First draft for a fantasy project, looking for feedback. Thank you
The needle in my hand effortlessly punctured the jagged flesh of the wound in the soldier’s side, neatly closing it piece by piece. The man who had fought so fiercely a little while back didn’t show any of that bravery now his wounds were tended to. I tied a small, tight knot and with tiny metal scissors cut off the thread when my job was done.
“You need to keep pressure off the area where your stitches are and return here after seven to ten days to have the threads removed.” I said to the sweating man on the edge of the bed, his leather armor by his feet in a heap on the ground, underclothes dirtied with dust, blood and grime. He stared blankly at me before moving off the bed, picked up his belongings and then left with a curt nod in my direction. I sighed, wiping my brow with the back of my hand; summers in Nuzreth were hot, humid and dry, and the temperature didn’t lower with this many men and women in the first wing of the hospital ward either.
The Nuzreth hospital ward was an enormous rectangular building divided in two wings; while the ward in the north was for revalidating and minor injuries, the ward in the west was for the seriously injured and those in immediate danger. The courtyard in the middle provived fresh air for patients, a small washroom in the east wing and personnel quarters south held those working with the patients. Long hallways connected each wing and arched windows proved the daylight.
It was an old, beautiful place... if you overlooked the gruesome reality of it. I let my eyes shift across the bed-packed room, past the healers to the wooden clock near the door; my shift was as good as over. I tucked some of my hair behind my pointed ears and gathered up my supplies then started cleaning them with a cloth and boiled water so they were spotless for the next healer to use.
I said my goodbyes to a colleague and made my way over to the entrance, a heavy oak door. It creaked violently as I pushed it open. I peered into the sunshine-lit hallways; nobody, save for a few frantic healers smaking haste in my direction. Blood stained their hands, dresses and aprons.
"Miss Sethoran," the man in the middle said, "Your aid is requested in the west wing."
"I must excuse you." I replied. "My shift has ended and since extra hours are usually not being paid, I don't-"
"There are too many wounded, the healers simply can't keep up and we need every helping hand we can afford."
I knew the law of the hospital, or rather, those of Nuzreth; inexperienced healers were not allowed to heal where the experienced ones were. Thus I had been stuck with stitching and cleaning cuts for the past three years because of that same reason. If only they knew what I could do if I was given the chance.
It had always been like this. The Nuzrethians of status, the rich ones, had control over the working and lower class, while the Queen made the ultimate desicions with help from her advisors. If you weren't rich or orphaned, because you had to have a family to matter here, you were labelled as lower class and restricted from being able to voice your opinion, get a raise or live without constantly being watched by the guards in the city.
"If I get fired," I said hastily, hurrying along with them across the hall, "you know the consequences." A curt nod was all I was given as a reply.
When we reached the west ward, noises of pain and the faint hum of mana arts could be heard through the door. The healers led me through the enormous hall, which smelled of sweat and different kinds of medicine such as salves omitting a strong odor. Blood splattered the floor, leather and cloth laid in haphardious heaps strewn across the once-white marble and beds were packed so tightly we had to maneuver through.
The soldier on the bed had a rather large slash wound across his chest, poorly bandaged by the ones who had attempted it first. It had stopped the bleeding enough for him to live, but now the wound had opened again and blood flowed through the linnen cloth. I readjusted my apron.
"Hold him down for me, we'll need to remove the old bandaging first to see how bad this is," I said, standing at the head of the bed with my hands already near the man's bloodied, rapidly rising and falling chest. He was losing blood fast now, too fast for my liking.
I made quick but careful work of the bandages while another healer assisted with cleaning the wound of a starting infection; he let some bright orange mana dance in swirls around his fingers and then on the jagged flesh, removing any of the infection left. I then peered at the gash before me. "No splinters of weaponry stuck, the infection has been cleaned... We're ready to close it."
I looked up.
"You know the consequences of using mana when you're not allowed to, right?"
"I do," I replied. "I'm not even allowed to be here so basically I already broke the law." My eyes caught a glimpse of more orange magic, already working on closing the wound. An injury this size was simply too large for regular stitches. Underneath me the soldier's breathing had sped up, blood flowed vigorously and the skin felt cold and clammy when I placed my fingers above the wound. He was going into shock.
The mana around me was colorless at first but as it grew stronger, gained more color until it was a bright orange with a yellow, pulsing core. It spread from my fingers across his paled skin and into the wound, closing the damaged tissue layer after layer. The mana coursing through my veins started to strain me; healing magic never had been my strongest trait.
I pushed on. My body started to tremble, sweat beading on my forehead. I told myself to keep going, to stay concentrated, the wound was almost closed, just a few more layers.
Black spots appeared before my sight but I blinked them away, taking another deep breath, steadying my own pulse as I released it. And then I felt something hot trickle down my lips.
This was not suprising, seeing as how far I pushed my body to its limits. It did give me the concerned looks of the healers around me at times, but they knew I wouldn't let any of my patients die so easily. I pushed on further, and when the reassuring voices of the healers came I took a step back from the bed, resting against the windowsill of one of the large half-domed windows behind us.
"How is he?" I asked, wiping my nose with the back of my hand.
"The bleeding stopped and the wound is closed. He still lost a lot of blood so he'll need to regain strength." The healer turmed towards me as he grabbed a clean bandage. "Are you okay?"
I nodded. "Just a nosebleed."
"Just a nosebleed?"
I knew that voice. The Headmistress of the Nuzrethian hospital. All of the healers halted their work.
"Lady Eralice!" one of them said hastily, wiping his hands at his apron. I propped myself up from my leaning position near the window and watched as the headmistress came closer. Like the rest of most citizens, as it was required, she wore a black ground-length long sleeved dress and a dark maroon bodice. Her almost permanent scowling expression hurled fear in most of the healers, who did their best to avoid her as much as possible.
"Were the rules not clear, Miss Sethoran?" she said, her eyes piercing. "Those of the lowest class are not allowed in this ward, or any other than the North one. And as your shift has ended, you broke the law."
"I saved this soldier's life, ma'am. I did what every other healer-"
"You are no healer."
Those words hurt and she knew it damn well. Working in the North ward was never considered being a healer, but a job everyone else could do. In the three years since I started working here I had been looked down upon by most of the higher-class healers, some would even go as treat us as pieces of low-born filth. Which, ultimately, we were.
Not that I was born poor or had a lot of troubles in my youth, there were... complications. Complications I kept to myself as not to bother anyone else with them. I straightened my back, waiting for the next wave of complaints.
"The healers at your side are all renowned for the skills and expertise. Their punishment for letting a kind like yours in here at such a case will be light, however."
The bed between us was the only barrier which kept her from coming to me.
"Seeing as you gravely broke the Nuzrethian law," she began with a voice cold as ice, a flicker of satisfaction in her eyes, "your contract will be terminated immediately. The crimes you commited will be sent to the Queen's advisors at once, informing her and the Royal Guard as well so they may take action whenever needed." As the last words left her mouth, I felt another surge of mana through my veins; one of pure anger. I gave a nod as answer and clenched my fist, trying to contain myself.
"Yes, ma'am" came out of our mouths, albeit stiffled by some, as the headmistress walked away to check up on other healers. I took a few deep breaths to regain myself again.
"So," I said while moving past the others, "as you all might have heard I lost my job for saving someone's life. " I paused, watching the soldier sleep now his life was out of danger. A bitter taste filled my mouth. When the healer who had led me here put a hand on my shoulder I brushed it away, perhaps a little too harsh.
"Miss Sethoran! Take your leave." The headmistress' voice rang across the ward, loud and clear so every single person heard it. As if she wanted to rub the facts in my face all over again. I turned without a word, tried to ignore the growing whispers behind my back and the stares of humiliating eyes, and exited the hospital to return home under the hot summer sun.