Turning to her husband, the healer said, “He looks terrible. You should leave this to me.” Her voice was hard, but as a gale wind is hard though it carries no malice.
Then she gazed at the youth, Eden, and her eyes softened. “I am Brieran,” she said. “Please forgive my curtness. Injury to the body and the spirit angers me.”
Her pronouncement made Eden realize, for the first time in days the full extent of his fatigue. His head throbbed, registering his body’s myriad messages of pain, and he longed to lie down. He found himself slumped into the cradle of Enofor’s strong arms, being steered down a hall and up a flight of winding wooden stairs. Grateful, he made a feeble effort to cooperate.
He was led to a bed made of thick interwoven reeds, covered with a feather mattress and patchwork quilt. He would’ve languished there eagerly, but more effort was being required of him. Brieran asked him to undress, and Enofor offered assistance. The air was a stinging chill on Eden’s skin, but the faith healer forbid him from going under the covers just yet.
Enofor withdrew. “Rest well, Eden,” he said. “Tomorrow is a new day.”
Brieran seemed not to notice her husband’s departure, so intent was she upon the work at hand. First she applied a pulp to Eden’s bruised legs. This smelled of cabbage, but was rough as crumpled bark. Then she placed a steaming cup into his hands and ordered him to drink. While Eden consumed the bitter contents, Brieran left to retrieve another poultice that she’d prepared. This she applied to the lad’s forehead. It felt like wet clay.
“You’ll have to try and sleep like that,” she said, relieving him of his empty cup. “But I’ve a feeling you’ll sleep through anything tonight. And young bodies mend quickly. Relax, and empty your mind of questions and purposes.”
After Brieran left the room and secured the door behind her, she noticed her husband waiting in the hallway.
“You could have healed him with much less effort than that,” he whispered. “Why do you withhold yourself?”
Brieran sighed, letting her voice carry some of her frustration. “His body responds well, but I cannot yet succor his spirit. A vulnerable child dwells within him, but behind a hard wall.
“His internal balance is too fragile, you see. It would be a most unwelcome shock, were he to feel the raw potency of my healing hands right now. Better to let time and homespun remedies do their work.”