Chapter 2: Awakening Part 2
Nathaniel laced the string on the side of his pants, they were a rather interesting design, they were loose, very loose around the legs from the waist section down to the knees, and from the knees, down they tightened to near skin tight with laces on the side of his calves he assumed it made them easier to tuck into boots. The pattern was interesting as well, blue outer fabric with slashes in them vertically that revealed an off white under fabric. The tunic he had on was white and did indeed reach down mid-calf. The hem of which was embroidered with blue thread that had some sort of design, both on the bottom edge as well as on the sleeves and the v-shaped neckline.
He felt much better now that he had some clothes on, and he was about to start searching for some socks and perhaps some form of outer footwear when the door to the room unceremoniously opened. He looked over at it, thanking all of the heavenly hosts that he had finished getting dressed when he did and not a moment later as a young girl walked in. He looked at her, and something about her face looked familiar, not in the: he had seen her before sort of way, but in the: she might be related to someone he knew sort of way.
He opened his mouth to ask a question, but before he could the little girl had turned around and pushed through the door going back out the way she had come in. “Mom!” she yelled her voice high and loud in the grating that little girls could achieve. “Mom! He is awake!”
He stood there for a moment, wondering if he should go after her, but then the door burst open again and the little girl was back this time with another person in tow. “See mommy, I told you he was awake.” Nate looked at the girl then up at his mother who she held b the hand and it clicked, the familiarity he saw in the little girl was his own parents' features, in fact, now that he knew to look for it she almost looked like a mirror image of the childhood pictures of his mother that he had seen in the photo albums she had kept.
He had never had any siblings on his version of the earth, and yet here it seemed that he did. That was both informative and confusing, sure, it was likely that his parents back on his earth had decided to not have a child, and these ones had decided that they wanted another, but hadn't James stated that the planets were reflections of one another? His words had been if he remembered correctly ‘each one with the same people, the same animals, plants bugs and even microorganisms,’ if that was the case then how was this little girl here and not present in his ow-
His mind froze for a second, remembering an old memory, back when he was eight or so. They had been n the way to go out to dinner and here had gotten into a wreck, some person had run the light, and though his father had sped up in an attempt to get them out of the way the car had t boned them right at the back driver side tire. He remembered the impact, the breaking of glass and the sound of twisting fiberglass and metal, the spinning and the bruising force which the strap across his body cut into him as it held him firmly against the seat. Thankfully they hadn’t flipped, and no one was really injured, Dad had sped up just in time to avoid the collision at the dead middle of the car which had likely saved Nate and his mother’s lives. Still, the paramedics came out and checked everyone over, both from Nate’s family and the man who had been driving the truck. Everyone seemed fine, and yet, a few days later mom had needed to go to the hospital, it had been a quick trip, no longer than an hour, but she had cried, cried and cried for days and days and even his father a man who was always known for being stoic broke down. He hadn’t known, being eight and all, hadn’t put two and two together and had forgotten about the whole incident but now…
Nate looked at the little girl, he would guess that she had to be seven or eight years old, which added up in his head with his own mental guess at what age he now was. He felt a warmth deep within, this was not something he had ever expected, had not even known it was something that was missing, but he would be damn sure to make sure he wasn't going to miss it now that he had it.
“Oh, Nath,” his mother said, her hand going up to cover her mouth and tears gleaming in her eyes.
“Hi mom,” he said, a smile on his lips, she let go of the little girl’s hand and rushed over, reaching up to wrap him in a hug. His mother was not a large woman, she clocked in at somewhere near five foot five or so, and he had been taller than her by the age of fourteen, but she still managed to stretch up and wrap her arms around his neck and pull him down in a fierce hug. He wrapped on arm around her in return and she stood there, shaking ever so slightly for several deep breaths before she stepped back and held him at arm’s length looking him up and down.
“Cara, go fetch your father and also inquire as to if mender Holn will come as well please?” she asked quietly, and his little sister, apparently Cara by name, and he was going to have to remember that, nodded her head and zipped out the door as though the back of her blue dress was on fire, a big smile on her face as she scampered away. “Oh Nath, I was so worried about you,” she said softly laying one hand on the side of his face. “That damned dog,” she shook her head in anger, and Nate, or Nath, as he appeared to be called, raised an eyebrow.
“Dog?” he asked.
“You don’t remember?” his mother asked and he shook his head, he was about to tell her he didn't remember anything at all but before he could she explained. “You were off for another one of those late-night rides of yours,” her face became that motherly sort of stern “and don’t think I am stupid, I may not know where you are going on such late errands, but I do know what boys your age are like and if some maiden gets with child then with God as my witness I will force you to marry her propper, you understand me?” He opened his mouth, it was an instinctual protest, something reactionary, but before the words could leave his lips he stopped them, which on further reflection was not something the old him could do at the age of sixteen.
“Yes Ma’am,” he simply said, after all, you had to pick your battles, especially when the opponent was your own mother, and for all, he knew that was exactly what the other him had been doing.
“Well,” she paused, as though taken aback by his admission, or acceptance. “Anyway, you were riding back on your horse, when one of your father’s hunting dogs startled the beast, it threw you in its panic as you were already starting to dismount on the stone steps,” her voice quivered slightly and there was a tremble to her lips. “I had thought you dead, I-” she broke off as she had bit her lip and Nath pulled her close, holding her in a tight hug, his chin resting on top of her head. The truth was, the Nath she knew and loved had died, he had likely died right when his head had impacted the stone steps, and if she ever knew that it would break her heart. It was at this moment that he decided that he would never tell her, never tell her or anybody the truth, from here on out he was Nath, he just had to learn what exactly that meant now.
“It’s fine mother, I am here still, though there are some, erm, issues shall we say?” he said and his mother pulled back again concern in her eyes. Before he could continue speaking the door opened once more and Cara skipped in, leading along his father, and the elven-looking mender, apparently called Holn. Nath’s father was exactly like his own, no real surprise there he supposed, he was tall, muscular and looked like he could have been ex-military, the truth however was that John Jr. Miller was not ex-military, rather he was a person who worked out religiously, which he said off put all that time he spent on his ass in an accounting agencies’ managerial comfy chair. The main difference between his father and Nath's seemed to be that like Nath himself, this version of John Miller also had an Abraham Lincoln beard going on.
“Son!” he beamed walking over and clapping a hand on Nath’s shoulder. “It is good to see you up and about, you had Cara and your mother worried all night, I was sure they would stay up worrying until you woke,” he laughed.
“Wait, husband,” Nath’s mother’s hand came out and pressed against John’s chest and he fell quiet, looking confused. “Issues?” she asked looking back at Nath, “what sort of issues?” she asked. He paused, but then decided that a hit to the head that almost killed him was a good enough cover story for losing all of his ‘Memory,
“Truth be told, I don’t remember anything,” he said.
“That is not unique, oftentimes our minds tend to block or obscure memories of hurt and pain, it is a natural defense mechanism,” Nath turned to look at the man who had spoken. It was the mender Holn, much to Nath’s surprise now that he got a better look at the man he realized his ears were not elf like at all, sure, they were not human, but neither were they elven, if he had to place them he would say they almost looked like deer’s ears, complete with what looked to be a covering of white fur, and much to his surprise there were what appeared to be small antlers protruding from his head. He hadn’t noticed that before when he had been injured, but then again his vision had been very very blurry and he had barely been able to make out the man’s features. The outline of deer-like ears could easily be confused with elf ears in such conditions no doubt.
“No,” he said, deciding to broach the subject of what exactly he was later, “you don’t understand, I don't remember anything.”
“I see,” Holn sat back into the padded chaise lounge and brought the porcelain cup of tee up to his lips taking a small sip of the hot sweet liquid. “It is not unheard of for patients who have suffered brain trauma to lose memories, it is often the case when there is pressure on the hippocampus region of the brain,” the four of them, Cara having been sent off to be elsewhere while the adult’s talked, much to her annoyance, sat in what Nath could only describe as an ornate sitting room library combo, where they had been served tea by a man that looked to be a servant or something. Every clue that Nath could see was pointing to this being either the seventeenth century or earlier, which was a rather frightening idea in and of itself.
“But how can it be that he can remember our names, our faces, but nothing else?” his mother asked, clearly distressed at the idea.
“That is actually somewhat of a miracle,” Holn said setting his cup down on the saucer that sat on his knee. “With the damage, I saw last night if the hippocampus had been injured I would have thought it likely that he would remember literally nothing, the fact that he can remember you, your family, and still obviously feels attached to and loves you despite the complete loss of all other memories can only be ascribed to a miracle I think, and before you ask, no, there is nothing I nor any mender can do to fix this issue, it will be a trial for sure, but you should be thankful that aside from the loss of memory there seems to be absolutely no other side effects or issues.” He leaned forward, careful to not disturb the tee from its resting spot. “From what I can tell based on the cognition test we just did, he is still aware of most mathematical functions and his brain is working perfectly fine in that department,” that was no surprise, Nathaniel after all had worked at an accounting firm just like his father before him, so he could do most math in his sleep. “Are there any questions you have Nathaniel?” Holn asked, looking at Nath.
“Yes, I hope it isn't too improper for me to ask, but what are you, I mean, I know you are a man, and though I don't really know what mending is, I am sure I can find out later, but to be candid are you human? A different race?” Holn chuckled and touched his ears lightly with a hand.
“These?” he asked and Nath nodded. “Well, I think I can answer both why I look this way and what a mender is, as they are actually one in the same, and it should save you from an awkward moment in the future, you see, I was born as you, human, normal ears, no antlers, just plain normal. In this world there are creatures, they possess incredible abilities, some can increases speed, strength, call down fire and breath lightning, or vice versa, and humans, being humans have found that once one of these creatures is brought down their essence can be drawn out, stored and then consumed later, consumption of such essences allow people to have abilities of their own, mostly strength and speed increases for the duration of the essence’s power, they do drain over time you see,” he paused, thinking. “ Occasionally someone has an affinity for one type of creature’s essence, though this is exceedingly rare. When a person comes into contact with that creature’s essence they change, mutate, and often start showing physical characteristics of that creature, once this happens they can no longer use any other creature’s essence, instead they are required from then on to use only essence from the creature they have an affinity for, this obviously has its drawbacks as it limits the pool of essence that one can use, but it also means that the deviant, as such a person who has changed is called, now can harness the abilities that the creature they had an affinity for can use, in my case, it was a silver elliinik, and I gained its ability to mend, heal with magic that is.”
“I see,” Nath said.
“Are there any other questions you have for me before I must go? I do not mean to rush you but I have several other patients to visit today and I do not wish to dally here for longer than I need to.”
“Yes one more thing, can you tell what a person’s affinity is?” he asked looking at the apparently deviant man.
“No, and it is a matter of some debate whether every person has such an affinity and those that don’t become deviant simply have not come into contact with the proper essence or if only a rare few are born or even perhaps develop the ability. Keep in mind that I had, prior to my own deviancy, consumed multiple silver elliinik, and none of those changed me, it was simply that one that I had an affinity to.”
“I see,” Nath said, “thank you, truly for all you have done, I clearly have a lot to think about, and more to learn,” he said as he stood and extended his hand. Holn stood and grasped his forearm, a smile on his face.
“It was my pleasure, please feel free to come and see me anytime you require my assistance.”
“No offense meant, but I hope to have no need to visit you for the foreseeable future,” Nath quipped back and the mender laughed.
“Very well, I bid you all a fine day, and good health,” he said as he let go of Nath's forearm and turned to walked out of the sitting room.