Warmth and Smiles
The curtain rustled as it was pushed aside. Urlene stepped in, looking
down at Lorican. Despite her straight spine and cool posture, there
was warmth in her eyes. "I see you're awake." She'd heard the groan
and suspecting that he ached, poured a glass of cool water. "Your
shoulder pains you?"
Lorican's eyes flickered open as he recognized the voice. His cheeks
flushed, he hurriedly shut the portfolio and gasped again as the sudden
movement jarred his shoulder. "Ow - ah, yes. My shoulder. I think I
tried to move too quickly." A spark of hope lit in him. Maybe she hadn't
seen the picture after all.
"Careful. Move slowly." She glanced at the portfolio, gave a brief
smile and gestured to his back, and then to the bandage on his chest.
"I need to check to see if there's any infection. You'll be sore for a
while, but I'm sure there's not any major breaks in your shoulder, but
you should keep it still for a few days just in case." She walked
around him to face his back, carefully lifting the poultice with light
fingers. Making a sound of approval, she removed the drying poultice.
"The burns don't look deep, but they'll be very sensitive. You'll have
some blisters, I'm afraid and they'll itch. I'm going to apply a salve
that will help the healing, but we need to let it remain uncovered for
the rest of the time." She glanced again at the portfolio in his
hands. "Your artwork is lovely, Lorican. I was very impressed by it.
You have real talent."
He'd dared to feel, for the few moments when she'd been examining him,
that his secret was safe after all, but at her last words his heart sank
and he barely registered the praise. "You...looked at it?" He hesitated.
"_All_ of it?"
As she removed the poultice and began applying the healing salve, she
made a murmur of acknowledgment. "I did. Your designs are beautiful,
Lorican. I'd love to see them come to fruition. I think you'd be very
successful with them." She spread the salve, applying a thin layer
over the burns. Wiping her hands, she moved around to face him, then
bent to check the bandage on his chest that she had stitched. Her eyes
flicked to his face and took in his expression.
It made her pause before lifting the bandage. She spoke softly. "The
portrait you did, Lorican, " she took a breath and and offered him a
warm, soft smile. "I love it. It's beautiful."
He had opened his mouth to apologize and was instead caught off guard by
the loveliness of her smile. It was as if that bright aspect of her that
until now, he'd only seen from the outside, when she'd been practicing
her craft or enjoying the heat of the bathing pool, was now directed,
unexpectedly and thrillingly, at him.
"Thank you. I know I should have asked your permission," he said
quietly, feeling the color rushing to his cheeks. "I never meant any
disrespect. It's only that...I'd never seen anything so beautiful in my
life, and I didn't want to forget it." He traced his fingers over the
cover of the portfolio. "If it caused you even a moment's distress, then
I am sincerely sorry."
"Don't apologize, Lorican." Her voice was firm, but gentle. She
lightly laid her hand over his, stilling the motion of his fingers.
Usually, she would have been more irritated than flattered over
Lorican's focus, but her gut instinct told her that he respected her
position and her training over her appearance. "You didn't need to ask
and I know you didn't mean disrespect by it. I've been painted before,
by Master Harpers, but that picture that you drew is by far my
"Really?" Tentatively, he returned her smile, in sheer relief that he'd
not hurt her. He'd never expected that anyone would understand his need
to draw that picture. Perhaps some of the Masters, back at the Smith
Hall, would know the feeling, though they might not approve of the
subject. But then, he reminded himself, she was a Master too. All
crafts, in their way, had an art to them. "Thank you. I'm honored."
He glanced down at their hands, her slender, pale fingers on his brown
skin, marked with the faint scars and calluses of his work. "If you
wanted to look at the others, I could show them to you. Any time..." The
corner of his mouth lifted in a rueful expression. "It doesn't feel like
I'll be going anywhere for a while."
Her brows rose. "Nonsense. You'll be able to leave the infirmary in a
day or so. I've already spoke to the Smiths here and there's preparing
you quarters. The stitches will come out in seven." Her lips curled
up. "Provided of course that you don't decide to wander outside of the
Weyr again." She gently removed her hand from over his. "Perhaps...
when you're healed and no longer under my care and if you here, if
you'd like to show me your art, I'd love to see it."
"Of course. And I will do my best not to go wandering again." Lorican
wished he could have made that a promise, but he knew he might have to
depart in haste if the woman from the smithy showed her face here. With
luck, she would think he'd died in the fire. He'd no wish to bring
trouble to the Weyr, and certainly not to the infirmary.
He shifted and winced at the twinge of pain in his shoulder. "I should
have drawn some more by then, since I suppose working at the forge is
off limits for now...?"
Her brows rose. "I don't know. Is this shoulder your dominant arm? If
it's not, then I think you can do light forge work." Urlene studied
him. "Sweat and heat won't help your back, though. I'd say within a
couple of sevendays, the skin should be healed enough. The bone in
your shoulder...." She tilted her head. "I'd say that if it hurts,
don't do it. But...when you're feeling up to it, and if you take
commissions, then we can talk more."
Lorican's eyes brightened with enthusiasm. "That's good news. I'd been
hoping to get a chance to work in the smithy here. It's considerably
better equipped than the one at the sea hold." He caught himself before
he got too carried away. He oughtn't to assume he'd be allowed to stay
beyond the time it took him to heal. After all, he'd left his last
posting with the smithy in ruins, which was not a terribly good
recommendation for any craftsman. Even if he hadn't started the fire,
his decisions had brought it about and he felt a responsibility for the
"Of course, I'll have to see what the Master Smith here says. But if I
can repay the Weyr's generosity in any way by working, then I certainly
"I'm sure they'll welcome the help. " Urlene gave another quick smile.
"Get some rest, Lorican. It's the best Healing for you right now. I'll
be in to check on you tomorrow and see if you're ready to be released
from the infirmary."
"All right. Thank you, again." He returned her smile and started to
compose himself to rest. Then, with a rush of guilt that he'd not done
so before, he remembered his brother. "Oh, one request. Could I send a
letter to my family, at Garnet Valley? It's important."
Her brow arched. "Why are you asking? Of course you can. You're not my
prisoner." There was an amused gleam in her eye as she continued.
"There are runners in and out of the Weyr all the time, or you can ask
someone with a firelizard who is familiar with Garnet Valley. I'd
offer Stitch," She pointed up to the ceiling, where the young little
firelizard lay gazing at them, "but he's too young and I'm afraid I've
never been there so I wouldn't have the visuals for him."
"Oh. But perhaps you know someone who could send a firelizard? I need to
get word to them as soon as I can. Today, if possible." He was aware his
request must sound odd, but it couldn't be helped. "It really is most
"I think I can find you someone." Her brow remained raised. "I can
understand that you want them to know that you're well, of course.
I'll send someone to you as soon as possible. I think a few of the
journeymen might have firelizards that could assist you. Now, you _do_
have to rest, Lorican. I'll check on you later, alright?"
"Yes, Master Urlene," he replied dutifully, though a slight quirk of his
mouth hinted at mischief. Then he leaned back against the pillows and
closed his eyes. His thoughts were far from restful, however, as he
considered what he could write to persuade his brother to leave Garnet
Valley without delay.
Last updated on the July 22nd 2019