Sender: Hive\Wonambi\Scrymail\Admin\Arbel\17\He
Recipient: Hive\Wonambi\Chloe\70\She
Sent: 5 minutes ago
Subject: Welcome to Scrymail, new user

Congratulations on selecting Scrymail for your magical communications needs. Don't hesitate to let me know if you have any questions or comments.

In darkness,
Arbel He, Scrymail admin team

"So any mage can send a message to any other mage in the hive. In mere minutes," I said, overawed by the concept and still not quite believing what I was seeing.

"To any hive, actually. And it only takes a few seconds," Skids said, looking appropriately smug. "You could have read this five minutes sooner if you hadn't got your fingers so sticky with ice-cream. When we get you your own scryer you can get it as sticky as you like, but not mine."

"You said that already." I looked back at Skids' scryer to reread the message, particularly the 'recipient' part. "I'm not sure about going by 'Chloe She'. Can I change that later?"

"Sure, it's just simpler for now since that's the name we gave the clinic. But you don't have to keep 'Chloe' if something else suits you better."

"Or the 'she', right? That means 'seer' here, and I have no idea whether I'm one of those."

"For sure, you're not locked into anything. I think you'd fit well as a seer, but it's up to you to find your place. Now, speaking of the clinic in Yiwarra, you'd better read your next message."

Sender: Hive\Yiwarra\FuzzyBatMedicalClinic\Accounts\Tendu\32\Ra
Recipient: Hive\Wonambi\Chloe\70\She
Sent: 2 minutes ago
Subject: Your scan results and favours outstanding

Chloe She,
I am Tendu Ra, a patient accounts manager at the Fuzzy Bat medical clinic in Yiwarra Hive, where you were recently a patient. I am sending you the full results of your medical scans, which you were unable to collect in person. I recommend you forward them to your choice of carer.

In summary, our magical resonance imager showed some unusually high levels of brain activity, centred around regions of anomalous aetheric flow. The cause of this is unknown as it is beyond our equipment's level of resolvable detail. That is to say that if there is anything out of place in your brain, it is far too small for us to see. A similar phenomenon is present in your left hand. A tissue sample from your wound does not show a biological infestation commensurate with the observed and reported levels of inflammation. Low levels of extremely fine particulate metals were detected in the sample. Much lower levels of these particles were also present in your blood sample. The particles are too small to be mechanically filtered, but their metallic nature allows for magical filtering. I recommend additional tests of blood and tissue samples to determine whether the levels are rising, falling, or static. Removal of these particles may be necessary if your symptoms persist.

I have been informed that the outstanding favours guaranteed to the clinic by your associate Skids Dro have reverted back to you. The clinic indirectly owes some favours to a research group in Ganayanda Hive, who are looking for paid volunteers for a project. A researcher named Blink He will contact you shortly. Participating in this project would settle your account with us. If you would prefer not to participate other options are available, but the project is an exciting opportunity and is a good option if you do not have employment readily available. I'll let Blink He explain the details to you.

Hoping this message finds you in better health,
Tendu Ra, Fuzzy Bat Clinic

"Well rall won't be taking any more samples from your hand," Skids said, either missing or ignoring the horrified expression I was certainly making.

"My brain," I said, very quietly. "There's aether in my brain. Is that from the ABAMs? Did that mess up my brain somehow? Every time I was near one, I passed out," I realised in dawning horror. What had the magic done to me?

"Hey, hey, Charity, don't run off into the shadows like that."

"Huh?" I was more confused than comforted, but either way it helped.

"Whatever was happening to you started before we met, remember? And I think there's meant to be aether in our brains," dro said, sounding a little uncertain. "Something might have messed yours up a bit, but the ABAMs never did anything to my brain."

"Debatable," I said, finding a sliver of humour.

Skids poked me in the shoulder. The right one, where I couldn't see it coming. "Point taken, but I never blacked out like you did. Something else caused this. I don't suppose you've been eating metal dust? Paint flakes?"

"Not that I'm aware of," I said, half shrugging. "I think I need more ice-cream after that."

"Don't have too much, or you'll get a brain freeze."

"Maybe that's just what I need."

"Trust me, it's not as fun as it sounds. But you should probably read the message from Blink He first."

I nodded slowly and tapped on Skids' scryer. "I suppose. It can't be any worse than what I just read."

A note from Crash Snowdon

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Crash Snowdon


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