Mountain pass, part six

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Veric, thank the thousand gods for small favors, was a second language to both of them, and the only one they shared with the magehealer directing their moves.

"Escha, my love, she's cooling too fast. I need you to jump blood from her veins to her outer arteries so I can warm it before it returns to her heart."

Escha growled, concentration forcing sweat to his temples.

Trai knew he was asking a lot from his slave, the impossible from anyone else, but he trusted him fully the way he'd done since even before brotherhood grew into love.

"A little bit more." Weak throbs of power in perfect harmony with the slow heartbeats of the merchant mistress told him Escha was doing the impossible again. "And less again." Trai threw tiny strands of heat around the woman.

Not too much. Warm, not boil, or I'll kill her.

He withdrew his spell for a moment to let Escha jump more cooling blood to where he could warm it before it could reach the central organs and kill his unconscious patient. She'd live. He could see that in the eyes of the awestruck magehealer who had directed his powers with her knowledge.

"Trai, I'm losing it."

"Let go. I can't do more now. Hard work handling so little of the gift at a time, eh?"

"What would you know? You'd conjure a firestorm for a mother's stove," Escha growled in mock anger.

"I love you too," Trai responded. "Now you may flaunt all your powers at will. Memorize this location. I need you to jump all of them to Ri Nachi."

"Why of course, Master."

"And be quick to find a magehealer. I don't want you to waste your time in a tavern while they freeze to death in their own capital."

"How could you ever suspect that from me, your humble slave. Forgive me, my pillar of wisdom!"

"Go. Be on your way!"

Escha bowed to obey, but no matter how dark the interior of the wagon was Trai could still see how drained he was. Escha had used his gifts continuously for far too long, and the danger of a backlash where he was consumed by his own powers was looming closer.

"Don't stay there, you good for nothing. Away!"

There was a swirl of power as Escha gathered his gift in a nexus connecting two or more sleeping gods in a tight loop of nowhere and everywhere, and he jumped. The beds were empty and Trai was alone with the magehealer.

"Why did you do that?" she asked. "He was almost drained and you forced him to use even more of the gift with your ugly words."

Trai didn't answer. He was weary beyond recall, and already he could feel tendons in his body scar as they slowly burned, fueled by his own gift.

"Gods! You are as uncaring as arrogant. He did not need to. I could have healed them."

The searing heat wrought agony to Trai, but he forced it away. "Silent woman! I saved his life, and he knows it. He's too strong to use so little of his gift for so long. Jumping the wounded to your home allows him to release the surplus." Trai grinned." And he'll get some rest there trying to find your colleagues in that city of yours."

Understanding dawned in her eyes, and grabbing him she transferred all damage from his burning body before he lost consciousness. That gave him the time he needed, and he released his own gift in an uncontrolled burst tearing away the entire side of the wagon, melting snow and rock alike when it caught the mountainside.

I live to see tomorrow, he had time to think before convulsions forced him to empty his stomach over the side of the wrecked wagon.

"Idiot!" a voice from outside growled. Gring, the Khraga, bringing in two bodies slung over her shoulders. "If you make your vehicle skinless like yourself, how will the half dead halfmen I brought survive?"

Behind him the magehealer groaned as she healed herself. By the thousand gods, she was a skilled one if she was able to voice her pains so shortly after taking his damage into her body.

"Honored Khraga, please bring me something to cover the wagon!" Trai begged, and to his astonishment Gring only nodded and left after unceremoniously dumping the men she carried onto the beds Escha had just vacated.

Trai shrugged and began administering the frostbites of the new arrivals.

"Not that way, you clumsy oaf!" The magehealer must be fully healed then. "And I agree with the Khraga," she murmured as she started redoing Trai's inept attempt at doctoring.

"I can warm him," he offered.

She glared at the open wagon side and shivered in denial.

"There's no danger now. Not until midnight, at least. I promise to be more careful and release any built up powers well before I'm spent."

She nodded approval, and once again he let tendrils of heat envelope cold limbs wherever she pointed.

"You could have died," she said after both men were safe.

"It was rash, I admit," Trai answered.

"Yet you had the foresight to send a mere slave to safety."

"That mere slave is the love of my life. I'll die before I see him harmed."

The wagon shifted suddenly, and he looked up. It was Gring throwing a heavy tarpaulin over it. She fought the storm and fastened it to the sides of the wagon with spikes.

Trai melted the snow inside and forced the steam outside.

"Healer! Three more. Fool soldiers from Keen sleeping on the snow with nothing under them."

Trai groaned.

Gring helped lifting the bodies into the wagon, and then Escha climbed inside.

Back already? Has it been so long?

"Their ale is weak and the mutton even worse," he said before bending over their most recent patient.

"Lazy slave, didn't I tell you to stay clear of alehouses?" By the gods, he's tired! "I should sell you to the first buyer."

"Bah, you're too incompetent a trader to get a decent price, oh master of idiocy."

"A bitter chance of fortune the day evil fate forced you upon me." Trai winked at the magehealer. "Madame, could I interest you in a servant? I'll even pay you good money to get this sorry specimen off my hands."

They continued their abusive bantering while the magehealer prepared their next patient, but this time she only shook her head in wonderment and smiled.

The exchange of insults and laughs helped a little, but the never ending stream of arriving bodies promised an agonizingly long night.

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