The caravan stops. Those walking fall to the cool earth. Men in black armor bring buckets of water around and ladle the life giving liquid. They open the carriage and order those withing to come out. They, too, fall to the earth and drink the water eagerly.
Meah is the last out and remains standing. At first glance, the workings of the Arena seem chaotic. But all who walk move with purpose and skill at moving seamlessly theough the crowd and machinery.
Bruer walks to Meah with a ladle of water.
“Where’s the guy that usually brings my water and food?” she asks.
“Busy. Here you are, girl. Drink up, restore your strength.”
Meah accepts the ladle and closes her eyes as the cool liquid pours down her throat. She feels it all the way to her stomach. She drinks without taking a breath until her lungs scream for air. She gasps and catches her breath before drinking again.
A loud crack behind Meah causes her to jump. She and the other slaves turn to see a woman standing with Jaxon. Two large men stand behind the woman who has scars on her arms and face. Her clothes are separate pieces of leather that show off her muscular body. She slowly winds her whip up and ties it to her belt. She walks through the group of slaves, looking each over carefully. She grabs some by the chin and others by the arm to pull them to their feet. She pokes and prods making ocassional grunts or interested hmms.
Jaxon follows close behind her, followed in turn by the two large men. He waves away any of his men who get too close to the woman but, otherwise, doesn’t interfere with her examinations of the slaves.
The woman stops in front of Meah and Bruer. Jaxon nods at Bruer, who moves away.
“Is this the rare creature you want to sell me?” As she speaks she looks Meah up and down.
Meah notes how the woman refers to her as a creature, not a person.
“She is a Life Healer, Seera,” Jaxon says.
Seera scoffs. “We’ll see what she is. Come closer, girl.”
Meah hesitates, then walks to the woman. Seera grabs Meah and begins inspecting her as she did with the others. Meah bites her tongue, afraid what Seera will do to her if she makes a noise.
“She looks like any other magic user to me.”
Jaxon takes a step forward, the two men behind him doing the same. “I saw her bring one of the others back from near death.”
Seera grabs Meah’s chin and turns her head one way than another. She releases her and turns to Jaxon, smiling. “Let’s see if she can do it again.” She looks at one of the men behind Jaxon carrying a thick blade and nods.
The man bows his head and unsheathes his blade. He stabs Jaxon in the back, the blade appearing through his chest. He screams out in shock and pain. The man pulls out the blade, as Jaxon collapses to his knees. Jaxon grasps at the hole in his chest and glares up at Seera. He tries to speak, but his eyes glaze over and he falls forward onto the ground. Blood darkens the ground beneath him.
Seera turns to Meah, arms behind her back. “Heal him.”
Meah is frozen. Her wide eyes stare at Jaxon’s unmoving form. The reaction comes far too slowly. She screams and her hands go to her mouth. Her eyes jump to Seera. “How could you?”
“I said heal him.”
Meah returns her gaze to Jaxon’s body on the ground. She is unable to think or move. Her legs shake, but shock and fear arrest her movements.
Seera sighs angrily and grabs Meah by her hair. She throws her to the ground next to Jaxon. “If you don’t hurry, he will die. I estimate, judging from the blood loss, he has less than ten seconds.”
Meah shakes her head furiously and looks up at Seera, pleadingly. “But I don’t know if I can!”
“He said you were a Life Healer.”
“I’ve never been trained as a Life Healer! I’d never heard of Life Healers until after he captured me!”
“You’re wasting time, girl. He has less than five seconds now.”
Meah stares at Jaxon’s back, her heart pounding in her ears. She grabs him and rolls him onto his back, blood soaking into her clothes where she is kneeling. She places her hand on his chest, over the wound. She can feel his heartbeat slowing. She closes her eyes and concentrates. She feels warmth gathering in her chest and moving down her arms. Jaxon generates no noticeable warmth, far less than the woman she healed weeks before. She can’t be sure her warmth will reach him.
After what seems like forever, she feels her warmth enter him and reach into the chill in his body. She sees where the blade stabbed through. Jaxon’s heart is nearly cut in two. She focuses all of her energy on repairing it. She sees the ends mend together and the blood that escaped the powerful muscle disappears. The torn skin and muscles around the heart heal and Meah concentrates on the fading warmth. She pushes her magic beyond any point she has before. She feels Jaxon’s warmth and grabs hold. She slowly pulls it back and his heartbeat grows stronger.
Those around her gasp in awe. She must concentrate a little longer, but something strange is happening. She feels her warmth escaping too far from her core. A deadly coldness fills her and she realizes if she doesn’t break the connection to Jaxon soon, she will use too much energy and die. She prays for her magic to hold on a little longer. Relief fills her as Jaxon’s breathing and heartbeat return to normal. She withdraws her warmth from him and her own coldness fades.
Meah opens her eyes and tears herself from Jaxon, falling back onto the ground. Her breath is shaky and her eyes cannot focus for a moment. She can feel the tips of her fingers as cold as ice.
Jaxon’s eyes open and he sits up. He touches his chest where a hole remains in his shirt, but the wound is gone. He looks at Meah with wide eyes then up to Seera. He glares and bares his teeth. He jumps to his feet and grabs Seera, pulling her close. He drags her to the carriage and throws her against the metal bars, angrily. “You tried to kill me!”
Seera, unfazed by his violent behavior, leans close to his face and smiles. “I did. But she saved you. You’re rare creature is worth my time and money now.” She eyes the other of the men who were standing behind Jaxon and jerks her head.
The man walks closer and pulls out a large bag of money. He holds it out to Jaxon, silently. Jaxon looks at the bag.
“Since you’ve brought me more than the usual selection of slaves, I’ll include a bonus,” Seera says, nodding at the man.
The man pulls out a second bag and holds it forward. Jaxon gives Seera a nasty look. He curses and grabs both bags. He crosses to Bruer and whispers angrily in his ear before the two walk away.
Meah watches Jaxon leave without a second glance at her. She feels a pain in her chest, though she can’t explain why.
Seera appears above her and pulls her to her feet. “Welcome to the Arena, Life Healer. You and the others will make for great sport.”