Chapter 7

The path towards Xiphos flew by quickly under hoof and wheel as Lo’ranan approached the open Western gate. The guard was awake today, and nodded at Lo’ranan as he approached. Lo’ranan slowed the cart, not wanting to enter town at full speed and risk adding to the number of injured if anyone should cross his path.

“Hey!” he called loudly to the guard. “I’ve got an injured man here. I need to get him to Doc Keith’s as quickly as possible. Will you clear the way?”

The guard glanced at the cart and, seeing Trago’s condition, nodded.

“Of course.”

He ran through the gate and beckoned Lo’ranan to follow.

Lo’ranan passed through the gate and found the town busy with the bustle of the morning, as its people all set about pursuing their daily tasks. As he had promised, the guard ran ahead, shouting as he did, to remove the people from the main thoroughfare so that Lo’ranan could make his way as quickly as possible. This had the unfortunate side effect of drawing the attention of every man, woman, and child in their path, as all wondered what the cause of the ruckus was. Lo’ranan heard gasps of shock from the women along the way as they saw Trago, which they followed with anxious clucking. The men were more quiet, but it was clear that everyone who saw the injured man had questions.

At last they made it to the center of town, where Keith lived. The four roads converged here and met to create a large circle, with a fountain located in the center. The physician’s house was located on the northeast corner and was very large, principally due to the fact that it contained extra rooms for sick patients and the few helpers that Keith employed. The other factor for its size was the attached place for the apothecary, who for years had worked closely with the physician by preparing the medicines he used.

Lo’ranan pulled the cart up to the front and leapt off. He thanked the guard and ran up to the door, calling for Keith as he did. The door flew open as he ran to it, revealing the phyisician.

“Several people ran ahead and told me you were coming,” was the only greeting he offered. “I’ve instructed my apprentice to prepare him a room. My assistants will bear him inside.” The physician nodded to the cart.

Turning, Lo’ranan saw that two of Keith’s assistants were loading Trago onto a stretcher with the help of the guard. They did their work efficiently and bore him inside.

“You’ve done well to bring him, young master Lo’ranan, but I’ll ask you to wait here,” said Keith. “By the looks of it, I’ll need to concentrate and act quickly if his life is to be saved.”

“But can you?” Lo’ranan asked. “Save him, I mean?”

“For my part, I will do everything in my power,” answered Keith. “But in my experience, more depends upon the will of the patient to live than on me.”

“And what happens if that will is gone?”

Keith began to close the door to turn to his task, but Lo’ranan heard his answer clearly.

“Then he will need a physician more skilled than me.”

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