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Authors: Kel Kade

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BOOK: Reign of Madness (Revised Edition)
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Reaylin looked at the pitiful creature and the
stomach-churning, awkward bend of the leg. Her eyes stared at nothing as she
focused on her inner desire to help the animal, to take away its pain and fix
its problems to make it better. A slight movement stirred within her core, and
she could feel some of the liquid sensation flow out of her. The power trickled
and flowed in every direction like water splashing across the floor.

“Good. You have it moving,” the soft voice whispered. “Now,
push it toward the wound. It is easier if you look at it.”

She really did not want to look at the twisted leg, but she
was a warrior and she could not afford to be squeamish about such things. Her
eyes flicked to the broken leg and then, wanting to be done with this, she
simply grappled a bunch of the energy and threw it at the break. The leg
jerked, and the donkey moaned.

“Okay, that is not going to work,” Wesson said gently. “You
have to will it to
heal
.
Want
it, Reaylin.
Help
her. You
can do it.”

Reaylin grasped the energy again. Of course, she could do
it. Did he think she couldn’t do it? If he thought she couldn’t handle a simple
broken leg, then this pretty boy had something else coming.
I bet he’s never
even held a sword
, she thought. This time, when she pushed the vimara toward
the injury, she held firmly in her mind the belief that she was going to heal
the dumb animal.
What was it thinking, anyway? Stepping in a hole like that.

Wesson smiled. They were finally getting somewhere. “You
keep doing that, and I will do the rest.” He used the connection he had already
formed with the young woman to guide her vimara into and around the wound. The
young journeyman held little talent in healing, generally only good for healing
small cuts and burns or very minor sickness such as nausea, or maybe a cold if
he was really lucky. That did not stop his former master from forcing him to
learn about anatomy and other mundane healing techniques, though.

The young mage deadened the feeling in the leg and then
directed the bone back into place with a sickening snap. The energy wavered for
a moment, and he noticed that Reaylin appeared a bit pallid. He looked at her
questioningly, and she scowled and nodded for him to continue. Directing his
mind back into the injury, Wesson maneuvered a few shards of bone back into
place and simply dissolved a few of the smaller ones. The bones fused and grew
to fill in the gaps. The journeyman then sealed several smaller tears in the
soft tissue around the wound and checked for other damage. He eased a few
strained ligaments and repaired a torn tendon. When he was satisfied, he
allowed the feeling back into the limb and released the energy.

Looking back at the young woman who was deeply
concentrating, he said, “Thank you. You may withdraw the energy, now. The
healing is complete.”

Reaylin looked at the young mage uncertainly. She was not
sure
how
to release the power, and to her surprise, she was not sure she
wanted to. It felt really good.

Wesson put a hand on the young woman’s shoulder and said,
“It is not difficult to withdraw your vimara. You opened the gate to let it
out. Now, just close the gate. And believe me, you really need to. You cannot
let it stay open or you will become dependent on it. Eventually, you will burn out.
It takes a toll on your body to maintain that much energy. If you let it go too
long, you will be lucky if you pass out.”

“And, if I don’t pass out?” she asked curiously.

“You will die,” he stated firmly.

With the dire warning, Reaylin suddenly froze up, and all of
the energy was sucked back to whence it came. “You mean I could
die
just
from using this
vimara
?” she shouted.

Wesson furrowed his brow at the young woman’s sudden change
of attitude. He shifted uncomfortably. “Only if you
over
use it. Most healers
can heal quite a bit before becoming overextended. Plus, you can always tell
when you are nearing your limit. You would feel terrible, hungry, and drained.
Using your vimara can be exhausting. I mean, really, it would be the same as if
you tried to practice with your sword for two days straight,” he remarked as he
waved toward the sword strapped at her hip.

Reaylin directed accusing eyes at Rezkin. The young warrior
nodded knowingly. He
had
practiced his sword for two days straight, and
it was beyond exhausting. By the end, he thought perhaps he
had
died and
his spirit just kept fighting, not realizing he was dead. The masters taught
that battles did not end just because you grew tired. You had to keep fighting
until you won or died. He learned to force his body to unnatural limits. He
could never remember the ends of those practices. Somehow, he always awoke
healed and refreshed. Rezkin had just assumed the healers had done their work.

“Did you know I could die from using this healing power?”
Reaylin asked scathingly.

Rezkin cocked his head and answered, “I do not see how that
is significant.”

Reaylin growled, “
Death
, Rezkin, is significant!”

“You are a warrior, Reaylin. Warriors die. How many warrior
elders do you know?” he asked with disbelief.

Reaylin huffed and tossed her long, blonde ponytail over her
shoulder. “That’s different. It’s one thing to die in battle. It’s another to
die while
healing
.”

“Are you likely to drop dead during archery practice?”
Rezkin asked with concealed frustration.

“No, of course not,” she spat.

“Just as you are not likely to die from healing a donkey,”
Rezkin replied as he walked over to the animal that was still lying sedately on
the ground. He gathered the reins and looked pointedly at the mage. Wesson
shook himself when he realized he was still maintaining the spell holding the
animal calm and released it. As soon as the tingling magic snapped out of
existence, Rezkin tugged on the bridle, and the animal began struggling to its
feet. Wesson gave Rezkin a strange look but was quickly distracted by a head
butt from the donkey. He smiled and scratched at her chin.

Wesson turned to Reaylin and bowed low. “Thank you, Reaylin.
I am in your debt.”

“I don’t want your debt,” the young woman snapped. “Give it
to Rezkin. He’s the only reason I did it, anyway.” Her face flushed as she
realized what she said. She grabbed her horse’s reins and stalked off to join
the others.

Captain Jimson marched over and watched the young woman
longingly as she strode away. Wesson muttered soothingly to the donkey as he
fed her water from his own waterskin.

“I do not envy you, Jimson,” Rezkin’s deep voice remarked.
The captain looked at him questioningly. “One day, you are going to capture
that,” he said, nodding toward Reaylin’s retreating form, “and then you will
never be rid of her.”

Jimson grinned broadly and replied, “I hope so.”

Wesson happily pulled the now-healed donkey along as they
joined the others. Everyone was smiling at the young man with his boyish glee
– except Reaylin who was doing her best to ignore everyone. Tam helped
Wesson strap his belongings onto the donkey’s back while Frisha chatted
excitedly with Jimson about the healing.

Lieutenant Drascon approached Rezkin cautiously and quietly
inquired, “How did you get her to change her mind, my lord?”

Rezkin cocked his head. “I did not. I only provided the
right conditions for her to come to the decision on her own.”

“That is why you offered to be the one to put the beast
down,” Drascon stated more than asked. “You were stalling, hoping the guilt
would convince her to try. What if she had refused?”

“I have no compunctions over killing a wounded creature,
except that it would have been a waste of a decent pack animal since we had a
healer with us. It was a good opportunity for Reaylin to see what her power can
do without the intimidation of having to use it on a human being. If she had
refused, I would have killed the beast, and we would be gone by now,” Rezkin
replied.

Captain Jimson approached and inquired about the plans to
return to town. Wesson was on foot while the rest of the party was mounted.
Should they stay with the journeyman or simply leave him behind and go their
way?

Rezkin could not see the sun beyond the trees, but based on
the waning light, he figured it was about an hour before sunset. The ride to
town would only take half that. He turned to the group and remarked, “It is
getting close to dark, and it would be best if Journeyman Wesson rode with us
back to Teurning. Since he does not have a mount, I was hoping the ladies would
not mind doubling up.” Ideally, the women would ride together, since their
combined weight would not be a burden to the animal; but knowing these
particular women, that was not going to happen.

“It is really not necessary,” Wesson started to protest, but
one look from Rezkin silenced the mage.

Frisha flushed and said, “I would be happy to ride with you,
Rezkin. That is, if Pride won’t mind.”

Rezkin cocked his head in thought. He was less concerned
about whether or not Pride would behave than he was about having a person so
close at his back for an extended period of time. Deciding that Frisha was not
really a threat, he replied, “I have him under control. That should be fine.”

Frisha handed her reins to Wesson and walked over to Rezkin
almost timidly. It was not that
he
suddenly intimidated her. She was
just not used to being so
close
to him. Rezkin mounted first and then
removed a foot from his stirrup for the woman to use. He held out his hand to
assist the young lady. Pride was a massive beast, and the stirrup was quite
high; but Rezkin’s legs were long, so she managed to reach. Frisha swung up
behind Rezkin, and Pride stomped and shifted. The sudden movement startled
Frisha, and she pressed herself against Rezkin’s back with her arms clasped
about his waist. Rezkin stiffened under the closeness and then forced himself
to relax. Frisha started to remove her hands, but he held them in place. As
long as her hands were clasped at his front, she could not access any weapons,
and he felt more secure that she could not implement a surprise attack.

Frisha smiled to herself, and her heart skipped a beat when
Rezkin held her hands around him. She was embarrassed when first she embraced
him, but now she was elated that her handsome warrior wanted her so close. So
far, Rezkin had been the perfect gentleman. He had taken no liberties and
treated her as a respectable lady, but Frisha could not help but be a little
disappointed with the constant distance between them. The most contact he had
made with her was when he was making a point of claiming her in front of the
other nobles. Those actions alone melted her heart, even though she knew they
were out of character for the
real
Rezkin. She really wanted Rezkin to
kiss her. Well, she
really
wanted him to do a lot more, but the thought
of it made her blush furiously.

Wesson did not have to adjust the stirrups much, since at
five feet and nine inches he was only slightly taller than Frisha. He had not
grown much in the past couple of years, but he still held out hope that he
might gain a few more inches. Wesson was not particularly short, about average
height, actually, but the women always seemed to like tall men. The mage had
already noticed how besotted both women in the group were with the abnormally
tall Lord Rezkin.

Lord Rezkin was tall and broad and strong, and by the
evening his face had more thick, dark stubble than Wesson could probably hope
to grow in his lifetime. Even though the man had been pleasant and
professional, he wore a darkness about him that was almost unnerving. It was
not so much in his attitude or personality but in the way he moved, and
sometimes he had the strangest look in his eyes. Almost in complete
contradiction to Wesson’s observations, though, he found himself instinctually
drawn to the stranger.

Rezkin instructed Captain Jimson to take the lead while the
other soldiers brought up the rear. Drascon noted exactly who was giving the
orders. His captain always deferred to the strange lord with the dual
personalities. Rezkin and Frisha rode beside Wesson, who seemed to have a
decent amount of experience with riding horses.

Rezkin donned a pleasant smile and asked, “So, Journeyman
Wesson, what brings you out here to the middle of the forest? It looks as
though you have been on a long journey and on foot, no less.”

Wesson’s head dipped forward, and he replied, “Yes, it is
true. I have been out here for quite some time. I had thought to improve my
skills so that I could become a life mage.”

“It sounds like it has not worked out the way you hoped,”
Rezkin remarked casually.

“No, it has not,” Wesson replied dejectedly. “I knew from
the beginning that most life mages have much more innate healing talent than I,
but I had hoped that I could still develop the other talents.” He sighed
heavily. “I just do not have the aptitude for working with plants and animals,
though. When I try to push it, it either just does not work or I end up…well,
it does not go well.”

“I see. Where do your natural
talents
lie?” Rezkin
asked.

Wesson screwed his face up in disgust. “I have a natural
affinity for
destructive
magic,” he replied.

Rezkin’s brow rose, and he remarked, “Destructive magic is
quite useful, and I know the battle mage academy would be chomping at the bit
to get someone with a natural affinity. Most battle mages do not possess the
natural affinity. They have to work hard to develop the skills, and it is more
draining. Your talents would not go unappreciated.”

The journeyman shook his head in denial and replied, “I
know, but I do not
want
to be a battle mage. I have no desire to kill
and destroy. I could not even put down Shiela when she was injured. I am
useless. I cannot heal, and I will not destroy.”

BOOK: Reign of Madness (Revised Edition)
4.17Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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