Chapter 4

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Tier'ghan groaned. His mouth tasted vile, as if he'd bitten into a rotten egg by accident. Something about the taste brought forth a memory and he groaned again. Only Magister Novi made potions that tasted this awful, and he'd know since he'd been forced to take them on more than one occasion. His magic was forever causing mishaps that often ended up injuring him or someone else. The pain was gone, leaving only a slight tingling in his middle as whatever spell the medical mages had used continued its work.

"Are you in pain? Shall I call the nurse?"

He opened his eyes and turned to find the speaker. As he'd guessed he was laying on a bed in one of the infirmary rooms. That was only somewhat welcome knowledge. He'd escaped Valsarai only to end up right back here. Escaped, more like fled. In shame. Shaking off the memories, he levered himself up on an elbow and looked around the room. A curtain divided the room down the middle and kept him from seeing who'd spoken.

"I am fine. Thank you."

Pulling away the blanket covering him, he let out a small sigh seeing the newly healed flesh. Two lines crossed each other just above his navel. The image of Narder leaning over him flashed across his vision. He gave a small shudder and let the blanket drop back down. He should be dead. Dead several times over if the hazy memories from that night were anything to go by. That not-gremlin, Quenoor, had risked so much to get him here, but where was he now?

The door opened and three people walked in. Tier'ghan recognized two of them immediately. He started to say something but neither Magister Novi or Doctor Umbor even so much as looked in his direction. The third, in servant's attire, carried a large box bearing the seal of a centaur holding a trident. Something Tier'ghan had only seen twice before. The trio all disappeared behind the curtain.

"Good morning, Charlemain. How are you feeling?" Magister Novi's high nasally voice was unmistakeable.

"That last draft seemed to help a lot. I feel more alert today."

"That is fantastic news. I shall have more prepared immediately. Your kin have sent you a box." There was a thump, the squeal of hinges, and then silence for several moments.

"Oh," Magister Novi gasped. "Oh dear. I am so sorry, Charlemain."

"Don't be. This part of our tradition. It was very kind of them to think of me. This box should be buried with my head, heart and hands or hooves as I choose. It is symbolic of our nature. I would ask that you please do as I ask once I have passed."

"Please don't speak like that. You are doing better. The drafts seem to be helping."

Tier'ghan shifted, wishing he could leave and not unintentionally eavesdrop on such a private conversation. It couldn't be helped though and he wondered what could possibly be ailing Charlemain that neither the mages or the centaurs could help them. From what he knew many mundane medical doctors studied with the centaurs to learn their advanced techniques.

"They do help, but I have a feeling even they have their limits. I still hold out hope that we'll find a cure."

"As do I. We've ruled out everything physical related. We can continue the thaumotological tests if you feel up to it?"

"I would appreciate it."

Sitting up didn't involve as much pain as he'd feared and he wasn't dizzy. He desperately needed something to drink to get this taste out of his mouth. He wanted to ask Magister Novi who had healed him. A wound like he'd had shouldn't have been able to be healed in one sitting. It was simply impossible. Even a highly trained and skilled medical mage wouldn't have the energy reserves to perform such delicate magic for an extended period of time. He'd failed every healing test he'd ever taken and had been strongly warned away from ever attempting it. It required more control than he could seem to manage.

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