Exchange Magic


“Kaelyn, please pick up a new fire marble from the wizards while you are in town, the old one is close to evaporating, I fear.”

“Yes, Master Colm,” Kaelyn said, as she gathered her wallet, basket, and a light jacket. The day was pleasant but the weather was changeable today and it didn't do for a healer, even an apprentice healer, to be caught getting sick when it was preventable.

Master Colm's other apprentice, Daisy, looked up from her workbench, where she had been diligently preparing herbs and placing them on a drying rack. Her eyes were full of barely-disguised hope. “Oh, is Kaelyn going into town today? I hadn't realized it was a market day. And it's so nice out today...” Daisy trailed off, her hands still, eyes fixed on Colm.

The master healer laughed gently, and with his own eyes full of mock seriousness said “I suspect Kaelyn might have her hands full with everything we need this week. Perhaps you could assist her, Daisy?”


It was true that Kaelyn liked going to the wizards' workshop, but her reasons were only partially based on the young apprentice working there. In her home town the wizard had been an old man of questionable hygiene and an inflated sense of his own importance. He dealt closely and charged dearly for the things that only he could provide to the others in town. As a result, most people found a way to do without his specialized services, meaning he had less money and charged still more for his wares, and the cycle continued.

His workshop had been crowded with things he felt were “occult” or “arcane” but which looked, to Kaelyn's eye, to mostly be props. Nobody really needs a skull with a candle on it to do their art, and even when she was younger Kaelyn suspected that if you took that skull into good light it would be obvious how artificial it was.


Kaelyn turned briefly to Mason who simply said, “Go! Go!” and nodded. Kaelyn followed Eric as quickly as his younger legs could carry him. “What happened, Eric?”

“I don't know, Miss. I just heard a crash and was sent to find a healer. Someone said you were at the wizards, but nobody I talked to knew where Miss Daisy was, so I ran to find you.”

“Well done, Eric, thank you,” Kaelyn said, walking quickly, digging through her bag, finding what herbs she had prepared. Something falling on you could be anything from minor bruising to a broken bone to a concussion...she mostly had mild pain relief and a few strengthening spells that might hold a bone in place until it could be treated...she hoped it would be enough.


Kaelyn and Daisy walked into the Fountain and looked around. Strand was large enough that there was always someone interesting taking a break just now, especially as the day wore on and many of the commercial ventures ended work for the day. At present there were about twenty people of various ages sitting or talking in small groups. Daisy instantly found someone to talk to while Kaelyn searched a little longer...but it looked like Mason was still at the workshop. She ordered a small snack —enough to get home, but not enough to ruin her appetite for whatever Mama was cooking tonight— and sat down at a table near the corner of the room to let Daisy circulate, and hopefully to find one of her friends as well. Although a quiet part of her was secretly glad that she had a few moments to herself.


The next morning started normal, but only for a very little while. Kaelyn woke up early, washed and brushed her hair, helped Mama make breakfast, all as normal.

“Kay, will you go tell Daisy it's time for breakfast? It's not like her to sleep in this late,”

“Of course, Mama.” Kaelyn said and headed up the stairs to Daisy's room. She knocked but there was no answer. After a second knock she pushed the door open. Daisy's bed was made and her nightgown folded neatly across the back of the chair standing next to her bed.

“She must be out gathering this morning,” Kaelyn said. “She's not in her room at any rate.”


When they arrived home Colm briefly appraised his wife of the situation. Kaelyn was too well-mannered to attempt to overhear the conversation, but she could see Mama's face. She looked slightly confused, then concerned, then nodded. Then she looked surprised and shot a glance at Kaelyn. She seemed to ponder for a moment, then nodded slowly, then left the room after glancing at Kaelyn one more time. Kaelyn had no idea what to make of any of this and sat quietly waiting her master's next instructions. He turned and seemed to see her for the first time. “Kaelyn, come into the workshop.”

She obediently followed him into the familiar room. The smells of basil and cedar, the smells that Daisy had called “the scent of magic” suddenly impressed themselves upon her again and she realized how much she missed her friend.


The next morning Kaelyn dressed as normal and realized that she wasn't working for Colm that morning...her routine was was a moment of freedom that every apprentice thinks they hope for until the moment comes. She went downstairs and Mama greeted her, and asked her to help set the table. At least that hadn't changed.

But...after breakfast. Somewhat self-consciously Kaelyn put on her new cloak and told Colm, “Master, I believe I should learn more about Brant, so I'm heading back into town...if that's okay...” She hadn't meant to ask permission, that wasn't how it was done, she wasn't an apprentice any more. But just telling Master Colm what she was doing, it seemed disrespectful.

“That seems like a good place to start, Sojourner.” Colm said. “I wish you good luck.” He smiled. “You know that you don't need to ask permission any more, but you don't want to be disrespectful. Trust me to know you better than that, my friend. Follow your intuition, and ask me for advice, but not permission.”


Kaelyn hung her cloak on the wall next to Mason's and sat down in front of the book. She hadn't really looked at it all that closely before; just identified it and stuffed it in her satchel. It wasn't that thick, she guessed it was roughly two hundred pages long, with soft leather covers, plain and unprinted. It looked more like a journal than a professionally created book. Centering it carefully on the oaken panel she opened to the front page. Written in large, irregularly-shaped letters was the title:


Kaelyn walked towards the town square, to clear her head, to process what had been happening. It was tempting to be upset about everything that had been going on. It didn't seem fair that she was left to figure this all out on her own, because everyone else in town thought it was just “young love”. Kaelyn decided that she could afford exactly ten minues of being frustrated and let herself fume quietly as she walked, and let her anger drive her to walk faster. She found that Mama had sewn pockets into the front of her new cloak, which were good for storing things, of course, but also effective at keeping her hands warm in the autumn air while also holding the cloak in place.


And there is always more to do, as a healer. When Kaelyn went back into town she found herself quietly surrounded by people who, being good, well mannered people, were nonetheless very much in need of a healer. And it would be shameful to resist or ignore them, regardless of her issues. So Kaelyn went from house to house, doing her job.

And learning a lesson in humility. Her life had been filled with the knowledge that someday she would be an apprentice healer, then rise to Sojourner, then, someday, to Master. She had spent the day among others who have similar arcs in their art, people who knew what a gray cloak meant on a healer.