This story is part of the Chronicles of Morshan short story series.
By tradition, the healer’s tents were located at the back of the army. When Sian passed through them to enter the playing field of war, screams of pain assailed her.
Images of raw agony, grotesque disfigurements, and gaping wounds flooded her mind and multiplied by the dozens. She pressed her hands against her ears, regretting her blessing from the gods. Some minds she hated seeing into. She crouched, shaking, as the muffled noise caused the images to fade.
“I’m sorry; I’m sorry,” Sian said to Cedric, her escort. “I didn’t expect this to happen.”
Cedric’s youthful golden curls hung in his face as he looked down at her. He gave a reply, but Sian couldn’t make it out with her ears covered.
“Can we move beyond these tents?” Sian gestured with her head. “I can’t be near them.”
Cedric’s lips moved again, then he gently took her elbow. Sian slowly stood and let herself be led away. Once she was far enough from the tents, she hesitantly removed her hands. She could still hear screams, but not enough to visualize the minds of the injured.
Sian exhaled and turned to Cedric. “I’m sorry. If I’d known I would be overwhelmed, I would have warned you.”
Cedric stared at her as if she had been possessed by a demon. “What in Thanax’s name was wrong with you?” She sensed confusion and a hint of terror emanating from him. He was a new recruit and not used to being with the god-blessed.
Sian rubbed her right ear self-consciously. “My memory impressions. The screams of the wounded triggered them, so I glimpsed their thoughts. Gods, it was awful.”
“Don’t you need to see someone to get impressions?” Curiosity floated through his mind.
“Normally I do. But, if someone is loud enough, I’ll get a vague impression anyways. Even vague impressions of those soldiers were unnerving.”
“If you say so,” Cedric said. More tension pervaded his memory impressions, as if he had raised a shield against her. Sian understood why. She hadn’t mentioned her ability much on their week-long trek, because it sometimes disconcerted people. Cedric’s increasingly romantic notions about her proved that he’d forgotten her blessing. She should probably discourage him eventually.
Sian cleared her throat. “You want to show me where the general is?”
“Oh—yes,” Cedric stammered. “I’ll show you right to him.” But his memory impressions revealed the way before he’d taken a step.
“Never mind.” Sian waved a hand. “I know where I’m going.”
Cedric coughed. “What?” Jumbled images wove through his mind.
“You pictured the route to the general’s tent when you spoke to me.”
Cedric narrowed his eyes. “How much can you see of my thoughts?” His mind immediately conjured up the romantic fantasy he’d been cultivating.
Sian debated about lying. But that generally didn’t work long term. “Not much. But enough. I’m afraid you’re not my type.”
Sian hurried away. If experience had taught her anything, he would shun her once he realized how much she perceived his thoughts. But, after the awkwardness of traveling with him while he was developing romantic feelings for her, she didn’t care.
This wasn’t the first relationship she’d killed with her powers. [Read more…] about Short Story: Visions of Grandeur