“You look like you could use a hand.”
He’s not trying to be mean, or making a snarky joke –for once. For once there is genuine concern in his voice.
He spotted it while walking along the broken shoreline not too far from the city-state of Lion’s Arch. He thought it to be another stray refuse from the Undead Dragon’s demise, laying inert over the shore waiting for its now destroyed dragon master to give orders. Upon approaching it, the “it” revealed to be a man. Dirty, bloodied, soaked with morning-cold seawater and clinging to a smooth boulder with the grit only dying men had.
Fiel crouches near the victim. Because surely he was one, judging by the few debris the ocean saw fit to leave around the man to tell his story: a few bits of broken wood planks, a loose rope, the bent part of a sextant… things you find on a boat. But there was no boat to be seen.
The man… what was he anyway? Rather big, for a human, or pretty damn tiny for a norn. In any case, the man didn’t have long for this world, not with his mangled arm tinting the brine red at his side.
It is a sorry sight. Two fingers missing, one barely attached by a thread of red, burnt holes and gashes piercing through crimson flesh, ivory bones jutting out like broken branches, a good portion of which were missing. And as the crimson pours, paleness creeps over his face.
The norn speaks, the nearly-dead man gurgles a half-aware cough. And that’s enough for him.
Fiel is no healer. Sure, he has some healing abilities, but those often implied the suffering of one to aid another. But at the very least, he could do something.
He pulls out a knife and, speaking a few words of power, cuts his hand open and lets his blood drip over the torn limb, then into the man’s mouth. Fiel feels his own life draining away drop by drop, like an ember set over the snow, but he doesn’t let himself fade away. He stops when the wounds are sealed enough to stop the bleeding and permit transport. When it is done, he hoists the man on his back and heads towards the nearest waypoint, away from Lion’s Arch. Whatever happened to his new water-logged charge, he suspects the den of thieves and pirates might not be the best place to bring him just yet.
He leaves, unaware that it would be the last time he saw the Free City as it currently was.
* * *
His small shack lost in the middle of the likewise lost swamp is a bit cramped. It was a place built to house one norn, and no matter how smaller than he his guest was, he was enough to turn a warm, comfy cabin into a warm, claustrophobic closet.
Still, Fiel gets busy.
Many times, he tries to restore the flesh of the dying arm, and every time, he only manages the delay and revert the infection and decay that blackens it. Fiel knows spells, he knows curses than can transfer his affliction into another living body. He could suck the warmth out of a creature and transfer it to himself. He could stitch carcasses together and make the result walk. But he couldn’t regenerate an arm that was missing most of the thing that made it move.
In the end, he can only hack off everything below the elbow and suture the stump.
He is tempted to keep the lump of flesh, use it in his next project, but he figures it would be tactless to the wounded man occupying his bed. So he burns it along with the soiled rags and festering bandages.
For a few days after that, Fiel watches over him.
He clean him, uses up many of his precious bandages over his arm and the cuts that peppered his face and torso –an explosion did all that damage, perhaps? Maybe it was the reason why this apparent sailor was left without a boat: it sank. When the man’s fever gets too extreme, Fiel drags a hissing skelk into the shack by the tail, holds it down with his foot on its neck while he utters a spell. The beast slumps and shivers, while the man’s features relax. The skelk is released, hot and and quivering into the swamp, where a bigger predator will feast upon it.
Eventually, the man awakens.
Fiel gets a name, though with some effort and a great deal of coaxing.
Jesse Ironwood. Captain.
So the man was a sailor…. or maybe a pirate.
That’s a terrible name for a pirate.
For now, the captain rests.
Fiel stares at him from the little corner he had set up for himself while he sleeps. Considering. Analyzing. Plotting.
The captain is healing, but there were deeper wounds still. Deeper than flesh.
How does one set about healing those?
* * *
“What’s your favorite color?”
Fiel is crouched over the chest that held all the tools of his past trades. Right now, he was busy rummaging through his jeweler’s kit, and was presently holding two rough gems in his hands, carefully considering each one: one pale blue aquamarine, and one lumpy green malachite. The norn is answered by a bitter profanity.
“Aquamarine it is.”
The captain has healed enough to be able to sit up and walk around the shack. He could even step out, if he felt like getting bothered by mosquitoes and get a fresh whiff of vaporous swamp air on that day. Though right now, he was staring at the squeaky contraption over his stump with a gloomy glare that would make even the gibbering skelks outside withdraw in uncomfortable respect. The prosthesis twitched, as the man slowly worked its mechanisms.
Fiel sits down at his desk engraved with runes and wreathed with mystical incense, and proceeds to wind a silver thread around a tubular base, softly chanting a droning mantra as he worked. He avoids making norn-styled patterns with it –the only type of pattern he truly knows how to make– knowing the captain might not appreciate it.
The day prior, after a short leave of a couple of days, Fiel came to him with a question, and a promise.
Are you norn? he asked.
The captain did not reply, at least not right away. There was a brief moment though, in which the man’s eye lit with a look. The same look a cornered animal gives when the roof of its shelter is torn open above its head: a look of absolute terror and desperation. It faded quickly, but whatever the man bumbled afterwards did not matter: his eyes had already answered for him.
Fiel nodded, and as promised, he gave him the prosthesis.
Soon the ring is finished. It looks bland without any decorations, but aesthetics was not the intended goal.
The norns fits it –with a little fight– on the man’s remaining hand. (“Don’t get too excited. I’m mot trying to propose” the norn says. “Fuck you” the non-norn replies.) The gem instantly tarnishes to a dull grey-blue, and hair-like fissures crack its core, but it holds. The enchantment holds. And within the captain’s body, pain is slowly sucked away, as if with a sponge, and slowly drifts towards the ring, where it remains locked.
“So… is it working?” Fiel observes patiently, holding his breath, as if exhaling a little too hard might knock the man down.
“…Yeah” he replies, but usual vinegar and fire doused for the moment. He says nothing more, and turns his attention back to the contraption.
It moves with unnatural grace.
* * *
Didn’t you hear? Lion’s Arch was attacked!
Fiel looks around at the monastery’s fertile garden.
Anywhere there was room, humans and charr and even a few norn and asura were pitching tents, setting up makeshift beds and roofs out of blankets and canvases. Many were wounded, a few were possessed by violent fits of neverending coughing, and all were dusty, ragged, and scared.
The necromancer had fancied a fresh cask of beer from the human monastery at the edge of the swamp that day, seeing that he had successfully managed to save a life and partially restores a man with a new spell a few days prior. He wanted to celebrate, maybe share with the captain and try to liven his spirits.
Instead, he found a camp of refugees.
“They came through the waypoint, before it overloaded and shut down.” the weary priestess next to him continues. “From what they say, pirates attacked the city. With a giant machine. They-“
“A sylvari named Scarlet!” interrupts a priest as he carries a pail of fresh water to another group of refugees.
“Yes…” she sighs. “They said a sylvari named Scarlet led the attack. Nobody knows why though… she’s dead now. People are focusing on pulling people out of the rubble.”
She turns pleading eyes to him. “Would you… could you help us, please? We don’t have nearly enough hands to deal with this many people, and more are still coming from the East, trying to flee the ruin.”
“I…. of course.”
Fiel is no healer. But at the very least, he learned how to clean wounds and change bandages.
The fear in those people’s eyes, the pain…
Even with one dragon dead, there is still much wickedness to be found in the world, it seems.
After a whole day of doing the best he can, he bids goodbye to the priestess and sets off towards Lion’s Arch. He needs to see it.
He needs to see it for himself.
Surely, the captain will be fine in his absence.