As the door at the back of the room opened, I realized I was mistaken in some of my assumptions. Out stepped an old man. A priest. That kind of father. At least, he was wearing some kind of formal and well groomed garments. “Let him go, Kantrilla. You can’t treat patients who don’t want it.”
“Buuut~ he’s~ sick~~~!” During that time I had taken another couple of steps. I had to walk carefully, because I really didn’t want to topple her over.
“Doesn’t look sick to me. Besides, if he doesn’t have money…”
“You don’t need money. You could heal him anyway! Aren’t you supposed to help people?”
“I do help people. However, if I start healing people for free, I’ll exhaust myself and then I won’t be able to help anybody. Now let the poor young man go.”
I had stopped at the door. I wasn’t going to open it and drag a woman out into the street. When she let go, I sighed in relief. I nodded to the Father. “Thank you.”
As I turned to leave, he spoke up behind me. “Ah, before we go, getting you checked out is free. If there is danger to your life… it won’t do to wait.”
I shook my head. “It’s not a danger to my life.” Anymore. Probably. “Besides, you can’t cure it.”
“Oh?” I swear I felt the air go cold. The single word felt like I had spent an hour in an almost frozen lake- or perhaps actually frozen. The Father walked toward me. Slowly, but I felt like I couldn’t move away. “I can’t? Now I’m interested.”
Perhaps if I had actually put up resistance, I could have pulled away, but I soon found myself dragged into the back room, and I was being poked and prodded. There were also some “Hmm, indeed”’s thrown out here and there. Then, he nodded. “I’m surprised you can walk. You must have a few levels devoted entirely to Strength. No, but more than that.” He shrugged. “No matter, that is your own business. I can cure it. Well, you can go now if you want.”
I didn’t know what to say to that. “H-how much would it cost?” I certainly didn’t have the money, but I could save up. I didn’t need to be cured, but the idea… no, it was probably impossible. Even if I had the money, it wasn’t the kind of thing that could be cured. But if it could… I didn’t need it, but I wanted to look normal. I had twig legs and was short and still wimpy looking. I also felt my body wasn’t working quite right. It didn’t move quite like I wanted it to, and while that was miles better than not at all, I still had that thought.
“One thousand gold coins.”
One thousand gold coins. That would take me… thirty years to earn. Except I also had to survive, so I would have to make twice as much… and then there were other expenses. I’m sure I’d run into other medical needs on the way, and new clothes… No, it didn’t seem it would be possible to do. I thought I could probably make more money at a higher level, but one thousand gold wasn’t going to be easy to get no matter what. “One thousand gold…” I couldn’t help mumbling to myself. “Haha, I definitely can’t afford that.” Right now, I didn’t even have one gold, let alone a thousand. Still… “Thank you for looking me over. I should go now.”
When I opened the door, the young woman was standing in my way. Kantrilla, I guess? “Excuse me,” I said politely, but she didn’t move out of the way.
“Stay here.” She looked down at me, and though her tone was demanding, it was also gentle. Then, she looked over my shoulder. “Father Thomas, you should cure him.”
“Kantrilla-” he started to protest gently, but she cut him off.
“I heard the price. I know it’s not a small thing, but you should do it.” She wasn’t whining or complaining anymore, but very serious. It was strange to see, because I felt the other version of her was more natural.
Father Thomas sighed heavily, “And why should I do that for someone you didn’t know existed five minutes ago?”
Kantrilla blinked, “Because… umm… because you should? It will be good.”
I hadn’t heard a lamer reason for anything. Surely Father Thomas would talk some sense into her.
“Are you sure?” He raised an eyebrow.
Kantrilla nodded. “Definitely.”
Father Thomas sighed again. “Kid, it’s your Lucky day. Come over here.”
“It’s free. Get over here before I get impatient.”
I was going to protest again, but instead I just went. Refusing good will wasn’t a good thing… but really, it was because I wanted it. If I was cured… I could be strong. Stronger. It could happen, right? I didn’t think about the fact that I was already far stronger than I’d ever had the chance to be before. “Just… is it really possible?”
“You’ll know in a few minutes, won’t you? Now sit here.”
I sat, and tried not to think about what would happen. Would the cure work? If it did, would it really mean anything? Why was he helping me? Why was Kantrilla so stubborn about this? Why did he change his mind so… easily?
“Oh, what’s your name kid?”
Father Thomas nodded. “A nice name. Hold still, please.”
I did, though I’m not sure why it mattered. He didn’t bring out any medical instruments, knives, or needles, or pills. I wasn’t sure how I was expecting to be cured, except I thought of the normal way. Except, the normal way didn’t work. If I’d thought about it, I should have known. It would have to be magic. Indeed, as he sat in front of me, he started muttering to himself. He must have been chanting. I had no idea how magic worked. In fact, I’d never seen it before, and only heard a few references. I’d still basically just come to this world.
As Father Thomas chanted, I saw a glow gather around him. It was definitely magic, and impressive with just that. As it continued to grow, I could tell this was not an easy thing. I don’t know how many minutes it took, but after the glowing filled most of my vision, almost blinding me, he reached forward slowly and put his palm flat on my sternum. I felt the magic flow through me from that point, filling my body. It was the most amazing thing I’d ever experienced.