Did you miss Part one?
“Mr. Rainblade, my name is River. I’ll be reviewing your records,” said the lovely dark-haired woman. She wore a pink scrub top with little white hearts all over it and a matching pair of pink scrub pants. Even her shoes were pink. When she turned around, he noted the cute little string bow tied on the back of her scrub top and had to suppress the urge to tug on it. If she had been Dr. Keller’s busty nurse Nikki he would have done it in a heartbeat; it drove her crazy, which made him laugh.
But she wasn’t Nikki. He would have to behave.
“Nice to meet you, River,” he said with a courteous bow.
River’s eyes never moved from his file. She sat down and gestured to a seat, putting the folder on the table to leaf through it. He bit his lip and sank onto the chair. It had a cushion, unlike the ones in the waiting room.
“This says that you’re a berserker. Is that correct?”
Solseir glanced away from her direct gaze and nodded, chewing on his lip. He knew what would come next.
“Berserkers have standing orders to go directly to the front lines. I’m surprised that you haven’t already been shipped off.” He met her eyes and she smiled as if to encourage him.
“I was honorably discharged from service twenty years ago. I cut off all communication with the military and the court. It was easier, with my family gone.” He scratched his nose and shrugged. “They didn’t find me until last week.”
River turned back to the file. “I see.” Her eyes flicked over him, then back to the dossier. “They might send you to detox or boot camp for a few days and maybe get you reoutfitted for armor, if necessary.”
He squelched the shame that rose up in his chest; he had gained weight on purpose to avoid looking like every other elven male in the military.
“Ah, about my assignment. I have a note from my psychiatrist, Dr. Keller,” he said, digging it out of the sheaf of papers under his arm.
“Oh?” She took the note from him, sniffling once or twice as she read it. “Post-traumatic stress disorder, caused by your participation in the Orc Raids in the 1960’s. It says here that you’re on medication for it, correct?”
“Yes, Lexapro, ten milligrams once daily, and Prazosin, five milligrams every night. Lorazepam works better, but it’s so addictive that Dr. Keller took me off it after a couple weeks.”
No need to mention that he hadn’t been taking his medications regularly since beer worked better. He had still been filling his prescriptions every month and stockpiling them just in case the situation in California blew up. One never knew; he might have to go into hiding from the military. He would rather fake his death than become a deserter, hunted down like a dog, or go back to the front lines. His medications would leave him more clearheaded and able to make better decisions if he had to run. If he couldn’t convince River that he wasn’t fit for service he might have to try it.
“Ah, of course,” she said, her voice a little husky and her eyes on the paper. She glanced at him and sniffled again; her expression one of forced politeness veneering genuine misery. “May I please see the orders the High Command sent you?”
“Right here,” he said, holding out the rest of the papers in the stack. Her small fingers brushed his; he felt a zing from the contact as if she had been shuffling on the carpet in thick socks. He frowned and watched her read the papers over, wondering what that familiar sensation was.
She wore small heart-shaped ruby earrings, one in each ear. He thought he saw a flash of light in them, maybe from a rune, but the studs were too small to afford him a good look. Unless he wanted to creep her out, that is. Those earrings were probably her anti-glamour charms, and they might have been reacting to his magic. Half of those charms on the market didn’t work the way they were supposed to. He might not want to creep her out, but he wasn’t above using faulty charms to his advantage.
His heart softened when she sniffled again, set his papers on the desk, and reached for a tissue. Poor thing. She was only doing her job. But he couldn’t go back to the front lines again. He wouldn’t make it out a second time.
“Are you all right?” he asked.
She blew her nose. “Oh, yes. Thank you for asking. Excuse me.” She pumped hand sanitizer from a dispenser on the desk, her eyes downcast.
“Do you have family in California? Or your boyfriend got sent out there?” he asked, adding a layer of glamour to the sympathy in his voice. It was a test for her anti-glamour charm, to see how easily he might circumvent it. His spell bounced off her and smacked him in the chest, hard enough to bruise. He hid his grunt under a cough. She never even noticed.
“Excuse me?” she said, frowning at him. Ice formed in her gaze, and he raised his hands defensively.
“I’m sorry. I spoke without thinking. It’s just that you seem upset, and I was worried.”
He smiled and ducked his head to hide his dismay. He rubbed the bruise, wincing. Someone had spent some serious cash on her charms. He was glad that he had used a nonoffensive spell, karmically speaking, or he might have a few broken ribs instead of a sore spot.
“No, my family and my boyfriend are all here.” She sighed, and her shoulders slumped. “In fact, I’m getting shipped out with him in three days.”
Solseir winced. Now the little shock she had given him made sense. “You got tested? I’m sorry. Healers have it rough.” Almost as bad as orc hunters on the front lines. Human healers tended not to last long, but Solseir had never known why. Most got killed in action, according to the official reports.
River shrugged. “I stayed behind longer than most people that I know.”
He wondered who her boyfriend was, that he had that much influence within the Elven court. That question seemed too personal to ask, so he went with, “Are you going to the front lines too?”
Someone must have told her what a battle with orcs and goblins was like, from the shadows in her eyes and the hitch in her voice. She should understand his position, and why he couldn’t go back. He had to stay away from the military to survive.
“I’m sorry,” he repeated, meaning his next attempt to glamour her.
Those earring charms might be expensive, but he could overwhelm their effects with repeated tries. He didn’t have to hit her hard until her defenses went down. Her eyes remained on his papers, moving from side to side as she read them over and over. He flexed his hand, gathering magic in his palm like a ball of light and leaned forward.
A knock on the door shattered his concentration. He jumped, nearly falling out of the chair. The spell dissolved, sliding through his fingers in transparent, fading wisps. The door opened; the person outside hadn’t bothered to wait for a reply.
“River, you were supposed to wait for me,” the young male elf admonished her.
Solseir stiffened. His fingers clenched around the spindly arms of the chair until his knuckles turned white. The newcomer wore blue dragon scale armor and a ceremonial sword on his belt, a tradition of his people going back to time immemorial. His blond hair cascaded down his back, held out of his face with two thin braids that joined behind his head. The crest on his chest plate indicated that he came from the Silverwyrm family, which served the Sunfalcons exclusively.
Through the meshed sounds of phantom orc cries and blood rushing in his ears, he wondered if Vitas was her boyfriend.
“Vitas Silverwyrm, this is Solseir Rainblade,” River said. Her voice cut through the darkening tunnel in his vision, bringing him back to the present. “Solseir Rainblade, this is Vitas Silverwyrm. He is our chaperone for this meeting.”
“We’ve met,” Vitas said with a grim smile, and Solseir’s stomach plummeted. “I’m very glad you’re back with us, Solseir. We’ve missed you.”
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I forgot to mention that this is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to people living or dead is a coincidence.