied lungs between breaths. It was there and yet it was not. It was as if the storm quieted and the wind stopped, as if the world had stopped existing for a time.

And then, it moved on. Every sensation came flooding back into him fiercer than before. His muscles ached in their constant effort. His skin felt raw and tingled against the cold. He was acutely aware of one overwhelming thing: pain.

Redoubling his efforts, he made it across the bridge and, somehow, ended up on the steps of the Catholicon. His knocks went unheard beneath the crash of the weather, so Silas gripped the door with numb fingers and forced them open, stumbling into the waiting room a dripping, shivering mess.
Silas Sticks
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A Series of Good Fortune (Pt. 8): Storming Out

Postby Silas Sticks on November 14th, 2018, 1:30 pm

“What in the Hai were you thinking, Silas?”

Alessia’s reprimand was the first thing that greeted him as his knees hit the floor. That, and a warm blanket around his shoulders. Beyond his shivering and his prayers to nobody that feeling would return to his hands, he realized that Alessia was greeting people at the door. A sign of a slow night. And why wouldn’t it be? Only idiots or mad men would be out in this. Silas wasn’t sure what that made him. Both probably.

“That was foolish going out in a storm like this one.”

Silas couldn’t disagree with that. An idiot it was then. A hand was placed on either side of his face and forced him to look into Alessia’s eyes. Skilled in her art and basing her choices on years of experience, Alessia wasted no time.

“Get him upstairs and into a bath. We need to get him warmed up.”

The pretty Eypharian who was always at the front desk and whose name Silas was always forgetting offered to help. “I’ll get the water we’ve been heating and add it in.”

“Not much.” Alessia response was blunt but carried the calm of someone used to being in charge and maintaining control over any situation. It was what Silas most admired about her. “Keep it a little above room temperature. If we warm him up too quickly, we could put his body into shock. Now quickly. Upstairs with him.”

A pair of strong arms lifted him, and Silas recognized Senri’s voice, Alessia’s favorite assistant, a man quite capable in medicine on his own. “What idiocy possessed you to brave that storm? We could’ve managed without you.”

“Thanks for the help up, friend, but I can manage from here.” Silas wasn’t so sure that was true as his legs felt like stumps that ended at his ankles, but he wasn’t too fond of relying on others. He decided to answer the question to distract those coming to his aid as he made his way for the stairs. “Honestly? I couldn’t sleep. That’s why I came back.”

Senri shook his head, but the Eypharian woman laughed. “You’re stubborn, Silas. That’s why we like you.”

Senri’s voice was stern. “Stubbornness can be admirable, Silas, but it can also get you killed. Try not to be too reckless. We like having you around.”

Some small part of Silas warmed at the sentiment, but for the time being, his thoughts were more preoccupied with warming parts of him other than his soul. Unfortunately for him, the bath in question was on the top loft, the fifth story of the Catholicon, and his feet were being stubborn about the additional work they were being forced to do. Twice on the way up, he stumbled. Once, he tripped and fell, and after that, Senri and the Eypharian had insisted on supporting him.

When they reached the top story, the Eypharian ran to add warmer water to the bath while Silas began to strip on his way toward the bath, shedding his sopping layers one by one, not bothering with decency. Most assistants and doctors in the Catholicon weren’t bothered by the trivialities of anatomy. The goddess knew that they encountered the more private bits on a regular basis during their interactions with their patients. Senri gathered Silas’ belongings and dropped them into a bucket to be dealt with later.

The Eypharian though, being their receptionist, was less comfortable and excused herself. “I’ll leave him in your capable hands, Senri. I don’t think you need me any longer.”

“Yes. Thank you, Rasika.”

Rasika. That was her name. Silas made a mental note of it and reminded himself to use it more. Hopefully that would mean he wouldn’t forget it.

His last layer hit the floor as he reached the edge of the bath. Swinging one leg over, he plunged it into the water, and immediately regretted his decision. It was like being dipped in liquid fire. This water, which would normally feel lukewarm, was warmer than his skin, and the difference was agonizing. Drawing in a deep breath, Silas stood still for several moments, a naked statue unworthy of being carved in marble, while he became accustomed to the pain.

“Are you alright?” Senri was depositing the last of Silas’ clothing into the bucket.

Waiting a few more moments, Silas nodded. “It just stings.”

He knew he was wasting time, that waiting longer wasn’t going to make this any better, so swinging his other leg over the side, he lowered himself into the water, submerging himself up to his shoulders. He had only been in the bath a chime or two, burning alive as the tingling sensation began to creep out of his limbs, when Alessia stepped back in with a towel and some blankets.

“Out of the bath, Silas. You need to get dry and by a fire.”

There was no medical opinion Silas trusted more, so he did as Alessia said. Soon, he was waiting alone before the fire, dry with a warm blanket around him. Unsure of whether it was exhaustion from his walk to work or the sheer exhaustion of lack of sleep, Silas began to drift off watching the tongues of flame in the fire in front of him. Despite his best efforts, he never fully arrived to slumber. Outside, the thunder kept cracking, and the burning tingle of his limbs regaining feeling made itself painfully obvious. Eventually, sick of his tired game of chase with shuteye, Silas decided to get to work. Taking the fresh pair of clothes that was warming by the fire, Silas managed to dress himself through the aching of stiff muscles.

The first thing he did was clean the mess he had made. There were still puddles across the floor from his walk across the room. Taking a towel, he mopped up what he could before taking all the towels and his clothes to a smaller tub filled with water. With each article of clothing placed against the washboard in the tub, Silas scrubbed vigorously, flipped it over, and scrubbed the other side. It was a monotonous and thankless chore, but it was jobs like these that kept the Catholicon running smoothly. After each article was done, Silas rinsed it, wringed it out, and hung it to dry.

With that done, he made his way down the stairs to see how he could make himself useful. He had barely made it to the second loft when a bolt of lightning flashed outside and a thunderclap shook the building.

BOOM.
Silas Sticks
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A Series of Good Fortune (Pt. 8): Storming Out

Postby Silas Sticks on November 19th, 2018, 1:53 am

Silas himself started. Next to him, from behind one of the partitions that gave their patients privacy while they stayed, a small shriek sounded. As an assistant, Silas was in charge of the care of patients while the doctors actually saw to the sick. Besides, Alessia and Senri were nowhere to be found. Sighing, Silas turned and ducked behind the partition.

On first look, there was no one there. Scattered behind the partition was evidence that someone had been staying here. There were a few small trinkets from home to make it more personal, and a fresh pair of clothes lay on a nearby stand. Even the bedsheets and blanket were crumpled up on the cot, letting Silas know someone had been there very recently. Here at the Catholicon, the workers were quick about keeping things tidy. He was about to look elsewhere for the noise when the crumpled sheets stirred, ever so slightly.

The pile was too small to be an adult. Silas smiled. He remembered being young and being afraid of the thunder. His sister Sienna had always made fun of him for it. She was brave, braver than he was about most things. Some days, he admired her. Some days, he hated her. Grabbing a chair, he slid it noisily across the floor to the side of the bed to let the hospital guest know someone else was present. The pile shifted a little more this time. Slowly, a dark-haired head emerged followed by a scared pair of bright green eyes. As the child untangled herself from the sheets and sat up in bed, Silas noted the splint on her arm with a sling wrapped around her neck and over one shoulder.

He flashed a tired smile her way. “You afraid of the thunder?”

Her hair fell across her face as she bobbed her head once.

“Can I tell you a secret?”

Her head bobbed again.

Slouching in the chair, Silas yawned before he started talking. “I used to be, too.”

Her eyes narrowed, not believing him. “Grown ups don’t get afraid.”

Raising his eyebrows, Silas shook his head. “They get afraid all the time. We get afraid all the time. I used to be afraid of the thunder, but then I found something out. Guess what.”

She waited, so he went on. “Thunder can’t hurt you. It’s just noise.”

“Really?”

Silas nodded with a knowing smile. “Really. It’s completely harmless.”

A confident smile spread across the girl’s face, and Silas knew he was doing something right. He had to keep talking to keep her mind off her fear, so he said the first thing that came to his mind. “Now, lightning is a different story. That’ll kill you dead like that.” Silas snapped his fingers to demonstrate.

The girl’s eyes went wide, and she ducked under her covers again.

“Shit,” Silas swore under his breath. He had been doing so well, and he just had to go and say something like that. He racked his brain for something that would abate her fear. “We’re completely safe in here.”

He believed that, but she didn’t. Her head poked out again with a sharp glare. “Liar.”

“I’ll show you something that’ll prove it. I’ll be right back.”

Her eyes went wide as he stood to leave.

“I swear. Right back.”

Running to a small supply closet, Silas picked out one of the spare blankets and ran back to the girl’s partition as quickly as he could. She was hiding beneath the sheets again, but her head poked back out when she heard him returning. Silas held up the blanket. “Watch this.”

It was a trick a previous patient had showed him during a short stay. Silas tossed the light blanket over his head and rubbed it back and forth vigorously over his hair. It took nearly a minute to get the desired result, and Silas was began to doubt it was going to work when it finally happened. A few sparks jumped out and shocked his nose. His young patient’s eyes widened again but, this time, in wonder.

“What was that?” She held out her hand for the blanket.

Silas laughed. “Just sparks. You’re blanket will do it too.”

In a moment, the girl was underneath her blanket, but this time, in search of fun rather than fleeing from fear. As she ran the blanket back and forth over her head, she giggled when the sparks finally appeared.

Silas smiled at the sound. “I’m glad you enjoy that. I’m Silas. What’s your name, kid?”

“Sarah.”

Yawning, Silas’ head dipped forward as he nodded off mid thought. Standing up, he rubbed his eyes roughly as if doing so would wake him up. Damn. He needed something to do to keep him awake.

“I’ll be right back,” Silas told Sarah as he stepped back out into the center of the room.

“Bring more blankets,” her voice followed.

“Loads of them. I swear.”
Silas Sticks
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A Series of Good Fortune (Pt. 8): Storming Out

Postby Silas Sticks on December 3rd, 2018, 1:46 am

Wandering back out to where the blankets were stored, Silas fetched a hefty pile and checked on the rest of the patients while he walked back. There was only one. A couple waited behind one partition. The husband seemed to be their patient as he was propped up in the bed with a few pillows to keep him in place while his wife nodded off on a chair at his side. They were neither young nor old, just somewhere in between, not in their prime but the benefits of health not lost to them either. Both were asleep or so close to it that Silas thought it best to leave them be. If there was one thing that was certain, it was that sleep was necessary for recovery, and too often, sleep was interrupted here with the vigilance of the assistants. He’d let them sleep until he was told to check on them.

Returning with the armful of blankets, he lifted them up to show Sarah. “What did I say?”

She beamed a smile. “Loads of ‘em.”

“You know what we’re gonna do with them?”

Sarah shook her head.

“We’re gonna build a fort.”

Sarah smirked and laughed. “You can’t build a fort with blankets. Forts have to be tough.”

“No.” Silas shook his head. “Forts just have to keep whatever’ll hurt you out. These blankets can’t be broke by lightning.”

Her eyes narrowed, and Silas swore inwardly to himself. Damn, kids could be skeptical.

Rather than try to address concerns he knew he couldn’t reasonably deal with, he looked around her small area and devised a plan. “We can hang one from the top of the partition to make our roof.”

Sarah stated the obvious. “How are you going to get it to stay?”

Silas shook his head. “I dunno.”

A mischievous smile spread across the child’s face. “I got an idea, but it’d probably get us in trouble.”

“Trouble? How much?”

“Depends.” Sarah shrugged. “How uptight is everyone here?”

Silas laughed. “As uptight as they come.”

A deep sigh said Sarah was disappointed by this. A frown furrowed her brows, and she sighed again.

“Tell you what,” Silas returned her mischievous smile. “You tell me what you’re thinking, and I’ll implement it if I can. That way, they can only yell at me. You avoid trouble no matter what.”

“Perfect.”

Silas shook his head at how willing Sarah was to let him take the fall for this, but he remembered being young and not wanting to take responsibility for his actions, not wanting to face his consequences. “So what’s the plan?”

“We cut holes in the blankets.” She shook her head. “No, that won’t work. You cut holes in the blankets. Then, we can drape them over the partition, and the posts will hold them in place.”

It would work. The partitions had panels that were held in place by posts that rose a little higher than the panels they held. With holes in the right places, the blankets would stay in place. Now, Silas just had to figure how willing he was to get reprimanded for destroying the Catholicon’s property. Not destroying, Silas reminded himself. Holes could patched and sewn. He could repair these and make them usable. Besides, Sarah would smile. It was worth it.

“Let me find something to cut them with.”

“I’ve got a knife in my stuff.”

Silas cocked an eyebrow and gave her a judgmental look.

Sarah shrugged. “What? I need it for…” She decided telling him the truth would be a bad idea, so she stuck to vague, noncommittal ideas. “Things. And stuff.”

Shaking his head, Silas wandered over to the bag on the nightstand and noted several pouches, one big one and several other small ones on the sides. “Is it just in the big pocket?”

“No. The little one on the right.”

Feeling the cold steel through the flimsy, burlap side of the bag, Silas extracted the little blade and made his way back to the blanket by the partition. Running his thumb across the blade gently to test its edge, Silas swore and stuck his finger in his mouth as the knife slashed easily through the skin. The iron taste of blood was quick to come. He’d never had the best or wisest knife handling.

Sarah rolled her eyes. “You’re not supposed to stab yourself with it. You stab other people-” she cut herself off again- “I mean, things and stuff with it.”

Silas pulled his finger out of his mouth and looked at the wound while trying to mull over what Sarah had just said. She was a trouble maker; that much was sure. Silas couldn’t help but like her. The girl knew how to keep an edge on a blade. He’d need to bandage the wound. Every time he took pressure off the wound, blood welled up out of it. Wrapping his free hand tightly around his bleeding finger, he shook his head at himself. “Wait here. I’ve got to go wrap this. I’ll be back soon.”

“I’m not headed anywhere. If you haven’t noticed, I’m stuck here. Only an idiot would go outside with all that thunder. And lightning.”

It was decided then. Silas was an idiot.
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A Series of Good Fortune (Pt. 8): Storming Out

Postby Silas Sticks on December 7th, 2018, 2:35 am

Back up the stairs, it was, but this time he could feel his feet beneath him. It made the going a whole lot easier. Still, he was dog tired from the lack of sleep, and every footfall on the stones steps left a dull thud against the hard, ungiving surface that fell as flat against his ears as his body felt. Making it back to the top floor of the Catholicon, Silas located some simple strips of linen and grabbed one he was certain would do the trick.

Washing his hands free of blood and drying them, he wrapped the linen piece around his wounded thumb several times, keeping it loose as he did. On the last two times around, he tightened down around the previous layers, creating a snug bandage that would stem the bleeding without turning the tip of his thumb purple. He’d made a few bandages far too tight in his early days at the Catholicon, but Alessia and several of the assistants had been quick to show him more appropriate ways of bandaging limbs. This method was one of Alessia’s. Silas found it worked best for him. Tying the ends of the linen on the back side of his thumb so it wouldn’t get in his way, he headed back down the stairs to find Sarah balancing precariously on the back of the chair trying to place a blanket on top of one partition.

In the fogginess induced by needing more sleep, Silas couldn’t bring himself to rush to her side. Instead, he ambled over and steadied her with a hand on her back and another on her good arm. “Get down from there, Sarah. You’re gonna break another arm.”

“No, I won’t.”

“How’d you break the first one?”

Sarah’s eyes got big again. “Good point.”

She let Silas help her down but didn’t answer his question.

“So how’d you break it?”

Giving an overly dramatic, exasperated sigh, Sarah glared at him. “God, you’re nosy. Are all grown ups as nosy as you?”

“Yup. Every single one of us.” He guided her as she stepped down to the floor. “Get used to it, kid. So how’d you break it?”

“Ugh. You’re so annoying. I was climbing a tree to fix the rope swing.”

Silas picked up the blanket and pressed the tip of her knife against it. A small amount of pressure was all he needed for the sharp blade to part the threads. It was a satisfying sound, threads snapping all at once. Holding the blanket steady, Silas slid the blade a short ways, opening the hole a little more. Standing on the seat of the chair, he stood on his tiptoes and draped the hole over one of the posts of the partition.

“You’re gonna break your arm up there.”

Silas glared at Sarah who was wearing a mischievous grin. “Shut up.”

“My mom says you’re not supposed to say that to people.”

“You know what? Your mom can-” Silas stopped himself from saying something he’d regret. He nodded. “She’s probably right.”

“Of course, she is. That’s what makes her so annoying.”

“I hate to break it to you, kid, but that’s what makes all adults annoying.”

Stabbing another hole in the blanket, Silas spread it across the top of the partition, so it would be spread out when he attached the other end elsewhere. When Silas was finished, one blanket ran from the partition to the bed posts at the head of Sarah’s bed while another stretched out lower, creating a tunnel entrance to her fort. One more draped straight down, held in place by being tucked into a drawer of the dresser to make a back wall. Inside, they had moved her mattress off her cot and scattered several pillows and piles of blankets about.

A voice came to them from outside their fort. It was Senri. “Silas, quit playing around. You need to see to all the patients.”

“Everyone else was sleeping,” Silas called back through their makeshift fort walls.

“Not any more. Our other patient is awake now, and we need your help.”

“There’s plenty of you out there.”

“You’re needed.” Senri put on his best authoritative voice. “Quit being childish.”

Silas held up his hand in mock apology to Sarah and spoke to her loud enough for Senri to hear. “Don’t worry, Sarah. He didn’t mean anything by it.”

“Silas, now.” Senri’s voice was stern as he walked away.

Silas muttered a string of unpleasant expletives at the sound of Senri’s retreating footsteps, and Sarah’s eyes went wide at the words she was hearing. She hadn’t grown up in a sailor’s town. Silas glared and held a finger to his lips. “Don’t tell anyone you heard me say that.”

With her good hand, Sarah made a quick “X” over her heart.

Nodding and muttering another string of curses, Silas crawled through the low-hanging tunnel that made the entrance to their fort. “I’ll swing by again.”

“I’ll hold down the fort for you.”

Silas couldn’t explain what he was feeling as he crawled out of the fort and stood to his feet. He was a huge proponent of not wasting time, something he’d just been doing. Senri’s request hadn’t been unreasonable, but Silas felt a growing irritation, not Senri and not at anything in particular. It was just a building sense of…

Silas couldn’t place what it was, but he was reminded of the powerlessness and insignificance he’d felt when he’d been struck by whatever was out in the storm. He didn’t like the feeling, and that made him angry.

Over behind the other occupied partition, Silas heard low voices beginning to raise. Someone sounded angry, and that, finally, managed to put a kick in his step. Jogging across the room, he slowed his pace as he rounded the partition.
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A Series of Good Fortune (Pt. 8): Storming Out

Postby Silas Sticks on December 8th, 2018, 6:34 pm

The scene that greeted him was less chaotic than what he thought he would wander in to, but Silas could tell tempers were escalating. The husband was on the edge of the bed trying to stand with his wife standing before him trying to calm him down and push him back down on the bed. Alessia was on his other side, trying to speak softly and reassure the man that all would well. With the look in the man’s eyes, Silas could see Alessia’s words weren’t working. There was something frightening about that look. It was rage, but it wasn’t right. Rage had focus, purpose, direction. This was empty, anger for anger’s sake. On the other side of the bed, Senri reached across to try to grab the man’s shoulders to pull him back.

The man exploded upward, pushing his wife out of the way as he spun around toward Senri, shouting, “Get your hands off me! Touch me again and you’ll lose them.”

Frightened by the potential damage the angry man could do to her fragile bones, Alessia had skittered away, giving Silas a chance to place himself between the man and her. He did so as gently as he could, making the movement as slow as he could while still achieving the right result, but the man saw the motion and turned toward Silas with his fists raised. Cringing as if he were afraid, Silas held his hands up to show he meant no harm.

“What do you want?” The rage hadn’t left the man’s face or voice.

“Nothing. I just don’t want anyone hurt. We all know Senri’s an ass.” Silas knew the best thing to do with most unreasonably angry people was not to try to reason with them. It was better to tell them what they wanted to hear. “He’s gonna step out to cool off, and he’ll come back in when he’s feeling more benevolent.”

“I haven’t done a th-” Senri began to protest before Silas glared at him. Returning the glare, Senri turned and walked behind the partition. “Yeah. I’m going.”

Silas waited until he heard Senri’s footsteps walk away before he turned back to their patient. “There. That’s better.”

He had been thinking of asking if that was better but had thought better of it. If he wanted to convince someone of something, he had to paint it that way. It couldn’t be made a choice. By the look in the man’s eyes, it wasn’t working well, but it was working. Even if only a little, things were better off than when Silas had arrived.

Silas looked to both the husband and wife, hoping to put them both at ease by drawing them all into the conversation. “What brought you in today?”

“Tonight,” the man grumbled his correction. His head flicked toward his wife. “She thinks I’m sick. I’m not.”

“Well, you aren’t right.” The woman scolded him before turning to Silas to explain. “I told him not to go out in that storm. I said to him, ‘Gerald, you’re gonna catch cold if you end up stuck in that storm too long,’ but he didn’t listen to me. When he came back in from being out a few hours, there was something different about him. He even said something odd happened while he was out, but he won’t admit it again, not since he’s been here.”

“I’m fine now, Hildie,” Gerald snapped. “I just want to go home.”

“You’re not fine. You’re being belligerent.”

“I’m not.”

“You are.” She said that with an air of finality that seemed to end the argument.

“I want to go home,” Gerald grumbled again.

Silas’ foggy brain, even though stirred by the short burst of adrenaline, didn’t want any more arguing. “I understand it’s not the most comfortable here, but it’s probably not in Hildie’s best interests to go back through that storm. It’s only gotten worse. I’ll tell you what. We’ll do what we can to make things more comfortable here until the storm passes. We’ll pull in another cot. There are plenty not being used. And while we’re getting things set up here, we’ll get some hot tea brewed, something to take the edge off the cold.”

Hildie nodded. “That’d be nice. Don’t you think, Gerald?”

Knowing it was wise not to disagree, Gerald nodded too. Silas could still see the anger in his eyes. That had not abated, but the situation was a bit calmer now.

As Silas and Alessia stepped away, Alessia shook her head. “He’s not alright. I’ve met Gerald before, and this isn’t him.”

“That’s why I suggested tea.”

Alessia gave Silas a look that said he should know better than that. “Tea doesn’t fix that.”

“No, but I imagine we’ve got something we could put in the tea to make him more… agreeable.”

Thinking a moment, Alessia came up with something from the vast stores of her knowledge. “I’ve got something, but it won’t fix whatever the problem is.”

“It’ll give you the time you need to figure it out though.”

“Yes, it will. Good thinking, Silas. Follow me.”

Silas kicked himself for doing something worthy of note, but if there was one thing he resented more than recognition, it was getting in a fight. That’s why he always strived to avoid them if he could. If he was being honest, he’d never been in a fight in his life. He’d had people beat on him, and he’d beaten a few people. But those encounters had always been one-sided, never fights. He was content he’d not been in one just now.
Silas Sticks
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A Series of Good Fortune (Pt. 8): Storming Out

Postby Silas Sticks on December 14th, 2018, 4:10 pm

They were on their way back up the stairs to find whatever it was that Alessia had thought of. When they reached the loft where herbs and medicines were stored, Alessia set Silas to work right away. “I need connal, fauxsil, or calgonquit. Quickly, please.”

As Silas wandered over to the herbs, Alessia pulled a kettle that had been heating over a fire and began to prepare a pot of something.

“What’s that for?” Silas asked over his shoulder as he scanned rows upon rows of jars of herbs.

Alessia rolled her eyes before looking down at the pot and sighing. The look she gave him when her eyes came back up was the kind a disapproving parent gave to a none-too-bright child. “It’s tea, Silas. You drink it.”

This was Alessia’s way. She was not of the belief that there were no stupid questions. Whenever one was asked, she gave her reply with bite or sarcasm, not to be demeaning but in playful jest. Today, though, it rubbed Silas the wrong way. That irritation, that anger that went nowhere, it was getting worse, and Silas didn’t like it. And that he didn’t like it, only made it build more.

“Where are the herbs?”

It wasn’t so much a question as it was Alessia’s way of reminding him to continue his job, and Silas didn’t mind. The distraction of something to do moved his mind away from the fact that he was angry about nothing. The anger didn’t go away, but at the very least, he thought about it less.

His eyes scanned over the jars and their labels in a frustrating and unproductive search. There was no organization to them whatsoever. Perhaps to an herbalist, it would make sense. Maybe they were organized by what they did, but Silas knew nothing about herbs and their properties. Alphabetical would work better for all people concerned, but these were not in any order Silas could determine. So jar by jar, he made his way through the herbs until he stumbled on one that he had heard her ask for. Fauxsil is what the label said. He was about to walk away with that one when another nearby caught his eye. It had dried periwinkle flower petals and read Connal. With both in hand, he walked back to Alessia and showed her what he had found.

Alessia’s eyes rolled again. “I asked for one, not all of them.”

“I wasn’t sure if one was preferable over the other.”

Alessia took the jar that said Connal, glanced at it briefly, and handed it back to Silas. “This isn’t connal. I’ll have to have someone go through and pull anything not labeled right.” She took the other and smiled. “This is fauxsil. Just what we need.”

“What’s it do?”

“It helps with sleep and is generally calming, something our Gerald could use right now.”

Once the tea was brewed, Alessia poured two cups, layering the bottom of one cup with the fauxsil first. Letting it sit for a few chimes more, they took the tea down to their patient and his wife. Silas distributed the tea, making sure he handed the spiked one to Gerald. The anger was still there in Gerald’s eyes when Alessia dismissed Silas. He wasn’t comfortable leaving her with the oddly enraged man, but arguing the point would only bring a greater sense of discord that would further escalate the man’s state. Silas nodded and left, making his way back to the makeshift fort.

“Sarah, I’m back. May I come in?” It was always best to check with patients beforehand.

Her voice, bolder now than it had been before, came to him somewhat muffled by all the blankets. “What’s the password?”

Password? She hadn’t given him a password. His tired brain came up with something it thought was brilliant. “Please?”

There was a brief shuffle, and then Sarah’s head poked out a crack between the blankets. Her narrowed eyes said she thought he was dumb, that she thought he would know better. “That’s the stupidest guess at a password I’ve ever heard.”

Silas nodded in agreement. He didn’t know why he’d thought that would be a child’s secret phrase. “Grownups are dumb.”

A beaming smile broke across Sarah’s face at this. “Not the right one, but I’ll accept it. Come in. Welcome to Fort Sarah.”
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A Series of Good Fortune (Pt. 8): Storming Out

Postby Silas Sticks on December 16th, 2018, 2:55 pm

Fort Sarah was doing Silas’ nerves some good. While he’d been away for that brief time, Sarah had cozied it up even more. Her ingenuity was showing. She had propped up several points in the center, giving more standing room for someone taller than herself. There was no relief from the building sensation, but in here, there was nothing to further antagonize him.

For several bells, Silas waited, comfortable on a stack of pillows, listening as Sarah regaled him with grandiose stories of her many accomplishments, but as the night wore on and neared dawn, Silas noticed her stories get shorter, her smiles more infrequent, her victorious demeanor fade. More and more, her good hand wandered over to her broken arm, and a wince would surface for just a moment.

At the end of one her stories, Silas dismissed himself and exited Fort Sarah in search of Alessia. He found Senri first, and his fellow assistant didn’t look happy to see him. Silas’ inexplicable anger stirred, but he wasn’t looking for a confrontation. His main concern was for his patient. Sarah was in pain. He did his best to diffuse the situation. “Thanks for stepping out earlier.” He kept his voice down, so Gerald wouldn’t hear. “I just needed to keep Gerald calm. Sorry I had to throw you under the wheels to do that.”

His apology worked, much to Silas’ surprise. Senri nodded and even smiled. “It was good thinking. You took a bad thing and made it a bit better. They’re both sleeping now.”

Silas cut to the chase. “Senri, do you know when Sarah last received anything for pain?”

The other man shook his head. “No. I know she had something just before we set it. Is she starting to feel it again?”

Silas nodded. “She is. She’s a tough kid, but I’d rather her not be feeling that.”

“We’d all prefer that for our patients, but especially for her. Let’s go find, Alessia. She’ll get the proper dose for us.”

Descending the stairs to the ground floor, they found Alessia and Rasika both dozing, catching some much needed rest while the work to be done was minimal, while their day remained quiet. Senri shook Alessia’s shoulder gently to wake her without disturbing Rasika. When Alessia’s eyes opened and looked to Senri with an unasked question, the assistant flicked his head toward Silas.

Silas whispered, so as to keep Rasika asleep. “Sarah’s starting to feel her arm again. I think she needs something for her pain.”

Alessia nodded and all three ascended the stairs to the loft where their medicines and herbs were stored. Locating a bottle of an off-amber, clear liquid, Alessia took it to a table. “Brew me some tea, please.”

Silas wasn’t sure, but Sarah didn’t seem the kind to go for tea. Most children he’d known (and he would admit those were few) hadn’t liked tea. He said as much. “I think water might go down easier for her.”

“We have some Okomo milk that was delivered just before the storm set in. We should use it before it spoils,” Senri offered.

Alessia nodded and accepted the mug that Senri brought. Using a glass dropper, Alessia carefully put three drops into the milk before she stopped and looked to Silas. “Has she slept at all since you’ve arrived, Silas?”

When he shook his head, she added one more drop in and had Silas stir it while she put the bottle away. “She needs to sleep. Sleep is good for healing.”

Handing Silas the milk, Alessia made her way down to the reception area to catch a little more shut eye. It turned out milk was the right choice. Sarah had greedily gulped it down and, in the space of a half a bell was sleeping soundly. When she was finally asleep, Silas stepped outside, found an empty cot, and did the same.

But sleep did not bring relief. That feeling he couldn’t shake spilled over into his dreams. Those took him back to his childhood, only now he was his father pummeling his younger self. Chaotic, the dreams threw him about, never giving him a moment to comprehend what was happening. First, he was his father. Then he was himself, feeling the blows as each came. And again, he was his father, only this time it was his sister lying before him trying to shelter her ribs from his fists. And again and again and again, different people replacing the child that was beaten on the ground. Alessia and Senri surfaced more than once. Unrelenting, the dream continued for what seemed like hours. The last face to occupy the body of child just before he woke was Sarah’s, and he felt his fists rain down on her. And worst of all of it was that he felt no remorse.

When he woke, it was to pure exhaustion. It was as if he’d been awake the entire time and exerting himself beyond what his body could handle. His fists were clenched and had been so for some time, judging by the way they ached. As he tried to relax them, he realized he couldn’t. They had cramped closed. He demanded that the fists open, and slowly, the left one complied. Despite the ache in it, Silas used it to pry the other open. While he sat still for several chimes, stretching his fingers to their utmost, he noticed that a new emotion had joined the anger. Satisfaction. That scared him. He didn’t want to be here anymore. He wanted to go home, knew he couldn’t. The storm still raged outside, thunder being the only thing to break the incessant downpour of the rain.

BOOM!
Silas Sticks
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A Series of Good Fortune (Pt. 8): Storming Out

Postby Silas Sticks on March 7th, 2019, 1:18 am

Silas tensed a moment, not expecting that loud of a thunderclap. A moment later, Sarah’s voice shouted from behind the safety of the walls of Fort Sarah. “I’m not afraid of you, thunder. You can’t hurt me, you…” What followed was the most impressive string of expletives Silas had ever heard, many of them borrowed from his earlier mumblings at Senri. It went on for several more ticks until she had to draw another breath, then, “You can go…” And more followed.

For a moment, a new sensation overpowered the previous two. Pride. He smiled at her continued ingenuity.

An instant later, Rasika’s voice cut across the room, sharp, reprimanding, and motherly. “Young lady, watch your mouth.”

“I can’t. My eyes don’t look down that far.”

“Don’t get smart with me. Where’d you learn words like that?”

“I’m self-taught.”

Silas smiled to himself. She had kept her word. No one would know she’d learned those words from him. He was about to make his way over to check on her when he heard a crash from behind Gerald’s partition. Standing quickly, he rubbed the sleep out of his eyes as he shuffled over to check on the man.

When he walked into Gerald’s quarters, the man was using the small nightstand to pull himself back to his feet. He was disoriented, but even disorientation couldn’t mask the anger that hung in his eyes. Senri and Alessia scampered into the room behind him. Silas started to move toward Gerald and held out an arm to offer the man assistance, but Gerald swung an arm drunkenly and knocked Silas’ hand away. Sensing that less was more, Silas stepped back and let the man come to his own feet with the aid of his wife. Silas could see confusion muddling the rage, and knowing the two to be a bad combination, he took another few steps back.

Alessia didn’t see it and moved toward the man. “Gerald, are you alright?”

The man wavered and took a moment to stop himself from rocking back and forth before his eyes turned Alessia’s direction. “You.”

It was all he could manage to say, but the word dripped hate and got his point across. He was furious. He tried to stand without the assistance of the stand, but he was still too loopy from the drugs he’d received. Hildie tried to stabilize him, but he shrugged her arm off his shoulder. His eyes finally found Alessia and locked with hers. “You wench.”

Hildie smacked his shoulder. “Gerald! You’ll never speak to a woman like that again.”

It didn’t matter how powerful Gerald’s rage was, how deep it ran. Any smart man knew not to question the wisdom of his wife, knew in the core of his being that to do so was to invite a wrath greater than any god or warrior could bring. But Gerald was angry, and mad men did stupid things. He felt wounded and wanted that known. He jabbed a finger in Alessia’s direction. “She drugged me.”

Hildie’s voice became curter than before, heavy with the kind of tone parents use to speak to troublesome children. “Gerald, this is Alessia we’re talking about. She’d never do something like that to you.”

Alessia looked away when Hildie looked to her for confirmation. Hildie pursed her lips in obvious irritation and rolled her eyes before looking back to her husband. “Well, she’d only do that if it was for your own good, and you were being an ass.”

“I was not.”

One sharp glare quieted him. He grumbled something under his breath but immediately cut himself off when his wife glared again.

Sighing, Alessia moved forward, helped Gerald sit on the bed, and kneeled in front of him. “Gerald, I want to help you.”

Their patient glared at the partition and growled. “Yeah? Well, I want you to leave me alone.”

What Gerald didn't realize was that Alessia was practiced in extracting information regarding her patients’ health from even the most tightlipped, and patience was something she had enough of to persevere most days. Placing a gentle hand on his arm, she lifted her tired eyes to try to meet his. “I can only leave you alone once I help you. Help me help you. Then I can let you rest undisturbed.”

Gerald refused to meet her gaze, instead trying to glare holes into the partition a few strides away, but nodded.

“What happened in that storm, Gerald?”

Silas saw the anger deepen considerably, Gerald’s irritability rising and roiling, and he inched slowly closer.

“I already told you nothing happened.”

“Hildie told us you told her something did happen. Why won’t you tell us?”

His eyes narrowed fiercely, and the words he spat were laced with a venom Silas hadn’t seen from a patient in many years. “Don’t call me a liar.”

“What happened?”

“NOTHING HAPPENED.”

Everyone in the room started when Gerald shouted in Alessia’s face. What everyone seemed to miss was Gerald’s hands balling into fists. But Silas didn’t miss it. His childhood had forced him to grown accustomed to spotting the signs that someone was about to throw a punch. His father had thrown plenty. There were signs that someone was intending to throw a blow. Fists were one of those. But there were subtler signs that someone had reached the point of no return, that they had already decided on throwing it and were just deciding when. Those weren’t so much a tell of the body as much as they were a gauge of the mood. There were the small physical changes, the tightening of his fists, the flare of the nostrils, the shifting of his feet to give him a better stance to stand from. All of those occurred in the space of a breath, and Silas leaned forward, his weight shifting on to the balls of his feet. No one saw it but him. No one knew it was coming but him and Gerald. Years spent in the medical field had softened them to watching for anything like this. Years of skepticism and cynicism had kept Silas alert.

Alessia tried again. “Gerald, I just need you to tell me-”

Silas and Gerald moved as one. The sway in Silas’ weight had carried him forward just as Gerald exploded to his feet and cocked his fist back behind his head. Catching the back of Alessia’s collar, Silas jerked backwards, sending her tumbling into the partition but out of the way of harm. That was all he had time to do. Somewhere in the foggy back of his mind, something told him to raise his arms to protect his face. They were only about to chest height when Gerald’s fist met his temple, sending Silas spinning and falling to the ground.
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