Continued from ‘New Protector‘
With Kalla guiding me through camp, I focus on what she said about Alice finding a new protector in Julian. That would mean she wouldn’t need me as her protector anymore. It would mean my whole reason for following her was pointless. It all makes sense now; why she pushed me away. Yet, it doesn’t make it any easier to swallow.
The broad-shouldered female before me holds the door flap open and allows me to step inside. The air is thick inside. It seems to pulse with a strange energy, like right before a lightning storm, and a small fire burns off to one side.
“Kalla.” A woman glances up from where she leans over a young boy. Her hands tap along his bare back.
“Ma,” Kalla returns as she sweeps past me to kneel on the other side of the young boy.
“Ma?!” I blurt, glancing between the two women.
The older woman is a perfect, if not older, mirror of Kalla. It’s obvious the two are related. Yet, for some reason it seems strange that Kalla, this warrior before me, would be the daughter of the healer.
“You seem surprised, boy,” the woman comments in a low, calm voice.
“I-” I snap my mouth shut.
She smiles at me in a knowing way before her eyes trickle down my torso as if examining my tattered shirt. “Come, sit. I will tend to you next.” Her attention flickers to Kalla’s burned chest, but she doesn’t say anything. She just continues her tapping on the boy’s back.
I kneel next to Kalla, watching the woman carefully. “What’s she doing?” I whisper as the woman’s hands trail down the length of his spine.
“Healing him,” Kalla returns with a tone that makes me feel stupid.
Kalla sighs. Frustration and disappointment weigh on her eyebrows, sagging them towards her pale eyes. “I… don’t know.”
“Yes, you do,” the elder woman returns. “You know more than you think, Kalla, and you need to start accepting that if you ever plan to be the next healer.”
“I don’t want to be the next healer,” Kalla argues, her ferocity returning. It’s that ferocity that makes it impossible for me to envision her as a healer, especially when compared to this even-tempered woman in front of me.
The woman smiles, but doesn’t say anything more before she draws her hands away from the boy. “Alright. You’re all set.”
Rising from the floor, the boy glances at Kalla and myself before thanking the woman and scurrying away with a shirt half over his head.
“Now, what happened?” The woman questions, glancing between Kalla’s burned chest and my own.
Kalla turns away, giving her mother her cheek. “I was defending him.”
Tension clutches Kalla’s shoulders and she bites back, “no!”
The woman before me raises her eyebrows at Kalla. “You were protecting this boy?” Her ice blue eyes settle on me. I feel like she’s reading every part of my soul with those eyes.
“Rayna made him my responsibility,” Kalla explains gruffly.
“Ah,” the woman breathes with a nod. “So, why is he hurt?”
Kalla’s shoulders curl forward like she’s lost her battle. “Because he tried to protect me against Aric.”
Light eyebrows climb the woman’s forehead. “He attacked Aric?” Surprise widens her eyes as she examines my physique.
“No,” Kalla corrects. “Aric pummeled him.”
“Hey!” I snap. “He didn’t-“
Kalla’s blue eyes find me. “You took a single hit and went down.”
“What do you expect, Kalla? This boy can’t control electricity. What’s more, his water adaptation makes him that much more vulnerable to a spark than any other adaptation,” the woman explains, her brows furrowing with concern.
My shoulders slump. Everyone is making it very clear just how weak I am and it’s not really helping at the moment.
“So,” the woman continues. “The boy jumped in to save you and this is how you thank him? With disdain?” She tsks at her daughter. “I thought I raised you better.” With a shake of her head she turns to me. “Please remove your shirt. It’s not doing you any good anymore anyway.”
I swallow at her request. There might not be much left to the material, but its better than being half-naked in front of everyone. I remain motionless.
The woman smiles. “Now,” she breathes. “That is quite unusual.”
“What is?” Kalla asks, curiosity plucking her interest from the ground.
“It would seem this boy is shy.”
My cheeks flush, deepening my embarrassment more. Kalla notices.
“Are you kidding me?” She blurts. “You jumped in front of a man twice your size to protect me and yet you’re afraid to take your shirt off in front of people?”
“Kalla!” The woman doesn’t raise her voice, but it fills the space easily. “Leave.”
With a huff, Kalla climbs to her feet and storms from the room. The flimsy door snaps closed behind her.
“Please, if you don’t mind.” She gestures towards my shirt. “I have seen far more than a naked torso before. You have nothing to be embarrassed about.”
Her comment only makes my embarrassment worse, but I don’t think I have much of a choice. I pull the tattered cloth over my head and drop it in the dirt.
“Please lie down.”
Following her commands, I lay in front of where she kneels. Her eyes examine my body. Her hands hover over it as if searching for something. When she finds it, she places her fingertips on my chest and taps like she did with the boy.
A sensation much like the numbing from Aric and Kalla bursts through my body. Yet, it’s different. It’s not continuous. There are small sparks that flash and disappear. “What are you doing?”
“We all have a current living within us. I’m manipulating the current to target the damaged parts of your body and heal it. Though your current is more water than an electricity adaptation. It has been many years since I’ve worked on one.”
“You’ve healed a water adaptation?” Surprise litters my tone and I feel ashamed of it.
She nods without any reaction to my tone. “Yes, when I lived in the city. I was able to hide my adaptation for a while and used it to heal people, to show them what an electricity adaptation could really do. But in the end, some people were still afraid of us and I had to leave.”
Her fingers move across my skin and I force myself not to laugh when she hits a ticklish spot. Yet, she notices. She smiles.
“I still see the good in people and I try to show that to Kalla, but she has a harder time seeing it.” She pauses and tips her head to the side. “I apologize for her.”
“You don’t have to.”
“No,” the woman continues with a small shake of her head. “Kalla doesn’t know anything outside the camp. She has a hard time understanding others and seeing their pain. I want her to be a healer, but I know she won’t be.”
Something about the sadness in her voice snags my heart. “I’m sorry.”
“Don’t be,” she returns. “She is bold, but she’s not strong enough to be a healer. Her place will be elsewhere and Julian will train as healer.”
“Julian?” My brows furrow in confusion. I didn’t expect him to be the one capable of being a healer.
Next Installment: Silencing Waters