When the wind picks up around him, causing movement to the whole of the forest, Sen pauses in his training and lowers his sword. The black kitten, which had been sleeping peacefully on the log, startles awake. Sen watches as it hops down and darts off in the same direction Livia had gone nearly an hour ago with a sad mewl. He sheaths his sword and follows after the kit with a troubled frown.
They pass the same stream that he caught the fish in earlier in the morning and turn east. The cat navigates the landscape of the forest with confidence, its small pink nose to the air as it sniffs out Livia’s scent. Eventually, they make it to a waterfall and the kitten circles around Livia’s forgotten bags at the shore.
Sen quickly scans the rippling lake, but Livia is no were to be seen. Then he spots bandages tinted in red floating above the lake surface. Without wasting a second, Sen rushes into the clear blue lake and dives under the water. He inspects the underwater landscape with eyes wide open, but he does not spot a glimpse of unmistakable purple hair.
Silently cursing in his head, he swims to the surface and trudges back to the shore. He snatches up Livia discarded clothes, ignoring the kitten hissing at his wet form, and sniffs them delicately. Her scent is strong on them, but when he raises his nose to the air, he barely catches wind of it.
What little of it was still in the air, was enough though. He stalks to a specific spot on the shore, where Livia’s scent is the strongest (diluted as it was), and he growls when he picks up another, much stronger scent.
The black kit trots up to him and meows curiously, tilting his head. Sen grunts in reply before he plucks it up so it can curl around his neck before he takes off in a sudden and inhumane burst of speed. He disappears into the Crocus forest.
An adolescent boy, no older than fifteen or sixteen, sits at a wooden table while reading over an old scroll. Besides the scroll is a single sheet of parchment in which he jots down notes. He tiredly rubs his hazel eyes and blinks slowly at the densely packed text on the scroll, the words starting to blur together. He had pulled another all-nighter, and the dark bags under his eyes belays this.
He is just starting to doze off when the door of the stone cottage burst open, and his master strides in with a deathly pale girl in his arms. They are both wet, and water drips down to the wooden panels on the floor. His master drops a basket of herbs and mushrooms at the door before walking forward in a hurried manner.
“Khy, light the fireplace!” His master barks as he settles the girl on the couch closest to the furnace. His master normally careless grin and cheerful disposition are gone. Bright emerald eyes are dull with a seriousness that makes the boy instantly on high alert.
Khy jumps off his stool and shoots a small and rather pitiful ball of fire at the logs. The small ball quickly travels to all the logs, and soon a fire flickers to life and it slowly starts to warm up the room.
Before his master asks, he grabs a thick blanket and hands it over without a word. His master quickly wraps the girl up after casting a drying spell on himself and her. His master gathers his long blond hair and ties it up into a high ponytail with a long string up leather which puts his long-pointed ears on display.
“What happened?” Khy asks, as his master inspects the jagged cut on the girls' arm. It was bloodless, and because of that pink raw flesh was open to the air. Khy stomach turned a little at the sight but he does not budge from his master side, waiting on his next orders.
“I found her at the waterfall,” His master says while carefully healing the cut with practice ease. The skin knits itself back together, coaxed by honey-gold magic until not even a scar remains.
“I was just returning from gathering when I spotted her. She had been floating above the lake, seemingly in some kind of daze or trance. I had not wished to disturb her, so I quietly went back to picking when the wind around me suddenly picked up. A strange magic permitted the air, and the source was back at the waterfall. When I returned, I notice the blood floating above the surface, and dived in without a thought,” His master continues on as he goes on to heal minor cuts and injuries on the shivering girl after he finished up with her swollen ankle.
Khy was tempted to berate his master for peeping on a girl who clearly been in the middle of bathing if her naked state under his master's outer coat was any indication, but he thought it would be in poor taste given the current situation, and decides to bring it up at a more appropriate time.
Khy steps closer, and activates the classification system, making a ring yellow to glow around his iris as he scans over the prone girl. Nothing pops up. No states, levels, or skills.
He deactivates the classification system and says, “Are you sure she did magic? She is not registered.”
“Yes, I know what I felt,” His master responds back instantly, though his thought spin at the new bit of information. It might explain why the girl had ended up in this state, to begin with.
His master casts a charm of warmth over the girl but her lips remain stubbornly blue and she does not stop shivering. Her purple eyebrows were furrowed and her expression was troubled even in deep unconsciousness. His master looks only mildly troubled at this, so Khy also keeps his calm despite being a bit alarmed at seeing one of his master charms supposedly fail.
“She had overestimated her abilities,” His master summaries as he calls his magic to his hand and hovers it above the girls still form.
“Watch carefully, Khy. Another indicator of severe magic depletion beside a drop in temperature, paleness, unconsciousness, and chronic shivering is this.”
They both watch as the honey-gold stream of light is greedily pulled into the girl.
“How do we treat her?” Khy asks, his hand itching for his quill and parchment.
“Through physical touch. The more contact she has with a provider, the faster she will recover,” His master says calmly, and stops the stream of magic. The girls jolt a bit when the magic flowing into her stops and the little color that had been blooming in her face fades away.
“Will she be able to fully recover?” Khy asks.
“Yes, though it will not happen overnight. Now pay attention. I have yet to teach you this, but it's something you can still observe closely,” His master says.
He draws out a complicated, and intricate circle in the air. It shimmers gold, then blue, before finally changing to a muted grey. His master picks up the left hand of the girl and turns it over. The circle falls down, slowly shrinking, before it settles on the delicate skin of a frail wrist. A moment later, the same circle appears on his master's right hand, below the palm of his hand.
His master shows it to him so Khy can analyze it closer. He recognizes a few of the runes, but the patterns in which the circle makeup is nothing he ever has seen before.
“This circle will help me control the flow of magic between me and her, without injuring either of us in the long process. Normally, I would not personally be the volunteer to be the provider, but we have little options at the moment, and fortunate for us, I and this girl are compatible,” His master explains as he entwines his fingers with the girl, and aligns the circle on their wrist. Instantly, it flares gold.
“Is this really okay?” Khy says, worriedly, “I know Master is powerful, but won’t this be a burden on you? If possible, maybe I could-”
“No,” His master says firmly, shaking his head, “I cannot let you do that, Khy. It would compromise you, and you will no longer be at your full power. On top of that, you will be weakened over the course of a few days. It’s a risk you aren’t capable of taking. It's better not to even think about such a thing.”
Khy deflates and looks away, “Right, of course.”
His master smiles at him, “But I do appreciate the thought.”
Khy returns the smile, though a bit sadly.
His master returns his attention to his patient and waves his free hand over the girl, casting a wordless spell, and nods his head in approval, “That should do it. With me steadily replenishing her, she should be on the road to recovering.”
Even though his master had just begun the spell, the results were already starting to show. The girl has finally stopped shivering, and her creased brows relax a color slowly returns to her face.
“Now, I can finally focus on the child.”
Khy had turned away to get another blanket when he stops and does a double-take, “Child!? What child?” His round eyes center on the girl's young face. She couldn’t have been that much older than him! A year older at the most! How could she be with child!?
His master green eyes cut to him in disproval, and he carefully arranges the blanket around the girl to reveal the pale swell of her belly.
“Khy, how many times have I told you to be more observant? Healing isn’t just about finding a bleeding wound and fixing it up. You also must take in the little details, the things some patients might be unwilling and unable to tell you,” His master berates him.
Khy flushes and fiddles with the black choker on his neck, pouting a bit, “Sorry, I had been so surprised by your arrival that I forgot.”
“Mhmm, I’m sure it was the surprise and not the sleep deprivation...” His master says, staring at him from the corner of his eyes.
“Ugh, that not fair! I had a lot of catching up to do. You know I couldn’t visit you for a whole week, and I didn’t want to get too far behind on my studies,” Khy practically whines, crossing his arms huffily.
His master simply sighs and shakes his head at him, “There is no rush. It's better to carefully consume everything I teach you then gobbling it down and glossing over things. At any rate, nighttime studying is now strictly forbidden. Avoiding something as basic as sleep is not an option. Am I understood?”
Khy pout turns into a petulant frown, but he nods in agreement.
“Good, now let's return to the task at hand.”
His master hovers his free hand over her belly, and frowns, “As I thought. It’s the same magic I felt in the forest. And it so densely concentrated here. Protection spells, maybe? They are a bit faded, but still holding firm. I cannot see anything beyond them...”
Khy hovers over them with a frown, “Then how can you check on the child?” And what strange magic is master referring to? Khy thinks to himself.
“The old-fashioned way,” His master says simply, summoning an old enchanted stethoscope. He plugs the instrument in his ears and puts the wide end on the young mothers' belly. He tunes the instrument so it focuses solely on the gestating infant. He listens intently.
Khy watches him in anxious silence, trying to read his master neutral face and failing miserably. He looks from the girl, to his master, then back in, and hopes that everything is fine with her baby.
Khy leans in, “Well? Is everything well with the baby?”
“...I hear a heartbeat,” His master says.
Khy brightens, “That’s great! Then the baby-”
“It is a bit slow. And the child is not moving.”
Khy smile falls, “What? Are you sure?”
“Yes...But, he or she could just be sleeping,” His master says, his voice distracted and far away. He listens a minute longer before he sighs, and removes the stethoscope from the young mother's stomach.
“I cannot say any more than that,” The master says, “We will have to wait for the mother to wake-up to properly check on her child. In the meanwhile, we should make her more comfortable. Go fetch some spare clothes, Khy. I will move her to my room.”
Khy stares sadly down at the sleeping girl a second longer but does as his master orders.
Almost half an hour later, Khy returns to his stool and the scroll to resume his studies. He tries to concentrate on the words, but his thoughts keep drifting back to the girl still in a deep slumber upstairs.
His master was currently looking after her as he was unable to move far from her side without disturbing the flow of magic between them. His master had said he intends to check the status of the baby every few minutes, just to be on the safe side and sent Khy to return to his studies why they wait for the young mother to awaken, but he kept losing focus.
Khy sighs, and muses up his pastel blue hair with his hands as he stares blankly at the scroll below him.
How could he concentrate when things with that girl were still so unfinished? Would she really recover from magic depletion? Was her baby alright? The questions kept circling in his head.
Khy was just about to give up on studying when the door of the cottage burst open for the second time in a single day.
He sees cobalt hair, twitching animal ears, and glowing yellow eyes before he summons swirling blue water that blasts the intruder right back out the door. Khy charges forward with his sword, following after the intruder. He swings down, and sharp black claws block it and sweep out his legs from underneath him. Khy rolls with the fall expertly and slashes his sword the moment he is back on his feet.
He clashes with the intruder, and they fight in front of the cottage fiercely. The whistle of metal and the sharp clang of two sharp objects hitting each other rings out again and again.
Back in the cottage, on the second floor, one of the two figures stirs from the bed. He sluggishly walks towards the window and opens it to peer outside, wondering what all the noise was about. His green eyes widen when he sees two familiar faces going at each other, and he calls down to them.
“Oi, you two! Knock it off! Some people are trying to sleep!” He yells.
Khy startles at hearings his master voice. He looks up and gets a foot planted in his stomach for his distraction. He grunts and falls to the floor.
His master tsks in disapproval, “Still playing dirty, aren’t we Blake?”
Khy blinks stupidly up at the towering figure above him, “Blake!?”
The beast-men ignore him. He carefully sniffs the air before he jumps and easily scales the cottage to the window. The master steps out of the way, and Sen climbs through.
He spots Livia resting on the bed, fast asleep, and moves toward her when the master steps in his way, blocking her from his view. He glares, even goes as far as to growl, but the master isn’t fazed.
“Move, Finn,” Sen says coldly. The black kitten around his neck hisses at the elf.
Finn only raises a blond eyebrow at his name, “How do you know the girl?”
Sen ignores the question and tries to move around the master, but gets blocked again.
“You suddenly showed up on my doorstep yesterday asking for a potion of truth and a day later I find a girl drowning. And now you suddenly appear looking for that same girl. Surely you can see why I am just a tad bit concentered, right?” Finn says, staring intently at Sen.
Sen freezes, clearly shocked, “She drowned?”
Finn eyes narrow, “Yes.”
Sen, “Was she trying to-?”
“Kill herself?” Finn finishes. He shakes his head, “No. I don’t believe that was her intent.”
“Then how!?” Sen snaps, stalking forward.
Finn does not back down, “Maybe it was her ankle? You know, the one that was clearly sprained? It could have flared up, causing her to panic and drown. Or maybe her leg just cramped up? Either way, the results are still the same. She drowned, Sen,” He steps close so green eyes meet yellow, “And from your reaction, I would say this comes as quiet a surprise. Now, let me ask again, what is your relationship with the girl?”
“...” Sen says nothing at first, but when Finn stare bore into him, he finally gives in, “She is just some girl I met. We aren’t friends, and we are barely even acquaintances. She had asked for my help and I gave it. I was only checking in to make sure that my effort wasn’t wasted.”
Finn stares at him a moment longer before signing, “Okay, I will take your half-truth for now.” He turns and sits at the edge of the bed and takes Livia's hand so the circles on their wrist touch. Livia instantly relaxes more, and sink further into the soft bed as Fin interlock their fingers.
Sen glares at their joined hands, “How is she? You said she drowned...”
“She is fine, I revived her before she was completely lost. In the meantime, she is now recovering from magic depletion. Seems she had bitten off more than she could chew.”
“...And the hands?”
“Are necessary for her recovery.”
“You're her provider...”
The door to the room flies open and Khy steps through. His hazel eyes instantly squint at Sen, “You...Your Blake?”
Sen does not reply, and the kitten turns around to hiss at him. Khy flinches.
Finn rolls his neck and sigh, “Right, well now that is all out of the way, I’m going to have to ask you two to return downstairs. The girl-Oh, wait. What is her name?”
Khy perks up at his and asks, “You know her?” At the same time, Sen says, “Livia.”
Finn blinks, “Livia? As in Livia Katrina Valentine?” He whirls around to stare at the Livia, taking in her purple hair, her high nose, and sharp eyebrows, “I thought she looked familiar...”
Khy tilts his head, “You know her as well, Master? Just who is she?”
Finn's eyes linger on Livia silently sleeping as he says, “It is of no matter,” He says, ignoring Khy pouting face. He turns his attention back to Sen and Khy, “As I was saying before, Livia needs rest, and as do I. I will let you know when she awakens, but until then, you two are just in the way.”
Finn makes shooing motion at Sen and Khy. Sen doesn’t budge, but when green eyes turn to Khy, the younger boy frowns but pulls reluctant Sen back through the open door. Before Sen leaves completely, the kitten hops down from his shoulder and darts towards the bed to curl up against Livia.
Finn sighs, “What a day...”