“Be quiet. Healer Synthia doesn’t like a lot of noise in her hospital,” stated Edward.
I watched as he slowly creaked open the door. I saw him scowl as the squeak of the hinges echoed throughout the cold hospital lobby.
The inside of the hospital wasn’t friendly. Polished granite and marble walls made the room feel frigid and unwelcoming. The room was barren except for a single uncomfortable chair and a simple wooden desk that lacked any character. On the desk sat some paper that was neatly placed on the desk so that nothing would end up lost.
In the back of the building, I could see the beginnings of a staircase behind a wall that most likely led to the upper floor where patients were housed. I wondered why someone would make something as intimate as a hospital so cold and remote, so unfeeling.
I watched a middle-aged woman appear at the bottom of the stairs. She wore simple white robes, only decorated by the sparse smearing of blood on her right sleeve. I wondered why doctors typically wore white when it was the easiest color to spot stains on. Showing off an unclean environment certainly wasn’t something a doctor wanted to do, at least if they wanted customers.
“Oh Edward, how can I help you?” asked the stern woman who I suspected to be Synthia.
“Well, Synthia this lad's friend needs some patchwork. He’s a customer.”
I watched the reserved woman’s face turn into a wide smile as Edward told her I was a customer. It wasn’t the type of smile that elicited happiness. It was the type of smile that predators showed before they tore their victims into tiny pieces and consumed them.
“Ok, great! Edward, you can go back and tell Gregory that you’ve done your job,” said the woman.
“Will do Maam,” Edward responded before scurrying out of the room.
Synthia pulled out the chair behind her desk and took a seat.
“I’m figuring the man in question is the one you’re holding?” she asked.
“Yes, he’s fatally injured. He needs a healer.”
“Healing isn’t free. Looking at how dire this man’s injuries are I’d say it’s gonna cost you at least 20 gold.”
“I don’t have any money. There must surely be something I can do. I don’t want him to die.”
It wouldn’t feel right letting Darryl die. He was a decent human and it was my fault that he was on his deathbed.
“Well, you do look big,” Synthia muttered under her breath.
“I have a task I need you to complete. In return for completing my task, I’ll heal your friend here.”
“And what task do you need me to complete?”
“In the West, lies a cave which is home to many monsters and beasts. Near the center of the lair a fire drake has gone mad. I’m afraid if the drake’s egg isn’t removed from the dragon’s lair the drake will raise its child to wreak havoc on the kingdom. Your job would be to venture to this cave, kill the mighty firedrake, and return this egg to me intact and unharmed.”
“That seems like a steep price to pay for my friend’s healing.”
“As you said, your friend is on the verge of death. It will cost me greatly to heal him. This is the only task I know of that is worth the price of healing your friend. The choice is yours. Either journey out and acquire the drake’s egg or let your friend perish.”
“I’ll get you your egg.” I huffed. I didn’t have a choice. I liked neither option but I could live with an arduous journey. I’m not sure if I could live with Darryl’s death.
“Very good. There is a caravan headed west to the city of Dagril, just past the endless lake. From there, you’ll have to journey on foot alone through the screaming forest and into the foothills. The cave is high up on the mountain and should be easy enough for you to spot. I’ll write a letter to Mark that you’ll be joining his expedition. They’re leaving tomorrow so make sure you’re outside the town square by the break of dawn.”
“I will do,” I responded.
I walked out of the hospital and into the streets of the city. It didn’t take long to find out where the city center was since signs were hung at every cross-section, pointing how to get to every notable location.
I noticed that once I left the street the guard had taken me down the city was teeming with life. It certainly wasn’t as empty as I had previously thought. Most people minded their own business whether that be talking with their friends, pushing a cart full of who knows what or sitting behind a booth selling stuff to people eyeing their goods.
I didn’t have any money to buy an inn or warm food but as a golem those things mattered little to me. For the most part, I was perfectly comfortable sitting outside during the cold night with only the stars to keep me company. If I paid for a room, I would risk missing the caravan which was something I didn’t want to happen. So I waited.
The time passed slowly without much for me to do, so I watched the people. I watched a crazy man standing on a stool while shouting gibberish to the people in the square.
“Long have mages stolen the goods of the people! We’re the ones who slave away! We’re the sturdy foundation of society! Mages are leeches that steal the very hard work each and every one of you put into building the world. Birthright doesn’t make you better than the masses, the masses who work hard to improve society!” spouted the crazy man.
I watched as I crowd began to flock towards this figure and began listening to his nonsense. I wondered whether they actually believed in what he said or if they were like me and were amused by his crazy antics.
“The King has been reduced to a puppet that the mage council dangles to the beat of their desires! Don’t be-”
The guards kneed the crazy fool in the stomach sending him sprawling onto the floor and knocking the wind out of him. In minutes, the guards had the man’s hands bound tightly. A few minutes later, the crazy man was escorted away and the people in the town square acted as if the crier had never been there.
“Don’t stare” whispered a poor looking man who was sitting next to me. His hair and beard were long and blonde. A small tattoo square was marked on his cheek.
“Trust me, you don’t want them getting the idea that you’re believing that fool. They don’t like it when people question the government. It makes them uncomfortable. The king pays the city guard after all.”
“I’m not gonna be here long. Tomorrow I’m heading out of the city,” I replied curtly.
“Just letting you know,” he replied before disappearing into the sea of people.