Behind the Mask

He looked up from his sickbed. His saviour worked at a desk, her back to him.

Strands of drying herbs hung from the ceiling around her, and her shoulders moved rhythmically as she worked a mortar and pestle. A thick lizard-like tail twitched nervously behind her, incongruous against her mostly human form.

She half-turned, revealing a
a full mask of polished amethyst. Only her eyes, so dark they were almost black, were visible.

‘You’re awake.’

‘I slept well, thanks to you,’ he replied. Tentatively, he felt the bandages wrapped around his middle. Tender, but not excruciating. They were fresh and unstained, and smelled of a faintly floral lotion.

She nodded and turned back to her work, but he wanted to know her, and he had learned precious little in his time under her care.

He wanted to know how she had come here, and why she had saved him. He wanted to know how she had learned her craft.

But as the light glinted off her gemstone mask, what came out was: ‘What’s behind the mask?’

The healer stiffened, and didn’t turn to face him. ‘… Only me,’ she replied at length, then returned to her work.

He cringed. ‘I’m sorry. That was rude of me.’

She shrugged.

‘… can I help?’ At her glance, he gestured at her desk.

After a pause, she inclined her head, and shifted to leave a space beside her.

Microfiction written to prompt by one of my lovely patreon patrons. The prompt: ‘behind the mask’

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