• Graded • Honeychild

With the escalation of hostilities between Etzos and Rhakros, a series of small walled towns is being established as a network of early warnings and defenses against Rhakros' reprisals. Only the very bravest and most formidable of characters should risk themselves on the Witches' Wilds frontier.

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• Graded • Honeychild

Postby Ivanthe » Mon Mar 12, 2018 10:12 pm

ImageHoneychild
Cylus 21, 718


“Your hand alright?”

He’d expected the question sooner or later, but he wished them well for holding their tongues so long. The man who’d asked was young, not long sprouted from boyhood with a mess of brown hair and a permanently bewildered expression, but Ivanthe liked him all the same.

“Fine,” Ivanthe answered shortly. “Ran on ice, cut my hand on a rock. My own fault.”

“Oh. Alright.”

Ivanthe hoped that perhaps he would pull his horse on, but he didn’t. The man and horse both trotted evenly right next to the boy’s wagon, right next to where Ivanthe himself sat in the driver’s seat, albeit reinless; his mare, Marigold, was following the next wagon up because was tethered to it.

“You name’s Ivanthe, right? I’m Kieran.”

Ivanthe groaned inwardly, realizing that the man was one of those: too friendly for his own good and not terribly good at taking hints.

“Hello,” was his full response.

“Do you need anything for your hand?” He didn’t even wait for an answer before depositing a pile right next to the boy in question. “Here, there was a willow tree where we stopped yesterday. I got some of the bark for you.”

Ivanthe stared at the willow bark––anti-inflammatory if chewed and a painkiller if boiled into tea, but completely useless for a physical cut––and didn’t know how to respond.

“Thanks, I guess.”

Kieran beamed. “You’re welcome.”

Please leave me alone, please leave me alone, please leave me alone

“What are you doing in Etzos once you get there? My uncle hasn’t decided if we’re staying with the caravan or what. I’d like to stay in Etzos for a little while, at least; we’ve been traveling so long I can barely remember what an actual bed feels like. It would be a nice change.”

“Alright.”

“Oh! I also found some chamomile yesterday, it’s over on our wagon; that should help your hand too.”

Fucking how?

“Give me a moment, I’ll get it.”

Ivanthe ran frustrated hands through his hair as the young man trotted ahead. By the Fates, if he just knew how to ride he could escape encounters like this.

Kieran returned not only with a bushel of dried, stomach-calming chamomile but also a handful of what looked to be yarrow, which would have been wonderful if Ivanthe had had a cold or fever.

“My uncle’s a doctor,” Kieran said proudly. “He’s training me.”

To be what, exactly? Ivanthe didn’t say.

“He’s the second wagon in line, right behind the big one. That’s where all his supplies are, so he can have what he needs the second someone gets hurt.”

“Alright.”

“Do you have someone waiting for you in Etzos? Family? Friends? You look like you could make lots of friends if you wanted.”

Sweet Immortals, please shut up. “Thanks.”

“I have a little sister about your age. Not with us, of course; Mother would skin me alive if I ever took Lily away from the Landing, but you’re clearly fine with it. I wonder if she’d ever want to travel. How did you get into it, if you don’t mind me asking?”

“Kieran!” someone called from up ahead.

“Venther?” Kieran called back. “What is it?”

“Come look at these sores on my mare’s neck, I think it’s trouble.”

Venther was just barely visible by the starlight, but his stifled snicker said that his mare was not a real concern---he had listened, and knew exactly what Ivanthe was thinking.

Kieran, though, had no idea, and trotted up happily to examine the older traveler’s mount. Venther winked at Ivanthe, who nodded gratefully in return. If Kieran was already bothering him on their second day together, this was going to be a long trip indeed.
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Ivanthe
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Honeychild

Postby Ivanthe » Mon Mar 12, 2018 10:14 pm

ImageIvanthe was getting better at recognizing the stars. There was one especially bright one that he had chosen as the “sun,” which he would use to guess what time it was based on its position in the sky. He supposed that it would have been almost nighttime when they set down for camp, then.

The caravan scout had managed to find a cave on the shore of a frozen pond, which took a bit of time detouring to but was more than worth it. There was enough space to pitch all the tents out of the wind, plus space for the horses to take shelter; the leader of the caravan organized a complex interlocking pattern for their wagons, spread around the mouth of the cave to block the wind even more.

The cave floor was frosty, but there would be no snow from overhead to drown out their fires; it seemed that tonight would be one of the closest they could get to being warm. Though they were all exhausted, there was an excited cheer in everyone’s step as they unloaded their supplies and set about to raising camp.

Ivanthe was used to doing the routine himself, but he still turned after every task in search of approval—and found empty space every time. There was a tight clench in his chest, but it didn’t get too painful as long as he kept moving quickly.

“You need help?”

Ivanthe jumped, then groaned silently. Kieran stood beside his wagon, friendly smile lighting up the night.

“No,” Ivanthe replied.

“You sure? Your hand…”

“For for fuck’s sake! I cut my hand, I didn’t lose it!”

The way Kieran gasped at the word “fuck” was glorious, and Ivanthe grinned against his will. Someone else in hearing distance snickered conspicuously and hurried away.

“I… sorry,” Kieran stuttered. “Just trying to help.”

“You’re not,” Ivanthe growled, before sighing. “Look, I can take care of myself.”

“The first thing in taking care of yourself––”

“––is taking care of injuries?” Ivanthe finished. “That sounds like your uncle. I knew a doctor once, and he said the same thing. But willow bark and chamomile weren’t on the list of remedies. I don’t need a painkiller or a relaxant, I need it to be clean and left alone.”

Kieran wrinkled his nose. “So you think you're a doctor, do you?”

“I need to get my camp up and you’re getting in my way!”

“I won't help you then!” Kieran snarled, turning on his heel and storming away.

Ivanthe let out another sigh, grinding his teeth irritably as he turned back to the task at hand. There was less hesitance this time; the mental scabs had been pushed to the back in the wake of the encounter. Perhaps it wasn’t for the better, but it was enough to get by for now.
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Honeychild

Postby Ivanthe » Mon Mar 12, 2018 10:15 pm

ImageHe was used to being approach with airs of concern, but not amusement.

Ivanthe vaguely recognized Venther as the man who had winked earlier, but wasn't accustomed to the grin on his face. And right behind him was someone Ivanthe didn’t know at all: a reed-thin wisp of a man with short gray hair and a close-trimmed gray beard, who seemed both amused and curious.

“This is Resh. He’s Kieran’s uncle, trip doctor.”

with yet another sigh, Ivanthe got ready to be defensive again.

“No need for that, lad,” Resh chuckled, holding up a placating hand. “Not here to pry. Just here to see if you want your hand looked at by an actual doctor. And also this might shut Kieran up for both of us.”

Ivanthe blinked and tilted his head questioningly. Resh held up a jar that glowed golden in the firelight.

“Honey?”

“Disinfectant,” Ivanthe chirped automatically.

Resh’s eyes arched. “Indeed. You got some on you already?”

“I… no. I just licked it a lot.”

“Ah, well, better than nothing I suppose.” He extended a hand. “May I?”

Not show me or give it. He was asking for permission.

Uneasily, Ivanthe offered his damaged hand. He jumped when those weathered fingers touched him, almost pulling away entirely as harsher memories stirred out of the darkness.

“Shh, hey, easy,” Resh murmured. “Just me, old Resh, ain’t gonna hurt you.”

“I can’t,” the boy breathed, pulling his hand to his chest and stepping away. “I’m sorry, I…”

“It’s alright, it’s alright,” Resh crooned, making no move to take the hand back. “That there’s your hand, I ain’t gotta touch it.”

Ivanthe swallowed down the beginning of tears. “I’m fine.”

“Sure are, I know it.” He let the boy stew for a moment, then asked gently, “You know how to make a poultice, boy?”

“I…” He swallowed again. “I’ve seen them made.”

Resh smiled softly, nodded, and pulled a small bag from his belt. “I’ll show you, then.”

He had a small fist-sized mortar and pestle, several pouches of herbs and some vials of water. He named each one as he poured it into the pestle––burdock, coltsfoot, boiled water, honey––and one by one ground a fine powder into existence. Poultice first, flat piece of cloth, but not so much it’ll run; just protect things. He talked through everything, but kept up the sort of tone that made it easy to imagine he was talking to himself.

He knew when to keep things to himself, Ivanthe came to know. Perhaps he had treated jumpy boys before. He didn’t ask for his hand again when the poultice was done.

Resh walked Ivanthe through putting it on with hand motions and gentle encouragement, giving a reassuring wink when it was finally secured over the cut.

“That should do you,” the old doctor said. “Didn’t look all that bad from what I saw, anyway. Just give it some space, let your other hand take up the work. You know the way of things.

Ivanthe nodded. “Yessir. Thank you, sir.”

“S’what I’m here for,” he chuckled. “Gave me an excuse to get off my ass. This trip’s been too quiet; a good coyote pack would put a few things on my to-do list. Oh, don’t look at me like that; you’re too smart to be as superstitious as this lot. See that poultice sticks fast and you’ll forget you ever had a cut.”

Resh turned to leave, and Ivanthe turned to unroll his sleeping pad. Tonight, at least, he would be left alone.

And the ghost of a dead doctor had been driven off for the moment.

- End -
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Ivanthe
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Honeychild

Postby Pegasus » Sun Mar 18, 2018 4:35 pm

Ivanthe
Overview : I think one of the things that I love most about ST is how such a "simple" story can be so powerful. I really enjoyed this, from Ivanthe's reaction to Kieran to the very end when the "ghost of the doctor" was put to bed, just for a while. So many layers to the story, I really was pulled into it and i'm looking forward to reading more of your pc - I hope you enjoy your rewards!
Points :  XP: 10

Renown:None
Loot : handful of willow bark
handful of chamomile
handful of yarrow root

Knowledge :  Medicine: proper poultice making
Medicine: burdock as disinfectant
Medicine: honey as disinfectant
Fieldcraft: blocking the wind however possible
Fieldcraft: marking time by star movement
Deception: really, I'm fine
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