Scent of Magic Page 73

“Who knows this technique?”

“Major Granvil’s Axe Company.” None of his soldiers had come into the infirmary, and I didn’t know if I should be worried or glad by their absence.

Jael cursed. “Figures.”

I waited.

“I put them on suspension due to too many unanswered questions about their involvement with you and Ryne.”

“They’re loyal. Ryne taught them the skull jab. I taught them to move silently in the forest. Their involvement with us prepared them for this.”

“Then they’re unsuspended as of now.” Jael gathered the map and strode away.

It wasn’t until after she left that I realized I’d just condemned my friends by defending them.

* * *

The next three days passed in a blur. Casualties arrived in waves as Jael tried different tactics. I healed only a couple soldiers who had more severe wounds. Most of my patients suffered treatable injuries. It seemed the soldiers who could walk away from the combat zone had a better chance of escape.

Noelle came to the infirmary every night to write down the names of the injured. Her face appeared more drawn each time. She looked very young and frightened. I wanted to comfort her, but I was afraid she’d spurn my efforts—although she did drink a tonic I mixed for her to help restore her energy. She thanked me with a tentative smile.

The soldiers in my care remarked that Tohon’s dead stayed within the combat zone. They didn’t advance nor retreat. Jael stopped sending patrols, since none of them returned. Also no one encountered a living enemy, which made sense for Tohon and had the added benefit of unnerving our army.

When Odd arrived carrying a limp Wynn in his arms, I rushed over. Blood covered half her face, the other half was pale. Fear lumped in my throat as I gestured him to the examination room. He laid her down on the table with a gentleness I didn’t know he possessed.

“What happened?” I pulled her eyelids up to check her pupils.

“Her opponent tried to decapitate her,” Odd said stiffly.

While there was plenty of blood, it wasn’t spurting or gushing. I grabbed a wet cloth and cleaned the skin. A deep cut ran from the tip of her chin, along the jawbone and sliced through her left ear. The gaping skin exposed teeth and bone. I examined the laceration, running a finger along the inside of the injury.

“Well?” Odd asked.

“She’ll live.”

He blew out a breath.

“It’ll heal, but...” I pushed the skin together.

“But what?”

“Infection could be a problem, but...this is going to heal ugly.”

“So?” Odd asked.

“It could affect her hearing and her mouth. Like her smile and maybe interfere with chewing.” Magic swelled in my core. “Or I could heal her, and she won’t even have a scar.”

“But you will,” Odd said.

I shrugged. “I won’t develop the other problems.”

“And she might not either. Besides you’ll be useless for a while.” Odd scanned the full infirmary. “You’re in high demand.”

Wynn opened her eyes. “Stitch me up and send me back out, Baby Face,” she slurred. “Gimme something for the pain first.” She squeezed her eyes shut.

I hesitated.

“What would you do if she wasn’t your friend?” Odd asked.

No need to answer. He’d made his point. Giving Wynn a dose of pain medicine that also put her to sleep, I assembled the supplies. Odd hovered as I stitched her skin back together. I made the stitches small and close together, hoping the scar wouldn’t look as bad.

As I worked, I asked Odd about the battle. “Is the skull jab effective?”

“When we can get in tight, it works just fine. But those...things are hard to disarm.” Odd sank down into a chair next to me. “I never realized how much pain factors into a fight.”

“What do you mean?”

“Usually when you slice a person, he backs off or at least hesitates. And he’s more cautious when you have drawn his blood. But these things just keep coming. Their intestines can be falling out, but it doesn’t matter.”

Unfortunately, I remembered when Kerrick, Belen and the monkeys had fought them.

“Too bad we don’t have more soldiers,” Odd said. “That skull jab works better when we can double up on one.”


“One distracts the thing, while the other sneaks up behind it and pow!” Odd stabbed the air with his hand. “Although I wonder why we bother. They’re not moving closer, and we can’t punch through their line. So why fight?”

An excellent question. “Any signs of...”

“Your boyfriend?” Odd smirked.

I resisted the desire to correct him. At least he hadn’t called Ryne a coward. “Of Prince Ryne or his army?”

“Nope. And before you ask for the millionth time, no sign of Belen either.”

I finished bandaging Wynn’s cut. Odd carried her to an empty bed and then sat with her until she woke.

* * *

The flow of injured stopped the next day. When Odd came to visit Wynn, I asked him what had happened.

He puffed up his chest. “General Jael took my advice.”


“We ceased engaging the enemy. Now we’re keeping a distance, watching and waiting for them to make the next move.”

I wondered how long it would last. Two days passed with no new casualties. I was able to concentrate on my patients and discharged a number of them, including Wynn, who promised to follow all my instructions in caring for her wound.

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