All at once, my ears pop and my eyes don’t feel like exploding. A single point appears in my Energy bar.
Come to think of it, last time I ran out, I was mostly unconscious… maybe that horrible experience is just a side effect of running out of Energy?
I don’t really want to experiment…
But I will… later.
I immediately become aware of somebody stroking my hair, which, in many situations would have been pleasant and reassuring.
The knowledge that it is not my cathid (as it lacks arms), and that the cathid is the only sentient being I would be remotely ok with doing that, is not.
I open my eyes to see a nice patch of grass next to my face.
Oddly, I don’t see remnants of my stomach contents lying around… so maybe I just thought I threw up? I honestly wouldn’t be able to tell. Sure, it felt like it, but I also felt like I was dying, and I’m still here. In hell, as Dean would call it.
I start to sit up, and the petting stops.
“Easy, friend. You were pretty bad off not too long ago. Take it slow, drink.” A strange voice, not one I recognize, but the clay cup of water in front of my face is far more important. I take it and drink greedily, the earthy taste of the clay making the water a bit less good, but still amazing. The clay is soft, unfired in my hand, which is expected. Having the time to fire the clay would be rather amazing, considering how little time there’s been for such things. I’m just glad to have a cup.
“Thanks,” I sigh after finishing the contents and turning to my benefactor “I really needed that.”
Rav sits beside me, looking happy beyond words. The broken, decrepit, reject of a man has been transformed in a matter of one comatose semi-nap. Every bit of him that once screamed ‘failure’ now radiates calm collection. It’s actually a bit jarring.
“Rav. You’re looking well.” why was he stroking my head.
“And you, much better, my friend.” he waves his hand, the new one “Worry not about the mess, I was happy to take care of it.”
Lovely. Well, nothing ever goes according to plan, so why shouldn’t I garnish my ‘heroic healing’ with a healthy dose of ‘drunk at a frat party’. Way to inspire confidence.
I grimace slightly “Thanks for that too. I… didn’t expect that. I’d never done healing of that calibre before…” I trailed off, not really knowing what more to say.
Oh. “How long was I out?”
“Only a short while. Very short when you consider what miracles you wrought”
Rav’s face widens with a smile. “I must show you the fruit of your labors, intense as they were. I’m certain it will cheer you.” Still radiating happiness, Rav pulls back his sleeve to the elbow and holds his new hand out for me to examine.
And what a hand it is…
Massive color difference, brown to pure white, like bone. Then the hand itself, more like a claw than a human hand… Much of the musculature looks malformed or extraneous… and the fingertips end early. I… must have run out of Energy by the end and… mmm.
Left off a bit.
In any case, Rav doesn’t seem troubled by it. Quite the opposite, in fact. I can only imagine how low he must have felt for that mockery of a body part to bring him such joy.
I genuinely feel bad for him.
“But that isn’t the half of it,” he begins, glowing with pride, “watch.” He pivots his arm away from me, toward an empty stretch of grass.
For a moment, nothing happens, and the stillness worries me. His face never wavers from confident pride, and that reassures me until his hand glows with a soft blue light. The ball of light launches out from his hand, glowing even more intensely as it flies through the air, before finally fizzling into nothing some distance away.
I close my mouth, having opened it at some point without realizing it. Energy is cool, but I can’t shoot balls of light out of my hand… and that is way cooler than I imagined it.
I’m filled with the a childlike giddiness seeing *actual* magic. Magic!
“That… that’s incredible” I breathe, not knowing what else to say.
Rav, the picture of self satisfaction, merely smiles in response.
“How do you do that?” Honestly, more than anything, I want that power.
“How do you heal wounds, friend?” Oh. Umm.
“I… could try to explain it, but I know it wouldn’t make sense. There’s a special resource bar and stat for it… and I’m not sure you could use it if you don’t have it already.” I shrug, helplessly.
Rav looks thoughtful for a moment.
“Truly? A stat as well? Remarkable. As I’m sure you expect, casting requires Mana, which is its own, as you said, ‘resource bar’. To be truly honest, I do not know what makes up ‘normal stats’, so I could not tell you if I had one you did not. Suffice to say, I believe we each have some amount of arcane knowledge, and neither of us would be well served by focussing on the specialty of another. Honing our own skills will bring far better results, I think.” He smiles sadly at me.
And fuck me if he isn’t right. My greed got away from me a bit… I *will* learn that ability, though. If this magic system is anything like the magic systems in other games, the utility alone demands it. Lighting a fire with a snap? Summoning golems? Knocking things away with a wave of force? There’s so much there!
But, he’s right.
Magic wasn’t what I chose to learn when I started, and honestly, it’s better that I learned Energy. There are already so many unanswered questions and experiments to be done, if I end up trying to do too much at once, I’ll just be shit at everything. Lots of utility maybe, but no power to back it up. A bag of tricks only works for so long, but true ability can be adapted to answer many questions.
Rav takes note of my introspection and offers a few more words.
“However, you gave me a monumental gift this day, so I offer you one as well. Whatever you would ask of me, I will do my best to fulfill. I do not wish to sway what you ask, or guide you from what you want, but I feel it would be wrong not to tell you. A major part of using Mana, or magic at all, involves the Mana channels that run through the body. These channels can form in a great many ways, but the most simple is to have them created for you by a caster. By me. But- my friend, do not get so excited so quickly, because this process will certainly kill you if you do not have a fortunate gift for the arcane already. That, and the one who performs the process must make a sacrifice. For you, I have no reservations about the latter, but the former… I bid you be cautious. I would be unable to carry on if I rewarded your selflessness with a poison gift.”
His steady words echo through my head, and I am strangely inclined to believe what he’s said. Honestly, I should have asked my mentor *many* more questions before the session ended… and I know I didn’t because I was too scared, off-balance, and overloaded to do much of anything reasonable. I acted like a fucking child, screaming and crying… and just because it was reasonable doesn’t mean it’s forgivable. Idiot.
Though my senseless blundering about (regarding Energy) has been sufficient so far, I know the latest in my exploits was only possible due to unforeseeable bullshit and blind luck, and I have a feeling that further accomplishments are going to be much more taxing to achieve.
I have no qualms with taking his gift, except the part where he seems really fixed on this ‘danger’ associated with the process. Normally I would shrug off such musings and, assured that I am both chosen by fate and invulnerable, gone to my death. But right now, having just recovered from overtaxing myself to the point of senselessness, I am not so convinced. Rav doesn’t seem like he’s trying to scare me off, I think he genuinely hates the idea of killing me by accident, which is more than a little heartwarming. Honestly, I’m sure in my past life I would have disliked his constant use of ‘friend’ in his language, but now I find it endearing. He might be the first person (other than Nate, but I think there’s definitely an agenda there) to treat me genuinely well. Lauren would probably have rather stabbed me than spoken the words she did if we had been alone, Dean was… curt. Not friendly at all.
The cathid was… well, it’s not human so it doesn’t count. I like him (I think it’s male…), but I also *literally* Dominated it a little… which is not what I would call ‘willing’ or ‘genuine’. Mmm… It’s a gray area.
I have no reason to think I would be particularly gifted when it comes to the arcane, other than my general desire to *learn and experiment with it forever*. I doubt that’s enough. I could probably heal myself the whole time using Energy to ensure I don’t die, but… what if it wasn’t enough?
“I also believe that, as my control over my abilities grows, so too will the safety of the process. My advice is patience, but I will respect whatever you decide.”
Rav’s intuition regarding my internal struggle is pleasant. He makes it feel less like filling a silence he considers awkward and unfortunate and more like he understands the difficulty of rejecting, even temporarily, something as undeniably great as magic.
“You’re wise far beyond me, Rav. I am sorely tempted by your offer, but I’ll resist until you believe it is reasonably safe. Obviously, my abilities make me more resilient than an average person, but…
Well, frankly I don’t want to die.” I chuckle lightly at the end, trying to make it more of a joke. People don’t like morbid talk about death. Jokes make things more palatable.
“As you say, my friend.” Rav replies, with a nod.