Anima: The Masquerade

Into The Flames of Tribulation

Part I

The following events occur three weeks after Lydia has departed from the group to train by herself and gain some gold to support the upcoming expedition for artifacts.

Lydia sat on the edge of a large fountain in one of the central squares of Eternia. She was surrounded by onlookers, many of which were curious to see the miraculous works rumored to be happening. Her patient was a male, likely mid thirties by the sound of his voice, who’d sought relief from an infection which had begun to consume the flesh on his arm. The man grimaced as the girl found the wound with her finger tips and set her palm firmly on the moist, exposed flesh.

“If you’re ready, we will begin. It won’t hurt a bit, I promise,” Lydia explained.

“I am ready,” the man stated. Lydia nodded and slowly drew a deep breath to begin gathering the large amount of energy that would be required to heal such a wound. The air in the vicinity began to shimmer slightly as transparent white cubes appeared at her hands. The slowly floated toward the wound while shaping themselves into flat organic shapes that would fit together like a completed puzzle. As the final cube fell into place on the man’s arm, they glowed an intense white before transforming themselves into the missing skin and muscle fibers that melded perfectly. All traces of the infection had vanished.

“Thank you,” the man spoke quietly as he stared in awe at what had once been a festering mess. “I am in your debt, but I have no gold or silver. What would you have as payment?”

“I only ask that you return happily to your home and tell others in need that I am here. I accept donations, but healing services are free,” she explained as she gestured to the humble wooden bowl at her feet.

“Thank you, young lady.” The man walked away with a renewed cheer about his countenance. Lydia gave a fatigued sigh as she arched her unsupported back to loosen the knots that had formed in the couple of hours of sitting over the morning.

“I can help whoever is next,” Lydia spoke out to the crowd. Not a soul answered, and a fair majority looked at each other before deciding they’d seen enough and dispersed from the crowd. Income had been short so far, and Lydia was visited by the familiar feeling of wanting to give up and go home.

“Excuse me miss,” spoke out a voice suddenly, “can you see to my wound?” Turning her attention to the man, she nodded and held out her hand to gesture for his approach. He knelt down next to her and presented his bleeding palm.

“This is very fresh,” Lydia commented, “what did you do?”

“I was carving up the calf I killed this morning and cut my hand on the blade. I heard you were in town and immediately came to seek your aid.” This man’s wound would be a simple task.

Lydia placed her palm over the man’s wound and sealed it closed in a brief flash of light. The man looked with astonishment at his hand where not even a scar remained.

“Thank you. At first I wasn’t certain what to do when I couldn’t finish making the cuts on the meat. I don’t have enough money to hire a butcher. Thanks to you, I don’t have to worry.”

“The pleasure is all mine,” Lydia smiled politely and nodded.

“Unfortunately, I can’t spare any coin,” he explained, “but I can give you this.” He gently took hold of Lydia’s hand before slipping a chain bracelet over her wrist. The girl felt it curiously. “A beautiful bracelet for beautiful lass,” the man placed a kiss on her hand as a finishing touch.

“I’m flattered,” Lydia raised an eyebrow at the gesture, “but I don’t make a habit of excepting material offerings. If everyone dropped their things with me, I would never make it home with everything.”

“Who says just once will make it a habit? Besides, I really think the sapphires bring out your eyes.” Lydia hesitated as she tried to decide whether or not to make an exception for the man. “It would really make me feel better if you allowed me to pay a fine lady like yourself for her services. I wouldn’t want to seek you out with a wound on my flesh only to leave with a cut on my heart,” he explained with subtlety poetic tone.

“You’ve got quite the silver tongue, kind sir,” Lydia giggled at his dramatic display of words. “I will except your gift with gratitude.” With another kiss to the girl’s hand, the man swiftly departed. Afterward, Lydia waited an over hour for another patient to approach, occasionally calling out to the long dispersed crowd that had once gathered to see her at the fountain. She sighed, and picked up her nearly empty bowl from the ground before heading back to the temple of the eleven.

Deciding she was interested in a nap before transitioning into studying and meditation with her mentor, Lydia undressed and curled up in her bed.

Garret Rodrigo sat in the corner of the bar with a nearly empty pint of ale resting on the table in front of him. It was just past noon and he’d been waiting for his contact to show up at the meeting place for some time now. Although showing up 20 minutes early had seemed like a good idea at the time, he had no way of anticipating the other man would be so late. It was hard to want to wait around knowing the captain would be expecting to hear from him soon, but it would be better to report later than come back empty handed.

Finally a familiar face entered the bar and stopped at the counter-top to order a drink before sitting down at the table with Garret.

“You’re late,” Garret scolded.

“It took me a bit to figure out how to get her to take the damn thing. You can’t just slip a bracelet on a gal and expect her not to find it and take it off even if she is blind.”

“But you think she’ll use it? We’ve been tracking her for two weeks now, the buyer is getting anxious and there’s no room for further delay.” Garret took another sip of ale and savored it in his mouth before gulping it down.

“I’m certain. She’s not our run of the mill mage, so we’ll need to give it a couple of days to work.”

“If you insist, I’ll inform the captain,” Garret sighed. “He won’t be happy about it.” The man stood and finished his ale before leaving a small sack of coin on the table. “Half now as we agreed, and half after the delivery. Don’t you try to screw me either, I swim with big fish.”

“Never in my life, sir,” the other man nodded, deciding to stay at the table a while and enjoy some alcohol with his hard earned coin. With their business finished, Garret exited the bar and headed out to make a progress report to his superior.

To be continued



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