"...Slowly," the non-Clera doctor said. "Your injuries were too severe to avoid some lingering side-effects."
The winged girl looked concerned, but the elf nodded as if fully expecting this. "The vertigo should wear off over time. Are there any holes in your memory?"
"Uh..." She thought back for a moment. "No new ones, I think. I already have amnesia from some wards or something on this demon sword I got."
"...I assume that is the other mind entangled with yours?"
"Um, I was showing Rose here around town, and she had an idea if you've got a minute to talk?"
"Mhm!" Rose nodded. "My forest is big enough. Anyway, you've been really nice to me, so I'm happy to help!"
"Well, it's just, I heard someone talking about you a while ago and it sounded like you were, um, you might be older than you looked," she stumbled awkwardly.
"That I am," the Captain started.
After seeing the two out into the hallway, the elf rushed off to go take care of another patient. Aria stood in front of Clera, staring down at her for several seconds. "...What?"
"Well, this is awkward. And I don't know which to say first. Thank you, I'm sorry?"
"You just need to remember this the next time you ar econsidering behaving like an imbecile," Dr. Kellen said with a terrifying glare.
"Good to see you up and walking," said Lynn. "I don't think I've been happier about magic healing than I am right now."
"I was not! I mean, I was, but not because—urrgh."
"Yeah, I—wait, whaddyou mean 'neither'? I can just, stay at the inn, or hire someone to babysit me if I have to go somewhere, or like, get a guard to do it."
"Hmn. Well, it's not like we're starving for money anyway," said Lynn. "We could just take a couple of days off, maybe. Or the two of us would work together well enough on not-so-dangerous missions so we could keep an eye out for another of those."
"You've had a not dangerous mission?" said Aria.
"Yeah, well, looking at the place we first found you was supposed to be one. It was one until you showed up. But also, we killed a bunch of monsters on our own pretty early on anyway."
"With your boyfriend's help," Rayna added.
"Hey, we were rescuing him." Aria couldn't help but notice there was no objection to the use of the term 'boyfriend' there.
"Really? I've been, kinda curious I guess.."
"The first of those maidens thought she would be eaten for sure. Instead the dragon carefully broke her bonds and asked if she would be willing to stay a short while to talk. He seemed shy but curious about the humans, how they lived and what they liked. She thought he was just playing with her, only to catch her when she turned to leave, but when she eventually did he made no move to follow. The next several 'sacrifices' went much the same. For a few generations the dragon would accept a maiden as a guest, speak with her for a while, and then let her go home again. From those talks it became clear that the dragon was fond of the humans, particularly of their women. Later talks revealed a sudden interest in deeper magic, though none of that village knew much about it."
"If it is true, then I think you can trust her, at least not to betray you," said the Captain. "But you should still tread carefully. I don't doubt being rejected and attacked by the people she protected for such a long time left a deep emotional scar, which would persist even centuries later. Showing fear of her would be especially unwise."
"See you in a few hours."