[Flash Fiction Friday] Ravon Silvius with “One Word”

Hello everyone! Ravon Silvius here with a flash fiction for Flash Fiction Friday! This takes place in the universe of the Enforcers series, in a world run by mages where those without magic—the talentless—live hard lives.

For more of my work, check out my blog at ravonsilvius.blogspot.com!


One Word

by Ravon Silvius


 

“He can’t speak?”

“Well…that’s not entirely true.” Patrys, clad in the green robes of an apprentice healer, looked down at his notes. He wished he had written them more clearly, the letters curving and jumping indexes of his own nervousness. “He does say one thing.”

“So it’s not a medical problem. It sounds like a psychological one.” The master healer waved a hand, dismissing the entire issue. “And he’s not noble. He can’t pay anyway. Choose a different patient for your case study.”

“But he’s…” Patrys closed his mouth when the master healer raised an eyebrow. “I mean, please, master. It will be an interesting case. An explosion resulting in near-mutism? Perhaps there’s heat damage. I’m good at healing burns. It would be a fine first year project.”

“He’s not even a mage, Patrys. He can’t pay, and the medical college will have no interest in his outcomes. If you want to impress nobility and earn respect as a healer, you have to work with one of them. There’s no shortage of young nobles with various psychological ailments, either, if that is truly what you want your focus to be.”

Patrys frowned, reading the subtext of the master’s words. Don’t waste your time with talentless. Focus on healing some noble mage’s minor problem, and you’ll earn a patron and be on easy street. Nobility is where the money, and the respect, had always been.

Patrys grit his teeth against what he wanted to say. A noble had caused the explosion in the first place, fooling around with magic while drunk.

“Get rid of him and work on bettering your career.” The words, even though Patrys predicted them, stung.

“Very well, Master,” Patrys said. He didn’t stick around to see the master’s nod.

The stark white stone hallways of the medical college suddenly felt confining as he headed toward the examination room. A young man, close to his own age, unharmed after an explosion save for the one strange symptom. It should be a great first year project.

But more than that, Patrys thought as he entered the room where the man waited, is that he wanted to help this man, a talentless man who couldn’t pay any other way.

The man in question looked up as Patrys entered the room. After much arguing with the dormitory official, Patrys had gotten permission to let the injured man stay in his own room, far from the other patients who filled the waiting rooms and the entranceway outside the building. As the best hospital in the nation, located on the outskirts of Arktaine, the capital city, many mages and nobles alike flocked here. Most talentless stayed away.

But not this one. The victim of an explosion in a residential building in the slums, he had been taken in and then left to linger on one of the benches outside the hospital. Patrys had found him there, smelling of smoke and barely able to breath, but he couldn’t resist the silent plea for help he had seen in his dark eyes.

“Feeling any better?” Patrys asked. The man gave a careful nod. Patrys whished he knew his name, but he couldn’t write. Many talentless living in the area were uneducated after the war, their parents having been killed and mages unwilling to allow schools governed by non-mages near the capital.

“That’s fine. I cleared out your lungs, so its no surprise you’re feeling better.” Patrys leaned against the doorway, his heart picking up. “I, uh, haven’t quite made any headway on your voice. My master says its likely psychological.” He swallowed hard. He didn’t know what else to say. He didn’t want to admit he had failed, and that he would have to ask the man to leave.

The man cocked his head, giving Patrys a careful smile. He looked to be Patrys’s age, just 22. A talentless, a man who couldn’t use magic, in a world ruled by mages. Living outside the capital city and unable to read and write. His life must have been so difficult.

“Um, let me do one more exam?” Patrys asked. The man’s brows furrowed, but he nodded.

Patrys was very aware of the other man’s nearness as he approached, of the dark lashes and powerful muscles when the man settled himself on the examination table. Soon enough the awkwardness gave way to professionalism, though, as Patrys ran his hands over the man’s face and throat. He was a healer, and couldn’t be distracted by things like beauty, even if the one before him was very beautiful.

He used his magic as well as his training, focusing on the body in front of him. Old scars from what must be childhood injuries stood out in his mind, but the burns from before, the muscle tears from surviving the explosion, were gone. Patrys had done good work.

But no pride came over him when he stopped the exam and looked into the other man’s eyes.

“My master says…you’re fine now.” The words came out like shards of glass. “Its time for you to go.”

He expected anger, a look of shock, for those beautiful brows to come together in confusion.

But instead he got a shrug as the man hopped off the examination table, and that one word, in the soft voice and tone where Patrys had first heard it when he stopped by the waiting area and leaned down to save his life.

“Thanks.”

That was the only word he could say. Patrys could only assume it was due to the explosion.

Patrys paused, watching as the man headed down the hall. A talentless man, used and thrown away by mages. He may be a servant, or a merchant, or just an illiterate worker down on his luck. Patrys would never see him again.

Patrys would never be able to help him.

As a child, he had wanted to be a healer ever since he had used his first bit of magic to heal a baby bird’s wing. It had been a small thing. But it was beautiful.

Since joining the hospital as an apprentice, he had been told to develop his skills and to win favor with everyone else. Teachers, professors, until he had finally won his apprenticeship with the master healer of the hospital, a man who told him the importance of winning a patron, his next step.

He had lost sight of his goal.

“Wait!” Patrys called.

The man stopped, turning. A small smile came over his face.

Patrys came closer, pausing when he could sense the other man’s body heat. “I still want to help you,” Patrys said. “My master said you should leave. But I’m your healer. I say you can stay, if you want to work with me to figure out what went wrong. I can help you. I want to help people. That’s my goal as a healer.”

The man smiled. “Thanks,” he said. Patrys had to smile back.

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