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Stories from the Verse
Garden of Versers
Chapter 80: Kondor 149
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Previous chapter: Chapter 79: Brown 173
Kondor was becoming accustomed to Shella’s strange teleportive transportation method. As soon as they were back in the solid world he was moving toward the problem. His eyes scanned the area looking for Derek, and assessing the situation as he moved. There were quite a few bodies on the ground, but four wore the livery of the Caliph. Of these, three appeared to need immediate attention, the fourth disabled but not in apparent danger. The princesses all appeared to have taken minor injuries, cuts and bruises and the exhaustion that comes from a difficult battle, but they were gathering together; he would have to check them individually, but not urgently. It did not take long at all to spot Derek. He was glowing.
The confusion this caused passed through several stages. First he wondered, briefly and inarticulately, why Derek was glowing, and then something in his mind told him that the boy does sometimes glow, as part of that whole boy-becomes-sprite thing. Then the connection was made that Derek only glows when he’s a sprite, not when he’s a boy. In the confusion, he hesitated.
He saw that Derek was holding one of the princesses in his arms. The amount of blood soaking her clothes and the pattern it presented told him she had been severely wounded, and would need help immediately. However, before he could react, the light around Derek brightened and spread, engulfing the girl as well.
As he rushed toward them the light subsided, the girl awoke and looked at Derek and smiled, and Derek spoke to her.
“Will you marry me?” he asked.
Her smile brightened, and she answered “Of course I will.”
“I hate to interrupt this significant moment,” Joe said, “but I’d better have a look at her, or she’s not going to be able to marry anyone.”
Derek smiled at him. “It’s O.K.,” he said. “The King healed her. You can have a look, but I’m sure she’s fine. You’re fine, aren’t you?”
“I’m fine,” she said. “I think I wasn’t a minute ago; I thought I was going to die. Then whatever you did, you saved me, and I’m fine now.”
“I’d better have a look anyway,” Joe said. “That’s a lot of blood. I know this is embarrassing, but can you pull back your top so I can see the wound? I’m a physician.”
She shrugged, but undid a couple of ties and displayed her shoulder. What Kondor saw was a streak of light freshly healed skin. “You appear to be all right,” he said. “Does it hurt anywhere?”
She shook her head, but never took her eyes off Derek.
His first reaction was good, somehow Derek is able to use those mind powers to heal injuries. I wish he’d mentioned it. His second reaction was one of distaste, that Derek had used those mind powers and then credited some god with having done it, perpetuating the myths of gods and supernatural powers and magic. He wondered how often people with paranormal abilities had claimed that God had worked a miracle, perhaps to avoid being branded a witch, or perhaps to solidify a claim of special relationship with that god. However, he pushed these ideas to the back of his mind, and raced over to check the other princesses.
“Are you all right?” he asked. “That is, do any of you need my help immediately, or can I go see to the guards?”
The five of them looked around at each other, and one of them said, “I think we’re all right. Hurting, but no one is dying.”
He didn’t wait to hear more, but raced to the guards.
He began by checking the one who was sitting upright. A quick check told him that the man had a serious fracture in his leg, but did not seem to be losing blood. “Wait here,” he said, “and don’t move. I’m going to have to try to splint that leg before it gets worse, but I need to see how the others are.”
The second man was unconscious, but breathing normally and not visibly bleeding and not pale. He would have to be checked for concussion, but for the moment he was stable. Kondor left him, and raced to the third.
The third man was dead. His throat had been cut and he had collapsed quickly.
Reaching the fourth man, Kondor saw that there was work to do here. He’d lost time checking on the others when this was the emergency--a stab wound in the chest had penetrated the lung, and the man was gasping for breath, trying to hold it closed with his hands, and barely conscious.
“I’m a physician,” Kondor said. “Let me see the wound.” Whether in response to his statement or simply because at that moment he blacked out, the man dropped his hands.
The priority was to seal the wound, so the man could breathe. There would be internal bleeding, but the man would die from lack of oxygen long before he lost enough blood. The concern with the blood was that it might fill the lung, but he could deal with that if he could keep the patient alive and get him to a safe place to operate. He opened the medical kit and started with the antiseptic spray, the wound packing, and the tape. It took a couple of minutes, but soon the patient was breathing better.
“Shella!” he shouted, not looking away from his patient, “we’re going to need a wagon. These men won’t be able to walk back to the palace, and they need medical attention I can’t provide in the street like this.”
He checked the man’s head and neck; it would be ironic if he saved the man’s life and left him paralyzed. He seemed fine. If he regained consciousness before they moved, Kondor would ask him if there was any pain there.
He returned to the unconscious man. Here he wanted to fashion a neck brace, but was going to have to make due with what was available. He tore pieces from the man’s clothing and created a heavy scarf, which he carefully wrapped around the neck several times to provide a stiff support.
Finally he turned his attention to the man with the broken leg. “I’m a physician,” he said. “Your leg is broken. I’m going to try to fix it.”
The man stared at him. Obviously he did not understand English.
“I need a translator,” he shouted. In a moment one of the girls appeared and knelt beside them.
“What do I do?” she said.
“Tell him that I’m a physician, that his leg is broken, and that I’m going to have to straighten it and splint it before he can move.”
She nodded, turned to face the guard, and said something to him in Arabic. When she was done, Kondor continued.
“Tell him that it’s going to hurt, but I need him to try not to move, but just let me move his leg.”
Again she translated.
“Also, he should lie flat on his back, and bite down--” he glanced around looking for something he could use. Then he grabbed three tongue depressors, wrapped a bit of tape around them, and held it in front of the man’s mouth, “--on this.”
As she repeated it, he nodded, opened his mouth to receive the plastic stick, and lay back.
It took Kondor several minutes to set and cast the leg using the self-hardening foam in his kit. The patient cringed and sweated, but remained remarkably still; the girl waited.
“O.K., tell him to stay off it for now, we think we have a wagon coming to transport everyone, and we’ll see if we need to do more there.”
He stood up and looked around. “Is that everybody?” he asked aloud.
“No--well, yes, but--Princess Rathi was taken.”
Kondor stared at her for a moment, but then did the only thing he could think to do.
“Slade?” he shouted.
There is a behind-the-writings look at the thoughts, influences, and ideas of this chapter, along with twelve other sequential chapters of this novel, in mark Joseph "young" web log entry #300: Versers Challenged. Given a moment, this link should take you directly to the section relevant to this chapter. It may contain spoilers of upcoming chapters.
As to the old stories that have long been here: