Title: Step in a New Direction
Summary: Gaius leaves the relative safety of Ealdor for the unknown.
Word Count: 483
Prompt: #360, village
Author's Notes: We never got any of Gaius' backstory, so here's my contribution to the cause.
It was a chance encounter with a Druid that set him on his course. The woman with the triskelion tattooed on her forearm let him watch as she set his uncle's broken arm. Gaius hung on her every word and action, following her and carefully poking at the herbs she carried in her satchel during the week she stayed in the village to make sure the arm had set correctly. “You know, you have a bit of magic yourself.” She shook her head. “Not a great amount, but enough to add a bit of extra strength to the regular medicines used by physicians.”
Gaius held his breath. He was the eldest son. He knew his duty was to marry and have children, tending to his family's plot of land in this tiny village. He looked up at his father, who shook his head sadly.
“It's not an easy life, son. The gods know this isn't either, but it's relatively stable. Unless you find a rich patron, a physician's life is spent on shanks’ mare.”
The Druid nodded in agreement. “I do know a good physician who has been looking for an apprentice for the past few years. He's a tough and stubborn old codger, but he isn't afraid of trying new things. And he has a touch of the sorcerer in him, too. It won't be easy. You see a lot of death and misery as a healer.” Her serious expression lightened, “But you also see the best of humanity when you help save a life or bring a child into this world.”
Gaius had remained silent as they spoke, his face sober. “You're leaving tomorrow morning. May I have the night to think about it? I assume the physician would want a commitment of years?”
“That's usually how it works.” She set her hand on his shoulder. “If you leave with me tomorrow morning, I can get you started on the basics you'll need to know while we make our way to Nemeth. If you decide this is the life you want, there's no harm in it. After all, without good, honest farmers, what would we eat?”
That night was a sleepless one for Gaius. He watched the moon set in silence, his father sitting next to him, letting his son work out his own thoughts. When morning came, the entire village turned out to watch Gaius leave, a few precious gold and copper coins hidden in a tiny pouch to pay for anything he might need on his journey. He didn't know if he'd ever get back here, but as he dashed tears from his eyes he decided that he would always keep a part of Ealdor in his heart. Gaius stooped down and picked up a shiny pebble right inside the stiles that marked the boundaries of the village, smiling a bit as he tucked it into his belt pouch.