"Blood from cuts isn't a direction I've gotten anywhere with. My meditation, when I focus on changing plants, is a meditation on symbiosis."
Ara'Vine checks on the stew and decides they have the time for a quick exercise.
"This is what I let run through my head when I'm preparing to heal something other than myself," he says, shifting to a slow and steady tone of voice, no longer explaining but directing.
"First, close your eyes and think of your brain. That is the most central thing that is definitely you. It's the one thing that you can't change, only heal." A good thing, considering what happened before the gods fixed that particular magical exploit. "It can't survive on its own, outside of a skull and without a heart and lungs and digestive system to provide it with nutrients and oxygen. Your eyes, ears, and other sensory organs provide your brain with information. The muscles and bones let you interact with the world. Your skull and skin protect you from danger. All of these trillions of cells need to work together for their survival, and you are all of them.
"The mitochondria is a very old symbiote. Some billions of years ago, two very basic lifeforms began living alongside each other, and to this day their descendants remain together, now unable to survive apart, and you are both of them.
"The gut flora is something similar, but more recent. They help to digest food, and in exchange your body provides them a place to live and a source of food. People get very sick if they take too many antibiotics because the gut flora is harmed and our health depends on them. And they are evolved to live within humans, and wouldn't thrive outside of that environment.
"Now comes the stretching point - Humans have symbiotic relationships with things outside of ourselves.
"Take wheat, for example. Humans plant wheat, provide it with water and fertilizer, prevent competition from invading its fields, safeguard it from disease. In exchange, we get food and oxygen. Humans can't survive without plants - we wouldn't be able to breathe without the oxygen they provide, and we can't get energy from the sun on our own.
"Animals, too. Dogs, barnwyrms, horses, pigeons, cattle, and more were all bred to work in symbiosis with us. Dogs perform tasks and cattle turn otherwise-inedible plants into milk, and we give them protection, medicine, and shelter.
"People are the hardest, but it works the same way. The farmer needs metal tools and medicine. The healer needs metal tools and food. The blacksmith needs food and medicine. People in a city are like organs in a body, each doing a job and relying on the others."