A Healer's Hatred

"Ow!" Kane seethed as Naomi knotted and pulled taut the last of the shreds of cloth around his wounds, the muscles in his arm jerking as the Shadow magic dissipated from his veins, flowing back into the dark place it had been conjured from. She tried to keep a plain face as she did her job, trying not to let her anger at what she'd witnessed take hold. It made her fingers shake and her job much harder. What kind of warrior brings about Shadow magic and still calls himself noble? she thought to herself, relieved to finish her treatment and turn her attention to those more deserving. 

Kane's manoeuvre had left the road scattered with debris, be it supplies or Arabon weapons, and some of the healers were beginning to clear up the mess. Naomi rose, veering over Kane who was propped against a tree at the side of the road, his katanas planted in the ground either side of him, which he'd leant on so that she could reach his extensive gashes. She would never understand how Shadow magic could be worth such damage, not even for something as seemingly important as selfish pride. With a swish of her robes lapping against his legs, she turned away with a look of disdain and began bending down to gather the debris strewn across the road.

"That's it," she heard Kane say, also hearing his struggling breath as he brought himself onto his feet and came up behind her. She didn't turn around to face him, clutching ampules and rolls of bandage to her chest as he spoke on. "I've had enough of your haughty attitude and your constant glaring. What is your problem?"

She hesitated before answering, fury uncoiling in her chest that she feared she couldn't wind back in. "No problem at all, I was just musing on how much you must have enjoyed all of this." Naomi gestured at the destruction on the quiet road, the majority of warriors and villagers moving on, leaving just a few to clear up, recuperate and follow. The only trace of a battle was Kane's marks of power, pale wood scars left on trees from the swishes of wind-force, dirt still floating in the air, and spatters of blood stained dark into the road.

Kane's shoulders rolled back as he stood straighter, his arms and legs still twitching in pain, his strongly boned face hiding every reaction. "So what if I did? What are you going to do about it?"

Naomi shrugged apathetically, loading the supplies into a box in a left-behind cart, making a vein tense in Kane's neck as she continued to ignore him. "Nothing, as you seem intent on showing me. I'm a mere healer, there's clearly no skill or dedication in what I do, right?"

She finally turned around, waiting for his answer. He narrowed his eyes, searching her expression for a sign. "What do you want?"

"Not much. A lodge not infested by giant rats, some appreciation for my laboured years of training...oh, and to meet a man who doesn't think that the answer to every problem lies within a sheath!"

"So what do you expect me to do? To go up to those trying to kill us and say 'let's talk this out'?"

"No, but -!" She cut herself off, her fists balling up and her throat tightening with words she wanted to say. She sighed, and began again. "At the very least, you saved the lives of my patients. I can thank you for that..." Naomi hopped onto the supply cart and looked north to the winding road, where the rest of the group was almost a mile ahead. "We should head off while they're still in sight." She tapped the side of the cart, but just as it jolted into motion along the road, Kane reached up and grabbed her arm, hauling her down onto the ground, stumbling and tearing herself out of his grasp.

"Now you're pissing me off. Tell me what's on your mind or -,"

"Or you'll what?" she spat. "Strike me down, apprehend me, what? Would you go so far as to hurt a woman?"

"I would never -,"

"Then stop!" Ahead, the warriors and healers were watching them, standing face to face with little space and much fury between them. "You want to know what I feel? I despise men like you, Kane Dybel. There's a part of me that's sickened by your displays of destruction and hatred, all in the name of honour, and another that pities you because it's all you know. I feel sorrow for the injured, but for you, I feel nothing. You make me question everything about myself, and that's what I hate -,"

"You talk about honour as if you know anything about it! But what would you know? This is war! Forget about your ways behind strong walls and understand that it's kill or be killed! That's the world and you'd better accept it because if you don't, this new enemy will come after your clan and tear them apart as they did mine."

Naomi ground her teeth together, her eyes darkening as black as her hair and her pale tattoos humming with a strange, furious glow. "And wouldn't you just love that?" she said in a low voice, leaving him with wide eyes as she walked towards the waiting cart, pulling her scarf over her head as a brisk wind surrounded them and her robes blew violently in the wind, ignoring his insults and protests with secret tears at the corners of her eyes.

The End

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