The Writer - Chapter 29

The Writer - Chapter 29

A Chapter by A.L.

The Healer


Maroon seemed like an odd color for the stiff, prim healer’s uniform that Clara was expected to wear. Maybe it was supposed to help her stand out on the field. 

Or maybe it was to mask the blood. 

Brooke was wearing the same thing so she could hide as a healer if she was found. Both girls had armor hidden underneath the thin cloth, and Clara had a dagger too. She figured there would be plenty of discarded weapons on the field too. 

Bones promised that they wouldn’t be harmed as long as they didn’t attack first. The kingdoms had obeyed a simple law of not touching the other side’s healers for centuries now. 

Not that Baelle normally played by the rules anyway. 

Clara was on lookout with Brooke at the crest of a large hill when they first spotted Baelle’s army approaching. The silver soldiers were marching in perfect formation like an ominous storm cloud arriving on the horizon. 

Brooke immediately sent word to the rest of the camp to prepare for war before returning to Clara’s side. 

As another part of the plan to keep Brooke safe, they would be disguising her as a boy. 

“Here,” Clara offered, reaching up to help pin Brooke’s hair in a tight bun. Then they tucked it under a knit cap so Brooke looked like a little boy. They had debated on having soldiers appointed to protect her, but Bones had pointed out that soldiers one a little girl would be suspicious to people who didn’t know who Brooke was. It made more sense to send her with Clara. 

Her resemblance to Beckett was more apparent, and Clara was starting to believe that they were related. 

Clara tied her own hair up in a ponytail and grabbed her medic bag, handed the spare one to Brooke. The medic bags were filled to add to the act that Brooke was an apprentice healer - even if Clara didn’t need the supplies. 

Excitement, fear, and a million other emotions flooded through Clara as they made their way down the hill and into the camp. Mostly, it mixed together into a big ball of nerves. 

This was really her first “official” battle, one that wasn’t just to escape. 

Even if Clara wasn’t actually fighting, it was still something different from pointless travelling. She knew there was a huge risk to being on the field - especially if Baelle knew she was here. The goddess would probably order her soldiers to keep an eye out for Clara, but she had her dagger to defend herself if necessary. 

Besides, she was tired of doing absolutely nothing. 

Her small size also posed an advantage, especially with the vastness of the field Bones had chosen to fight on. Gale and Keenan would remain inside the camp, their older age causing them to be less agile in a fight. 

Besides, Clara knew she was relatively safe with her Blessing. 

“Are you scared?” Brooke asked her, voice quiet. 

Clara shrugged. “It’s not my first fight - although it is my first planned one. But I suppose I’m a bit scared. Just expect the unexpected and you’ll be fine.” 

“I’m scared,” Brooke said without hesitation. 

Clara understood the feeling. Even if Brooke didn’t die, there was no doubt that she would see it happen to someone else. And that was even more terrifying sometimes. 

“Just stick with me and we’ll be okay,” Clara said in an attempt to make the girl feel better. Brooke nodded, but she didn’t seem particularly reassured. That was kind of how Clara felt too, but she decided not to mention it. 

“Troops!” Bones called out, redirecting Clara’s attention. Her and Brooke followed the crowd to where Bones was standing on top of a table that had been set up outside of the tents. “The Silver Army is approaching quickly, and we must fight. There is no escape and no honor in running. 

“Today, we fight against the silver soldiers not to kill them as enemies that will be celebrated over, but as brothers and sisters that we mourn over. War has no winners and no losers - only survivors. There is a chance many of you will die.” 

Brooke turned to Clara. “Is he always this uplifting?” 

Clara shushed her and shook her head. “Sometimes it’s worse.” 

Bones continued on. “But we are fighting for a good cause. Baelle and her Rogues have taken our freedoms, our friends, and our families. We fight for those who are lost but remember we also must fight for ourselves. Together, as one, we will stand against the forces of evil that have poisoned our land. Together we fight back for what we believe in. And together, we take back what is rightfully ours. Now, who is with me!” 

“We’re with you!” the soldiers cheered, voices mixing to form a wonderful sound that for some reason reminded Clara of home. 

“Good,” Bones said, forcing a smile. “Then let’s head to our positions.” 

He began dismissing soldiers, and Clara quickly dragged Brooke with her to find Titus. They found him on the outer edge of the crowd, his knuckles white on the hilt of his sword. 

“Hello, Titus,” Brooke greeted happily. 

The boy looked up, startled. He was wearing the rebel soldier garb - mostly blue but a mix of other colors as well. It would help them stand out from the silver soldiers. “Oh, hello. Have you come to say goodbye?” 

“No, we’ve come to wish you luck,” Clara said, frowning. “Titus, if you need me on the field, just call and I will find you.” 

“Oh,” he muttered, distracted. Something was wrong.

“Um, Brooke,” Clara whispered, blush rising to her cheeks. Brooke stuck out her tongue, but she got the message and went off to pester someone else. “Titus, what’s wrong?” 

“Nothing is wrong,” he mumbled, still not meeting her eyes. She continued staring at him until finally he gave a sigh before speaking. “I miss the missing person,” he whispered at last. “You know how I told you that I could tell there was something absent from my past? I … the pain gets worse every night.” 

“You really think it’s because of Mar- because of the missing person?” Clara asked him. “Or is something else happening?” 

Titus frowned at Clara’s mistake, but he didn’t say anything. “It’s the missing person - I know it. I couldn’t protect them - whoever they were. And I’m really afraid it’ll be you or Bones next. I don’t think our dysfunctional family is going to work.” 

Clara smiled softly at Titus’s acknowledgement of their “family”. “Titus, I can save you if you fall. Just call and my Blessing will find you.” 

“But what if you can’t,” he said, voice incredibly soft and panicked. “Clara, this is war. It’s life or death. Baelle knows that we’re friends with Emmeline - she probably has special orders to kill us.” 

“Titus, we’ll all be okay,” Clara assured him. “Are you sure there’s nothing else going on?” 

Titus gave a small shrug, but finally she spotted his lips crack into a frown and his fingers trembled as he spoke. “I’m scared, Clara. I’m scared that we’re going to lose or that I’ll die or that I’ll lose you. You’re like … like the little sister I never had. And you’re one of the only people not to look at me like I’m broken or fragile.” 

“Titus,” she whispered, but words alone could’t convey what she was trying to say. 

So she threw her arms around his neck, wrapping him in a hug. Titus buried his face in her hair, their tender embrace like one between siblings. Titus’s words had reminded Clara of what it felt like to love Johnny as a brother and have him torn away from her. 

She’d told Brooke she wasn’t scared. 

Because Clara wasn’t scared. She was terrified - terrified of losing everything she had ever loved once again. 

Terrified of what she would become if her delicate heart broke once again. 

Love was the most dangerous force of them all. 

It had only been one hour and Clara was already exhausted. Her Blessing wasn’t draining her much, but that magic was still taking its toll on her. Brooke was by her side constantly, making sure that no one snuck up on them. 

Clara was on her fifteenth soldier - or was it her sixteenth? She could barely convince her magic to stop using itself up. On every soldier she had to force herself to only use a small amount of her Blessing, lest she drain herself accidentally. And each soldier was then left with the pain of their wounds. 

“Do you need a break?” Brooke asked her, sounding a bit panicked. It was probably due to the battle around them. 

Clara was bent over a soldier who had evidently been stabbed in the gut. She let her fingers graze over the wound and it immediately began to heal. She yanked her hands back before it could heal anymore than a simple sealing. “I’m fine,” she muttered, trying to catch her breath. “Actually, just a minute.” 

Brooke nodded, gripping her medic bag tightly and glancing around nervously. 

Clouds had begun to form overhead and a light drizzle caused the field to be misty. Clara certainly didn’t envy the soldiers and the ability to tell each other apart. 

“Okay, I’m good now,” she mumbled, lying. Clara was nauseous and her Blessing - despite seemingly itching to be used - was weaker than normal. It was like it wanted to give itself up and get Clara killed. She couldn’t let that happen. 

“I just saw someone fall over there,” Brooke noted, pointing vaguely to the left. 

Clara nodded and followed the smaller girl, stepping over some of the bodies that she hadn’t managed to save. Every lump was a reminder of her failures and Clara wished that she wasn’t the only medic out on the field. 

Surprisingly enough, Brooke had yet to see a healer for the opposing side. Clara remembered Emmeline mentioning a “grave-robbing” Rogue who could clone bodies right before they died, but none of Baelle’s soldiers seemed to be coming back to life. Clara had stepped over more soldiers dressed in silver than rebels. 

Part of her wondered if maybe Forrest, Coral, and their team had actually managed to take out the Rogues like they were supposed to. She missed them terribly. 

One thing at a time, she told herself. Get through this first and then maybe you can write to Emmeline to write to Forrest and Coral. Or who knows - maybe they’re on their way back right now to save our butts. 

The thought at least put a smile on her face. 

“Over here,” Brooke gestured, and once again, Clara finished the healing and moved on. Soldier after soldier, she saved them. For some it was too late - their journey to the afterlife already complete. For others, she did the best she could without expending the majority of her magic. She’d yet to hear Titus call, so she assumed he was doing fine. 

Out of the corner of her eye, Clara saw a group of soldiers converging on one of the rebels, stabbing him with their spears before disappearing. She rushed to the injured rebel’s side, Brooke at her heels. His eyes fluttered shut and his heart stopped. 

Clara pushed back tears and grit her teeth as Brooke let out a quiet sob beside her. So much death - it was terrifying. 

She gripped the hilt of her knife tighter. Don’t draw the weapon and you’ll be fine. 

Brooke laid a soft hand on her shoulder, but Clara shrugged it off, spinning on her heels to follow the mini compass of her Blessing. 

Before the battle, she’d never really been able to sense others’ pain. But today seemed like an exception because she just had to follow her gut and sure enough she’d find someone that she could help. 

Another hour passed and the battle showed no signs of relenting. An hour after that and the rain had increased to a heavy downpour. 

Perhaps it was Lou, or maybe it was just luck - but the storm seemed to be affecting the silver soldiers more than the rebels. Of course, they also had Kalaia’s gift of unity and Cinnamon’s speed work to assist them as well. 

She was kneeling over the body of a woman with a huge cut on her forehead, the healing finally complete when someone grabbed her around the waist and yanked her backwards. 

Clara yelped in shock and kicked ferociously, trying to throw off her attacker. She resisted the urge to call for Brooke - mainly for the girl’s safety. The less the attackers knew the better - especially if they were working directly from Baelle. The attacker gripped her tighter, but Clara bit the meaty hand smothering her mouth and it released her. 

She tumbled away, deep cursing coming from behind her. A large man with beefy fists and a large club slung over his back was clutching his hand in pain. 

A few yards away, Brooke was wrestling with a slightly smaller woman with hair like a rat’s nest. Clara immediately drew her dagger, throwing all caution to the wind as she lunged towards the guy. 

He caught her wrist in his hand and gave a chuckle. “She said you were a feisty one.” 

Clara snarled at ‘she’, figuring that this dude was definitely working for Baelle and was therefore any enemy. She tugged her hands free and ducked under his arms, driving her dagger into his foot. 

The man let out a shout of pain and reached down to see his wound. Clara pushed him over and his face planted into the mud. She stole his club and tossed it away, hitting a silver soldier in the back, and he fell too. There, two people momentarily incapacitated just by her hand. 

The woman - hearing her male counterpart in pain - apparently decided that Clara was a bigger threat than Brooke. The pale girl was missing her hat - revealing her long hair. 

Rat Woman threw herself towards Clara, grabbing a short sword that had been stowed away in her belt. Clara blocked the first attack with her dagger, barely managing to deflect a second before the woman sliced a cut in Clara’s forearm. 

She stopped her Blessing before it could be healed, not allowing herself to waste anything. 

The Rat Woman gave a growl and Clara dodged another blow, and this time delivered a hit of her own. She slammed her blade into the lady’s shoulder, and as Rat Woman drew away, she took the dagger with her. Clara cursed loudly. 

“Clara!” Brooke’s voice rang out and she was on her feet at Clara’s side. She handed Clara a sword that must’ve been stolen from a fallen soldier. 

Clara had never really trained with swords before. Although Gwen always insisted the Hunters learn to use all weapons, Clara preferred daggers because they were small and yet deadly - just like her. However, years of experience had taught her to be ready to fight with anything she was provided with. 

The sword was heavy and longer than she was used to, the hilt worn under her fingers. Rat Woman ripped the dagger out of her own shoulder with a loud shout and threw it at Clara’s head. She ducked just in time to avoid being hit. 

“Run, Brooke,” Clara ordered. The girl nodded once and darted away. Rat Woman watched her go, but turned her gaze back to Clara a moment later. 

Rat Woman ran at Clara with her blade outstretched, but Clara anticipated the attack and dodged. She used her new sword to pivot on the ground and whip around, lunging for an attack from behind. Rat Woman spun at the last second, deflecting the attack with her own blade. 

Clara grit her teeth and forced Rat Woman’s blade upwards, knocking it away. Rat Woman didn’t like this and brought the blade down like she was attempting to slam it on Clara’s head. She moved at the last second and the flat of Rat Woman’s blade came down on her shoulder. Immediately, numbness sank into the bones as Clara’s Blessing attempted to heal it. She decided to let it heal her - she couldn’t save others if she was dead. 

Rat Woman took the quick opportunity to attempt an attack at Clara’s gut. The girl leapt aside with a moment to spare and brought the flat of her blade down on the woman’s hand. Rat Woman spat with pain as her sword clattered to the ground. 

She launched herself at Clara in a catlike fashion and the pair fell to the ground, wrestling with each other for the upper hand. Both of them were slightly injured, and Rat Woman wasn’t much bigger than Clara. The lady threw a punch at Clara’s head as she managed to get on top of Clara. But the girl brought her legs up into Rat Woman’s butt and threw her overhead. 

Rat Woman tumbled away to a stop and immediately ran forwards again. Clara stuck out a leg and tripped Rat Woman, crawling over top of her and straddling her. Rat Woman clawed and kicked, but Clara pinned her hands down with her boots. 

“Foolish girl,” Rat Woman spat. “You only delay the inevitable. Baelle always gets her way.” 

“Not today,” Clara threatened. There were no weapons within the near vicinity - Clara had to risk getting off of Rat Woman to find one. She wasn’t going to kill someone with her bare hands. 

After all, Clara was a healer. It was in her nature to help, not harm. 

In a split second decision, she lunged for a discarded spear that lay a few feet away. Rat Woman used the moment to push Clara off and the two rolled towards the spear. Clara slowed their movement until she was on top as they reached the spear. 

Rat Woman’s positioning and weight combined snapped the spear and the head of it poked into her side. She gave a small gasp as blood spilled from the small wound. 

Clara got up and ran. She didn’t want Rat Woman’s death to be her fault, but the lady was an enemy. Not to mention that Brooke was missing and Clara needed to find her before someone either abducted or killed her. 

Weird internal compass thing, don’t let me down now, she pleaded. 

Going with her gut, Clara followed the pull of the pain, letting it lead her into the dead center of the battle. 

Swords clashed. Blood spilled. Rain poured relentlessly, dumping buckets of freezing water on her head. Clara ducked under weapons, leapt over bodies, and healed whoever she could when she saw someone struggling. 

When she finally found Brooke, the girl was being dragged away by a small, weasley man. His pale skin matched hers in the dim light, but Clara could tell Brooke was struggling. 

Deciding to use the element of surprise to her advantage, Clara didn’t call out for Brooke. She snuck up behind the man, realizing she was defenseless. After stopping to snatch the arrow out of a nearby man. She didn’t let herself see his face. 

Then Clara ran at the man. He must’ve heard her coming because he wheeled around at the last possible second. Suddenly, steel-like hands grasped her wrists. 

Clara struggled to escape but the man disarmed her in less than a second, pinning her wrists behind her back and snapping her arrow in half with his teeth just to show off. No wonder he had managed to capture Brooke so easily. 

She could feel the cool metal of a knife being pressed against her throat, but it took her a moment to realize her eyes were closed. 

When she opened them, she met the eyes of a very worried looking Brooke standing beside Bones. Wait … he wasn’t supposed to be out on the field in the first place, so why was he standing there? 

“Surrender and I’ll let her live,” the man said, pressing the blade closer to Clara’s throat. She swallowed hard, fear coursing through her veins. Was this really how it would end? 

Bones was pale. He grabbed Brooke and pulled her behind him. Clara wasn’t sure she’d ever seen the man fight before, but he drew his gladius with one hand, holding Brooke back with the other. 

Please, just fight him, Clara was pleading. But instead, Bones held up the weapon and prepared to place it on the ground. 

“No!” Clara cried, the gladius halfway there. Bones froze. 

But it wasn’t because of Clara. It was because of the boy standing behind her, his eyes filled with anger and his fingertips gleaming with flames despite the pouring rain. 

“No,” he said, copying Clara’s words. “You surrender and we’ll let you go.”

© 2021 A.L.

Author's Note

Battle scene will continue into next chapter. Big things ahead, so stay tuned. I think this finally surpassed the length of my previous longest story - I'm hoping to hit 100k words. Enjoy!

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Added on January 10, 2021
Last Updated on January 10, 2021
Tags: adventure, fantasy, blessed, cursed, fiction, mythology, death, love, friendship, kingdom, prince, princess, queen, king, youngadult, ya, goddess, sword



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