This is another snippet from the same story as last week. This character is actually one of the villains. I like her, though. She turned out to be a pretty complex character. Obviously, she has issues.
First draft. Please don't quote or repost anywhere, thanks!
Background: Shelawn is in Tiberus looking for people to medically experiment on--she's actually a medical genius, but she has little to no empathy for any of her patients...
Shelawyn stretched and yawned. The morning sun peeked over the horizon, lighting up the harbor water. Even this early in the morning the docks were busy. Porters hefted baggage and deck hands loaded cargo on ships poised to set sail. The cargomasters oversaw the loading of cargo, their faces earnest and anxious in the morning light.
And children. The docks swarmed with children of all ages, ragged and dirty. Shelawyn hefted her bag and a secretive smile crossed her face at the sight. She looked them over. That one had a cut on his arm with a little bit of infection; this one had a growth on his neck; many had runny noses. Her hands itched. Shelawyn rubbed her hands on her skirt.
She knew her face didn’t engender trust. She put down her bag and spread out the blanket she was carrying and seated herself in a likely spot, then busied herself spreading the candy and the toys from the bag beside her.
Before long, she had an audience. The children crept closer, eyeing the candy and toys with greedy eyes.
Shelawyn picked out one of the smaller girls, one with a cut on her leg that looked red and inflamed, and smiled at her. “Hello. Do you like dolls?”
The girl looked at her with huge brown eyes, mute.
“She don’t talk much,” an older boy said.
“What’s her name?” Shelawyn said.
The boy shrugged.
“Her name’s Nora,” someone said near the back of the crowd of children.
Shelawyn picked up a colorful rag doll and held it out enticingly to Nora. “Wouldn’t you like this doll, Nora?”
“Here now, what we gotta do to get it?” the biggest boy said, suspicion in his voice and wariness in his eyes.
Shelawyn looked him over with something close to approval. Life had knocked out some of his innocence.
“You’re right, boy, nothing in this life is free. Do you know what a healer is?”
“Sure enough,” he said with scorn. “They fix you when you feel bad.”
“I’m an Alchemist that heals. To get this candy and these toys, you have to let me try and heal you.”
“But I’m not sick,” the boy said. “Besides, if you’re a—an Alch—a healer, why can’t ya heal yourself?”
“What’s your name, boy?”
He straightened and said proudly, “My name’s Chez.”
“Well, Chez, I’m not sick, either,” Shelawyn said.
“You got scars all over. You gotta be sick,” Chez said, stubborn.
Shelawyn had long ago learned patience at this game. “I was sick once, but I’m not sick anymore. These scars are left from when I was sick.”
“How’d you get ’em?” another boy said, fascinated.
From nowhere, ugly rage came and sat on Shelawyn’s face. Some of the children moved back. Shelawyn struggled to get the rage back in control. She smoothed her features.
“Some very bad people made me sick. It’s up to me to see that doesn’t happen again.”
Nora darted in and snatched the doll from Shelawyn’s hand and took off down the dock. As if that had been a signal, the children scattered, some slowly, looking back.
Shelawyn watched them go, a satisfied little smile tugging at her mouth.
They would be back.