Moving through the night was a curious experience. My low-light vision allowed me to see the world in different way, as if I was looking through silvery-blue glasses, maybe due to my affinity for Ice-Magic, so the darkness was not an impediment for me. The others were not as lucky but Adra had created a small orb that was shedding amber light, carrying it at the top of her spear.
As we walked through the night, Rai walked next to me and spoke up.
“Master, what did you try to do back there?” he asked and I noticed that Adra was paying close attention as well. After considering for a moment, I decided that either of them might have a good idea how to enhance the technique further, so I started talking.
“I think I told you that the Grandmother gave me an idea in which I could develop my magic.” I began and both of them nodded, so I continued.
“You might have seen me use Blood Runes on myself, strengthening my physical abilities. That way, I can bridge the gap between my own, weaker, body and people like Sigmir and Adra. They remain physically more capable, especially Sigmir, but the gap no longer as pronounced.” I continued and now Adra was nodding in understanding.
“I know what you mean, but that ability places a huge burden on your body, doesn’t it? I remember you keeling over after sparring with me.” she said, looking pensive.
“Indeed. And, to be honest, I don’t think what I just tried out would work well with those kind of runes. But the Grandmother suggested that I might be able to carve the runes directly into my flesh, using Blood Magic to directly link them into my Astral Power. Well, I wasn’t about to try carving the runes into my flesh without at least understanding what I was doing and those Centaurs graciously volunteered to help me understand.” I explained with a bit of a grin, causing Sigmir and Adra to shake their heads at my candid tone.
“So they weren’t a patrol?” Adra asked, sounding a little tired.
“Depends on your definition of patrol, I guess. If they’d seen us and been asked, they would have reported what they’d seen. Maybe even without being asked, just because of the fact that such a mixed group as ours should be rare.” I told her, making her roll her eyes at my sophistry.
“It doesn’t matter, really. The Centaurs were our enemies and if Morgana learned something new, all is well, isn’t it?” Sigmir spoke up, causing Adra to roll her eyes even harder, making me worry that she might snap something inside her head, causing her eyes to completely flip.
“Anyway, I had a few ideas to conceal myself from long-ranged magical attacks, magical scrying and divination but, as I said, I wasn’t about to try those ideas on my own flesh and certainly not on one of you. You saw what happened when I made a mistake, that’s no laughing matter. We are talking about serious interference with your bodies magical makeup.” I brought my explanation back to the experiments and noticed that Rai looked very interested.
“But it did work, didn’t it, Master? That Traveller-Centaur, you killed him with your blade after observing for some time.” Rai asked, sounding almost eager.
“Well, it kind-of did work. But that’s where the problem with working on involuntary test-subjects comes in, I’m not quite sure how well it worked. I know that he was concealed, Lenore and I tried a few simple ways and even her special sight was obscured. Sadly, we didn’t have the time to set up a full scrying-set-up or experiment with the influence that distance has one the process, so the overall effect is a little questionable.” I paused for a moment, before continuing, noticing that Rai looked truly interested now.
“But the price? I’m not quite sure. The senses I’d use to assess the efficiency and the centaur’s general state are the same that he was concealed from and I doubt that he’d read his status to me, even if I wanted to let him live.” I told the others and Adra nodded in understanding.
“Hm, I think I see the problem. Any idea how to overcome it?” she asked, having pushed all ethical considerations aside for the study of interesting magic.
“In a way, yes. My own magic-senses are based on smell and taste, allowing me to circumvent some of the concealment but they suffer from a lack of, let’s call it resolution. I can find even small amounts of specific types of magic but to quantify the magic in someone or contrasting the different concentrations is more difficult.” I thought for a good comparison before deciding to use the obvious one.
“Think of it similar to spice. It is relatively easy to determine if a pot of stew has pepper or salt in it, but quantifying just how much salt went into the pot, that is a lot harder. Similarly, it’s not easy to quantify just how much Astral Power the formation drained from the centaur, to say nothing of predicting how much it would drain from me.”
“There are simply too many possible factors, overall-power could be one, especially if the formation just takes a flat amount, not a percentage of your power. Or maybe it depends on your affinities, either with Blood Magic or with the magic of the formation I carved, or maybe it depends on both. In the same manner, skill in either of the magics could make the formation more efficient. I just don’t know.” I admitted, ranting a little towards the end.
“So, what did you learn?” Adra asked, curious.
“Well, I did find out that, if I place two formations too close together, the Astral Power turns chaotic and rather explosive. The distance seems to be dependant on the complexity of the formation and the elements contained within. Curiously, if two conflicting formations are linked up into a larger formation, it seems to reduce the disturbance, allowing them to co-exist.” I listed, causing her to nod, as she tried to form a working model to explain my observations,.
“Oh, and if I drain the Astral Power to heal a wound directly from the person, I might be able to torture them for days, if I truly want to.” I added, almost as an afterthought, causing her to raise an eyebrow.
“I needed to determine just how far the disturbance reached, so I drained a small amount of Astral Power before channelling it back into the wound, closing it and smoothing the flow of power back out.” I explained, realising something interesting.
“But what happened to the Miasma? Wouldn’t it get sealed back into the body? Similarly to the way I sealed it into the bodies of the centaurs I turned into zombie-bombs?” I muttered under my breath, sharing my ideas with Lenore.
“It is similar, yes. What do you think, could we keep someone alive long enough to slowly replace their whole blood-essence with Miasma, maybe even linking the Miasma with my own Death-Magic? They should be quite compatible, shouldn’t they?” Lenore asked, using our direct link.
“Sounds like a worthwhile experiment, especially if we want someone to die in the most pain we can inflict. Or if we need to defile some area, saturating it with Miasma, I think that would work quite well. Why should only we have trouble with Nethersprites, just because I use one of my abilities, we can share the joy.” I snickered, causing Lenore to caw in amusement.
“I’m not sure I want to know what you are talking about.” Adra admitted, looking a little disturbed.
“Oh, just a curious idea that I want to try out at some point.” answered, trying to banish the smile from my face but the idea was quite good, especially if there truly was a synergy-effect with Lenore’s Death-Magic.
“Master, would you consider carving formations into me?” Rai asked, sounding quite serious and determined.
His question didn’t surprise me, his interest had been quite obvious but sadly, the answer was not.
“Consider? Yes, I will. But it will take some time to consider. I will definitely not use you as an experimental subject, that would be just wrong. I gave my word to guide you, to teach you. Not kill or cripple your due to my carelessness.” I told him, trying to sound stern to put the topic to rest without discussion.
“Once I have managed to make the formation work on myself, we can talk about it again, not before. Remember, if I die due to a mistake, it is only my connection to this world that is temporarily disrupted and I will return two days later, even if the place I return to might be a little distant. But that is something I can take into account, before experimenting.” I continued and got an affirmative nod from Rai and a look of relief from Adra who, quite obviously, was a little afraid what would happen to her dear friend if I made a mistake.