We moved back home with Themis, who got his own cot in the bedroom. I had flat-out refused to share mine, which had sparked a round of arguing with mom. Dad had a quick private word with her though, and all was well. My suspicious nature was back though – dad was big on sharing, why wouldn’t he insist that I also share? Artemis swung by, making sure I was ok, and I mentioned that tomorrow I was going to try and restore most of my scarring.
I woke up the next day to an absolute mountain of food being hauled inside by Artemis.
“What? Artemis? Why are you here? What’s all this for?” I yawned, rubbing the sleep out of my eyes. Artemis grinned cheekily at me.
“Morning sleepyhead! You’d wake up half-eaten if you were in the wilderness. As for all this,” She emphasized by throwing another large fish on top of the week’s supply of food. I scanned it quickly. No mangos. Drat. “is for you while you’re healing. Magic is magic, but most people don’t realize how much mana, and Light-based restoration, comes from you. Why do you think I eat so much when I’m in town? They make me drain all of my mana out to be let in, restoring it all is hungry work.”
So much made sense with that. I hadn’t ever really strained my mana before – not in the way I was about to. Would also explain why I had been so ravenous when recuperating, and why I wasn’t able to just get up and walk away the day after I was declared “healed”.
“Alright healy-bug. Want some advice on how to tackle this?” I nodded, trying not to show how eager I was for Artemis’s advice, how I’d drink every word up.
“You’ve probably thought of how it’ll go, and you’re probably better at healing knowledge than I am at this point. So, I’ll stick to the other stuff. You’ll want [Privacy] up, because if you know nobody can see you, you’ll be able to focus better. I know it’s tempting to heal as much as you can, then wait for your mana to restore, but trust me – you want full mana before each session, in case there’s a problem. Lastly, I know you want to do this alone, but you should have someone nearby incase of a problem. I recommend your mom.” I nodded, made sense. I grabbed Artemis’s arm as everyone else was walking out of the bedroom. “Can it be you?”
“Can you stick with me while I do this?” I shot Artemis my best sleepy puppy-dog eyes.
“Would you Artemis?” Mom suddenly jumped into the conversation, grabbing some food off the table. “I have so much to do today, it would be a huge load off my mind if I knew you were here.” Artemis nodded, “Sure! It’s my last day here anyways, would love to spend it with healy-bug. Be nice to leave seeing her new face!” A whirlwind of getting ready, and mom left on her mysterious errands, dad taking Themis with him to work. He seemed to have an idea in mind to teach Themis how to be a guard, which was a much better life than a slave. We cleared a large section of the living room space – this was going to get messy, and I wanted cleanup to be easier.
As everyone left, Artemis suddenly picked me up and twirled me around, her face buried in my shoulder. It felt somewhat wet as I was put back down, with Artemis having her trademark smirk on her face.
“Alright butterface, ready to get started?” I opened my mouth in outrage, only to close it later. Butterface. I’ll show her. I’ll have the prettiest damn face by the time I was done.
I started off by throwing up [Privacy] around us. [Deaden Pain] on, and felt all of my pain fade away. I was going to do this properly; I wasn’t going to just jump into it like my last attempt. [Centered Mind] to help me focus, and [Medicine] to think about exactly what I was doing and how. The better the image I had, the less my skills needed to fill in the gaps, the more efficient and powerful my healing was. So, I focused. Bones and bone marrow. Joints and ligaments. Tendons and muscles, nerves and blood vessels. Skin wrapping it all around. Three bones, a connection back to the rest of me. The knife I’d gotten from dad, [Surgeon’s Scalpel] applied to give it a proper cutting edge. I breathed in, breathed out. Breathed in. The pain from last time I had tried flashing through my mind.
“Hey Artemis” I started, hesitantly. “Could you do this part?”
Artemis looked at me, eyebrows up, lips a thin line. “No. Don’t get me wrong, there’s almost nothing I won’t do for my little healy-bug, but I’m not mutilating my friend’s kid. No way. Nuh-un. I cause harm to someone, it’s for a reason, it’s to be permanent. I’m not like you healer types that can mutilate others ‘for their own good’. Sorry Elaine, this is on you.”
Fine. I slowly, carefully slid the knife down on my finger, separating it. There was no pain, not even a far-off sensation of pain. Just – my hand now had four fingers. I kept the image I had in mind as blood started to spurt out of the wound. [Detailed Restoration]. A beautifully functional finger reappeared, elegant, as clean and clear as the day I was born. I breathed in, breathed out, checking my mana. [1978/2120]. With my regeneration so high, I’d get it back in a few minutes.
Artemis shoved some food in my hands. “Here. Eat. Gotta do it now, and do it between every session. You’d be surprised how fast it creeps up on you otherwise.” I took a few nibbles, feeling full.
“Do you have a [Rapid Digestion] skill or something?” I asked suspiciously, thinking how much food she could eat in a single sitting, and putting some pieces of the puzzle together.
“Nope! Just practice!” Artemis informed me cheerily. “Also, work on your speed between the removal and the restoration. You don’t want to lose too much blood. It’s part of why I wanted Julia around.”
Artemis snorted. “Of course I knew, what you think we have secrets from each other? Secrets from you oh yes, we have plenty.”
That was no good. Time to try and get information out from Artemis.
“Secrets, secrets, they’re no fun,
unless they’re shared with everyone!”
I sang out, trying to extract the juicy gossip from Artemis.
Artemis stuck her tongue out at me. “My secrets, not yours. Ready to go again?”
I took a deep breath. “Ready.”
Like this we passed the day, sculpting my body, removing the scars and fused flesh, restoring myself to whole.
We ended with my face, and that was the strangest sensation. Just having a gaping hole, however temporary, where I used to have cheeks and nose, was a deeply disconcerting experience.
“Oh my!” Artemis said, faux-fancy “An angel has descended! What divine knowledge are you imparting upon us mortals, oh blessed one?”
I stuck my tongue out and threw a fish bone at her. That’ll show her. “Butterface” indeed.
Alright, time to turn notifications back on.
[*Ding!* Congratulations! [Detailed Restoration] has reached level 19!]
[*Ding!* Congratulations! [Detailed Restoration] has reached level 20!]
[*Ding!* Congratulations! [Detailed Restoration] has reached level 45!]
[*Ding!* Congratulations! [Medicine] has reached level 97!]
[*Ding!* Congratulations! [Medicine] has reached level 98!]
[*Ding!* Congratulations! [Healing Aura] has reached level 92!]
[*Ding!* Congratulations! [Centered Mind] has reached level 92!]
[*Ding!* Congratulations! [Deaden Pain] has reached level 19!]
[*Ding!* Congratulations! [Deaden Pain] has reached level 20!]
[*Ding!* Congratulations! [Deaden Pain] has reached level 42!]
[*Ding!* Congratulations! [Tissue Removal] has reached level 77!]
[*Ding!* Congratulations! [Tissue Removal] has reached level 78!]
[*Ding!* Congratulations! [Tissue Removal] has reached level 81!]
[*Ding!* Congratulations! [Pretty] has reached level 91!]
[*Ding!* Congratulations! [Pretty] has reached level 92!]
[*Ding!* Congratulations! [Pretty] has reached level 93!]
[*Ding!* Congratulations! [Learning] has reached level 91!]
[*Ding!* Congratulations! [Shadow Healer] has leveled up to level 81! +1 Free Stat, +3 Mana Regen, +2 Magic power, +2 Magic Control from your Class! +1 Free Stat for being Human! +1 Mana from your Element!]
[*Ding!* Congratulations! [Light of Hope] has leveled up to level 105! +1 Mana, +3 Mana Regen, +1 Magic power, +5 Magic Control from your Class! +1 Free Stat for being Human! +1 Mana Regen from your Element!]
[*Ding!* Congratulations! [Dark Affinity] has reached level 81!]
[*Ding!* Congratulations! [Light Affinity] has reached level 105!]
I excitedly shared my hard-won gains with Artemis, who looked thoughtful.
“You know, at this rate of leveling, it might be worth throwing you into another fire…”
I had lots of fishbone ammo to throw.
After a few minutes of pelting Artemis with food scraps – and her retaliating in kind – she had a question for me.
“You know healy-bug, as awful as the whole fire mess was, you did get a ton of levels out of it. Have you considered doing more ‘carve and replace’ now and then to get some levels?”
I looked at her sideways. She was picking out scraps of food from her tunic, but otherwise looked serious.
“I mean, no. I just got the skill, so I hadn’t thought of it.” I spent half a moment thinking about it – Artemis’s ideas always had merit. “I’m pretty sure I’m not going to. One, it’s no fun. Two, it’d cost me a fortune in food. Most importantly is three – it’d violate my Oath.” I answered.
“Fair enough.” Artemis said, looking down at her somewhat cleaned tunic. I stifled a giggle as I saw a bone carefully stuck in her hair.
That’d been a good shot.