Thursday, December 20, 2007

Chapter 25

XXV

When Namah entered the hovel which she called her home, they were ready for her.

Unfortunately for them, Namah was no unwise spring chicken, and was even more ready for them than they were for her. As the young man and woman lunged for her she thrust them against the walls on either side of the room using magic she hadn’t used for some time, idly considered in some corner of her mind. They both fixed her with gazes equal in fury and defiance, and Namah couldn’t help thinking that it was possible they were both marked for destiny.

“You nearly killed Xylic!” the girl yelled at Namah from her spot against the wall.

“He looks fine to me,” Namah replied.

“You’re going to have to let us go sometime, and when you do—“

“Then what? Are you going to bite the hand that feeds you, girl?” Namah grew a little short with the girl, although she actually didn’t feel short at all. “How long do you think it would have taken you to learn how to do what you just did if you’d gone to someone else? Do you know how they teach you in other schools? Carefully, mote by mote, making sure no one gets hurt and there’s no danger. Well, that’s not the world of healing. There’s danger, and it’s constant. You have to learn to deal with mortality, death, and the dying, and you have to be able to come through in a clinch. I taught you in six days what most other teachers would take six months to do, and you’re ungrateful for that?”

The girl merely withdrew her vocal opposition and resumed glaring. Namah took that as reluctant acceptance. She turned her attention to the young man, the elf. As she looked at him she saw his thoughts and understood him in a blink. She returned to the girl.

“Bactine, do you want to learn defensive magic?”

Bactine glanced down, and Namah knew her thoughts, too. The girl possessed a biting sort of anger within her, but it was a tool. A tool to mask emotion, and a tool of focus. Namah fell to wondering if that was healthy. She was talented, though; remarkably talented. Namah had actually expected to have to come in the next day and heal the elf before he had the chance to pass away, but she was determined to give Bactine all the time possible to fret herself into learning what she had to. When she’d sensed the girl using the drawing ability Namah had been genuinely surprised, and impressed. She didn’t plan on telling her any of that, though, and assumed the young pair would attempt to ambush her in her own hovel.

The idea made Namah chuckle.

“Is something funny?” glared Bactine from her plastered state against the wall, and Namah had to admit to herself more than one thing was funny at the moment. She recalled the magic and released them both.

“Will you teach Bactine the magic you know?” Xylic asked Namah, speaking for once. Bactine looked over at him, her face taking on a look of shock. He returned her look plainly, without chagrin.

“Son, that would take twenty years, and I don’t think we have that long,” replied Namah. She appraised them both. Yes, they were definitely on the verge of something. She could feel it around them like a tremor. They were unstable. She turned to Bactine. “But I’ll teach you however much you can grasp in a week.”

Namah had a feeling that would be a lot.

2 comments:

spasticfreakshow said...

How do people like Namah decide they're siding with/helping the good guys? She is like the goat lady in Cold Mountain...just ready to help any passerby who seems to be good-hearted, I suppose. The fact that Bactine's mother paid a nominal fee wouldn't inspire Namah to teach the girl defensive magic or such.

Thanks for updating, Colby! I love your story and that you have a few sketches for it, too. Maybe you should link to them from here! Merry Xmas!

Anonymous said...

I like to think Nahmah has some tragic backstory that made her retreat to the swamp. There she doesn't have to deal with the petty futilities of humanity, but can still help those whose need drives them to her.