One of the women marched over to the cot and knelt by its side. She spoke to Light of Dawn in careful tones, deliberately spacing out her words yet not shouting. Then she made motions with her hands.
Ah; that Light of Dawn understood, and she was most grateful for the opportunity. The second woman closed the heavy wood door while the first began peeling back the fabric covering Light of Dawn. The most urgent business came first, then came the secondary business.
This was Light of Dawn’s first look at her injuries since awakening in this strange place. She had been awake less than a day, and she had seen so much. Small wonder she was exhausted. The women propped her up more comfortably on the hard cot and carefully unravelled some of the bandages. Light of Dawn hadn’t realized there were so many.
Wide bands of fabric bound her ribs, and these the women did not touch. But the numerous, smaller bandages around her chest, arms, legs, and even feet did come off, one at a time. The women clucked their tongues as they gently washed the skin, added more salve, and wound on fresh bandages.
Light of Dawn fought her gorge. The bruises covering every finger-width of her body were livid splotches, and even the gentle touch of the women sent blasts of lightning through her body. Her gasps stopped against the rib-bindings, but not soon enough to produce another kind of fiery pain there. Tears ran without permission, which the one woman quickly wiped away but did not comment on.
By the time the sunlight faded from the high, thin windows and the lamps were turned up, the women were done and covered Light of Dawn in the plain robe and rough blanket. The second made the curious obeisance again and left the room. The first tidied the long strips of fabric and other small things while Light of Dawn attempted to find a spot on her body that did not ache.
The woman knelt by the cot again and showed Light of Dawn something. The odd shape prevented instant recognition: a comb. A plain, bulky thing like all things here, but it would do. Light of Dawn managed a small nod. The woman lifted a hank of Light of Dawn’s once-luxurious hair and put the comb to it. Just as well the hair was so long; despite the woman’s fist between the comb and the scalp, each tug sent slivers of pain down Light of Dawn’s neck.
When the second woman returned, bearing a tray of dishes, Light of Dawn sighed. “Ah; for my homeland,” she murmured.
The first woman made soothing noises and spoke in the guttural language again. The second woman said something as she lifted the cover of a bowl.
“Have some soup.”
Light of Dawn’s eyes widened.
“Hey, hey! You made it!” Barna waved, a leg of roasted bird in his hand, when Yosha entered the small dining room. “Just in time; Esthis was about to eat all the food.”
That earned him a punch in the arm from his younger sister, which he replied to with a grin. Yosha shook his head and smiled.
Annat watched him as he took a place at the table. “You are looking much better, Yosha,” she said.
He reached for the nearest platter as he responded. “I feel much better, Nat. Thank you for noticing. Is that mash-root?” He pointed to a bowl.
“It is,” Annat answered, lifting the bowl just ahead of Barna’s grab. She passed it to Yosha. “They’re a bit dense, since the late harvest was drought-ridden, but the cream does well to cover that.”
Yosha scooped a large amount onto his plate. “Thank you. Looks like someone added herbs to it. Should be good. Esthis, would you send that platter of whatever meat that is over here, please?”
Esthis snatched the plate in question away from Barna, stuck her tongue out at him, and handed it to Annat.
Hannes set down his mug and wiped his mouth. “Busy days make for larger appetites. Glad to see you tucking in, Yosh.”
Yosha chewed and swallowed. “Yes, and you don’t have to dance around like hired players. The healing that Miss Límíng did this afternoon helped a lot. If nothing else, it cleared my head. I feel like I can think, like I can see the difference between things now. It’s like I had a cobweb over my mind, and she broke it off.” He stuffed a chunk of meat in his mouth. “Gonna take shum time t’ geddit all off, dough.”
“Please, Yosha,” Annat chided him. “Grown men do not speak while chewing. You’re spitting all over the table.” A small smile tugged her lips.
Barna snagged the pitcher and refilled his mug. “C’mon, Nattie! Leave off being Mother for a night. We just defeated the Eidolan Night! We should be happy for once!”
Annat leveled a cool stare at him. “I would say that some are happy enough for all the rest of us.”
Hannes waved a hand. “Ease up, everyone. We had a good day, but this isn’t the end of anything. We’ve a long way to go yet. Yosh, we got the reports from the hospital, but I want your take on things. You were in the fight with the Riven, yes?”
Yosha nodded and, glancing at Annat, swallowed before replying. He related the events as clearly and concisely as he could. “… and when she’s feeling better, I think Miss Límíng would help us learn better defense techniques. I haven’t asked her yet, so don’t count on that.”
Barna leaned forward on the table, a sloppy grin stretching his cheeks. “Aww, c’mon, Yosh. So mush time with a pretty girl, an’ ya haven’t asked her anythin’ yet?”
“Barna, I think you’ve had enough ale for the night,” Yosha replied, fixing his eyes on his plate. “We all need to keep level heads through this conflict.”
Hannes cut off Barna’s retort. “Agreed. Get him some tisane or jeela or something to clear his head so we can keep working. The generals will be here in an hour, which means we have a long night ahead of us.”