Desperate Measures Part 1

By Melissa McClendon

Professor Julian Ravine quietly closed the book he had been reading, removed his glasses, and rubbed the sleep from his eyes. Finally putting his glasses back on, he glanced up at the clock and noticed the sun had already risen. Damn... Another night's sleep lost... I don't see how Bowman and Keith do it! Julian chuckled softly. It isn't because they're always studying, that's for sure.
" Well... " He stood up and stretched. " I better go see if those two are awake or haven't been to sleep themselves ."

Julian knew they would be in the castle's kitchen, more than likely nursing a hangover. He caught sight of Bowman sitting at one of the tables by himself and headed towards the strangely quiet professor.
Hey Jules !"
" Good morning, Bowman ." He sat down.
" Its morning already ?" He glanced towards the window. " Oh dear... So it is ."
" Where's Keith ?"
" Eh? " Bowman glanced around. " Keith? Hey Keith? KEITH?!!!"
Julian cringed. He must have been plastered.
" Damnit, Bowman !" Keith hissed from the pantry. " Just because we're awake doesn't mean you have to wake up the rest of the castle !"
Bowman lay his head down on the table and closed his eyes, mumbling, " go to hell ."
Julian chuckled. If only they heard themselves when they're like this... " C'mon,
Bowman. I think we all need some sleep before Florice and Murdoch find out ."
" Find out what ?" Bowman asked curiously.
Julian rolled his eyes and stood up. I'll have to come back for Keith. " C'mon old buddy ."

" H-hey!!" Julian yelled several hours later when someone pulled back the heavy drapes and bright sunshine spilled into the recently dark room.
" You need to get up, Jules ." Bowman ordered solemnly.
" Eh?" He reached for his glasses. " What's wrong ?"
" The king's sending us to some remote village in the Kingdom of El ."
" Why? I didn't think you or Keith broke anything valuable last night ."
" Keith isn't coming with us; he'll be returning to Linga soon." He replied dryly. "An epidemic has broken out and we're being sent to stop it ."
" I'm sure there are pharmacologists in El ." Julian grumbled.
" Indeed, but they're clueless on how to cure it. They've petitioned King Lacour for our assistance ."
" Great. Well, I better get ready then ."
Bowman nodded, his thoughts were obviously somewhere else. " I'll meet you in the lab ."

Several Days Later, Continent of El

" Mandrake..." The young woman announced, placing the herb in her basket. " That won't do much good... But perhaps we can atleast sell it ." She started humming again, brushing her long sapphire blue hair off her shoulder as she stood up. " Its getting dark. I had better get back to the village before I'm missed ." She put her dark blue cloak on and grabbed her basket full of herbs, never noticing the monster stalking behind her.

" Hmph." Bowman shrugged, stuffing his hands into his coat pocket as he kicked
a small rock out of his way with the toe of his boot. I knew better than to let Jules talk me into racing him to Escalon when I don't know the way there... If it wasn't for my stupid ego...
" Ahhh!!!!"
Bowman's head shot up, his body going on full-alert when the bloodcurdling scream of a woman in distress echoed throughout the forest. His light blue eyes desperately scanned the area for the source of the cry, finally catching a glimpse of a blood-stained blue cloak scurrying up a tree.
Bowman rushed forward, preparing for anything. Whatever attacked the woman was gone, but it hadn't gone unscathed. A trail of fresh blood receeded back into one of the bushes. He started toward it, prepared to finish it off.
" Please don't hurt it ." A soft voice pleaded. " It wasn't after me and it has every right to live..."
Bowman's head shot up to stare into a pair of mesmerizing sapphire eyes, calm and tranquil, like the sea after a storm. " Are you alright, miss ?"
The young woman's knuckles were gleaming white from where she clutched the tree trunk, hugging her soft young body to it in fear. One of her sleeves were torn in three places, exposing a trail of blood making its way down her creamy white flesh. " Y-yes...I'm fine. " She tore away from his intense gaze, obviously blushing.
" I'm not going to hurt you, miss. Please come down so I may treat your wounds."
" Umm..."
" What is it ?" Bowman asked curiously.When she glanced down at the ground and back at him, he realized what the problem was. He suppressed a smile and leaned back against the tree. " You're afraid of heights, aren't you ?"
Her lower lip quivered. " Y-yes ."
" Well... That complicates things, doesn't it ?" He chuckled. The girl whimpered, losing her grip slightly." Forgive me. This is no laughing matter. Here ." He stepped back a little."Jump down and I'll catch you ."
Her sapphire eyes looked at him curiously, never budging. " I... I can't ."
Bowman gave her a reassuring smile. " You can trust me ."
She bit her lower lip nervously. " A-alright..."
Bowman outstretched his arms. " Okay, I'm ready when you are ."
The girl nodded and seconds later, she landed safely into Bowman's warm embrace. He made no effort to put her down, nor did she try. He couldn't help but gaze at her angelic features. She was like a fine porceline doll, only dressed in simple peasant's garbs. She trembled and finally tore away from his light blue gaze, blushing crimson. " Thank you, sir ."
Bowman finally sat her down, hiding his embarrassment. " Its my job to help people, miss. My name is Bowman Jean ." He extended his hand in greeting.
She smiled warmly, shaking his hand. " Oh, forgive me... My name is Nineh. Nineh Feynman ."
Hmm... That's a very old but beautiful name. " May I ask what you're doing out in a dangerous forest all by yourself ?"
" Gathering medicinal herbs for my village ." She gasped when he reached for her wounded arm.
" Shh... It's alright, Nineh. I'm just going to dress this before infection sets in ."
" Oh ."
" Do you have any fresh water ?" Nineh nodded and pointed toward her basket. Bowman easily retrieved it. " Okay. I need you to sit down ."
Nineh hesitantly obeyed. " You know of medicine as well ?"
Bowman smiled while removing a few bandages from his bag. " Yes, a little ." He ripped open the rest of her sleeve and began washing away the blood. She winced in pain. " Hold onto me if it helps. This will sting ."
Nineh clutched his arm tightly and squeezed her eyes shut as he washed closer to the deep gashes. " Where are you from, Bowman ?"
" Linga, in the Continent of Lacour ."
" You have travelled a long way ."
" Yes ." He began applying herbs to each gash.
" You travelled alone ?"
Bowman smiled. " No. My friend and I are... um..." He began binding her arm.
Nineh opened her eyes and looked at him curiously. " I'm sorry if I embarrassed you ."
" Oh no... Its just he and I were seeing who could reach Escalon first and I fortunately got lost ." He finished binding her arm and began putting his things back into his bag.
" Fortunately? I thought getting lost was a bad thing ."
" Normally it is, but not this time ." He grinned. " It led me to you, Nineh ."
Nineh blushed again. " You are indeed a flatterer, Bowman ." She stood up and dusted herself off. " I really should be going. My people will worry ."
" You can't travel by yourself! Its too dangerous! Allow me to escort you home ."
"I'll be fine. You need to reach Escalon. You'll find it waiting for you over the next hill ." She doned her cloak and headed toward the forest. Suddenly, she turned back around and smiled. " I have a feeling we'll meet again, Bowman ." With that, Nineh disappeared into the darkness of the forest.

Later that night, the village of Escalon

" I'm beginning to worry about my collegue. He should have been here by now..."
Even if he didn't know the way... Julian thought wryly. He probably ran into some beautiful peasant...
" Either way, we are grateful for your help, Dr. Ravine ." Mayor Ganar concluded.
" Who is that ?" Julian adjusted his glasses while watching a blue-haired angel walk into a quaint little house.
" Hmm... Oh! That's Nineh Feynman. Her parents were the leaders of Escalon before they died ." Ganar cleared his throat. " She's the only one in this village with knowledge of medicinal herbs. She'll be very helpful to you and Dr. Jean."
Julian suppressed a smile. Bowman's not getting her. " I'm sure she will ." He turned back around to face Ganar. " I think I might take a little walk, maybe look for Bowman ."
Ganar nodded. " My son will contact you when dinner's ready ."
" Thank you ."

Nineh... Nineh Feynman...Julian slumped back against the outer wall. I should be focusing on the disease and not her. I've never been introduced to her and yet... My god! I've been around Bowman too long!
His light green eyes shot up in surprise when a door opened and Nineh stepped out and began walking towards Mayor Ganar's house. Julian almost swore he heard heavenly music ringing in his ears.
" Psst... Looks like you beat me for once ." Bowman whispered as Nineh disappeared into Ganar's house.
" Indeed. Who sidetracked you for so long ?"
" A beautiful angel in distress ."
Bowman grew quiet as a young man approached. " Doctors, the meal is ready. Please return to the house ."

Nineh smiled graciously as Ganar offered her something to drink. " Thank you ."
" You'll be able to meet our two new doctors in moment, Nineh ."
" Mmm ." Nineh nodded, taking a sip. " Where did you say they came from ?"
" Lacour, the king's best in fact ."
" I pray they live up to their reputation ."
" As do I, Nineh ." Ganar added solemnly.
" I'm sure they will ." Nineh gave him a warm smile, even though she was just as worried inside.
Bowman and Julian suddenly entered the room, followed by Ganar's son, Carter, who flashed Nineh a heated glance before heading up the stairs. " Ah. I see you found your collegue. I'm Ganar, mayor of Escalon ."
Bowman shook his hand. " Pleased to meet you, sir ." He couldn't resist stealing a glance toward Nineh, causing her to smile and blush. Julian's nose twitched in anger when he witnessed this.
" Oh! Where are my maners ?!" Ganar stepped aside. " Let me introduce Nineh Feynman. Nineh, this is Professor Julian Ravine ."
" Honored ." Julian shook her hand, amazed at the softness of it.
" Pleased to meet you, Dr. Ravine ."
" And this is Professor Bowman Jean ."
Bowman took her hand and brought it his lips, winking at her. Nineh suppressed a gasp, but couldn't keep her cheeks from turning bright red. " C-charmed, I'm sure ."
Ganar watched in amazement while Julian fought going into a blind rage. No, Bowman, not this time! I'll beat you at this too! You can't have Nineh!
" Well... Its time to eat. Will you be joining us, Nineh ?"
" Umm..." Nineh looked at Bowman. " Yes, I think I will ."

" You never told me this is where you lived ." Bowman whispered as he caught up with her outside.
Nineh turned around and smiled. " You never asked me, Bowman ."
" Ahh... I believe you are correct, Nineh ."
" You never told me you were a doctor... Although I should have known ."
" Perhaps ." Bowman smiled. " I really like the sky here. The stars shine so brightly ."
Nineh relaxed against the wall, glancing up at the night sky. " Yes, but its the only sky I've ever known ."
" Hmm... We'll have to remedy that someday. How's your arm ?"
" Better. Thank you, once again ."
" It was my pleasure, Nineh. Now, if you ever need to go out there again, let me know and I'll go with you ."
Nineh smiled." I think I might take you up on that, Bowman ."
" You know where to find me ." Bowman brushed back a stray strand of Nineh's sapphire hair." I suppose I should get some sleep. I've detained you long enough ."
" Indeed. You have a long day ahead of you ."
Bowman took her tiny hand and kissed it. " Good night, Nineh."
" Good night, Bowman ."
As they left each other, neither of them noticed the man lurking in the shadows nor the man staring out of the upstairs window of Ganar's house.

" Enjoy your walk, Bowman ?" Julian demanded coldly, looking up from his book as Bowman entered the room.
" Yes, actually ." Bowman sat down on his bed and began removing his boots.
" I was able to obtain--"
" Did Nineh enjoy it ?"
Bowman paused while removing his jacket. " Spying doesn't become you, Jules. I could see you through the window. Besides ," Bowman lay down on the bed, relaxing against the pillows. " You just met her today. I don't know what you're getting all upset about. We just happened to run into each other ."
" I saw the way you looked at each other. Are you meeting her for a midnight rendevous ?!"
" Hmph. For someone infatuated with a girl they've just met, you obviously don't think very highly of her morals ."
" She's a very young, innocent girl. Someone you could take advantage of--"
" Damnit Julian !" Bowman shot up. " I don't take advantage of innocent, 18 year old girls! You're my friend, I figured you'd give me a little more credit than that !" He slumped back down on the bed,closing his eyes. " You should be focusing the disease, not some girl ."
" Heed your own advice ." Julian mumbled.


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