I still don’t think I’m ready to think about that brief terrifying moment. I knew what that spell was before it hit me, but I was so tired, I’ve barely slept enough to cast since we left Treff, and that blasted telepathic bastard had been in my head for gods know how long – I couldn’t even try to resist. They told me I was out for barely ten seconds, but that was somehow enough time to play back my life in absurd detail.
I sat in the back of transmutation class that day – I usually sat in the front row, but I’d gotten in a fight with Marin two days before and didn’t want to sit anywhere near her. It was ostensibly because I’d been flirting with Kostas, “who I knew she liked”, even though said flirtation was entirely him trying to get a good look down my shirt while I attempted to keep the subject on copying my notes from theory of spellcraft. I was fourteen, just losing my hold on spell book magic, and I was wincing through a bout of menstrual cramps as the lecturer said “Although transmutation is often thought of as a benign school, more advanced spells can be crippling, either indirectly as with stone to mud, or directly as with flesh to stone…”
Not as if paying more attention to that long-past lecture would have saved me. The thing from the basement was a bone naga, and its spells were powerful. Gods only know how we’d have managed if Isabella hadn’t been there to pull me back, or if she hadn’t had a scroll stashed in her gear.
The ritual was a qualified success. It appears that the worst of the physical consequences of Galen’s condition were indeed cured, although the process turned the once-invisible runes into visible scars. The spiritual effects remain. He had a vision, and now wishes to seek the Pariah’s shackles to complete the cure. He believes that he is being told to seek the same green dragon we were contracted to investigate by the Sawgrass Rangers.
But first, I’ll send this damned canary off and hope it doesn’t get eaten by something on its way to our rendezvous point. Nine bleeding Hells, Bantam needs to get his head out of his ass about putting his signature on goddamn everything. At this point I don’t even have the mental energy to have misgivings about what we’re about to do next. All I care about now is getting to Cyrus, rescuing the girl, getting back to Treff, and sleeping in a soft bed in dry clothes under a solid roof.