Meah directs those carrying the freshly wounded to the wall as she works to heal the man in front of her. She looks at Bon. “Make sure you keep those with only minor injuries from the severely wounded. If they can wait to be healed ask if they can help guard. Mark the severely wounded with an X on the forehead and move them closer to me.”
Bon nods and spreads her orders to the other healers and the injured. Meah finishes healing the man in front of her and moves on to the next one, a woman with her stomach torn open. Meah holds the woman’s abdomen together to prevent her inside from spilling out. Crying softly, the woman’s eyes fade in and out of focus, her face deathly pale, and her breathing staggered. Meah takes a deep breath to keep the nausea at bay as she heals the woman to return to the fighting.
Meah sags back and wipes the sweat from her forehead. Her eyes survey the fighting. Although many she has healed multiple times are fighting bravely, more and more slaves lie dead on the ground—while the opposing side seems hardly reduced in numbers.
Meah turns at her name and sees Rava and Mava. They are carrying Kylii between them. He smiles at her, but winces at a great pain. His face is pale and his eyes sunken.
“Kylii! What’s wrong?” she asks.
“Nothing too serious. Just got a little too close fighting a beastie,” Kylii says.
Mava rolls her eyes as they lower him to the ground, revealing his right arm. Meah gasps and quickly leans down to look at the damage. “Oh my God! How did this happen?”
Kylii laughs. “Reached my arm down the gullet of a sweet little guy that spat explosive acid. I made him explode but received this little memento.”
Meah slaps his forehead. “That could’ve killed you!”
“Hey! It was the only way to win. Besides I knew you could heal me.” He smiles and leans his head to the side.
“If you’d died, I couldn’t have. What would Daniil have done then?”
Kylii’s smile fades as he turns away. “It worked out.”
Meah sighs and pushes him down on to his back. “Hold still. I’ve never done anything like restoring bone. It might hurt.”
“Not as much as getting it, I bet.”
Meah places her hands on the remnants of Kylii’s right arm and concentrates. She feels her magic fill her and moves it into Kylii. She feels warmth filling his arm and his body responds. Bone grows. Muscle stretches into place. Veins, arteries, and nerves recreate their networks. Meah’s head fills with the sound of the repairs and the shocks of the nerves reconnecting to Kylii’s brain.
Kylii takes a sharp breath and grips the earth. Rava grabs his left hand and feels him squeeze, hard. She winces but says nothing.
Skin grows from the existing cells to cover the new arm. Meah feels blood enter the remade arteries, veins, and muscles. The arm finishes and Meah falls on top of Kylii, gasping. He lifts her up. “You okay?”
Meah shakes her head. She can hear Kylii’s body working, Rava’s body working, the sound of flesh tearing and blood rates increasing or decreasing. She focuses on her body and the warmth inside of her. She stays silent as the overwhelming flow of information fades.
Taking a deep breath, she stares back at the anxious faces around her. “I’m fine. It just took more effort than I expected.”
A cheer from the crowd catches the small group’s attention. They look across the Arena. Ime has defeated his opponent. He has trapped Chains with his earth and strangled him with his own weapon’s chain. Immediately, more Brüdel attack. Ime continues fighting, with no evidence of fatigue.
Kylii stands and tests his new arm. “Thank you, Meah. I have to get back to Daniil. He’s fighting something no man should ever face alone.” He runs back out into the fighting.
Meah watches him run with a smile. Even injured and bleeding he exudes optimism. Rava and Mava head off to gather more wounded. Meah returns her attention to those needing her help, quickly moving from one to another—healing and speaking words of encouragement. Until…
The oldest of the Arena slaves lies on the ground, clutching deep wounds in his abdomen and chest. His face is ghostly white and his eyes flash in and out of focus. He smiles at her. “Life Healer, it is an honor to have fought at your side today.”
Without touching him, she can already tell he is too far gone for her magic. Tears threaten to fall from her eyes. “I’m sorry.”
“There’s no need for an apology, Life Healer. It’s my time to die. Don’t waste any more time on me. Heal those you can.”
Meah leans down and kisses him on the forehead before moving to the next wounded. He closes his eyes and waits for death.
The next wounded slave still wears a helmet. Meah can see a large dent in the metal and blood running down from underneath. She struggles to remove the helmet. Once it’s loose, a hand grabs her throat. Her eyes widen. The slave is one of the Brüdel in disguise.
He pulls her close and his yellowed eyes take her face in. “You’re the little healer, aren’t you? The Blood King has a lovely prize waiting for the one to bring him your head.” He pulls a jagged knife from its holster.
Meah tries to scream, but he tightens his hold on her throat and moves to hide them behind some of the bodies waiting for healing. He thrusts her to the ground, straddles her, and places the blade at her throat above his hand on her chest.
“My favorites are the healers. They try so hard to help everyone, save everyone. So easy to trick, so easy to convince. My favorite was a high-level bone grower. Convinced her to heal me and I would save her from my brethren. Once I had my leg back, I sliced her into fifty pieces,” the Brüdel says. “I only need one piece from you, little healer. Your tiny head.”
A shout catches both the Brüdel and Meah by surprise. Guvie slams into the Brüdel, freeing Meah. But the old man is too weak to fend the man off for long. The Brüdel slices Guvie’s throat and grabs Meah before she can escape. He raises his blade.
A spear appears in his chest, before he falls off of Meah. He tries to get free, but the spear digs in deeper. A second blade comes down on the Brüdel’s neck, cleanly removing his head. Meah turns away.
“Are you all right?” Bern asks, pulling his spear from the dead man.
Meah nods. “Thank you.”
Cal sheathes his sword and helps Meah to her feet. She looks down at Guvie’s still body and says a small prayer. Cal and Bern help Meah to the next wounded slave, keeping a sharp watch for anymore Brüdel.
Meah heals a few more slaves then looks at the two with wide, tired eyes. “How long have we been fighting?”
“Almost two hours,” Cal says. He smiles weakly. “Give or take.”
“How much longer do you think we’ll have to keep fighting?”
Bern looks at the Arena. “Until one side is dead.”
He shakes his head. “Only the gods know.”