“Thank you so much. This is such a great opportunity to learn about magic and physiology and medicine!” Hepalonia tells Rhaessa. As they continue talking, Heppa finds that there is a real difference in the vocabulary of magic between their two peoples. Magic is a part of elves, something innate that practice merely uncovers. For humans, though, magic is more like a philosophy or science that they learn from books, as Heppa’s father has indicated to her before.
The way Rhaessa speaks of magic, it is a study. Just as one might learn to build a bridge, one can learn to access these energies. “Before you learn your first spell, before you even touch a wand, there is much book learning. You absolutely must learn to read first, then there is a bunch of reading and tests. And before you can throw your first little set of fire missiles, you have to review the magic safety protocols.” Heppa is surprised that they would start with fire. Coming from the forest as she does, the destructive nature of that element is a real problem. Sorceress do learn to master faerie fire, but that is different from the flames of a campfire. “Fire missile is one of the basic spells,” Rhaessa confirms.
That is interesting to hear. Heppa is pretty sure that is what Kachen cast on the hog when they were experimenting with the staff. She files that away to ask about later. She is sure there will be plenty of time after this whole healing experience. And in the worst case, she can find some other mage to ask later, perhaps one of the ones in red robes who are interested in theory like she is. For right now, though, she is focused on healing magic, which she has personal experience casting. It seems the best avenue for determining whether elvish and human magics really do come from the same source.
A patient comes in with a nasty gash, clearly someone from a duel that went poorly. Since the injury is rather serious, Rhaessa uses magic right away. When she casts her healing spell, there is an actual glow of light and a sound, like some sort of strange chime or gong. Heppa is startled, as that never happens when elves use their healing magic. Shamans accelerate natural healing processes, but there is no accompanying show. Either this human is interacting with magic in a different way or she incorporates some extra bells and whistles to fit the theme of the House of Light. Maybe it is a requirement for her to belong to their group. It could be some sort of secret of the order, so Heppa holds her tongue for a moment, not wanting to bring it up in front of the patient. As soon as he is gone, though, Hepalonia asks if the light is how Rhaessa was taught to heal and explains that she has never seen healing magic use light before, not among elves.
“Well, that is a difference between elvish magic and human magic then, I suppose, as it is the light itself that heals. That is the essence of the magic being concentrated into the injury.”
“So is it only with healing magic that you can see the light?” Heppa asks.
“The light we can summon also repels dark magics and dark energies. The light is a visible manifestation of the magic.”
“If I were to observe a mage who wears a red robe, would they also have light? Is it inherent in human magic?”
“The red mages have not spent their time learning these aspects of magic. Many of them are obsessed with minutiae and obscure applications of metaphysics.” Rhaessa sighs, and there is a hint of exasperation in it, not directed at Heppa, but at her fellow mages. Those mages are probably interested in magical theory, which does not sound bad at all to Hepalonia. Rhaessa, though, is very focused on the practical applications of how she can use magic to help people. She believes in a purity of purpose, something foreign to the restless Heppa.
“It is a shame that so many spend their time that way,” Rhaessa continues, “but also a danger. The more time mages spend bent over their books and separate from the actual human suffering around them, the more they grow detached from what is of true value. There is real danger buried in that.”
The next few visitors to the tent are treated through more mundane means, like ointments, joint ache creams, muscle relaxants, and such. Heppa asks questions about ingredients and formulations and learns enough that she will be able to produce some painkiller ointment if she and Tric Manu can find the proper herbs in the wild. They will require some preparation, but they are far more common than the springy horsetail and dwarvish fly mushrooms.
Hepalonia asks to try her own healing magic on the next patient that comes in, and the white mage agrees. Rhaessa infers from their conversation, though, that the elf is really more interested in the theory than the application, which is disappointing. And indeed, as Hepalonia works on the patient, her bedside manner is sorely lacking. Rhaessa realizes that Heppa’s curiosity really is not about how she might better serve injured people, but about how various aspects of magic work. The elf had stated that to some extent, but still, Rhaessa had assumed someone volunteering in a healing tent would be more empathetic. But no, healing is just a means to that end for the elf; the care of these patients is of secondary concern. It is as if the patients were just test subjects of some kind. Perhaps the elf even views humans that way, in general, with non-magical healing just a way to learn more about their physiology. Heppa has more in common with bookish red mages than she does with Rhaessa.
The next patient has a serious injury and is groaning about how fast Ulf was. Hepalonia looks at the slash and brightly tells the woman, “This might be a bit beyond my ability, but I’ll give it a try!” The woman’s eyes go wide, and Heppa assures her, “If this doesn’t work, I understand medicine as well.” Heppa focuses on the gash, drawing fae energies forth to encourage the body’s natural healing abilities. It is exhausting work, and she is pleased with her success, but she only manages to stop the bleeding, not actually knit the flesh. “I don’t practice very much,” she tells the patient, then reaches into her pouch for her herbal poultices. She smears some across the injury and then wraps the whole site with bandages.
“You see, that’s the problem with this elvish ‘natural’ magic. It just can’t focus like proper magic does.”
Heppa turns to see where this sonorous new voice has come from. Standing with Rhaessa now is a new human, a middle-aged man with olive skin and dark hair, atop which sits an elaborate hat. He has a full beard showing signs of going gray and wears fancier white robes than Rhaessa. The younger woman introduces Hepalonia to her superior, Sethoic. Heppa has had more of an audience from Alduin than she had realized. Rhaessa apologizes that she must send Heppa on her way since Sethoic requires her full attention for an update on how her work has been going.
Hepalonia smiles in gratitude and thanks Rhaessa for the experience. She has learned so much, and she does not want to miss the joust, so she is not disappointed to be dismissed. Heppa cheerfully leaves the Tent of Light to go track down her cousin.