Children In Winter
Better with a scalpel than a sword
William Coyle came through the bombs much better than most, and he knew it.
Will’s father was a doctor, working at the prestigious Mayo Clinic. He specialized in medical research and spent long, long hours at his job, devoting his time to trying to cure disease and better humanity’s lot.
Even as a young child, Will had wanted to be just like him.
He’d been at the clinic, when the bombs fell, waiting with his mother for his father to find time to eat dinner with them. He’d heard the alarms, been shuffled to safety with the rest, and survived, his immediate family intact.
Afterward, he lived in the changed complex, with his family, beginning a medical apprenticeship before he’d finished fourth grade. And he soaked it all in, learning procedures and symptoms, diagnosis and treatments. And how to make-do, when the constraints imposed by their situation made more advanced methods impossible.
At least he had. Until his father set off on a routine trip and didn’t return. Until Will went after him.
His caravan was hit by slavers, as so many were. He was taken prisoner, though not sold into the slave trade with most of the others who’d traveled with him. No, the “traders” who’d taken them had a better use for Will.
Instead, they kept him, used his skills for themselves. He would have refused, but so many of his patients were fellow captives, and he couldn’t ignore their pain, their suffering. Not when they’d done nothing to ask for their predicament, or their wounds.
Then the Frost Ravens had come and set him free. He still remembered the moment the patient beneath his fingers—an apparently unconscious and bloodied girl with wild hair—had opened her eyes and winked, holding a finger to her lips.
The blue-eyed girl had then shot the guard without seeming to move more than a fingertip, a smoking hole appearing in the side of her pants.
That was how Will met Gris.