Jaehwan clutches his shoulder carefully as he walks toward the North Tower. The sun is finally down, the streets mostly empty, so he can walk without being bothered. Still, there are surely Guardians around who would recognize him, so he keeps his head down, avoiding eye contact when he passes anyone.
He is still not sure what he has gotten himself into, latching onto that stranger, Hakyeon, and asking to join him on this adventure, much less what it all entails. But it is the perfect opportunity to escape - now he has a way out. Soon he can get out of here, out of this city that he has been trapped in for too long. What he will do with himself in the long run, he will have to figure out as he goes.
The North Tower stretches higher than any other buildings in the City, higher even than the Citadel. It is a reminder of the Clerics who serve the City and devote their lives to healing. At night, the looming Tower looks even larger, showing him the right direction. Jaehwan has never been a religious man, and yet this could be his salvation. He rounds a corner on his path, following the sight of the Tower.
A Guardian blocks his way. In his armour Jaehwan looks bright and important; now, however, he is wearing his commoner clothes and avoiding eye contact with people, and he suddenly feels very small facing this Guardian. “Where are you going?” the man asks. “It’s almost curfew.”
Looking up from beneath his hood, Jaehwan speaks softly and hopes he isn’t recognized. “I’m on my way home. It’s not far.”
The Guardian regards him for some time. Jaehwan has to remind himself to breathe - nothing is wrong. He’s not doing anything wrong. Then the Guardian shrugs and steps out of his way. “Go on, hurry along. Don’t want to get in trouble,” he says.
Jaehwan nods and scurries on, sighing in relief. As he goes, he checks behind him several times that the Guardian isn’t watching him anymore. It almost felt too easy; he has felt so trapped here for the longest time, that it doesn’t make sense for him to be able to leave.
Finally, he stands in the Tower’s shadow. He gazes up at the tall building, and hopes he will find the Cleric inside it. With a look around him - it seems that he is alone - he quietly opens the door and steps inside.
He walks through a dimly lit corridor, feeling slightly uncomfortable. It feels as though he is intruding, even though anyone is welcome to the Clerics. Not many come here unless they truly need it, and Jaehwan is one of them. The only reason he is here, after all, is to heal himself.
At the end of the corridor he enters a large hall, and his eyes widen at its beauty. Although the Tower is tall, it doesn’t have the grandeur of the citadel and the Castle itself - but there is something so pure in its simple composition, a place built for healing. The hall is empty save for one person seated on one of the beds lined up along the wall. She is wearing a Cleric’s robe, reading a book intently. “Excuse me,” Jaehwan says carefully, wincing as his voice echoes through the hall. This is a safe haven, he reminds himself; here, he doesn’t need to worry - here, no one even knows who he is.
The woman looks up at him, eyes questioning. She says nothing, so Jaehwan continues.
“Is there a Cleric here named Wonshik?” he asks. The woman seems to think for a moment, and then points to the end of the hall, where a staircase leads up to the next floor. She holds up two fingers, and with no further explanation, goes back to her book. Two floors up, then. Jaehwan thanks her and goes to climb the staircase, biting his lip at the pain in his shoulder.
Two floors above he finds a room with many doors; a dormitory, perhaps? In this room there is practically nothing, only a small bookshelf and a desk, over which a figure is hunched. “Wonshik?” Jaehwan tries.
The figure turns and faces him, curiosity in his eyes. Jaehwan’s eyes are drawn to his collar; peeking out behind the robe is a mark, surely one of the Cleric marks. “Hello,” he says. “May I help you?”
“So you are Wonshik?” says Jaehwan. The man nods in confirmation.
“I have- an injury,” Jaehwan starts, placing his hand on his aching shoulder. “Hakyeon told me you could help.”
Wonshik’s eyes widen, and he looks around as if suspecting someone to be eavesdropping. “Come with me,” he says, waving Jaehwan to follow him to one of the doors. Behind it is a small bedroom; the Cleric ushers Jaehwan inside, instructs him to sit down on the bed and take off his cloak.
“Are you also coming with Hakyeon?” Wonshik asks. He seems to be interrogating Jaehwan even though he is already beginning to examine the injury, gently peeling back Jaehwan’s shirt to see his shoulder. The blood has dried, leaving behind a large red slash mark and pain.
“Yes,” Jaehwan replies, grunting in pain when Wonshik pokes at the wound. “I asked him if I could come, but I have this injury, and it’s my better sword arm. I need to take part in this journey, and if I’m injured I’ll be a liability. Can you heal it?”
Face scrunching up in thought, Wonshik runs a finger lightly over the mark and scrutinizes it. “It looks like the cut runs quite deep. Not easy to heal completely even with magic - it will take a while - but I can help it along and give you ointment to relieve the pain while it heals.”
Jaehwan breathes out a sigh of relief. “Thank you. How should I pay you? I have money - not much else.”
“I don’t expect payment,” Wonshik mutters, standing up to look in his desk, rifling through the items. “Clerics work without being paid. I have no need for money.” He stops for a moment. “Though, maybe if I’m leaving this place, I’ll need it for supplies. You can repay me by supplying me with herbs and potions once we are out of the City. I will need them to keep making your ointment as well. But for now, I have some right here.”
Time for another round cairistiona !