Chapter 8 - Linwara's Ritual
Updated: Apr 6
Daughter? Had Mykul seen another woman since they’ve been here? Rhavin didn’t realize he was so taken by the surroundings that he missed a whole conversation.
“No, Miss. We've actually been brought here by Sam. My friend Mykul lost the function of his legs after a troll threw a horse on him. Sam said there was a healer near and brought us to see you.” Rhavin said motioning to Mykul.
“Whatever the cost Miss Linwara, I need to walk! I’ll pay whatever price, but I am to be a bard! A bard who cannot walk is not a bard at all.” Rhavin believed Mykul when he said he would pay any price. He just hoped that the price Linwara wanted wasn’t going to be too high.
“Yes, I understand. I can help you, young man, but my price requires some risk to you.” Linwara strode over towards Mykul, almost floating. She sat next to Mykul in the oversized lounger and placed a hand on his midsection. “Your spine has been broken, young one. This is not a recovery that can happen overnight, even with magic.”
“How long will it take?” Mykul asked. Linwara stroked Mykul’s cheek.
“I do not know. I have never healed humans before. While we look similar, our bodies are very different. It could be a week, or it could be longer. Elves traditionally heal slower than humans naturally, I can only assume it’s the same with magic.” Elves! Rhavin couldn’t believe what he was hearing. He had heard stories of them before. He couldn’t believe he saw one away from the ports. Arnvold had told him that the Elves never left the Silver Forest except to trade, and only a single emissary was allowed off the barge.
“Are you really an elf, Miss?” Rhavin interrupted. “Why are you in Tivos?” Rhavin couldn’t contain his excitement. Arnvold had told him that the Elves were the world’s most magical race. Rhavin knew he needed a tutor, and he may have an elven mage right in front of him.
Linwara smiled at Rhavin, a mouth full of pointed teeth that looked as if they belonged in the mouth of a wolf, sparkled back at him.
“All in time, little sorcerer. I must first discern if you can help us.” Sam walked back into the room and took a seat on a large loveseat, wood crying under the immense weight. “This is my daughter Samira, you’ve already met.” Sam waved at Mykul and Rhavin with a meaty hand. “She was cursed, and I need someone else who is trained arcanically to help me break it.” Rhavin dropped his head into his hands. The list of reasons he needed a mentor grew by the minute.
“Linwara, while it’s true that I can cast, I’ve never really been trained. I’m mostly self taught with slight guidance from my friend and his old library.” Rhavin dry washed his hands and looked towards Mykul. “Whatever it takes though, I will do it. Not just for Mykul, but for Sam as well. We wouldn’t be here without her.”
“Sam is a young elven maiden? Did I hear that correctly?” Mykul asked, a smile growing on his face. “Rhavin is right, whatever it takes, we will be there to help.” The young bard sat as straight as he could, giving Sam a reassuring nod.
“I cannot teach you to cast, little one. Humans and elves feel the energy differently. Our very life essences cannot be compared. I’m afraid I would be a flying instructor for a fish. You need another fish to teach you to swim.” A silver chalice appeared in Linwara’s hand and she took several sips before it disappeared just as quickly. “You may be able to help me without understanding the intricacies of magic. I hope you understand how to draw it in without casting anything.”
Rhavin pulled on the energy around him, his belly grew warm and his scars lit up. He pulled in as much as he could. It wasn’t a time to be modest when his abilities could be the difference between Mykul walking again or not. Rhavin became the energy, his skin felt like it was ablaze. The scars on his shoulder and arm radiated brightly.
“That’s enough boy, let it go. You can draw enough.” Let it go? Rhavin did not know how to let it go without casting something. What could he do with this that wouldn’t harm his surroundings? Rhavin couldn’t stop the flow of energy, more coursed into him; the river of power couldn’t be halted. “Let it go, sorcerer!” Linwara called out. Rhavin scrambled to think of something he could do with the power, lightning could set the cabin on fire, and something was wrong with the sky, he couldn’t feel the air and clouds like he normally could.
Linwara, tired of waiting, took Rhavin’s head between her hands. Fingers that felt like ice on his hot skin, pressed on his temples. He felt the flood of power cease, and the energy quickly drained from his body. His scars dulled until they regained their normal flesh hue.
“Why would you attempt to draw so much power if you don’t understand enough to stop it!” Linwara snapped at him, her face flashing with anger. “Holding that much energy you’re liable to just explode!” Explode! Rhavin didn’t even know that was a possible side effect. He had never held that much energy before, though.
“I’m sorry Linwara, I just wanted to show you I could hold the energy. Whatever it takes for you to help my friend.” Shame hung on Rhavin’s words and Linwara’s face softened back to its normal regal state.
“I suppose I cannot blame you. You have not had a real teacher and only wanted to prove yourself.” Linwara paced around the room, hands held behind her back. She studied Rhavin for a time, then looked towards Mykul, then to Sam. She lingered on Sam and made hand gestures as if she was having a conversation. Sam replied with gestures of her own. They certainly seemed to be having a discussion without a single word being spoken between them.
“Really, Miss Linwara, Rhavin will be able to help! I’ve seen him control the weather. He made a whole rainstorm!” Mykul said with a smile. “It went from a calm night, into a raging storm: raindrops as large as buckets, and wind that could lift a man into the air!” Linwara gave a dismissive wave of her hand and a small rain cloud appeared above Mykul’s head, drenching him. With a snap of her fingers the cloud vanished, and with it all the water that had soaked Mykul. He patted his head and chest, searching for the water to no avail.
“Creating rain is not something I’m impressed with, but for someone untrained you are able to hold quite a bit. You might be able to help me after all. With your reassurances that you will do what you can, I will do what I can.” Linwara stood and gave the companions a smile. “You must be exhausted, and you’re clearly dirty. I will prepare a bath for you both.” Linwara looked towards Mykul and gave her chin a scratch. “Bard, your pride will have to take another hit I’m afraid. Sam will help you bathe.” Mykul’s cheeks flushed but he didn’t object.
Sam got up from her large loveseat and moved to bring Mykul to the bath. As they left, Linwara pulled a chair next to Rhavin and sat down crossing her legs.
“Tomorrow I will begin healing your friend. Once he is healed we will work to tackle the problem of this curse. It was cast by a very powerful human mage. I’m no slouch, but her work is going to take an incredible amount of energy.” Linwara’s delicate fingers traced the scars along Rhavin’s arm. “I’m going to have you do exactly what you did in front of me. You will pull from the Great Well; you will hold as much energy as you physically can. Then I will take that energy from you and attempt to remove this curse with brute force.”
“Didn’t you say that I could explode if I held that much energy?” Rhavin asked. Rhavin wasn’t sure how much he trusted Linwara. She would no doubt care about lifting Sam’s curse more than his well being.
“And did you explode?” She retorted
“No, I suppose I didn’t.” Regardless if she truly cared about his well being or not, Rhavin wanted to help Sam as well. He might as well be dead without her, and how could he tell Arnvold he was honorable if he was not conversely loyal to her. “I will do just that then.” Linwara gave Rhavin’s arm a squeeze.
“Good. Madira used the lives of many to cast this curse. It will take all we have to reverse it.”
“What do you mean she used the lives of many?” Rhavin asked. He didn’t think killing others made spell casting any easier, at least he couldn’t see why it would.
“Do you not even know where your power comes from?” Linwara stood and pointed to a tapestry on the wall of what looked like a large ball of light. “All energy comes from the Great Well: you, me, the plants around us. Anything that blooms with life was given that life from the Well. And all life is energy.” Linwara conjured a small ball of light above her hand. “The spells we cast come from the Great Well, but we can only draw so much of it at a time, and only hold so much of it at a time. Too much, and our bodies fail. The energy is not the reason we can only hold so much, but the process of drawing upon the Well that taxes our physical forms. If you cut out the process of drawing from the well, and siphon your energy from those around you…” Rhavin felt the tap on his life, exhaustion and fatigue hit him like a brick. The ball of light above Linwara’s hand doubled in size.
“...Then you can hold an infinite amount of power.” Linwara said. The ball of white light advanced upon Rhavin and pierced his chest; the exhaustion he felt vanished.
“You’re just going to use me as a conduit?” Rhavin asked. Linwara stood and patted Rhavin on the head with a small grin.
“Exactly that, little mage.” Linwara moved to leave the room, stopping before entering a small hallway. “Eat, bathe, and rest,” Linwara said motioning to the hallway Sam and Mykul left through. “This will be a trying task for you, Rhavin.”
Deciding to follow her advice, Rhavin went through the hallway in search of food. It wasn’t a large cabin in the traditional sense. The doorways, furniture, and hallways were all oversized which Rhavin assumed was to accommodate the minotaur that resided here. The kitchen was found easily, and Rhavin decided to take several apples and a bowl full of assorted berries. Food in hand, he wandered outside through a doorway in the kitchen. The garden outside had a small table with several chairs that he figured made a perfect spot to dine.
Thinking back on Linwara, Rhavin still wasn’t sure what to make of her. There was a definite caring mother within her, but he also felt there was a more sinister side to the woman. Could it just be the fact that Rhavin knew she could pull the life from his body and leave him a husk at the snap of a finger that had him wary? He had never really interacted with a mage before. Her power was certainly something to be cognizant of.
Rhavin needed to learn. Only then would he be able to protect himself from other mages. But to learn he first needed to find a human mage like Linwara. Madira. A mage strong enough to cast a curse Linwara couldn’t undo was surely someone learned enough to teach Rhavin what he needed. Rhavin would take the time this week to inquire into Madira. Right now she seemed to be his only option. A dangerous one, considering the curse she inflicted Sam with, but an option nonetheless.
Plucking the last few berries from the bowl, he decided it would be a swell time for bathing. Rhavin entered back into the house and followed the hallway. The cabin was quaint, decorations were sparse, and the few pieces that did adorn the rooms were canvases of a forest. Peering into several rooms, Rhavin found where he was likely to be sleeping. There were several plain bedrooms, small and fitted with only a bed and nightstand. Linwara certainly wasn’t a homemaker, he thought.
Coming to the last room Rhavin found the bath. To say he was impressed was an understatement. Red tile lined the floor and walls, while a tinted glass roof loomed over him, protecting the bathers from too much sunlight. The bath was held at ground level using the same red tiles. The water bubbled and steamed, magic, It had more uses than he could ever fathom.
Rhavin stripped down and stepped into the steamy water. It was what he imagined bathing in a hot spring would be like. He dove under the water and scrubbed at his scalp, the water bubbled and frothed on his head. There’s soap in this water! This is the kind of mage I want to be, A warm smile crept upon his face as he floated in the hot bath.
Several moments passed until he decided it was time to sleep. Their trek had left him weary, and the hot water only accentuated it. Towelling off, Rhavin walked down the hallway holding his dirty clothes under his arms. He found his way to the plain bedroom and laid in the bed. To his surprise it was fairly comfortable. It was refreshing to find a comfort not brought by magic, just good craftsmanship. Rhavin’s head sunk into the feather pillow and sleep overtook him.
Rhavin awoke to the scent of fried eggs. Rolling onto his back, he stared at the wooden beam ceilings. There seemed to be a trend with magic users having high ceilings, the cabin’s must have been at least ten feet. He rolled around in the bed for a few moments before deciding to check on the food. He didn’t need the loud grumbles coming from within to tell him he was hungry.
The polished wood felt cool under his feet, and Rhavin frowned at the thought of having to put his dirty clothes back on. I should have thought to wash them last night, he thought. To his surprise, they weren’t where he had left them. The pile of clothes at the foot of the bed had become a neatly folded pile upon the nightstand. Rhavin snatched his tunic and brought it to his nose, it was clean.
Rhavin dressed himself and set off to find the others, admiring the morning rays shining through the windows. He heard quiet chattering coming from the kitchen and decided to take a look. Entering the kitchen, he found the source of the smell. Linwara was preparing breakfast, several eggs were being slid out of a pan onto a small pewter plate. Mykul sat at the small table just outside, chatting with Sam who was lounging in the sun.
“Good morning, little mage,” Linwara said. “Would you like some breakfast?” The eggs slid from the pan and onto the plate. The elven woman then took several slices of fatty meat and placed them in the pan. Rhavin responded to the meat’s sizzle with a growl of his stomach.
“Yes, Linwara. I would really appreciate some food right now.” Rhavin licked his chops with anticipation. It had been several days since Rhavin had eaten meat, and dried meat at that. His mouth watered with the thought of it.
“Good, today we will heal Mykul. I’ll need you to provide me with energy like we talked about last night. It will help the process move along faster.” Linwara handed the plate of eggs along with several strips of the meat to Rhavin. “Bring those to Mykul. He’s been waiting ever so patiently.” With the plate handed off, she turned back around and resumed cooking.
Rhavin stepped outside with the plate of food, drawing a deep breath. The air held a sweet perfumed scent, and life was buzzing all around him: birds chirped and flittered about the trees, bees went from flower to flower, and the flora all danced with the breeze. Another slice of paradise. There were only a few places Rhavin had felt comfortable, but this was already beginning to be one of them. There was an overwhelming sense of safety and serenity in the glade.
Mykul was telling Sam of their adventure and was recounting Rhavin’s storm. Rhavin assumed he told her all about Metlass, as Cavrosians could hardly talk of anything else for weeks afterward. Sam laid in the grass, watching Mykul intently giving nods and snorts showing she was listening to his tale.
“You seem to be in a good mood today,” Rhavin said, placing the plate of food in front of Mykul. His friend acknowledged him with a wide smile, and grip on the arm.
“Today’s the day! Linwara is going to heal me, well, at least start the process,” Mykul said, tearing into the plate of eggs. Rhavin sat down next to him, holding his head in his hands, eyes fixated on Mykul’s plate. “The wind is telling me it will be successful, Rhavin! I will walk again, I just know it. What would all the world’s maidens do without me?” Sam snorted at his last remark.
“I think you’re right Mykul. Linwara says she’ll need my help to make your recovery even faster.” Rhavin smiled as Linwara brought another plate of food out. He couldn’t remember how long it had been since he ate something substantial. It took only moments for him to be licking his fingers and wishing for more.
“Relax for now, boys. I will prepare for the healing, and soon we will begin.” Rhavin and Mykul both nodded their heads. Rhavin closed his eyes and leaned back in his chair. The blanket of sunlight covered, and warmed his skin while Mykul’s exaggerated tale of their journey warmed his heart.
Rhavin awoke to a light shake of his shoulder. Linwara stood above him, and beckoned him into the cabin. He must have dozed off. Sam and Mykul were both gone, and the sun felt harsh upon his eyes. Following her into the cabin, she led him to the bath. His anticipation grew with every creak of the floorboards. Entering the bathroom, Mykul was floating in the bath, eyes closed. Sam sat in a corner holding her legs tight to her muscular chest.
“I put him to sleep,” Linwara said. “There would be too much pain otherwise.” Linwara took several deep breaths, shed her silken dress, and stepped into the water with Mykul. Her hand beckoned him into the water. Linwara’s body still held the breath of life within it, enough to make Rhavin blush. He hesitated, captivated by her lithe frame.
“Do I need to take my clothes off?” He asked. Linwara shook her head
“No, but you will get them wet,” she replied. Rhavin acquiesced and started to undress. The warm water felt good against his skin, and even better, his waist would be shrouded by the water. “The water will help the transfer of energy. I will use what I have first. When the water begins to glow, you must channel and hold as much energy as you can. If you can channel enough, we will try to fix the boy in one night.” Rhavin nodded and steadied his breathing.
Linwara placed both hands on Mykul’s chest. Her breathing slowed and she began to hum a deep tone. The water began to glow and Rhavin understood what that meant. He searched for the pool of energy, and when he found it, he drank it hungrily. His scars lit up, glistening among the ripples in the water. He felt the burning he knew would come. Starting in his belly, it surged outwards, filling him with fire.
Mykul’s body writhed and squirmed in the water. A slight moan escaped his lips and he began to thrash. His arms splashed the water around the room, assaulting even Sam in the corner. His legs began to twitch and create minute kicks. Rhavin continued to draw. Linwara had yet to take any energy from him, but he knew his friend would need it all. The fire within grew in intensity, and his flesh felt like it was searing from the heat. He began to grunt from the pain.
I will not let you down this time, Mykul! Rhavin didn’t know if he could hold any more energy, but he didn’t think he could stop the flow. Light filled every inch of his body, his skin began to twitch all over. His scars glowed so brightly, he had to close his eyes for fear of blinding himself. Sam shielded her own eyes with a hand from the visual assault. If Linwara didn’t pull from him soon, Rhavin was afraid he really would explode. His muscles contracted and convulsed and his grunts became yells.
Like a guardian angel, Linwara finally began to draw from him. He regained control of his muscles and the burning lessened. For the relief Rhavin had received, it seemed that Mykul’s experience only worsened. He began to twist and gasp, only held steady by Linwara’s hands. The bard's legs began to thrash in kind with his arms. Sam began to let out bovine moans in what Rhavin could only assume was empathy. The energy he had amassed had almost been completely drained when the bathroom was filled with a flash of white light.
Rhavin shielded his eyes with his hands and heard a scream erupt from Mykul. Sam’s moans stopped and the blinding light vanished. As Rhavin opened his eyes, he saw Mykul open his and both looked around in wonder. Linwara’s hand was on Mykul’s back, steadying him, but Rhavin could see that Mykul was standing! The bard looked down at his legs and began to jump in the water.
“Rhavin, it worked! It worked Rhavin! Look, Sam I can—” As the two looked towards Sam’s position in the bath, the minotaur was gone. In its place was another creature. The bare torso of a woman sat atop lithe cows legs. She was pale skinned with dark hair, and closely resembled Linwara. The curves of the elf graced her torso. Familiar horns protruded from her head.
“Sam... the curse?” Rhavin said. Sam began to pat her body, feeling for what used to be there. She stood and began eyeing her body.
“What did you do, mother?” Sam said. “You were only supposed to heal the boy, the curse is not lifted, only mutated! I’m still a monster!” Linwara strode from the pool and embraced her daughter, lithe fingers caressing her head.
“I’m sorry Samira, I could not wait any longer! The boy held so much energy I felt I could remove it as well. Please forgive me.” The two held an embrace while Mykul and Rhavin could only look on.