Capture – the Gentle Consortium
The doctor walked away from her patient, sitting down at her desk, turning to her notes while tapping her temple with one finger. She stared at the long thread of information, adding another line, weaving it around the nails in her wall, taking care to keep the webbing taut. This patient was one of those that had been longest in her care, and she would have hated to have to start the weaving from nil.
A survivor of the previous Wonderwork, the patient in question was one of the Grasslands Nomads. This made dealings with him much more pleasant, as no one took note of where or when the wanderers went or how long they were gone. It was better than dealing with any of the others. Sighing, the doctor dipped her smallest nail in ink and dabbed along the line of thread, working a hidden meaning into the notes she had made.
The Nomad had lost most of his left leg while battling one of the Outsiders that the Wonderworks brought to Indoth. She had never learned what had started that conflict, or even what had caused the injury – the Outsiders were all possessed of terrible strengths and she had never been interested in listing them. Instead, she worried about the damage done to the aethers of the body.
She was not among the Witches, and so did not have access to the Practice. She could not see the aethers of the body the way that Witches could. She had to rely on the augers of mere physicality, breathing and sweat, festering and fever. The tools she had to do this with were fastidiously cleaned and maintained.
They had been when her patient had come to her nine years ago, too. It was one of the reasons he had chosen her care over that of her fellows. Every day she tended to the leathers that bound him to the table with the same care she gave him, and even now – as he struggled and strained, the leather crackling but not cracking – she liked to think that he appreciated the care she gave all her interests.
Standing, she walked back to him, rung cold water out of a cloth, put the damp fabric on his forehead. He tried to scream at her, wide eyes pleading, but she shushed what sounds he might have made with a finger, marking his cheeks with the ink on her nail and frowning. The marking would fade from the sweat, but she had enough means of measuring to get what she wanted.
“A colleague of mine wonders what the aethers are like on the Outsiders,” the doctor said, speaking to her patient. It was a bad habit she had fallen into long ago. Given that no one knew he was here and that he would never leave this place, it did not seem like such a bad thing to do. “While I cannot map the differences between aetheric notes, I can mark the physical notes of the body and pass my knowledge onto those that will come after me. When the next Wonderworks happen, they will have a complete understanding of our physiology because of the work you and I are doing here. Do you understand the import of this?”
His response was unintelligible. She did not think he did.
“If we understand the Outsiders as we understand ourselves, we can understand who they are and where they come from.” She moved closer to him, tracing the nerves on his arm in a way that she knew he liked. “We may even be able to understand the nature of the Wonderworks themselves. You and I are doing that. Well, me mostly, but I could not do this without you.”
Her nail with the ink found the end of the nerve on his arm.
She did not smile when he screamed and tensed.
Instead, silent, she thanked him for his sacrifice.
STORY AND CONCEPT BY AARON GOLDEN. PICTURE TAKEN FROM PIXABAY, AND YOU CAN FIND IT AND A HOST OF OTHER IMAGES LIKE IT BY CLICKING HERE. CAPTURE UPDATES EVERY TUESDAY AND THURSDAY, AND YOU CAN READ THE VERY FIRST CHAPTER BY CLICKING HERE, THE NEXT CHAPTER BY CLICKING HERE, OR THE PREVIOUS CHAPTER CLICKING HERE.