Pt’this put his arms around Sapphire and kissed her neck. She was washing dishes.
“Where are the kids?” He asked.
“Their rooms. I told them Mishtali had you doing difficult spells tonight.”
“I don’t get that bad do I?”
“Only if we don’t get time alone together after.”
“I like the sound of that.” He kissed her again.
“Let me finish these dishes.”
“I’ll help.” He reached around her and started washing too.
There was a knock on the door. He sighed. “Now what?”
He went to answer the door. A woman stood there holding Chormi by the arm and another boy by the collar. The boy was desperately trying to get away. Pt’this expected him to slip out of his shirt any moment.
“I work next door. I saw this one sneaking out the window to climb down the tree.” The woman indicated Chormi. “I didn’t want him to get hurt. This one was waiting for him near the road. I haven’t seen him around before. Is he a new one here?”
“No, he’s not. But, we’ll take him and find his parents. Come on in,” Pt’this said, taking both Chormi and the other boy’s arms.
“I can’t. I need to get going,” the woman said.
Pt’this nodded. “Thank you for your help.” The woman nodded and hurried off.
“Come on, young man. Get in here,” he said.
The boy resisted, not even looking at him. Pt’this growled. The boy turned and looked at him. He stopped pulling.
“Come on,” Pt’this said again.
“Oh, stop growling at him. He probably thinks you’re going to roast him now,” Sapphire said. “Come in. He doesn’t bite. I’ve got some cookies.” Slowly, the boy came in.
Pt’this stepped outside. There was the sound of tree branches breaking and crashing. He came back in. “Chormi, you have wood to chop before class tomorrow.”
“Yes, sir.” Chormi nodded.
“What do you think you were doing?” Pt’this saw the other boy shake his head.
Chormi saw it too. He looked directly at the boy. “I was going to give him these.” He pulled some food from his pockets.
“Are you hungry?” Pt’this asked the boy.
The boy hesitated.
“Take it. He saved it for you,” Pt’this said.
“Oh, give him a plate,” Sapphire said. She pulled out a plate and some silverware. “Where are your parents?”
The boy didn’t answer.
“He said he doesn’t have any. I’ve been trying to get him to come in, but he’s afraid of you. He thinks you’re an elf.” Chormi told them.
Pt’this smiled. “I’m not an elf.” He shifted to human. The boy did a double-take. “I’m a dragon.”
“The other lady?” The boy asked.
“She’s a dragon too. There are no elves living here right now. Do you have a problem with elves?”
The boy didn’t answer but started eating. He finished the food quickly.
“Would you like some more?” Sapphire asked. The boy nodded. She brought the dinner back out. The boy loaded his plate again.
Lamdi came in carrying some school work. “Will you check this for me?” She whispered to Sapphire, eyeing the boy. Sapphire took the work.
“When was the last time you ate?” Pt’this asked.
“Last night. Chormi brought out food.”
“That was two nights ago. You didn’t come last night,” Chormi told him. The boy looked confused.
“How long has this be going on?” Sapphire asked.
“A week. I’ve been trying to get him to come in but he wouldn’t. He didn’t want me to say anything,” Chormi explained.
“You don’t remember last night? Were you drinking?” Pt’this asked.
The boy shook his head vigorously. “No. Never.”
“Are you feeling okay?” Pt’this asked.
The boy nodded.
“We’re going for lessons tomorrow. He could stay the night and Shunati or Mila can check him in the morning.” Sapphire suggested.
“Elves?” The boy asked.
“Shunati is.” Pt’this nodded, wondering what the boy had against elves.
“I should go. Thank you for the food. Please don’t punish Chormi for helping me.” He started inching toward the door.
“Wait,” Chormi cried. “Don’t go.”
Lamdi grabbed his wrist, forgetting she didn’t have her gloves on. Or, perhaps she didn’t forget. She didn’t jerk away like she normally would but held him. He looked at her in fear.
“He’s sick,” she said. “There’s something wrong with his eyes too.” The boy was backing away in fear. “He needs help or he’s going to die. He’s part elf. Someone cut his ears to hide it. They also did something to his eyes to make them look human. Now he’s going blind.”
“Is that why you want to avoid elves?” Pt’this asked. Elves didn’t allow intermarriages. Half-elves were not tolerated but, if found, were killed. They had given Bremul a magical tattoo to show he was a dragon rather than a half-elf to protect him.
The boy nodded. “My mother is an elf. She had to go back to Erilu so she wouldn’t get in trouble. She hid what I am to protect me. She said she’d only be gone a little while. She never came back.”
“How long ago was it?” Sapphire asked.
“I don’t know.” The boy shook his head.
“Before the shades came?” Pt’this asked.
“The shades have come two times since she left.”
“She’s been gone that long?”
The boy nodded sadly. “I don’t think she’s ever coming back.”
“I can try to fix the eyes, but he’s too sick for me to heal that yet. Shunati will have to do it,” Lamdi said. “He’s like Princess Ann.”
“No. No elves. He’ll kill me,” the boy insisted.
“Can we wait until Thailyn gets back?” Pt’this asked Lamdi.
“I don’t know. I don’t think so. Last night wasn’t the first time he passed out and he did it twice today.”
“Can Mila help him? She’s human,” Chormi suggested.
“I don’t know.” Lamdi shrugged.
“Can it wait till morning?” Sapphire asked.
“I think so,” Lamdi said.
“Perhaps we should go tonight. I’d hate for anything to happen overnight. It’s not that late,” Pt’this suggested. He had a feeling the boy would be gone by morning.
“No. No elves.”
“Mila isn’t an elf. She’s human. Shunati and Sinta are the only elves at the palace. They won’t hurt you.”
“The palace? No. I can’t. No.” Pt’this could smell how terrified the boy was.
“You’ll be protected there. We have laws. They can’t just kill you because they don’t like your parents.”
“At least let Pt’this talk with them. Maybe Lamdi can help you. You’re not afraid of a little girl are you?” Chormi said.
The boy agreed to that. Pt’this transported the boy, Lamdi, and Chormi to the healing rooms.
“I forgot my gloves,” Lamdi said. Chormi handed her his. They had helped her so much, he had done extra work to earn the money to get a pair made for himself. Pt’this would have bought him some had he asked, but the boy chose to do it for himself.
“You three stay here. I’ll find whoever is on duty,” Pt’this said. This was why he’d brought Chormi. He wouldn’t let the boy slip away.
He found Shunati reviewing notes in his office. The elf looked surprised to see him. “Pt’bur, what can I do for you tonight?” Pt’this forgot he was in human form. Pt’bur was his twin brother who’d died. Pt’this went by that name when he was in human form so he could act with more anonymity. He shifted back to elf.
“Where’s Vaila?” Pt’this asked, looking around.
“With Sinta. We’re seeing how he does tonight on his own. What do you need?”
“There’s a boy that ended up at the home tonight. Lamdi says he’s sick and beyond her training.”
“So bring him in.” Shunati shrugged. “Or do you need me to come there?”
“No, he’s in the next room. He wants to deal with Mila.”
“She’s had a rough day. I’d hate to wake her. Why won’t this boy come see me?” Usually, only women requested Mila and usually only for women problems.”
“You’re an elf.”
“So, he’s a half-elf.”
“He’s what?” Shunati raised an eyebrow.
“Lamdi says he’s a half-elf. His mother did something to make him look human. He said she had to go back to Erilu and never returned. That was years ago. Right now, he’s afraid you’ll kill him. I gave him my word you wouldn’t.”
“Of course I wouldn’t. That’s barbaric. I’m a healer. I don’t kill people.”
“Just trolls.” Pt’this grinned.
“I said people, not monsters.”
“Once, and I brought him back. I’m not going to kill him. Deyama is trying to reverse that law. Besides, I’m Menthanlan. I can’t. The elders know this. We’ll keep him away from Sinta until we find a loophole.”
“You’re not serious.”
“She wouldn’t kill him, but she’d have to report him. We’re walking a thin line with my dual citizenship. They can make her and Vaila come back at any time while blocking me.”
“I’ll talk with Elos in the morning,” Pt’this assured him.
“Is there any way Lamdi can heal him?” Pt’this asked. “If you never see him, they can’t expect you to do anything, can they?”
“Without examining him, I don’t know how to tell her what to do. Unless…”
“Unless what?” Pt’this asked.
“Unless you want to be our practice doll.”
“You want to make me sick?”
“No. That would take too long. I want to show Lamdi how to do emergency healing.”
“You did that once to me. I almost went mad-dragon. Do you want to risk that again?”
“You know about it this time. You’ll be fine. We’ll have to do it twice, once for me to show her and once for her to practice.”
“Can’t we get Mila instead?”
“She’s resting. She had a rough day.”
“She’s spent? Used up all her magic?” Pt’this guessed.
“I don’t need healing.”
“It’ll just be a couple of small cuts. They probably won’t scar. It won’t last past your next shedding.”
“I need to tell Sapphire so she knows what’s going on.”
“Do you want me to do the scrying spell? I know Mishtali had you scrying Jaidu and I’ll bet you transported here.”
“That would be helpful,” Pt’this agreed.
They contacted Sapphire who thanked them for letting her know and ask them to be careful.
Then, Pt’this called Lamdi into the room. They explained to her what they had in mind and she agreed. Then, Shunati cut Pt’this’s arm. Contrary to what he had said, it was a rather large cut. He insisted it wasn’t bigger than needed. Shunati showed Lamdi how to do the healing. Then he picked up the knife again.
“Give me a moment. I have an atrophied heart, remember?”
“I forgot about that.” Shunati frowned.
“You forgot? Is this going to give me problems?”
Shunati put his hand on Pt’this’s arm. Lamdi did too. Pt’this felt a shock run through his arm.
“One at a time,” Shunati told her. She let go. “You’re fine. Take some silver root when we’re done.”
Lamdi checked also. “Yep, fine,” she agreed.
They then repeated the procedure with Lamdi doing the emergency healing. Pt’this drank his potion and went to talk with the boy.
“Mila’s not here. You have two choices. Shunati can heal you. He said he won’t kill you, and he won’t tell other elves about you, or you can have Lamdi do an emergency healing. It’s extremely painful and can be dangerous. If there are complications, Shunati will have to help. Lamdi’s not trained for that.”
“Let Shunati help you,” Chormi advised. “Lamdi doesn’t know what she’s doing.”
“Hey!” Lamdi cried.
“Her,” the boy said.
“I’m going to have to hold you down,” Pt’this told him. He looked around. He knew Shunati may stay out of the room, but he’d be scrying. He found the reflection where Shunati was and sat down on the floor so the elf could see. He covered himself with the healer’s cloak Shunati had given him so he wouldn’t interfere and had the boy sit in front of him and put his arms around him tightly. He could smell the boy’s fear growing.
“Wait. You never told us your name,” Chormi said.
“Why?” The boy asked.
“For your memorial.” Chormi grinned. Pt’this growled.
“It’s Ruzi,” the boy said.
“Ready?” Lamdi asked. She held out her hand. Ruzi reached for it but instead of taking his hand, she grabbed his wrist and started the healing. Ruzi body stiffened and he started thrashing around. Pt’this wrapped his legs around him so he wouldn’t kick Lamdi. At one point, Ruzi hit Pt’this in the nose and Pt’this saw stars. He felt blood flow. Then, Ruzi went limp, and Lamdi released him.
Shunati hurried in. First, he healed Pt’this’s nose and then he checked the unconscious Ruzi.
“Interesting, he’s an unreadable. He’s fine now, mostly. I don’t like the look of his eyes. Thailyn will need to check them. There was no abuse unless you count what was done to his eyes and ears. He was quite undernourished and has been for a long time. He was quite sick too. He’s lucky he was still alive.”
He looked at Chormi. “Have you been sneaking him food?”
“You may have saved his life.”
Shunati opened one eye and then sighed. “I know who his mother is and why she never returned.” He glanced at the children. “Perhaps we should talk in the other room.”
Pt’this followed. “How can you tell who his mother is? Do you know her?”
Shunati nodded. “The eye color was the giveaway. Purple and orange are very rare. The Vobro clan is small. It seems it doesn’t pass on as easily as the others. Sinta’s cousin is part of that clan. And she’s an unreadable.”
“The daughter of the uncle who helped you two get married?”
“No, on Sinta’s mother’s side. A number of years ago, she returned to Erilu and her family beat her. She’s been in a coma ever since. We never knew why.”
“You can’t help her?”
“They won’t let me. I’ve never even been able to examine her. If it weren’t for their unique eye color, I wouldn’t know they were related.
“We’ll need to find a safe way to hide his eyes. It would be better if he stayed here overnight for observation, but I won’t ask you to do that. Just keep an eye on him and keep him at the home.”