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Mar Tyn woke to a multitude of aches, and opened his eyes upon a thin, fierce face. Two achingly straight scars traced a diagonal path down her right cheek, white against tan skin.

"Medic?" he whispered. There had been a medic – or at least, a medic on the way. He recalled that, particularly, for a medic in Low Port was a wonder of herself.

His observer dipped her chin in approval, and added, "Fireyn. Tell me your name."

"Mar Tyn eys'Ornstahl."

Another dip of the chin.

"Your right arm is broken; your ribs are accounted for. You have proven that your head is harder than our wall, so you need not make that experiment again. I used a first aid kit on the ribs, the head, and the arm, and injected you with an accelerant, which will speed healing. The arm is your worst remaining problem. You will need to wear a sling, even after your other wounds allow you to leave your bed."

He licked his lips.

"How long –" he began, but the darkness rushed up again, swallowing the thin, clever face, amid all of his sluggard thoughts.


He woke feeling tired, and opened his eyes to a different face, not quite so thin, nor yet so fierce, with a clear golden complexion rarely found in Low Port. The features were regular; cheeks unscarred; eyes brown, and serious.

"Do you know me?" he asked. His Liaden bore an accent – tantalizingly unfamiliar.

"You are Don Eyr," Mar Tyn answered. "I recall your voice."

Don Eyr smiled.

"It was rather dark, wasn't it? You may be pleased to learn that Fireyn wishes you to rise, and walk, and afterward make a report of yourself. She will also be observing you with her instruments."

He tipped his head, and Mar Tyn followed the gesture, finding the medic standing at a tripod across the room.

The room – it was small, but very light. He turned his head, finding a window in the end wall; a clean window, through which the afternoon sun entered, brilliance intact.

"When?" Mar Tyn asked.

"Now," Fireyn said. "If you are able. If you are not able, then I will be informed."

He marked her accent this time, and noted the way she stood, balanced and alert. One of the Betrayed, then, which made sense, of her paleness, and the precision of the cuts that had formed her scars.

"What she means to say is that, if you are not able, she will immediately intensify your treatment," Don Eyr said, rising from the chair next to Mar Tyn's bed. "She was military, and believes in quick healing."

"A necessity, on a battlefield," Fireyn said.

And also on Low Port, thought Mar Tyn, putting the coverlet back with one hand. His right arm was in a sling, and he was wearing a knee-length robe.

Carefully, he put his feet over the side of the bed, situated them firmly – and rose.

He paused, but his head was quite steady; his balance secure. Looking up, he saw Don Eyr leaning against a wall, perhaps a dozen paces from the side of the bed.

Mar Tyn walked toward him, steps firm and unhurried.

Reaching Don Eyr, Mar Tyn bowed. Finding his balance still stable, he turned and walked to the window, where he paused to look out.

Below him was the yard his feet had carried him to in his race against his winner. It was a tidy space, seen in decent daylight. He particularly noted the tiered shelving, filled with potted plants.

"I hope I brought no harm to your garden," he said, turning to face Don Eyr.

"Not a leaf was bent," the other man assured him.


He walked back to Fireyn.

"I report myself able. Shall I go?"

He heard Don Eyr shift against the wall – but Fireyn was shaking her head.

"I fear you are guilty of under-reporting," she said, and glanced over his head.

"I recommend an additional round of therapy," she said, to Don Eyr, Mar Tyn understood.

"You are the medic," came the answer. "Friend Mar Tyn."

He turned.

"This choice is yours. I stipulate that the therapy is not without risk. I also stipulate that none of those under my keeping – or, indeed, myself – have taken harm from it. If you wish my recommendation, it is that you allow it. This house will stand for your safety, while you are vulnerable. If you do not care to risk so much, that is, of course, your decision. It is understood that you may have business elsewhere."

It was gently said, and Mar Tyn was somewhat astonished to find that he believed that he was safe in this house, in the care of Fireyn and Don Eyr. Which left only the question. . .

Do I, Mar Tyn inquired with interest of himself, have business elsewhere?

There came no restless fizzing in his blood. His feet were as rooted to the floor. He was, he realized, at peace, which was very nearly as dangerous as believing himself to be safe.

And yet. . .his feet had brought him here; his feet were content that he remain here.

He was curious to learn why.

He turned to Fireyn.

"Additional therapy," he said. "I accept."

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