Thank Rathia, we made it. I’m thoroughly exhausted, and I have more questions than ever, but I’ll keep this re-accounting of events short.
As soon as we finished the teleportation, we landed in a plain. The air was slightly thinner, and in the behind us was a mountain range. The clearing was not empty, and as soon as we landed on the ground, a bunch of people panicked. Some ran off, while others looked on. I cried out for help, but they didn’t seem to understand anything other than the word ‘help’. So I ran over and begged the first lad for aid, who luckily seemed to understand a little bit of what I was saying. Speaking in a dialect that I did not understand, he instructed the folk to check on us, which resulted in them creating a makeshift stretcher for Ana, which she was hoisted up and away on. On the way, the lad introduced himself as Ulriel, who stopped the bleeding with basic healing magic. I thank him, and introduce myself as Pirean Stenard, a traveler with his apprentice who happened to meet an accident. Ulriel nods, and claims that while he’s not good at healing magic, that his master would help us much more, but the wound seems much better than when we were out in the water. A ten-minute walk downhill takes us to a small village, during which we made small talk. Apparently, we were in the western mountains of Vanar, three days travel from the sea, near a small village named Heija (Hei-ya), easily a week’s travel from Theon.
Theon. That’s where we were supposed to be headed. Also known as the western capital of Vanar, Garrick’s contact resided in the third floor of the city’s clock tower/mage guild. I’ve never known much about Vanar, only fragments from rumors, but apparently Vanar was a relatively peaceful nation, known for its prodigious mages and craftsmanship of fine things. That secured it trades with neighboring nations Lanthara, Surtnar, and the free nations of Othnam, but somehow managed to trade with Yarmathia, which was halfway across the world. Hearing that, perhaps Ulriel’s master might be a master at the healing arts, but our pace, brisk as it was, was not fast enough when Ana’s life was on the line. And as soon as we arrived in the village, outside Ulriel’s master’s dwelling, we were welcomed in and Ana immediately taken into the back room for treatment.
Which leaves me here, a day and a half later. Ana’s wounds have been closed up, and she’s been asleep for the entire duration. She sleeps soundly, like she did when she was younger, not that she was one for tossing and turning.
I remember when I was called in to the back room by Ulriel’s master, a middle aged woman named Sariel. Seeing her lying on her front, bandages all over her upper torso, I had a shock. Ana had several lines of runic tattoos on her left side, black in their dormant state. Running from her right hip all the way up to her left scapula was a vicious scar. What did she go through for all that to happen? Now she had another one to add to her collection, with that near fatal wound that she suffered on the ship fight. From what Sariel told me, it seemed as if Ana would be in a coma for a few days, describing that as a result of chronic mana burnout, but otherwise perfectly fine. I bit my tongue, not sure if I should tell them about the hazards we faced.
I can’t do much other than worry, and so I try and organize my things. Miraculously I’ve managed to save some travel documents (albeit waterlogged), this journal, although the earliest entries have been ruined, but some of the later ones are barely readable. More importantly, the crystal shard still remains. I look at it, color-shifting in the light of the bulb in the room, and cannot help but wonder if those creatures could possibly be after this.
I mean, Ana did teleport us here from the middle of the ocean. We could have avoided all of this, if only we teleported straight to Theon instead of taking that accursed vessel to its doom. I had my secrets, and she had hers, too. I’m honestly worried if it’ll cost us someday.
On second thought, maybe I should tell Sariel and Ulriel about the horrors we witnessed.
A rap on the door distracts Heimler from his journal entry. Opening the door, Sariel enters, a delicious, herbal aroma preceding her entry. Heimler closes his journal, and turns around to receive the bowl of soup.
Thank you, Sariel.
Heimler sips the soup. A multitude of herbal aromas tingle his tongue, lending an exotic taste to the venison. It might even be his new favorite dish. Sariel nods, and tends to Ana. Removing the covers, Sariel hovers her hand over Ana’s sternum. Without any incantation, Sariel’s hands glow green as ethereal runes form over her forearms, like a large glove. The glow pulsates for a moment then stops, the runes disappearing. Sariel turns to face Heimler, brown hair framing a face that had a strange timeless beauty to it, those lime green eyes boring into Heimler’s soul.
She’ll be recovering faster now.
How much faster?
She’ll wake up tomorrow, right as rain.
Sariel sighs deeply.
I would love to help you more, Dr. Heimler, but I apologize in advance for this. You’re going to have to leave tomorrow.
Coincidentally, Heimler was about to tell her about the crystal abominations and how they couldn’t stay. He nods, a grim expression on his face.
Wait, how did she know his real name? He never told them.
I know what you saw, and nobody should have to live through that.
I never told you my name.
You never needed to say anything, I would have known either way.
Did you just read my mind?
Your daughter’s tag says it all.
She holds up a tag, an intricate diamond-shaped metal shell the size of a digit with a turquoise, diamond shaped core. Sitting in the middle of Sariel’s palm, a soft infusion of mana into the tag causes a small, holographic list to appear in thin air. On the list was all of Ana’s details; surname, birthday, age, blood type, relatives…
You are a fortunate one, Dr. Heimler. You have a beautiful daughter, a noble cause for research, and a second chance at redeeming the mess you made out of your life. Not everyone gets that.
You are a kind soul at heart, so take pride in that you do, Dr. Heimler. But know this; you tamper with forces far beyond your comprehension.
Sariel gets up and heads for the door. Opening the door, she looks back, a somber, pained expression on her face. In that moment, Heimler senses it; Sariel seems far more ancient than an ordinary middle-aged mage.
I’m truly sorry, but I cannot help you much more than this. What I can do is buy you time for now. Honestly, you deserve a chance at happiness, and that answer may sometimes not be what you think it is.
Thank you for all your help. I’m eternally grateful.
Aishthela-Ifranah, may the stars watch over you.
The door closes, leaving Heimler alone with his sleeping daughter. Their journey up till now was not mentioned on Ana’s tag, nor did he say a thing about those abominations. Heimler sighs, then starts packing their remaining belongings in earnest. He holds the crystal sample in his hand, feeling its heft and potential, then brings it up to the light in the ceiling, allowing it to drink in the energy from the light. Strangely, he doesn’t feel worried, acknowledging that there were things beyond his control. The present was all he had, and making the most of it, he sets to work with a new focus, augmenting his shirt to make up for his lost travel cloak.
Sariel did read his mind after all.
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