Short Stories

Crane’s Light – Chapter 3: Balance

Lyra frowned as she finished the stitching on an unnamed and unconscious man’s wounds, her lips pursed in concentration as the constant pulsing ache slightly intensified in her back, the pain annoying her.

She had spent most of her day healing a variety of people as well as listening to – at times – upsetting conversation, which gave her far more insight into the current political atmospheres of not only her own village, but the others’ – Sun’s and Moon’s – as well. Sobo, the elderly, blind woman from the Sun faction with a blunt tongue who reminded her of her aunt Lita, had died, and there was currently an argument as to the cause of her death. Lyra had heard with her own ears in the city of Hope that she had died by magic gone rogue and done by a man by the name of Kenji, also of the Sun village. Now, her own village was being blamed due to a severe imbalance of essence. She thought of the bright green beam of light in the city and let out a small sigh.

The light was an indicator of where the balance currently was. Green meant that Earth was favored, blue meant that Moon was favored, and yellow meant that Sun was favored. If the light was white, then there was harmony and perfect balance, and the three faction’s councils had met briefly weeks prior to discuss the balance. Those of the Sun faction had voiced their desire for balance, while Moon had seemed hesitant. After that meeting, rumors began to swirl. The Earth faction was not “friend” to the Sun faction, only an asset, was one rumor. The Earth faction was hoarding essence and refusing trade was another. Low and behold, the light had gone green days before, and now Sobo was dead, and the thought was that it was the imbalance, the severity and intensity of it, that had caused it. It was said Earth had offered over two thousand essence while the other two factions weren’t even close to a thousand. Some were even jesting that they could kidnap villagers from Earth and sacrifice them for essence. The thought sent a chill up her spine and she let out a small scoff.

Two of her village’s council members now felt that their voices weren’t heard and one of the guards, a man she had come to think of as a friend, named Katashi, was severely unhappy with the council, the governor, and the Elder, Tianshe. She knew that the other faction’s councils also faced their own set of problems, the Sun’s government breaking down completely to the point where they were going to start over, and the Moon faction seemed to be so lax that they did not have an official stance on much of anything.

She stepped over to the basin and rinsed the blood from her hands, her thoughts going sour. This was why she did not wish to be part of the council, why she didn’t want to be voted for or have power; the politics, the intrigue, the thanklessness, it was all too much. She dried her hands as she stepped outside into the humidity of the jungle. A-Wut was missing, Moriko, Maeve, and Katashi were unhappy, and given all the rumors flying around, it was recommended that Earth villagers not travel alone for their own safety. She spotted Hideaki approaching and felt her thoughts, as well as her expression – she had been unknowingly clenching her jaw – soften. She smiled a little bit, thinking of the nickname she had inwardly given him; her shadow. Katashi had teased her about the amount of time they spent together, which admittedly had caused some defensiveness to arise within her. It was only natural after all; she was a healer and he needed a healer. They seemed to enjoy each other’s company well enough, but they weren’t without their disagreements. She thought they had a perfectly normal companionship, simple and easy enough, but Katashi’s teasing was making her second-guess herself, and this companionship as well. Why did things have to be complicated?

“How are your patients, Lyra?” Hideaki asked in a friendly greeting, stopping in front of her.

She slightly bowed her head and clasped her hands together in front of her before looking back up at him. “Well, the man seems stable enough given his injuries and how close to death he was. I’m grateful to have had Soyokaze and Burutora there to lend their assistance. Mingyun seems stable as well, thanks to the help of Kane and Mika. I think they should be alright, so long as nothing untoward occurs.”

Hideaki watched her closely, studying her and frowning. “You look tired. May I walk you home?”

Lyra bit her lip. “Actually, since you live just next door to the infirmary, I was hoping to ask if I could sleep on your sofa for the night, that way I’m close if anything is needed.” She didn’t mention the fact that it was unlikely anyone could wake her given the condition the tonic put her in, but perhaps one day someone would manage to do so.

He nodded. “The sofa, the bed, either are yours.” Lyra felt a catch in her throat and a slight increase to her heartbeat.


Hideaki nodded once more. “Yes. I could sleep on the sofa while you take the bed, or there is enough room for both of us.” Lyra swallowed hard, not sure how to respond. After a brief silence she cleared her throat.

“I wouldn’t dream of you sleeping on the sofa while I take your bed.”

Hideaki chuckled, “I leave it up to you, Lyra. Whatever you wish is what you will have.” He gestured for her to walk with him, which she did, easily keeping step. He opened the door to his home and waited for her to enter first. “Anytime someone visits they compliment the decoration, which I always give you credit for. You did a lovely job.”

Lyra smiled as they made their way upstairs and into the bedroom. “I’m glad you enjoy what I’ve done, and happy that others enjoy it as well.” He slipped off his boots and laid on one side of the large bed, getting comfortable as she sat on the edge of the other side and set her bag on the floor. Reaching into it, she removed a bottle of her tonic and slid off her shoes. Uncorking the bottle, she took a drink and replaced the cork before setting it back into the bag gently and laying on her back. She heard Hideaki murmur goodnight, but felt her throat seize and her entire body go numb. She inwardly wished him goodnight since she could not speak it and gazed at the ceiling as her eyes began to droop, sleep quickly overtaking her.

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