*** Fasten your seatbelts, this is an embarrassingly long chapter. ***
Alex held still while Alashani used their powers to scrub him clean. It seemed ludicrous that they put higher priority on his hygiene than on healing or rest, but when Alex had complained about their priorities, they'd slowed down and held a debate. It seemed more efficient to stay quiet and let them work.
Plate by plate, his filthy, dented armor clattered into a pile. Grime rolled off his clothes.
"Their best healer is on her way," Kessa said, leaning around a pillar. "Her name is Orla, and she'll be here soon. They say she'll make you feel a lot healthier."
"Great." Alex tolerated a wet cloth that sponged his face, levitated by a warrior. "Tell her to heal Margo first."
"I told them," Kessa said with patience. "Although I think they are a lot more likely to listen to you than to me."
Kessa was gone before Alex could respond. She must regret having learned enough English to be the official translator for the messiah. He figured she must be concerned for her people, but she couldn't check on everyone while the Alashani kept hounding her, demanding answers and translations.
Dirt came out from under his fingernails and got gently scraped from every crevice. These people had an unnerving level of precision with their powers. Alex usually spread his awareness into too many things at once, or too large an area, to act with such focus.
A tiny-yet-dangerous-looking blade suddenly hovered near his face.
One of the warriors, Haz, laughed, and mimed a haircut. Alex tried to relax as Haz used powers to tug his beard, bit by bit, cropping it close.
Only the three warriors—Jinishta, Haz, and Flen, still clad in black wraps—had accompanied Alex into this vaulted side chamber, to clean him up. It seemed like a job for attendants. Maybe only a few of Alashani had powers.
Someone giggled, and Jinishta, Haz, and Flen all stepped back to make room for what looked like a pink-cheeked teenaged girl. She stared up at Alex with luminous eyes, as if starstruck.
Like the elders, this girl was dressed in diamonds and layers of gauze. Two thick clips held back her mass of white hair. A purple mantle draped her shoulders, like a short cape, pinned by a delicate brooch of silver and amethyst.
The grinning girl approached Alex with her delicate hands outstretched. That was the healing pose, but she looked too young to be their best healer. Surely that role should belong to someone with a lot more life experience. Someone professional.
Jinishta said something that sounded like an introduction. "Orla," she said.
The teenage girl, Orla, said something curt and motioned for Alex to sit down. Her silly expression melted away.
Alex realized that he was towering over her. Bending was excruciating, but without the armor plates, he was more flexible, and he managed to lower himself to the stone floor.
With a somber expression, Orla held out her hands.
Energy washed through Alex in a tide of wellness. This was nothing like the minor healing he'd received earlier from Nulshta. He'd never tried major drugs or painkillers, but this must be better than any of them. His agony vanished. It wasn't being masked; it was entirely gone.
Orla swayed, as if lightheaded.
Alex pulled aside his bandage to study his wound. Instead of black rot and ghastly pus, fresh scar tissue stretched over raw, exposed muscle and the cavities beneath. The shrapnel was gone, too, replaced by clean, new-looking skin.
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Nowhere Nation [#SFF] Updates every 5 days [#Galactic]Science Fiction
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