Every time he woke up, she was there.
She was human, so he was afraid at first. She never tried to kill him, but she was still human.
Whenever she looked up from the hearth she was tending, she would just smile mildly. Sometimes, she would even stand and brush her lips against his temple, murmuring something in a language that he did not understand.
When she first did it, he recoiled in disgust. How dare she, a human, kiss him? She only looked at him in mild confusion, shrugged, and went back to tending the hearth. He slipped back to unconsciousness again soon after.
The next time she did it, he wasn’t so shocked. With calmness came awareness. Her lips were soft and much warmer than any other’s, but he found the feeling pleasant. The first time he didn’t recoil from her touch, she smiled and wrapped the blankets a little tighter around him.
He didn’t know how long it worked like that. Her gentle healing during bouts of unconsciousness and chaste kisses between tending the hearth. He slipped in and out of consciousness and time became fluid. He prayed to his god to protect him, but he never received a response. Eventually, he gave up.
The human women always kept up her quiet vigil.
When he first was able to see further than two feet in front of him, he stood up from his bed. He promptly fell down.
The woman immediately was by his side, clucking softly, and slipped his arm over her shoulder, helping him up.
“Thank you… whoever you are.”
He didn’t think that she understood him, but her smile said that she understood the tone. She helped him back into his bed, but he stayed sitting up, excited to examine his immediate surroundings for the first time in who-knew how long.
His eyes jumped everywhere. The room he had been sleeping in was red and black with a hearth and three beds, his included. Simple and rather anticlimactic after such a long time wondering. When he looked closely at the woman who had tended to him with such care, he had a pause.
Now that he saw her, she didn’t seem particularly… human. Definitely of the human species if one merely looked at obvious aesthetics, but there was something about her distinctly non-human.
Her hair was curly and blond, falling just past her shoulders. Her eyes were gentle and blue. Her face seemed perpetually blushing with the heat of the fire she was constantly tending. Her skin seemed to glow gold.
He was a little afraid, but her smile soothed him.
The other beds made him curious. He had to squint to see them clearly—his eyesight was still bad, for some reason, and he saw that someone was curled up under the blankets in each one. He glanced at the woman, the question obvious in his eyes.
She shrugged, smiled, and touched the blankets of one of the neighboring beds lightly.
He was practicing walking when he heard a groan from the bed next to him. His grip on his own bedpost was tight as he looked over at the covers with interest. The woman looked up from the hearth, eyes looking as though they were glowing from an inner light.
Another woman, definitely pure human, pushed back the covers, black hair messy and ragged, skin sweaty. Her eyes were clouded with the fever he was only just recovering from, her dry lips moving over and over again, a mere rasp escaping them. “Soon… Soon… Soon…”
He warily edged towards the bed. The glowing non-human woman watched him, eyes mild and unassuming, as he tentatively knelt by the moaning human.
He wanted to recoil from her. She was human. She was dangerous. She was one of the people who beat him down and took everything away from him. She was one of the people who chased him down with fire and who left him with all those scars on his stomach and who killed his family…
She was also sick, and the blond human-looking-non-human had tended to him. Couldn’t he be just as kind and merciful and provide some sort of tenderness for this ill woman? How was he any better than humans if he left a sick woman to die just because of her species?
He shifted a little so he was leaning on his hands. He slowly picked up the soft cloth in a basin filled with water that the non-human woman at the hearth kept there and gently dabbed the black-haired human’s sweaty brow. She let out a pitiful moan, eyes rolling slightly to look at him, but he wasn’t sure if she could see him through the thick fever-induced film over her pupils. “…Soon? Darling?”
She knew Common.
He wouldn’t lie; it felt wonderful to be with someone who he could understand.
He forgot she was human for a moment, wiping her brow again gently and smiling. “Soon? Don’t worry; you’ll be back with him soon.”
He realized belatedly that he didn’t know that. The last he remembered before his fever was falling into a weird blue and purple portal thing with a chicken.
What ever happened to that chicken?
The woman let out another soft moan and her eyes closed. She was unconscious again.
It was a long time before the woman regained awareness of her surroundings.
It started when he was by her bed, dabbing her forehead again and cooling her down. Her eyes were half-closed, filmed over as usual, and her messy hair stuck to her face, sticky with sweat.
The film in her eyes thinned for a moment and very briefly, their gazes met.
The woman immediately jerked back, eyes rolling with fear, breath coming in quick gasps. “Goblin!”
His response was instinctive. His cleric’s instinct clashed with his goblin’s instinct, but in the face of the woman’s illness, the cleric won. He reached out, touching her shoulders, and smiled in the most calming way he could. “Don’t get excited. You’re really sick.”
“You’re… a goblin…”
“I know. You’re a human.”
The black-haired woman didn’t resist it when he gently pushed her back on the bed. “Goblin…”
“Yeah. Don’t worry—it’s really unpleasant, but you’ll get better. I have the same thing, but my fever’s already broken.” He put the cloth in the water and drew her covers over her shivering body. “Try to keep your body temperature up—it’s trying to kill whatever’s got you sick.”
“Goblin… where’s… Soon?”
“Soon?” He smiled sympathetically. Had he been in this situation before the illness, he would have left the woman to suffer her feverish hallucinations, but his time sick and under the tender care of the non-human-human woman admittedly made him feel more empathetic. “Is Soon your husband?”
She nodded slowly, sweat trickling down the side of her face.
“I don’t know where he is. When I started recovering from whatever we have, you were already here. No one else who speaks Common is around.” He tentatively patted her hand. “You’re sweating. That probably means that your fever’s breaking.”
One of his ears perked a little in surprise.
“Your name… want… name…”
The woman blindly clutched his arm, fingers digging hard into his skin. He winced in surprise, his heart skipping a beat from fear, and he quickly reminded himself that this human was not going to kill him.
“I’m Yutrin.” He tentatively touched the woman’s hand. “Who’re you?”
Her hand fell away from his arm and she fell unconscious again.
The non-human woman at the hearth looked up and smiled mildly.
After that, Mijung’s recovery came quickly.
Before Yutrin knew it, she was impatiently trying to walk without support, and he found that he had to catch her several times. Each time she would twist a little in his grip, but she would never struggle enough so that he dropped her. The non-human woman rarely stood up anymore, content to allow the goblin cleric handle Mijung’s recovery, though she often glanced up to make sure that they did not need help. He missed the feel of her lips against his temple, though he’d rather die than to admit to it.
He never initiated conversation with Mijung. Though it was nice to hear someone speak Common again, he never forgot that she was human. He knew that she posed no threat in her condition, but he was afraid. He had a feeling that she sensed his fear. Soon after her first return to sensibility, she started giving him smiles. Never a touch—that would terrify him and disgust her—but she would always be willing to smile.
“So. You’re Yutrin.”
“Do you have any idea where we are?”
“None. I haven’t been outside of this room since I recovered from the same fever you had.”
“What’s the last thing you remember, then?”
“Getting eaten by a pink and purple rift in the sky. With a chicken.”
“…You know, usually I’d laugh, but that’s pretty much my story. Minus the chicken part, of course.”
A curious look.
“You really don’t want to know why I had a chicken. Don’t ask.”
Then the last of the patients started to groan.
Mijung and Yutrin were tender in their care of the last patient. Yutrin carried the kindness the non-human had shown him, and Mijung carried the nursing he had done for her.
They couldn’t exactly understand the patient very well. He murmured in chopped up Common and Dwarven, never quite stringing together a proper sentence, and he would all too often be seized by convulsions.
“Do you think that he’s going to make it?”
“He has to.”
Yutrin felt more and more frustrated with his lack of healing spells. The Dark One hadn’t answered his prayers once since he had awoken. Mijung was understanding, though, and told him that he did well enough without his magic.
Though both had to privately admit that their patient was a strange one. A dark-skinned dwarf with blond hair, a braided beard, and a battle ax against his bed. Yutrin was terrified of the ax. What if the dwarf woke up one day fully sensible and cut off his head?
“You don’t have to be so nervous. We’re all civilized here.”
“Civilization has nothing to do with it. You don’t know what it’s like to spend your whole life knowing that, if anyone without green skin and pointy teeth find you, you’re going to be murdered.”
After a few days, Mijung dragged away the ax and hid it under her mattress, ready to be given back to their patient once he had a full grip on the world around him.
The non-human woman contentedly tended to the fire.