The Clinic Chapter 9

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The woman who was being almost dragged along behind Brian remained quiet as they weaved through the tents, but once they were out in the forest she asked, “Umm, thanks for rescuing me. Who are the two of you? I’m Tonya.”

“I’m Brian, and this is Adrian.”

Adrian interjected after that, “Hey, what language is that? What are you guys saying?”

“I just introduced us. This is Tonya.”

“Great. What language is that?”

“… French?”

Adrian sighed, “That sounds nothing like French, man. What’s going on?”

“We’re waiting for Sam.”

“That’s not what I- Oh yeah we never agreed where to meet him. Is that a problem?”

Brian shook his head, “He’ll be here soon. Or um… he might have stayed and stared at the fire in which case he’s probably dead.”

“What?” Adrian grimaced, “That’s not funny man.”

“It’s quite possible though.”

Tonya timidly spoke up, “Umm… Sir Brian? Are you from Griyna? That language is…”

“Yeah, I’m from Gr- err, no, I’m not from there. I’ll explain later. Oh, there he is.”

Sam ran into vision, panting. “Oh… there… you… are…” He took a few moment to catch his breath, “I didn’t even… get to look at the fire at all.” He stared longingly back toward the smoke rising over the top of the trees.

Brian nodded, “I knew you’d make the right choice. This is Tonya.” Brian turned to Tonya, “This is Sam, he helped provide the distraction so we could rescue you.”

“Oh, thank you, Sir Sam.”

Brian translated, “She said thanks for helping rescue her. Umm, we should get going. Angry orcs will be here soon.”

The group started walking at a measured pace through the forest. “Umm, Sir Brian, must you hold onto my hand like this?”

“Huh? Yes. I have to. It’s… magic?” He nodded, “It’s magic to help me speak your language. I don’t speak it normally.”

Tonya’s eyes widened, “You’re a wizard?”

Brian nodded, “Sure. Something like that.”

“Oh. Well, Sir Wizard… my village is a bit more to the north. Could you take me there?”

“We’re going there. Just not directly, because the orcs would expect that.”

“Oh.” She nodded.

The group continued on in silence for several minutes before Adrian cleared his throat, “Hey, Brian? I have a lot of questions.”

“I have a few answers. They might even align.”

“Right, well… How do you know this language? How did you know the orc camp was there, and this girl?”

Brian frowned, “Why don’t you touch people?”

“That’s unrelated. You can say you don’t want to answer but… I don’t feel good about going on with so many unknowns.”

Brian shook his head. “It might be. Hey, Sam, what happened when you lit the fire.”

“I… didn’t like it. I was just trying to figure out how to make one when it happened.”

Brian stopped and grabbed his hand, then dropped it again. “Yep. It’s probably related.”

After a few moments, Adrian finally asked again, “Are you going to explain how?”

“I might, but maybe you should tell me why you don’t touch people. Is it germs? You hate people that much?”

“It’s… personal. I don’t know if I want to say.”

“You’re asking me though.” Brian turned to face him, “While I don’t particularly care about the details, it would be good to know. It’s not like I’ll make fun of you for being crazy, because you’re not crazier than me.”

Adrian thought for a few moments, “… I hurt people. If I touch them, it’s like… acid or something. Sometimes it’s only like a rash, but sometimes…” He shook his head, “Sometimes its very bad.”

Brian nodded. “That’s abnormal.” He held up a hand, “I’m not saying you’re crazy. Well, maybe you are, but given the circumstances… Well, weird stuff has been happening.” Brian turned toward Sam, “We’ll start with you. You won’t admit it, but you can light stuff on fire, if you want to.”

Sam looked taken aback, “I wouldn’t do that! It’s… bad.” He muttered to himself for a few seconds. “I wouldn’t, would I?” Then his eyes widened, “I did, didn’t I? Oh no… Oh no…”

“Hey!” Brian stuck his face right in front of Sam’s face and yelled, “Don’t think about it. You might have done it, but it wasn’t on purpose. Just… be more careful now.”

“But I-”

“Don’t think about it.” Brian turned back to Adrian, “Anyway, Sam starts fires, you hurt things you touch, and I…”

“Steal memories,” Adrian posited.

“That’s… such a rude way to put it. I’d rather say I copy them. But umm… we should test something. How strong is your touch? Can it dissolve rocks?”

Adrian shook his head, “Oh no, it’s nothing that bad. It’s so small, it’s usually fine. Even when it’s strong… well, if I wasn’t touching someone, it wouldn’t be a problem. Skin just… doesn’t react well.”

Brian nodded and picked up a fist sized rock. “Hold this. Try to… do the thing. On purpose.”

Adrian frowned, “Well… alright.” He took off the glove on his right hand, and squeezed the rock. A number of moments passed, and he shook his head. “See? Nothing.” He held out the rock, then looked down at it in surprise. Though there wasn’t any effect to the structure, the rock was almost clean in the shape of a handprint. “That’s… different.”

“Umm…” Brian frowned, “Well, I’m never shaking your hand. Anyway, this… weird stuff. It was happening before. But I bet it’s stronger now. It’s that way for me, anyway.”

“So you can copy memories? How does that work?”

Brian shook his head, “It’s… complicated. Listen, about… a few minutes that way is a cave. There are two kinds of mushrooms. The little brown ones are edible, but the red spotted ones are… bad. We can stay there and get some rest. It should be safe, the scout found it and nobody else knew.” Then, Brian’s grip on Tonya’s wrist loosened, and fell face first onto the ground.

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