Of Miracles

Twenty minutes later, Kaelyn wasn't sure this was actually the best miracle ever. As they walked and followed Mason's home-made map she tried to explain how she had come to be there. It didn't go well.

“So...you gave her your pillow...in your dream?”

“And blanket,” Kaelyn said and regretted it.

“And blanket. In, again, your dream. But you're pretty sure she actually has them?”

“Y—yes? Yeah.”

“Is this healer magic?”

“Ummmmm, no, Master Colm thinks I'm just feeling guilty and wish I could help Daisy out immediately.”

Mason prudently didn't say anything, but his face clearly communicated who he thought was making more sense. Years later, Kaelyn would point to this as the first time she realized Mason's feelings for her. She thought about explaining that ever since she had given Daisy her bedding she had been cold and her neck hurt, but was pretty sure that wouldn't help matters.

Not sure if this would help or hinder her case, she explained the heartbeat spell.

“So...because Daisy has...um, the soul of your pillow...you could hear her heartbeat as long as she's touching the..ghost pillow...and you cast the spell on the physical pillow.”

It made less sense when Mason said it. Except...it had worked. She was sure it had. She had heard Daisy's heartbeat, heard it change... That had to be real. Although she also had to admit that she specifically didn't tell Colm about her, ah, innovative, use of the heartbeat spell, because she didn't want to see that look in his eyes again.

Kaelyn was trying to think of something, anything, she could say to sound like a competent person again when Mason suddenly said, “whoa, hang on...what's this?” and pressed his hand against a rock. The rock rippled. Or rather, an image of a rock rippled like a reflection in a pond, but the actual surface was smooth and vaguely convex.

“How did you do that?” Kaelyn asked and put her hand where Mason had touched. It felt like stone to her, rough, dirty, slightly cold... Just regular stone. Mason held up his hand. His glove had a sigil picked out in copper thread on the palm, three half circles joined at the ends, crossed by a circle through the middle of each oval shape.

“We use these to handle powerful things safely. It pulls a little bit of the energy out of anything that is using alternate powers, which is more than good enough for minor artifacts or imbued items that might have negative effects if handled directly. It also is attracted to power, like a lodestone to iron.”

Kaelyn touched the stone again. It was just stone. “Can you do it again?” She asked, but Mason was already putting on the glove's companion. “I think I can do one better,” he said and put both hands on the rock, next to each other. The image rippled again and he started moving his hands away from each other.

A barrier of red and purple light formed around the space between his hands. It spread outward a little, making a rough circle, the diameter of the distance between his hands. Through the middle space they could see the cavern entrance through a hazy red mist, swirling like the sheen on a soap bubble.

“Whatever is making this illusion, it's quite powerful,” Mason said, his teeth clenched. “It's trying to push my hands back together, and it's heating up...” Mason pulled his hands away and the image reformed almost instantly. He pulled the gloves off and rubbed his palms.

“Did it burn you?” Kaelyn asked, taking his hand in both of hers.

“No, just a little warm, is all.”

Kaelyn nodded and let go of his hand, a shade too slowly, and looked in her satchel. “Do you think you could do that again? I think I can disrupt the field if you make a clear space again.”

She picked up a small willow stick, bent it in a rough circle, and tied it with a grass stem, then started looping some thread from her satchel around it. “This is healer magic,” she said, working a bead, then a feather, then another bead, into the pattern, hands moving quickly and expertly. She set the whole thing on a rock and sprinkled it over with a fine dusting of a ground herb, then put her hands on it and quietly repeated the ritual phrases. She felt a quiet power rising from the stone into the device she had made. “Okay, I'm ready.”

“What is that?” Mason asked.

“A curse net. We use these to remove malevolent powers around our patients. This isn't a particularly powerful one, but maybe it can disrupt the illusion. I'll pick up up with both hands and press it against the field where you've exposed it. It should work immediately...if it works at all.”

Mason nodded and put his hands back on the rock face, and spread them as before. Kaelyn picked up the curse net and realized she had a logistical problem. She couldn't reach the open space from under or over Mason's arm. She ducked and stepped into he circle of his arms as he held them against the barrier.

And pressed the curse net against the red translucent part. A white glow suffused the barrier and the red mist thickened and twisted. Behind her Kaelyn heard Mason gasp. She could see the smoke curling between his fingers.

Suddenly the curse net also burst into flame, the threads, feather and frame all disappearing in a single pyroclastic blast. The beads hit the ground at her feet, incandescent and smoking. A voice, low and hateful, snarled “You shall not have her back. She is mine.”

The barrier expanded rapidly, pushing Kaelyn back into Mason, shoving them both backwards with tremendous force, knocking Mason off his feet and Kaelyn on top of him. Mason hit his head on a rock and Kaelyn rolled off of him, then sat up next to him, panting and holding her burned fingertips in front of her face.

“Healer first,” She said to herself and leaned down, inspecting Mason's head. The barrier was radiating heat now, but quickly resettled itself into a stone wall. Mason wasn't bleeding, was breathing, but his eyes were rolled back in their sockets. She put both hands under his head, caressed the spot where he had hit the rock, and repeated a hurried incantation of healing. It didn't take, and she forced herself to breathe slower and tried again. This time she felt the gentle strength, and held her hands there.

After a moment Mason opened his eyes and looked up at her.

“Owwwwwwww” he said.

Keeping one hand under his head, Kaelyn used the other hand to help pull Mason into a sitting position. The sigil on his glove was still hot, and the leather around it was charred. Once Mason was sitting upright she pulled the gloves off his hands, inspecting the skin of his palms. It was shiny and red, the sigils of his gloves burned into his flesh.

“Oh no,” she didn't say, snapping into healer mode before the words could get out. She reached into her satchel for a pain relief ointment and rubbed it onto his hands.

“The burns aren't serious, but will hurt for a while, I'll give you this ointment,” Kaelyn said, noticing in passing that her own fingertips already seemed to be healed.

Mason didn't say anything for a moment, then said. “Oh, thank you. That does feel better.”

Kaelyn looked up into his eyes, suddenly flooded with thoughts and speculation. She was pretty sure she was blushing. In consternation she looked away, looked at the barrier.

“Well, I think we know we have the right place now,” she said.

“Yes, but now...that...knows we're here as well.” Mason responded.


© 2020-2021 Nathanial Dickson. Written during #NaNoWriMo 2020 Contact me on Mastodon