Healing the Healer
She looked upon her healing waters and sighed, wishing that she could spend the day just soaking in their soothing properties, letting her own magical powers wash over her like a soothing flood and wash away this sense of... restlessness... she had been feeling of late.
It wasn't as if she didn't enjoy what she did, which she refused to call a job and attach the negative stigma that follows that word everywhere it goes. Just last week a customer reminded her just how much delight she gleaned from her little cloud of relaxation.
A Faerie Chomby by the name of Dai had come to her springs just like all the rest: seeking healing for his wounds. She decided to attend to the creature personally instead of directing him to one of her ever-helpful Motes or directing self-healing by sinking into one of the springs.
"Let's see what we have here," she began soothingly, setting Dai down on a chair that looked to be made from the very clouds themselves (and, indeed, it had been, by a very industrious Earth Faerie). Carefully initiating her examination, she peppered Dai with questions to keep him distracted.
"How'd you get all bruised up?" she inquired, running her hands over the protrusions exuding from his back. They all seemed to be in place and un-cracked, a fact about which she found herself very grateful. Chombies were notorious for needing those replaced, she knew. His wings were also similarly unharmed.
"Playin' Gormball with some buddies of mine. One of 'em switched the ball when I was getting somethin' to eat," Dai explained.
"I see. What was the new ball?" she pressed, feeling his tail for injuries. It looked a little bruised and would likely be sore for a few days, but it was a minor concern.
"A Zurroball they painted over somehow. It looked kinda funny when I saw Drew had it and I was gonna ask him what was up when he threw it to me," Dai continued, wincing slightly at the memory.
"A Zurroball? Isn't that some sort of game at the Space Station?" she asked, her memory stretching to fetch the information hidden deep within the recesses of her mind. Dai flinched further as she examined his stomach; this was obviously the spot from which the pain stemmed. She honed in on it as he continued his story.
"Yeah, and that's the thing: Zurroballs are made for space and stuff so their gravity's all weird, y'know? So when Drew threw it at me it hit really, really hard," Dai explained.
"Same force, greater velocity," she observed, nodding as she gently prodded spots near his front left leg. Dai cringed and yelped in pain when she hit a certain bruised spot.
"I'm sorry," she apologized, "I had to find the exact mark. Don't worry, Dai, you'll be all right in a jiffy," she promised, smiling as she rose from his side and made her way to her hodgepodge of potions, poultices, and other miscellaneous healing paraphernalia. She leant over, eyes scanning the labels as the Library Faerie would the titles of her books, until at last she alighted upon the correct one. Removing it with slender fingers unmarred by the sun's rays, she returned to Dai and uncorked the bottle.
"This will sting quite terribly," she admitted, and ripped a piece of cloud away from the landmass upon which they stood. It promptly regenerated itself, as she knew it would.
She took a deep breath and steadily poured some of the amber liquid onto the cloud until the top half was properly soaked. Cautiously she advanced on Dai's wound with the makeshift not-quite-a-cloud, not-quite-a-cloth. As she pressed it to the angry magenta bruise, Dai flinched and hissed sharply, but, she noticed, willed himself not to move any further. As quickly and kindly as possible she continued to apply the healing balm, rubbing in a slow clockwise motion until the wound slowly began to dissipate.
Her healing complete, she leaned back and took in Dai's clenched jaw with a certain modicum of pride. Most of her customers screamed and thrashed in pain when she used even the most benign of her healing liquids. Dai was one of the few treasures who chose to withhold his discontent for her sake, knowing that she would not do anything to intentionally harm him and that, in the end, this would aid him. He was one of the few patients that returned her compassion with equal care. He was one of those that the memory of brought a smile to her face when she found herself exhausted both magically and physically.
He was an inspiration.
"Thanks, um... actually, you never said your name," Dai observed.
She halted in the midst of replacing the potion, nearly toppling a whole shelf of them in the process. He was among the rare, indeed, to care enough to inquire of her name; she count on two hands the number of patients that asked that question.
"Aquina," she replied softly, turning to him with a smile.
"Thanks, Aquina!" he repeated, grinning as he returned to all fours, "I think I'm healthy enough to fly home," he informed her, readying himself to take off.
"Watch out for those Zurroballs," she advised, her smile widening as he turned mid-air to laugh at the comment.
"I promise! Bye, Aquina!" he called, flying away.
As his form reduced itself to a minute speck in the distance, her world seemed to crash down upon her once again. The grumblings, hissings, and cries of the hurt and sick hit her like a wave of boiling water, roiling her ears with an intensity the like she had not before experienced. It hadn't really gone anywhere, she knew, but whenever she was tending to a patient the suffocating surrounding noise seemed to disappear, like the tide washing away from the sand. Much like the tide, however, whenever she finished with the patient, the noise would come sweeping back in with surprising ferocity. This particular time had been the most jarring of them all.
It was quite similar to the feeling she felt now, although they were cut from different branches. Then, she felt swamped, awash with the physical strain; now, she felt marooned in the midst of fatigue and, surprisingly, tedium.
This was new to her. She often dealt with the tiredness, but never before any sort of tediousness. Never before had she felt like this was a job, a sort of work she was resigned to day in and day out. Never before had this become boring and draining enough to tempt her with the thought that perhaps she should give it up and do something else, go somewhere else, anywhere else.
But she knew she couldn't. She had a responsibility to the hurt and sick of Neopia. Where would they go if they could not come to her to purchase her restoratives and dip in her springs? Even if she took a small vacation, without her constant attention the springs would diminish in healing power rapidly, leaving them but useless pools of water that would become stagnated with the dirt and other substances her patients brought with them from the lands below. Who would help them? Her Water sisters admired her for her generosity, but chose to work one-on-one with their charges, much like the rest of her sisters. Very few chose to remain in Faerieland, electing to remain stationary when their very essences cried out for them to do otherwise. They would not be resigned to such a fate.
These were the thoughts rolling through her heart and the feelings slicing through her brain as a voice sounded, pushing through the din. It was like she had lifted a conch shell to her ear and the whole world faded away as the sound of the ocean filled her ears.
"Aquina!" the voice called joyfully. Its speaker landed gracefully upon her cloud, grinning widely.
"Dai!" she responded, surprise evident within her voice, "Are you okay? Did you get into another scuffle with a Zurroball?" she questioned, moving towards her potions.
"No, no, nothing like that," he hurriedly assured her, "I just wanted to say thank you---again---for helpin' me out the other day, and I didn't really know how. So I got to thinkin' about how you must be up here a lot and don't get to anywhere fun, y'know, so me and my friends got together and decided that we'd come up here and sub for ya for a bit and let you go do what you wanted to," he explained quickly.
Suddenly she realized that there was a group of about nine or ten Neopets surrounding Dai, each smiling and nodding as he elucidated upon his reckonings.
"That's very sweet of you," she began, "But I can't leave the Springs to all of you. Suppose someone came here with a disease you've never heard of---my potions can't take of that directly," she said.
"Glen and Haad did an internship at the Neopian Hospital last year. They know every disease in Neopia inside and out, and how to treat 'em," Dai pointed out, grinning wider. The Shoyru and Gelert behind him nodded as they were introduced.
"Okay, but... but what about the springs?" she grasped, looking for something to argue with, "I can't leave the springs without them losing power."
"Danni got herself blessed by one of your sisters a couple months ago. She can make healing springs on her own, and I'm sure she can keep yours goin' if you tell her how," Dai rebutted.
She balked. This idea was sounding really, really good right now. What was holding her back?
"C'mon, Aquina. It won't be so bad. Just trust us, okay? If anything gets bad, we'll... we'll send one of your Motes for you, okay?" Dai wheedled, his grin nearly threatening to split his face.
"All right," she finally acquiesced, smiling as well, "Let me tell you all how this works," she insisted, and for the next few minutes explained the ins and outs of her system to the eager recruits. They grinned, nodded, and performed demonstrations that she asked of them with ease. Dai had found a smart group of friends to help her out.
As she turned to go, Dai reassured her again that everything would be fine and that she should enjoy herself, whatever she was going to do. He even promised that they would come and do this again sometime, maybe even make it a regular thing, to which she smiled softly at before thanking him once again.
"You are a wonderful creature to be blessing a Faerie," she said mystically, then turned and stepped off of her cloud, stretching her long-withheld wings in the air.
Aquina didn't know where she was going, or what she was going to do there, but she knew that she didn't need to know any of that; she was just going to be, without the pressures of her little world, and somehow that broke apart the storm that had been raging inside of her for longer than even she herself had known.