Previously on Fractured Dawn . . .
A man wakes on a beach with no memory and discovers a strange purple stone embedded in his chest. After being visited by a silent women with red hair he settles down for the night.
The next morning he heads of in search of civilisation and gets caught up saving a woman who is being chased by bandits. During the fight his body suddenly transforms into stone, giving him the advantage. Once the bandits flee, the man from the beach returns to human form and then the woman he rescued knocks him out.
The man from the beach winced as a cold flannel was pressed against his head. He opened his eyes to find himself laying on a bed in a small room. The flannel was being applied by an old man sat beside him.
“Try to rest.”
“Where am I?” said the man from beach.
“You’re in my house.”
“There was a woman.”
“There always is. That was quite a blow to the head.”
“She, she hit me. I saved her life and she hit me.”
“Where are the manners these days?” said the old man.
The man from the beach pushed the flannel away and tried to sit up. The room span a little and he had to close his eyes and hold his breath to stop himself from throwing up.
“You really do need to rest,” said the old man. “You’re safe here, I promise. You’d be best off just laying back down and taking it easy.”
The man from the beach wanted to leap from the bed and run but the old man was right. He was in no state to flee. Slowly he settled back down on the bed.
“Let’s start with the basics,” said the old man. He dipped the flannel in a bowl on the floor, wrung it out and handed it to the man from the beach. “What is your name?”
“I . . . I don’t know.”
“Well, that must be inconvenient for you. What about where you’re from?”
“I don’t know that either.”
“Hmmm,” said the old man. “I’m spotting a pattern. Is there anything you can remember?”
“Nothing before waking on the beach, nothing at all.”
“And how did you end up with that?”
The man from the beach looked at the old man who was pointing at the purple stone. The man from the beach instinctively moved one hand to his chest and covered it, as if embarrassed. “That,” he said, “is the biggest mystery of all.”
The old man pulled a pair of spectacles from his shirt pocket and stood. “May I?” he said as he indicated to the stone.
The man on the beach stayed silent for a while. He realised now how tough things were going to be going forward. He wanted nothing more than to rediscover his past but in his current state he was vulnerable. Trust was going to be an issue. However, he also knew he’d get nowhere on his own so, a little reluctantly, he nodded.
The old man leaned over the bed and took a closer look at the stone.
“So what about you?” said the man from the beach while he stared at the ceiling. “What’s your name?”
“Falter,” said the old man. “Doctor Benso Falter.” He tapped the stone lightly. “Does that hurt?”
“No. It only hurt the first time I touched it, although hurt doesn’t do it justice. Guess I was lucky to be found by a doctor in the middle of the woods.”
“I didn’t find you,” said Falter. “You were brought here.”
The man from the beach laughed. “She must be strong to have carried me here all by herself.”
“That would be a sight,” said Falter, chuckling. “No, she let the horse do the carrying.” The Doctor leaned in closer. “Interesting.”
“The skin around the wound is joined in parts to the stone instead of being torn. It’s almost as if your body is accepting the stone as part of itself and healing with it.”
“Can you get it out?” said the man from the beach.
“I wouldn’t even try,” said Falter. “It’s a big assumption but I wouldn’t be surprised if the stone further inside your chest was joined to some of your internals.”
“That is to say, it might do you a lot of damage by trying to remove it. As in you could die. Horribly.”
“Oh indeed. It’s these veins around the wound that I find most intriguing though. I can’t be sure without the proper tools but it looks like your body is drawing something from the stone. Or perhaps feeding.”
“Feeding? That doesn’t sound pleasant.”
The Doctor removed his spectacles and stood back. “It might not sound pleasant but it could be what’s keeping you alive. The stone, the location of it and the force it must have taken to get it in there, should have ended you.”
The man from the beach swung his legs out and slowly sat up again. The room’s movement was a little more restrained this time but his head still thumped “Thank you,” he said. “For taking care of me.”
“It’s the least I could do,” said Falter. “I’m sorry I couldn’t help you with the stone. It’s truly fascinating.” He took back the flannel and dropped it into the bowl. Picking the bowl up, Doctor Falter headed over to the door. “Wait right there. I’ll get you something for that headache, something herbal. Then we can take a walk.”
The Doctor headed out the door leaving the man from the beach alone with his thoughts. The room was dim, a few scattered candles struggled to illuminate it as shadows danced around the walls and ceiling. There were no windows, which was odd, only a bed, a small set of drawers in the corner and a desk opposite. Sat on the desk was a small mirror. It was then that the man realised he had no idea what he looked like. He stood cautiously, testing his balance and the strength in his legs. He still felt weak from whatever it was that had happened to him in the woods but he was feeling stronger than when he’d woken. He could hear the Doctor somewhere off down the hall; bottles clinking as he tried to find that remedy. The man crossed the room and let the desk take his weight so as not to exert himself. Nervously he picked up the mirror, took a deep breath, and looked at himself.
It could have been worse, he thought. His face was far from grotesque but it also hadn’t escaped the years unscathed. His blue eyes canvased the person looking back at him; short hair, blue eyes, rough skin and a nose that may have met a few fists in the past. He had a scar running a few inches down his left temple; another mark of a memory forgotten.
“I brought you some clean clothes,” came a woman’s voice.
The man turned and was surprised to see the woman from the woods stood in the doorway. A sudden wave of adrenaline washed through him from head to toe and he felt the skin on his arms begin to tighten and harden. It was happening again.
Doctor Falter hurried down the hallway and stepped around the woman.
“Calm down, lad. Calm down. You need to breathe.”
The man from the beach staggered back across the room towards the bed and closed his eyes. He drew a breath, held it, and then let it out. In and out, in and out. His heartbeat slowed a little and his skin began to soften. He sat back on the bed as the room span once more.
“I’m sorry,” said the woman.
“Don’t worry,” said the Doctor. “He’ll be fine.”
“I told you I wasn’t crazy.”
“Yes you did. Now put the clothes on the side and leave us. I don’t want you antagonising our guest in his condition.”
“I said I’m sorry.”
“And I’m sure that once the lump on his head goes down he may consider forgiving you. How about you start getting on his good side by preparing some food? No doubt he’s more than a little hungry.”
The woman dropped the clothes on the desk and left the room. The Doctor turned his attention back to the man.
“How are you feeling?”
The man opened his eyes and waited for his vision to clear. “Better now. I apologise.”
“Nonsense,” said the Doctor. He pulled a small glass jar from his pocket and popped the lid. He pulled a leaf out and handed it over. “Take this, swallow it down. It’ll clear your head and kick that aching.”
The man did as he was told. The leaf tasted foul so swallowing it quick wasn’t an issue. “Who is she?”
“That would be my daughter, Tanel.”
“She swings a mean branch.”
“She’s a tough girl,” said the doctor. “Although trouble always seems to find her. She told me what happened in the woods. You have my gratitude.”
The man nodded. “Right place, right time I guess.”
The doctor sat down in the chair and sighed.
“What’s wrong with me?” said the man from the beach.
“I wish I knew, I really do. What I will say is, until we know more, I would keep it to yourself. Way a lot of folks are, they’ll either get scared or wish you ill. End of the day, someone’ll get hurt.”
“I’m okay with this staying secret.”
The Doctor stood back up. “Come on, let’s give you the tour.”
The man stood and followed the Doctor out the door. They headed down the hallway and up some stairs. The room he’d been treated in was the basement, it seemed. The rooms on the ground floor had windows and daylight poured in. The Doctor carried on up another set of stairs and then they headed across the landing to a door leading to a balcony. They both stepped out, the man from the beach shielding his eyes from the bright sunshine. After a minute or two he was able to see the town before him.
The Doctor took a deep breath. “Another beautiful day,” he said.
“Where are we?” said the man.
The doctor smiled. “Welcome, to Bridgewood.”