The Soul of a Healer
A Prelude by Nikki Miller
There was no light in the darkness. There was sound and sensation, but the darkness itself was absolute. The black void had no known end, stretching in all directions indefinitely. Perhaps the ability to see was an illusion forged by fragile, broken minds. Brosi couldn’t say for certain, but he could say he was unable recall what the sky looked like. He couldn’t describe what the color green is other than nature and grass and leaves, a color people spoke about when thinking of spring and summer.
He could not picture it in his head. There was only the darkness and his lifelong silence.
Brosi ambled along the path, feet bare and calloused as he walked. Blades of grass tickled his ankles, grazing the tender skin with loving care. His hands rested at his sides, eyes half-lidded, a hazy grey, as he stared towards the ground. The air was hot against his skin, the winds still and the back of his neck hot. The sun was just behind him, high in the sky. Warmth coated his back.
It was almost noon. He paused and turned his head towards the sky, feeling the light washing across his half-closed eyes, but seeing nothing other than darkness and shadows. Somewhere in the distance, he could hear the tolling of a bell cry out, once, before eleven, smaller notes followed. A slow smile spread across his face – it was noon, indeed.
Brosi listened, for a time. To the bells, their melodious song a distant echo. To the flowing fields of darkness around him, head bowing as his brow furrowed. He couldn’t hear anything other than the wind dancing in the grass, a soft whoosh that almost sounded like disembodied voices whispering from the unseen aether around him. Faint, barely there voices that spoke in tongues he could not identify, but he understood the rhythm of the speech well enough.
Curiosity, intrigue, playfulness.
Once he was sure he was alone, Brosi slowly lowered himself to the ground. He sat cross-legged, ankles resting against the grass and dirt, and pressed his palms to ground. His eyes closed fully, head bowed. Tinkling, bell-like sounds drifted in the air, whispers rising, and then something warm landed on the back of his left hand.
Brosi could feel something thin and weightless fluttering there, feel the ground beneath his palms heating up as another feather-light creature landed on his shoulders and knees. The noise rose, indecipherable song drifting lazily around him.
Brosi’s eyes opened, wide and startled. Someone had called out to him, but, as he lifted his head, ears straining to pick up what direction the voice had come from, he heard nothing but the wind and silence. The songs the creatures sung were gone, hushed away as the fluttering creatures stilled. The ground was warm under his palms, a faint pulse rumbling far below.
As he swept his sightless gaze across the glade he rested in, he heard it again: “Ambrosius…”
The creatures began chittering to themselves, his name repeated in their musical melodies as more of them alighted on his body. When the deeper, dual-toned voice whispered his name in his hear, Brosi jumped to his feet as the deeper with a sharp inhale. He turned, one hand reaching out for whoever was there, and stilled as his hand pushed into frigid air.
Goosebumps rushed across his skin, his hair standing on end as a cool wind caressed the side of his face and brushed his bangs from his eyes. The voice whispered his name, the creatures floating in the air tugging on the end of his braid as others played with the ends of his robes.
This was not the first time he had heard the creatures of the area speak his name, but never had they done so with such force. The cold air came closer, moving from his hand to his wrist and then his arm. When it was pressed against the side of his face, a spectral hand cupping his cheek, cold air pressed against his ear as a old, disembodied voice whispered, “Run.”
In the distance, he heard the village bell toll – a deep, soul-vibrating sound that kept ringing without pause. The fluttering creatures darted off him, their wings stirring the air. Then a sense of cold swept over the clearing, the earth under his feet rumbling with discontentment. Brosi turned and ran, following the path he had taken to the woods below.
Howling dogs broke the silence, their voices thunderous. Further back, hundreds of hooves beat upon the ground. Wind whirled and howled, and the voice urged him on. He followed its direction, letting the gentle pushes of cold air steer him. Then there was whispering in his ear, a sharp and hard “dunk” alerting him to the danger ahead.
Brosi dunked, breath rattling in his chest as a branch passed over his head. Somewhere near, he could hear twigs snapping and something scraping along the large stones that lined one side of the path. The voice urged him further, the cold enveloping him with a sense of urgency.
He heard its harsh voice, telling him to stop and drop, but Brosi could only stagger under the sudden weight of some beast slamming into his shoulder from above. They both went off the path, rolling down a slope he had never dared, and the sharp, stinging pain of thorns wrapping around his limbs did little to slow either of their descent. The disembodied voice followed after, a dull ringing pressing at his senses as he tried to shake off the chill settling in his bones.
“Get up, Ambrosius. Up. Get up!” Never before had he heard someone sound so frantic, nor had he thought he could get so cold. When Brosi tried to stand, a silent scream slipped out. Tears bit at his eyes, his hands stinging as he braced himself against the ground. His body ached, but the pain resonating within his right leg and hip was far greater. “Up. Get up.”
He made a vague gesture towards the limb in question, shaking his head as he chocked on muted cries. Veins of light was cutting through him, flashes of sparks echoing within his mind, a sign of something wrong. Pressing his hand to the area, palm slick and wet within seconds, Brosi knew he had broken something. He couldn’t tell if the bone had torn through muscle and skin, but the blood was undeniable.
The pain cut deeper, his body trembling as a monstrous howl cut through the woods around him. The voice continued to whisper, “Up. You have to get up. They’re coming. You have to get up! Up, Ambrosius, you have to get up!”
The pain enveloped his leg, currents of light shooting through the darkness. Flashes of not-black, hot and angry and demanding. Brosi turned over, gritting his teeth as pain cut through him. He scooted backward, pausing when his back hit the rough hide of a tree. He could feel the ridges of the bark through his shirt, scale-like groves that swept along the trunk in waves.
He drew in a breath and held it, counting in his head. Felt his chest starting to ache. Exhaling, he pressed one palm to his hip and leaned into the other hand. He pushed the voice away, kept his eyes closed as he focused on the currents within his body, on the tendrils of light flashing in his mind. Latent energy, like the power he had felt in the earth early, uncurled within his core.
Heat built at the base of his spine, a sluggish energy that rose, inch by inch, along the vertebrae that built the frame of his body. It shifted and flowed, pushing into his hips and shoulders, then his legs and arms, wrists, and then, finally, his palms. He could feel the energy circulating in his hip, pulsing, stuck, but it welcomed the energy he directed from his hand into the afflicted area.
The longer he kept his hand pressed there, focusing his attention on that first spot, the more the energy shifted and moved. It was…questing, finding fractures and broken fragments and torn skin. Brosi could feel the injuries knitting together, slowly mending. And then the energy in his hip lurched and moved down along his leg, both hands following now that he could sit comfortably without fear of toppling over.
As the last of the pain was pulled away, strength returning to the limb, someone shouted his name. He heard voices in the air, suddenly understood why the voice was so adamant, as a shadow fell over the top of him. Rough hands grabbed his arms and hauled him to his feet as sound came rushing back. He could hear too many voices shouting and yelling, and then there was a girl’s voice. One he knew, someone he had played with as a child.
“Ambrosius, his name is Ambrosius! He’s one of Lord Neravi’s servants! Let him go!” Brosi turned, struggling against the man holding on him, breath coming rough and uneven as the girl, the Lord’s daughter, screamed and cried. “He’s blind, by God! What good could he be for you!
“Brosi! Hold on, Brosi! I’ll go and get my father,” there was more shouting, an echoing voice that rang and thundered. Brosi flinched away from that voice, away from the laughter that followed it, and felt his body go cold as a rough, scraggly voice wheezed, “Your father will not be able to deny what we have seen here, Lady Neravi. A healer, tucked away and hidden here. Your family will answer to the Judge of the Serpent King.”
Brosi felt his heart skip a beat, unseeing gaze widening. The forest was silent, but he could feel the stares of the creatures in the trees and stone. He could feel the distant warmth as the man who had him turned him round, dragging him through the underbrush. Brosi’s hand flew up, catching the forearm, and more laughter rang out.
As he was hoisted up onto a large, warm animal, he heard the voice whisper, “Ambrosius. Run, you should have run. Now the King will awaken. He will awaken and he will see…”
Hello and good afternoon, everyone! I have some news I’d like to share. I’ve decided to start a project, and the above you just read is an idea for a story I have! This wasn’t easy to write, given Brosi happens to be blind and mute. Hard to write from a character’s POV when they see color and can speak and all that good stuff. Taking away these two things means I have to work on how to describe the world around him, but the above is one idea I have for this particular part in the story’s plot that I’m working on.
I have quite a bit thought about in regards to this. If you’d like to know more, go here.
I plan to have a few updates and ideas about this story posted here, but it will be more snippets of the story, and ideas, than actual content that tells you what happens in the story. However, I do hope the above wets your appetite on a possible story you’d like to know more on!