“I think that went about as well as it could,” Heppa tells her cousin after the fight is over.
“Particularly for us,” Tric agrees. Everyone on the raft saw the great job he and Heppa did against the initial naga force. There will be stories told about them, he is sure.
“What about the nagas in the water?” Heppa asks.
“What about them?”
Nagas seem to be sort of people-like, as far as Heppa has observed. They have armor and some serious weaponry. While she certainly wanted to defeat them, she does not actually want to have killed them. Given that they seem to be water creatures, she is hoping that they will not have drowned. “Because they’re alive, maybe, and we’re not murderers.”
“No, we’re mercenaries,” Tric says, but he agrees to help her.
They wade through the reeds searching, and Heppa quietly admits, “And I’ve never seen a naga! I’ve never been able to examine one for treatment.”
Tric gives a laugh. “Oh, that’s what this is about then?”
There is no sign of the nagas around where they were hiding earlier. Tric makes his way downstream, continuing to search for evidence of their passing. Heppa does not go too far north herself because she needs to be on hand to treat the injured humans when the raft lands. As she slogs through reeds at the river’s edge, she sets her foot down on a slippery mound. Suddenly mud comes shooting up at her. Heppa stumbles back with a startled exclamation and then trips, landing heavily on the ground, face covered in mud. “Why is everything so hard in the reeds?” she demands as she wipes some off. Discouraged, her curiosity about the nagas evaporates. She is tired from all the magic she tried during the fight and now covered in muck from the mudcrawler nest she just disturbed. Heppa decides she is done for now.
Hepalonia stays seated in a sulk until Henrick calls from the now-landed raft. Worried about moving the injured mage, he asks if they should bring Tomos to her, or whether she can come there to treat him. Heppa hurries over as Henrick’s recruits lead the wagon off the raft and out of the way. Tomos lies on the raft, panting from the pain of his injuries. Heppa opens up his robes and pushes up his blousy undershirt to begin cleaning and stitching the sword blows. She is struck by the similarity of the experience with her first treatment of Kachen. Tomos must be far better fed, though, as Heppa cannot count his ribs. Her poultices begin to numb the pain, and Tomos grows more comfortable. Heppa engages him in some conversation, though it is not the sort that would take a patient’s mind off their injuries; she wants to know about how elvish healing magic feels compared to human healing magic. Hepalonia herself has never been magically healed by a human. Maybe I should get hurt so I can experience it…
Tomos starts to answer, “I have been healed by human healing magic before—”
“Was it the same kind of wound?” Heppa asks.
“No, this is the first naga-induced wound I have ever received,” he tells her.
“And you took it very well,” she compliments him.
“I don’t know that your magic feels any different. I was in a whole lot of pain, and that pretty much blanketed my sensory system. But it is strange that there was no flash of light when you cast your healing on me during the fight.”
“I think that it is strange that there is light,” Heppa tells him. “Why is there light? Does healing magic feel different from other magic that you do, like the fire missiles?”
Tomos cannot answer that; he himself is not capable of healing magic. He learned some things about it during his internship at the House of Light, but he is still only an initiate, which means he can only cast arcane spells. “The Light-based magic, though it draws from the same source as arcane magics do, is not a technique that is taught to low-level students. If I decide to become a white mage after my naming ceremony and year of challenge, then at that point I would be introduced to the secrets of how to perform that magic. I’m just too young and inexperienced to learn that kind of magic right now. It could too easily go awry and end up accidentally hurting somebody instead of healing them.”
Heppa finds it a bit odd that fire magic is somehow considered safer, although maybe that is because it is upfront about how dangerous it can be. Tomos seems adamant about not learning things that are “inappropriate.” What Heppa really needs to find is a human mage without that hang up. Then she could see whether they could learn to do primal magic. Kachen, although appropriately inclined, is so saturated with dapper inkcap that any potential connection he could have to the fae would be blocked, unfortunately. Maybe if we can solve his other problems… or if I can get someone to teach me this arcane magic. From everything she has heard, though, that takes a long time to learn. Ten years is not much of an elf’s life as far as percentage goes, but it is still an awfully big commitment from Heppa’s perspective.
“Casting is different for elves,” Heppa tells Tomos. “We don’t have those flashes of light. I still don’t understand where that comes from.” With the fire missiles, it seems like the light becomes the ball of energy. “What about other spells? Do you know any? Do they have light?”
“There is always a flash of some sort, in my experience,” Tomos tells her. “Magic is not the work of darkness and shadows. There is no need to hide what you are doing.” The young mage sounds like he believes what he is saying, but this pronouncement has the feel of quoted material to Heppa. He seems to have taken the lessons of the magisterium to heart.