Sunday, April 12, 2015


Dran and I were arguing. "We are on an important mission," I said. "Time is of the essence. There is a reasonable chance that every living person will die because we were delayed. Did you even think of that?"
"Sorry," he said. "Next time, I'll just do it in my pants."
"That is a possibility. Or, you could do it before we get moving, just like everyone else."
"Sorry. I don't control when I have to pee."
"That's an interesting idea," Dragoneyes interjected. "Perhaps I should search for the True Name of urine."
"You aren't helping," I said.
"Don't be so irritable, Amniel. I was actually partly serious. I'll have to look into it next time I have to go."
"You know the True Names of fire and stone. And you seriously want to add urine to your repertoire?"
I don't think he heard me. "It might be fairly difficult actually. Most of what comes out of the human body is complicated."
That brought me back to the ultimate source of my irritation. One of Cassinder's wounds had become infected. I had tried a few folk cures, but, like many folk cures, they proved to be entirely ineffective. Dran's vast knowledge of potionry was little help. We had no ingredients on us.
So, we forged ahead. The nearest city was Salous. It was a border town, with a large Etoran population. Maybe it had a mine? Or was it a trade city? I was always getting it confused with Boloan, across the border.
As we approached the city walls, Dragoneyes seemed pensive for a moment. He stopped, said a word, and the solid parted beneath him, making a small hole. He reached in and pulled out a root. Dragoneyes stared at this small bit of plant material for several seconds. Then, he threw it away. "Useless."
Dran scoffed. "Really? How could a random root picked up at the side of the road be useless?"
"What were you hoping for," I asked.
"I saw that it had medicinal properties. I thought it might help stop your sister's arm from swelling. No such luck."
"Hopefully the town will have an apothecary, or a physiker."
"Unlikely," Dran said. "Half the citizens are Etorans. My people are characterized by two things. Their hatred of sorcery, and their love of imposing their will on others. They would have run any physikers our of town."
"You three go and check," Dragoneyes said. "And, at the very least, find her a decent bed. I will see if I can rustle up some plants with useful properties."
So Dragoneyes had become an instant expert in herbology. Interesting. I considered what that meant. It took people years, decades to master the subject. He had mastered it without even trying.
Well, not necessarily master. But, still.

Dragoneyes thought about the legends he had heard. About the Shapers of the World. Of the elves. He had heard that elves could speak with trees. That they would ask the wind for news of goings-on in distant lands. Dragoneyes decided to try it. He walked up to a tree, the True Name of wood fresh in his mind. Dragoneyes struck what he suspected was a dashing and dramatic pose. "Speak," he ordered.
Nothing happened.
"I am Bashra Dragoneyes. I know the Names of stone, fire, and everything in between. I have spoken with spirits, walked between worlds, and done battle with dragons. Speak!"
Nothing happened.
Dragoneyes decided that the tree just wasn't impressed with his credentials. He started to make things up. "I have been the downfall of kings, and the savior of temples. I have saved a thousand virgin princesses. I slept with over eight hundred of them. I knew the Shapers of the World, and they knew me. Speak!"
There was a slight rustle in the wind. It quickly died down.
Dragoneyes felt foolish. Here he was, trying to talk to a stack of wood, while Cassinder was lying in pain somewhere. He ran through forests and clearing, eyes darting. Trying to find something that could help her.
He found lots of things that wouldn't help her. He found shrubs that he thought could ease stomach trouble. A type of bark that could increase fertility. A weed that, when boiled properly, could cure some types of cold. He also found a lot of totally useless grass.

At the same time, Dran was busy getting into an argument with an apprentice apothecary. "Listen. I have no trouble believing that your master isn't here. I have two eyes that do an excellent job confirming that. And I also have no trouble believing you don't know where your master keeps his herbs. What I want to know is when he will be back. Sick people are often very impatient individuals when it comes to receiving help."
"All I know is that he isn't here. Probably out getting drunk. My job is to mind the shop and supervise the slaves."
"Oh, well, that helps me." Dran thought for a second. "Actually, it does. I'll talk to the slaves. They'll have to be more helpful than you."
He brushed the apprentice aside, approaching a man squatting in the back.
"Do you know where your master is?"
"No, sir."
"Do you know when he will come back?"
"No, sir."
"Well, then a mostly innocent girl will have her arm rot off."
"Green rot, blue rot, or white rot."
Dran had never actually spoken to a slave before. But he was raised by two Etorans, which meant he had been hearing Etoran stories since before he could walk. He had been immersed in the best facsimile of Etoran culture they could create. So he knew that slaves did not ask questions.
The slave continued. "If it is blue, we can fix it with what's in this pot. White, we would have to go do some searching. Green, we would need to call the local sorcerer."
"It is white. When did you become such an expert in the field of arm rot?

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