The Orc's Awakening c39
Updated: Sep 26, 2021
Chapter 39: Shana’s【Lessons】
I never thought that I would like doing the dishes.
At the Academy, the Un-gifted, the talentless would work part-time around the city, and some would get lucky to find permanent employment. It was rare, but it did happen.
Dishwashers on the other hand were a dime a dozen, and they were not kind to those who clumsily broke dishes. I rarely survived a week in those positions without a Kitchen Manager yelling over my shoulder every chance they got. I don't have many fond memories because of that.
Outside the kitchens of citizens, inns, and restaurants, I never thought I would be washing dishes otherwise. Yes, we were issued a standard set of thin, steel tableware for every cadet at the Academy, and most took them with them when they transitioned into the [Seekers], but washing those only took a second.
I looked at the pile of dishes from this morning's meal, but it didn't bother me as I thought it would.
The mindless cleaning and scrubbing helped me take my mind off things, and I found it weirdly cathartic.
Breakfast was done, and Mr. Orukus brought in his plate and Sister Layla’s.
It was shocking to see them together this morning, but that may be part of Mr. Orukus’ magic.
Not like the Spells he uses to create things, but a different, more subtle type of magic.
I can’t say that it’s his charm. I have seen men try to seduce my sisters at taverns and bars, and some would use their handsome face or muscular physique, others would shower you with gifts, and others would bait you with money and promises of pleasure or fame.
I can’t deny that Mr. Orukus has been kind in providing for us, but you can argue that most of it was done pragmatically and none of it with strings attached. There's something off and strange about him that is completely different from other men and how they think and act.
I mean, his costume (or I guess armor) is terrifying, and I don’t know why he prefers to hide his face all the time from us, but we are his guests, and he is our gracious host. We won't intrude on his privacy or the way he runs his home. Everyone has their quirks and idiosyncrasies.
My thoughts are drifting. It’s the benefit of doing a mindless task.
It’s unfortunate that my repertoire of cooking is so small. We are taught to boil soups and roast meats in the camps - that’s it. My mother taught me to make bread, but not like the fluffy ones you see in the cities. Mine are flat and mainly for wrapping it with your meats or dipping it in your soups.
Like most kids, I was sent to the Academy when I turned 7. The Gifted immediately start their education at 5 while the Ungifted starts at 7 to see if any Gifts arise. I haven’t seen my mother since. Chances are, she’s already….
I shake and push the sad thought away.
I wish there was something to clean, but Mr. Orukus’ home is impeccably immaculate. There’s not a single speck of dust in sight even though we’re in an underground cave, and all the sheets and clothes remain pristinely clean.
I assume it’s part of his Magic or it might be Sir Tree’s doing. Regardless, I have nothing else to do between meals.
This wouldn’t be such a problem if it wasn’t for….well, whatever this is.
I make a vague gesture over my body because as soon as my mind is not occupied, it begins.
It all started on the day when Mr. Orukus showed me how he [Healed] wounds, something changed inside of me.
It's like there's an entire, different【world】inside my head.
I can still close my eyes to see a small cottage on top of a hill.
The old ruins of my【past】were washed away.
My sisters were there, and Mr. Orukus was in the body of a small child and was running around, playing.
During the days, the home smelled of fresh bread, pies, stews, and any other foods you could imagine.
At night, under a blanket of stars, the cottage would light a lamp on its lamp stand which could be seen for miles around. It was a beacon to anyone who saw the light to come and rest there, and stay if it pleased them.
I don’t know what that image is, but it gave me solace and peace to know that I could always go back there ー know that it would be waiting for me no matter how long I stay away.
It was the【home】created inside my【heart】.
That was okay. I didn’t mind that.
It was the fact that from that【home】, from the very center of my core being, the 【light】from that lamp stand began illuminating things that were far beyond my imagination.
It began inside of me.
It began shedding light on things I would have never seen.
I wish I could tell you that they were wonderful images, beautiful scenery, or fantastic wonders...
But they weren't.
Because when I say the "core" of my body, it literally started showing me things inside there ー where all the icky organs and bloody stuff is.
I called these......my【lessons】.
It was.........quite a shock when I realized that I was being shown images of my own internal organs and how blood flowed through them.
It felt surreal to say the least. Looking at your body from the outside, I never realized that it was so complex on the inside.
I know, I know. I'm supposed to be a Party medic. But we mostly treat external wounds. Anything that requires surgery would be out of our expertise ー assuming that you can call bandaging up cuts as......."expertise."
No, there are doctors and surgeons in the cities. The citizens are adamant about surviving the mortal terrors of childbirth. They have clinics and medical courses for the [Gifted]. I'm sure those people there are much more knowledgeable.
But for those who are sent outside the cities, we are left to our own knowledge and devices ー which is to say almost little to nothing.
So with these images, I was introduced to a whole new world.
And that was just the beginning.
Knowledge of how my body worked began gradually invading my thoughts.
I didn't ask for this........or did I?
Is this Mr. Orukus' doing? Should I ask him about this?
It was not an Academic way of learning.
In a very similar sense, it was like learning how to swim by being thrown into the middle of the ocean.
It didn't matter whether you knew the names of the strokes or the physics of buoyancy. What mattered was that you learned how to swim and stay afloat quickly. Like physical memory, you let your body do all the learning with trial and error.
Thankfully, these【lessons】were not fatal. But my head hurt so much after each【lesson】that it almost made me wish they were.
I didn’t have to know the names of the body parts I was seeing. I just had to feel how they worked.
I didn't have to understand why they worked they way they did. Just that they all worked in a very special way.
It was like a clockmaker showing you without words or explanation how the clock operated by demonstrating each piece to you. Next, you were then trained to memorize each part, the size, dimensions, and shapes were engraved into your core memory, and you were then dissembling and reassembling it in your head over and over and over again.
Trial and error.
Practice, practice, practice......
Now, do that with the human body. It made sense when it all came together. Each part made sense once it was functioning as part of the whole system.
And there were so～～～ many systems inside my body.
I am not a scholar like Sister Layla. I’ve never been known for my intelligence as a cadet at the Academy. But since I asked Mr. Orukus to show me how to [Heal], I now drift in a turbulent ocean of knowledge that is always threatening to crush my mind (and sanity) to pieces and I cling dearly to my small boat that rises and falls with each wave.
But all this knowledge was intuitive ー almost instinctive. I wouldn't be able to explain any of it to you, because nobody really explained it to me.
You would think that unpacking such knowledge would take years to learn. It didn't. Because a single moment felt like tens of thousands of years. Time simply stopped working the way it should. Or actually, it just stopped. By the time I went through one iteration of all the lessons, only a few seconds would have passed.
And because I'm such a slow learner, it decided that further remedial review sessions were in order. Many, many remedial sessions.
So I had to do it again and again and again.....
Sigh….let’s go for a walk…
I walked with Mr. Loafers on random paths with no destination particularly in mind.
Just looking at the trees and different plants were comforting, but if I wasn't careful, I would dive into a【lesson】about their anatomy. No thank you. I already have my hands full with human beings at the moment.
I honestly contemplated asking Mr. Orukus to make it stop, when I heard a chirp nearby.
Unlike a typical bird's cry, this one was in distress.
Loafers: [Daughter Shana?]
I moved towards the source of the sound and found a baby chick lying on the ground.
One of its wings was bent in an awkward angle.
Loafers: [Ah, I see. A hatchling. If the noise it makes displeases you, I can dispatch it without causing it much pain.]
The baby bird silently shrieked and turned white.
Shana: “Stop that, you’re scaring it.”
I tap the noise of Mr. Loafers in a scolding manner.
I lift the bird into my hands to examine it.
Honestly, there is not much I could do for it, and rather than having it mauled by some predator, ending its life here seems to be a merciful action.
The【lessons】began at once.
They were not human.
It took me a moment to realize that I was looking at images of the bird, and the amount of information that hit me was dizzying.
I’m glad that I didn’t fall over and crush the bird in my hand, but luckily, some of that information overlapped.
We were different in many ways.
But we were the same also in many ways.
There were disruptions though that I felt through its wings that were different from its counterpart.
I felt the【warmth】from the ground slowly travel up through my body, and it began enveloping the baby bird.
Was this what Magic was?
It felt ancient. It felt comforting. It felt very good as if I was floating down a warm river.
The【warmth】traveled into the birds body, and from the【lessons】I learned, I slowly nudged pieces inside the bird to fall into place to match the images. I was purely relying on my instincts to tell me if it felt right or wrong. I had to make small adjustments quickly to make every piece fall into its correct place.
It was a strange sensation.
Loafers: [Daughter Shana? Are you okay?]
Mr. Loafers nudged me with his nose, when I woke up and realized that I must have dozed off.
In my hands was the baby bird, and it was sound asleep - its broken wing was mended back to normal.
It was the first time I ever【healed】anything.
With Mr. Loafer’s help, I was able to locate its original nest and placed the bird back among its terrified brothers and sisters who clung to each other as we snuck their brother back into the nest.
Loafers: [Daughter Shana?]
Loafers: [You have been in an unusually cheerful mood today. Did you come across a good omen?]
Shana: “Hehe...you could say that.”
I skipped, and I hummed as I walked next to Mr. Loafer’s side.
I place a hand on his soft, long black fur, and feel the warmth caress the skin of my hand. I push the【lessons】about his body away for now. I've had enough for one day, and I'm sure my【human】lessons are far from over.
Shana: “For the first time in my life…...I did something I never thought I could do…..”
Loafers: [?? What would that be?]
Shana: “I helped someone.”
Loafers: [Do you not do that regularly? I do not see anyone else stand in that kitchen.]
Shana: “Hehe, you’re right. I do help around with the chores, but this was different.”
[Shana! That’s not how you tighten a bandage! How many times do I have to show you!]
[Shana! You haven’t even run half the course! How can you be out of breath already!]
[Ugh…...what a bother…..at least I won’t be last place as long as Shana’s in this class.]
There were many words to describe me and some of my peers at the Academy. At 15, those who couldn’t even pass Basics were sent to the [Seeker’s] camps.
We were abandoned.
[C’mon. It’s not like you have anything else to offer. What else could you possibly be good for?]
I still remember the hands of the men reaching out for me.
I thought I would die that night.
I should have died that night.
If Sister Layla didn’t find me and treat me, those men may have been marked.
No one expected anything from me. Not even my sisters.
My sisters were undoubtedly kind.
They accepted me for who I was.
But I never had anything to offer to repay them.
The Party’s “Medic” was nothing more than an empty title ー a silly useless mascot of the Four Blossoms.
But not any more...
Now, the ocean of【knowledge】hidden inside those【lessons】did not look as daunting or impossible. Just.........tiresome.
But..........I guess this was my rite of passage. My chance to crack out of my shell and grow for once.
If I didn't learn anything from my【lessons】, then it would mold me again and again and again…......
Until I finally grasped a little bit of it. And then a little more next time.
With each and every iteration, I moved forward just a tiny bit.
That is fine.
That is fine with me.
Because in the end, I did move forward. I did get closer to my goal. And【time】was no longer an issue. Each lesson lasted only a few moments, and each one held an【infinite】amount of knowledge.
These【lessons】would be my burden to bear.
A [Gift] in disguise maybe.
And maybe….just maybe….I would be able to help someone again someday.