Arrow Branded – Chapter 7

By: Suspicious Panda

When I woke up, I was sitting on a large, overstuffed armchair in a warm room. I looked around and took in my surroundings. I seemed to have awoken in an enormous room made into a workshop of sorts. Metal and wood working tools sat around the room and littered the tables. The other half of the room looked like some low-budget hospital. There were five small cots, one was surrounded by a curtain.

“Dash, really. They need you now.” The boy who had helped me earlier was sitting on a chair in the corner of the room. He was talking to another boy who looked around his age. All I could see of the other boy was his teal dyed hair. He lowered the blowtorch and lifted his welding mask. The blue-haired boy turned to us. He pushed his round, wire-rimmed glasses up on his nose.

“Hello, whoever you are,” he said cheerily. I waved.

“You’re Dash Hawthorne?” Soleil asked. He nodded. “We have three people in need. I recommend you get on that.”

“Alright,” Dash said, his smile faded. “Ianto, come.” He walked over to a cot where the boy we had saved laid. He examined him. Dash shone a light in his eyes. The boy who had helped me outside came to his side. I assumed he was Ianto. He handed Dash a pendant.

“You sure? It’s dangerous,” Dash said.

“Yes, it’s urgent,” Ianto replied, putting it in Dash’s hand. Dash took it and put it around his neck. He pressed both hands to the boys chest and closed his eyes. I felt the air chill. Dash muttered something under his breath then opened his eyes. I watched as he snapped his fingers in front of the boy’s face. Then he turned away.

“What is is?” Xavier asked.

“Nothing, really,” Dash said.

“No, tell me. I need to know.” Xavier looked around anxiously, he eyed a drill press by the corner.

“Fine,” Dash said with a sigh. “He will be fine. As you know, elves have some powers. Although, whoever did this has injected something into him to subdue his magic. It was working slowly, he wouldn’t have lasted long if you had not brought him here.” Xavier nodded solemnly.

“Wait. He’s an elf?” I blurted out. I took a closer look at the boy on the table. I only then noticed his slightly pointed ears. His light brown skin had a just noticeable green tinge.

“Yes, he is,” Ianto said, turning to me. I saw that his eyes were an icy blue colour. But not just that; his right eye had a large blotch of a darker navy blue. When he turned away, I leaned over to Soleil.

“Dude, he has the same kind of eyes as you,” I said in a hushed voice. She smiled and nodded as if it were something obvious, and I felt my ears burn.

“Yeah, Lake, it’s an Arrow Branded thing. We all do,” she whispered back. I turned and stared at Ianto. Another Arrow Branded. They were more common than I had originally thought.

“I’ll take the second patient,” Ianto said. He had walked over and was standing in front of Rumour, who was just regaining consciousness.

“I’ll help you,” I said, standing up. Ianto got Rumour to his feet. We walked him over to another bed and sat him down. I helped him lie down while Ianto went to talk to Dash, who was muttering something that sounded like latin. He put his hands on either side of the elven boy’s head. His wounds healed before my eyes, leaving only scarring. He tried to sit up but Dash pushed him back down. He retrieved a pillow for him to lean on.

“And who is this?” Dash asked me when he approached Rumour’s bed. I stepped away and gave him room to assess.

“That’s Rumour,” I said, silently admiring his colourful hair. He took one look at Rumour and turned to Ianto.

“I’m gonna need some help,” he called out. Ianot came to his side immediately.

“Why, it is really bad?” Rumour asked. Dash gave him an encouraging smile.

“Nothing to worry about. I just need to remove your shirt to get a better look.”

Ianto helped Rumour sit up so they could discard his shirt. The fabric stuck to his wound, making it a bit more difficult. Rumour winced as he lay back down. Ianto left to give Dash some space. He sat in the chair next to me. He pulled a pair of glasses from his pocket and put them on.

“So what exactly is this place?” I asked him. He looked around the room.

“This is Dash’s workshop, but it’s also where we help people who need a bit more that regular medical treatment,” he said, not looking at me. He watched as Dash inspected Rumours injury.

Dash picked up a book. He flipped through it until he landed at a bookmarked page. He carried the book as he went around to shelves, grabbing jars and a few leaves of a plant. He brought it all to a table and set it down. He emptied a jar of something that looked like ashes into a bowl, then he poured some green liquid on top.

Ianto stood and wandered over to the table. As Dash mixed ingredients, he circled the table, picking up notebooks and strange things in jars. I stood, which was more of an effort than it should have been, and hobbled over to them. I was curious what he was mixing.

“So, you guys help people?” I asked. Ianto nodded.

“Yeah, we have a few patients per day,” Dash said, holding up a clear bottle with blue liquid. He turned back to Rumour. “Alright, Rumour. I can heal your wounds but because it was a shapeshifter, there is still magic that will continue to make you weaker. That is why I have this; it is going to help. Take it now and you’ll feel better soon. But it works slow so you won’t be at your best for a while.” He handed Rumour the small bottle.

A shapeshifter. Elves. I wasn’t even going to ask anymore.

Rumour smelled the mixture in the bottle before tipping back his head and drinking it in one sip. He made a face. I tried to hide a smile.

“Now, what’s your name and what the problem?” Dash said, turning to me.

“I’m Lake, and it’s nothing. I’m fine,” I said defensively. He rolled his eyes.

“I know a lot of people don’t want to admit that there’s something wrong, but Ianto saw you pass out outside. You’re not fine.” He gave me a look and I could feel him stare into my soul.

“I just get random pains,” I replied. He nodded and directed me towards the cot surrounded by a curtain.

“I’ll give you an evaluation and we’ll figure it out,” he said. I gave him a weary look, showing my distrust in strangers. He put his hand over his heart. “I won’t do anything without asking you first.”

I sat on the edge of the bed and looked at the things on the side table. Dash took a stethoscope and listened to my heartbeat and lungs. He nodded. He shone light in my eyes. I felt him dab at the blood on the back of my head. Then with one word in another language, it no longer hurt. He took my hands and unwrapped them. He healed my weather-worn knuckles. The cracks closed before my eyes, then he took a damp cloth and washed the blood from the creases in my skin. I looked away and saw Ianto help the elven boy up through a gap in the curtains.

“I’m going to have to ask you to undo the top few buttons of your shirt. Just to see if any marks were left” Dash said. Hearing his voice after several minutes of silence startled me. I undid the top three buttons. He pulled my shirt collar to the side. I saw his eyebrows knit. I felt a cold pain shoot through my heart, causing me to wince and put a hand over my chest. My button up shirt slipped down around my elbows. I felt Dash pull down the back of my shirt farther to examine my back. He touched my skin, which sent icy spikes down my spine.

“Okay, I can tell something’s wrong,” I said through clenched teeth.

“Lake, I’m going to need you to remove your shirt,” Dash said. I nodded. I had never felt uncomfortable undressing around others; no matter whether they were my gender or not. I just never thought I had anything to be ashamed of. I thought of friend Apollo, named after the Greek god of sun. He never felt comfortable around others. He always changed in the bathroom at the orphanage, rather than the dormitory. He probably wouldn’t want to undress here, even for medical reasons. But Dash was some kind of medically practiced person and I trusted him, he’d seen many parts of many patients. I caught my reflection on a tray leaning on a box. Frost and ice crystals coated my skin, reaching only halfway down my torso and centering over my heart.

“Ianto, where’s the-oh! Never mind, I have it.” Dash rummaged through cupboards and shelves, finally bringing out a bottle of pitch black liquid and some white powder in a jar. The powder looked like snowflakes, preserved and stored. He poured them both in a bowl and mixed them quickly. He made a flourishing motion with his hands above the mixture and it burst into flames. Dash scooped up the violet blaze in his hands.

“Lie down. On your stomach, please,” he said. It was more of an order than a request. I turned over and lay on my stomach. I heard Dash say something that I could tell was a spell. I looked back at the silver tray. I watched as the teal-haired warlock moved the fire towards my skin. I winced when I felt the flames against my skin. As first it felt cold, like he had just packed snow on my back. Then is began to feel warm. The heat seeped through my skin, warming up my entire chest cavity. I began to relax for the first time in the entire journey. I could feel the fire on my bare skin. I had expected it to burn me, but the dark purple fire only felt nice.

I looked out of the crack in the curtain. Xavier was helping the mystery boy sit down on a couch next to Rumour. Xavier nearly fell on top of them when he got him on the couch. The elf smiled and said something, but I couldn’t understand what he was saying to him.

“All done,” Dash said cheerily. I sat up. That eternal cold feeling was gone from my chest. I stretched and hopped off the bed. Dash handed my shirt back to me. I thanked him and put my shirt on.

I did up the last few buttons of my shirt as I exited the curtain. Dash followed, he stood in front of the group.

“So, everyone is okay and will recover just fine, but you cannot leave yet,” he said.

“What, why?” Soleil demanded, jumping to her feet.

“The injured and sick are still weak and it’ll take time. Just tonight, then you can go,” Dash reassured her. She crossed her arms angrily and glared at him. I could see fear in his eyes. I have to admit, Soleil is pretty terrifying when she’s mad.

“Sorry,” Dash said, then walked away. He pretended to be preoccupied with a book on magical creatures. I laughed, making Soleil direct her eyes to me. Immediately I shrank back into a chair nearby.

But I did agree with Soleil. I wished we could just leave. Go to the castle, be safe. But we couldn’t. We had to stay the night.

Just tonight. That’s all.