When Eli woke in the morning his brother was gone. He’d cleaned up a bit before leaving. No longer were Eli’s clothes piled on chairs and the floor, instead they were put away and hung in the closet. His books were all on the shelf now and Zeke had straightened all the papers on his desk.
He’d also left Eli a note. If you need help sleeping again, you know where to find me… and call Mother today; she misses you.
He shook his head at his brother’s persistence and grabbed a fruit from the counter on his way out the door. He paused a moment to let Cal climb up onto his arm before heading out for the day.
The sky was dark but there was a break in the rain. Eli suspected the emperor had ordered the weather magi to alter the patterns, it was execution day after all which meant he would be doing his best to avoid city center. Too many people liked to gather for the monthly executions. Sometimes things got out of hand and people had been pulled from the crowd at the emperor’s whim, charges made up by the crowd, the emperor, or the guard. The emperor was famous for his mood swings.
He made his way through the city’s streets, Cal wound tightly around his arm and neck, until he came to the hospital on church street. It was a building designed to withstand a siege, surrounded by wrought iron gates with the very best of magical protections carved into them, a few of which he had placed himself, though no one knew about it. The walls were armed and brimming with weaponry from old earth, guns and phasers, guards carried whatever long distance weapons they preferred from bows and arrows to guns. Several of the men that stood on the wall were magic users as well.
Church street was aptly named. Except for the hospital, this was a place purely populated with mosques, synagogs, churches, cult houses, places of magical practice and teaching, and techno purists. Any and every belief held by the human population of Xan was represented here. There were performers and street callers lining the streets, showing and proclaiming what their beliefs could do for the people of the capitol.
The hospital was a sort of byproduct of all of this. It took in people of all faiths and people of no faith. It was a place for the desperate. People came from all over the empire to visit church street, hoping for cures to all kinds of ailments and injuries. Most found that there was nothing that could be done, a lucky few were able to be helped by the doctors and the healers.
Eli went in through the back. He punched his time card and went to his closet to retrieve his cart and mop. He was in charge of keeping the psychological wing of the hospital clean. This part fo the hospital was locked off from the rest. It had its own courtyard and walls around that part of the building within the walls of the overall compound. It housed patients with the typical mental disorders brought along from old earth but it also housed those who were unbalanced, unable to control their magic, and those driven mad by magic itself.
Even the doctors had a high turnover rate in this part of the hospital. People who spent too long here started to feel it. The magical ailments were contagious in a manner of speaking and they made people uneasy. The patients also tended to be sensitive to the moods of those they got to know a little too well and were able to start effecting them. As a result interaction between classes of patients was heavily restricted and each class was divided into different floors and sectors. Eli was the only person allowed access to all fo them. The patients didn’t seem to mind him at all and he remained unaffected by their illnesses during long term exposure much to the confusion of the medical staff, but no one thought too much of it. Xan affected the human race unpredictably and the doctors were too busy, and coming in and out of the sector too quickly, to try and explain it, much to his relief.
He went about his rounds for most of the day uninterrupted. He paused in one room. The patient was a young boy that he hadn’t seen before. He reminded him of himself, not more than thirteen. He had a stuffed dragon tucked under his arm, likely from his parents. He was covered in plant life and the monitors attached to him by various wires and tubes registered very weak vital signs. His room had a wall that was mostly made of glass panes. The boy’s needs were mostly that of the plants that covered him anymore. He was unbalanced in a way that Eli himself had experienced.
Mother had found him much like this, on the street and becoming a part of the earth he sat on, unable to speak or really move. Mama had persuaded her to take him in, to give him a comfortable place where he might live out what little humanity he had left in his life, but before long after he had been around the two sorceresses for some time, he began to recede from the brink. He began to show signs of life more than that of a plant. It took a long time, but eventually he was passing for a normal human again and able to use magic in a way that stunned his adoptive family.
This boy was just like Eli, only instead of being abandoned on the street his family had at least abandoned him here, where he wasn’t alone. Eli stared for a long minute, trying to make sense of the whirling magic around the boy. He was very close to becoming an elemental. Close to giving in to the magic and becoming a part of it all. Eli could also see that the boy was frightened. He was left here, alone and among strangers and he didn’t fully understand what was happening to him. He was desperately calling out for help, something that anyone but Eli would not hear and would merely mark up to the feel of this hospital wing.
Most of the patients here made these cries for help, but he was unable to answer all but a very few. Eli set his mop aside and gently closed the door, checking to make sure that no one was watching him as he did so. Cal perked up, she loved it when he used magic, and she loved helping him with things like this.
Carefully he brought his own magic to him and Cal unwound herself from his arm, dropping onto the boy’s chest and placing a flower under his nose, releasing a sweet smelling aphrodisiac. Along with this Eli used his magic to force air into the boy’s lungs. They were almost too far gone, turning to dirt and stone while the plants that overtook his body were acting as his new lungs.
He infused the air with his willpower, shaping it and carefully feeling for the center of the boy’s magic. The monitors grew a little louder, the boy’s vital signs becoming stronger. He pulled on the child’s center, moving it just enough and giving him just enough magic he would be able to balance himself out with time.
As Eli left the boy’s floor nurses, doctors, and healers were gathering in the boy’s room. It was a miracle of some kind; as far as they were concerned the boy should not have been able to recover and Eli liked it that way. No one would ever know it was him and while the various churches and cults would argue about who got to take credit for the miracle, that was something he could live with.
Thanks for reading! I’m sorry this installment was a couple days late. Between working on artwork, a series of poems I’m working on, and other novels and stories I’m working on I lost track of time. That and I’m a bit of a nap enthusiast… Anyway, thanks again! I’ll try to have the next installment up on time! If I can manage it (haha) I’m hoping to have an illustration as well. See you next time!