This is a preview to the chapter Chapter 10 from the book The Weeping Empress by Sadie S Forsythe.
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A page was sent to fetch the abbess, who entered quickly without appearing to rush or compromise her own gravitas. She had been waiting for them to arrive ever since she had received word that the capital complex was overrun with imperial soldiers. The soldiers had come to them as well, but as Chiyo and her friends had not yet arrived, the inhabitants of Kalinus Keep could truthfully say they weren’t there. Search as the soldiers might, no fugitives were found. The emperor hasn’t bothered calling on the local nyim’s men, she noted. It’s a sign he is angry and wants things settled quickly.
There were a number of other cult locales accessible from the tunnel system, but none would have been able to perform the rites that were needed. As the order’s leader, Valdis should have been in charge of performing these rites, but under the circumstances, that wouldn’t be feasible, so she had entrusted it to Moran, who was honored to accept the task and had been making preparations. Her resolution to see this through was apparent to everyone.
She surveyed the scene before her: the limp figure on the bench, the tense stance of her two companions, and the two sisters of the order standing respectfully to one side. Her jaw set strongly despite the pleasantness of her voice. She instructed the sisters to quickly fetch Relda and take Chiyo to the infirmary.
“I fear I shall only ever see her sleep,” she said to Muhjah as they followed behind. He gave her a terse reassuring smile that he didn’t feel.
In the infirmary a pleasantly plump woman named Ajuoga hovered over Chiyo. She was of late middle age, round, and meticulous. She listened to Chiyo’s labored breathing, muttering all the while. She neatly stitched the open wound on her patient’s arm. Muhjah was amused to notice that the overlapping stitches formed a symmetric pattern. It would scar, but leave it to the Sacerdotisa to create beauty even in something as gruesome as bodily injury.
Two days passed. The men rested comfortably and paced irritatingly. They acquiesced begrudgingly to the same plump healer who insisted that they be tended to in turn. It was discomforting. Senka couldn’t remember anyone but Muhjah ever tending a wound. He sat tense and jumpy until she finally heaved a sigh and poked a bruise viciously, causing Senka to start.
“There, you see, I’ve hurt you! It’s over, so relax. I’m a healer, not a mason. I can’t work with stone.”
The two men stood unaccustomedly swaddled, plastered, and salved as she explained that she had treated Chiyo for as many toxins as she safely could. She was fairly certain of what had been used and explained its purpose, but she also felt that there was reason to be only cautiously optimistic.
“The body is healing, but the demon she is fighting now is one of her own devising. She is trapped in her mind like in a cage.”
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