Gray allows himself treatement

''Alright... thank you," Gray said. His mind was beginning to clear now; like sunlight breaking through clouds. "Maybe you were right about that man... he was not to be trusted.  But he's not like the others, he works for my father. I think he must be like a servant or something."  He winced as the ointment stung slightly- the pain reliever drug was definitely wearing off.

Tomkin shook his head and studied Gray. His expression beneath the mask was almost one of pity- as if he couldn't believe the naiivity of what he'd just heard.  "No businessman would employ such a dark being," he said. Gray felt his heart sink.  "Unless the businessman himself is dark..."  Despite the awkward position he was lying in, he managed to reach into his trouser pocket and withdraw a worn, monochrome photograph.  He presented it to the healer, who frowned and took it from him to look more closely. One of the men in it looked very much like the boy before him- Tomkin presumed this to be Gray's father. "Well, dark or not, a successful man of the trade nonetheless if he can afford photographs..."

Then his eyes narrowed even more and his sentence trailed off.  For in the corner of the picture, was the hunched, skulking presence of... of one of THEM.

Tomkin continued adding the ointment in silence. Gray was confused about the man's reaction- was he mad at being proven wrong? Or was there something else?

Finally, he stood up and went to shelve the medicine bowl. It still had remnants of the oily yellow paste that had sedimented at the bottom. If Gray's mother was here, he knew the only place that dish would be going to was the wash bucket. He wished he was back home with her. Home... that's exactly where he should be. What was he doing in the middle of some forest with a foreigner that would not even reveal his own face? Still, the ointment was doing the trick- twisting to look at his side, he could see the skin around the gash looked smoother, calmer. Even the pain that had begun to come back was easing.

"I'll get you some food," Tomkin told him, "and may I hang onto this photograph for a moment while I ponder about the mystery of it?" Gray nodded, and the man left the room. It completely escaped him what could be so puzzling about that photograph, but it would not feel right to refuse this masked man anything after he'd taken such good care of him.

The End

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