This post has the following content warnings:
May 29, 2020 4:19 PM
Bruce Banner as Vanyel, from end of book 1 of "A Song for Two Voices"
Next Post »
+ Show First Post
Total: 996
Posts Per Page:
Permalink

:Chosen, I'm here: Yfandes reassures him. :I know this won't be fun, and I think it will be - hard - but I doubt it's going to be as awful as you're imagining, either. And you should eat a bit while you talk: She mentally pokes him until he gets out of the pool. 

Permalink

Savil sits down next to him by one of the tree-stump tables. Before she says anything at all, she reaches out and grips his hand. 

"I want to apologize," she says quietly. "I bet you feel like everything is your fault, but - you're my student and ward, you're my responsibility, and it doesn't matter exactly what caused it, ultimately I took you into a mission unprepared and that's on me." Pause. "And now here we are. We've got a problem, and I suspect it's been going on a lot longer than just since the other night. And I know you, Abras; I'm sure you've spent the last few days ruminating on it. Can you talk me through what you think was going on?" 

Permalink

Yfandes' prompting gets him out of the pool and dressed; he takes some food and pokes at it.

"I've been trying to do things--training and scouting, mostly, but I couldn't keep it up. And I didn't want to admit that I couldn't, so I acted like I was fine. Also I've been avoiding sleep. Also I think I slept too much yesterday because now I just don't want to do anything and I'm not sure how to go back to doing things with or without pretending."

Permalink

"...Oh, ke'chara." Savil holds out her arms. "Hey, come here. It's going to be all right. Listen – sleeping too much does not cause not wanting to do anything. Generally, months of holding more than you can keep up and pretending to be fine does that. Happened to me once." She strokes his hair. "Why were you avoiding sleeping? I thought you'd been looking tired lately; I should have checked in, I was just busy and distracted." 

Permalink

"When I try to fall asleep. I can't stop thinking about." Hopefully she can infer the rest of the sentence.

Permalink

She definitely can, and winces. "...That makes sense. I'm - sorry, there's probably some sort of advice Lancir would have about that but I'm not a Mindhealer and I have no idea. Getting enough rest is really important, though. Before we talk about the other things, can we figure out a plan to make sure that happens?" 

Permalink

"Yfandes did a thing last night to knock me out when I wasn't tired enough to sleep on my own, but I don't know if it's safe to use that more often or if I would just get dependent on it and not be able to sleep without it ever."

Permalink

“Oh. Hmm. Let me check with Kellan." Pause. "...It's not physically dangerous, although it does mean you'll need to sleep outside where she is. I think we should try it for a week or so, and then maybe skip a night and see whether you can't fall asleep at all without it, or if there's no change, or - honestly it might be better, if your mind gets out of the habit of dreading going to bed. Also, Moondance might be able to get you some herbs that help with falling asleep and are safe to use frequently, you could try alternating that and having Yfandes help. Sound all right?"

Permalink

"Yeah, we can try that." Which leaves him not knowing what to do during the day. Presumably he isn't going to get invited on any more scouting trips until he gives people some reason to believe he won't just shut down in the middle of one again, but he still needs to train and doesn't know when he's going to start being able to do thinks without constant poking. If he tries to go to a lesson like this he's going to drive Starwind insane, but he doesn't know how to stop being like this. "Am I supposed to have magic lessons today?"

Permalink

"...Do you want to? I don't mean, do you feel that you ought to, I mean, do you think it would improve your day. Er, don't decide right now, think about it."

Savil pauses, frowns, then rubs her chin and looks intently at him. "Abras, I'm kind of worried. I'm guessing that if you can't stop thinking about - the thing - and it's been keeping you from sleeping, it's probably affecting you in other ways. Which is really understandable, and I wish I knew how to help and I don't. I know it's a big ask for you to tell me the answer there, but, do you think we can try to come up with some guesses together? Is there anything that actually makes you feel better, not just too busy to think?" 

Permalink

"Learning things does feel good, I think. Talking to Yfandes is definitely good. Talking to Moondance, sometimes. Talking to you, except for when it reminds me of talking to you in Haven. Um, walking around the Vale and just looking at things?" What a boring set of things to enjoy. "But then other times, when I'm with people I want to be alone and when I'm alone I can't think about anything except being sad." Those were the times he would sit somewhere within sight of people but not interact with them and practice something random until he wore himself out.

Permalink

"...I'm sorry, ke'chara, that sounds really hard." She hugs him again. "Thank you for talking about it, that can't be easy either. Hmm. When I want to be alone but not actually, often I find that's a good time for Companion snuggles without any talking, if that counts as 'alone' for you. Or doing something physical, that helps if I can't stop worrying otherwise but doesn't wear down my reserves like mage-practice would."

She strokes his hair. "It does seem like you're happiest when you've just found something interesting. I can probably find you more tidbits there. And I can take you to walk around the Vale and look at things without talking much, if that's easier than doing it of your own initiative. What do you think?" 

Permalink

"I think it's really kind of you to offer, but you should spend your time doing what you want to do and I should solve my own problems. Or if I can't solve my own problems at least look for a solution that doesn't need you to implement it. If I had more books I could go read them, that's always absorbing."

Permalink

"Abras. Look at me." Savil takes his shoulders firmly, turns him to face her. "I love you. I care about you a lot. If you don't let me help even in the few ways I can – which, from the sound of it, aren't much effort and are fun for me too – I am going to be very cross." 

Permalink

"Okay. Um, sorry. I mean, taking walks with you does sound nice. Thanks."

Permalink

“I’m glad. And what about a hug? Does that sound nice?” 

Permalink

Tiny smile. "Yes. Yes it does." Hug.

Permalink

Savil hugs him for a pretty long time; Yfandes comes up and snuggles against him on the other side.

“So,” Savil says finally. “What next? Walk? Or I could tell you stories about obscure magic I’ve taught myself, if a walk sounds tiring.”

Permalink

"It's less that a walk sounds tiring and more that stories about obscure magic sound interesting."

Permalink

"Good! That's good to hear." Savil pulls back a bit but keeps her arm around his shoulders. "I'm afraid most of them are cases where my study didn't really go anywhere – if it did, the magic wouldn't be obscure by now. But maybe with a fresh mind like yours on the project, we can get somewhere." 

She strokes the tip of her nose. "Hmm. I can tell you about how Deedre and I were playing around with elemental spirits, this must've been, gods, twenty-five years ago. Her research paid off, she got the Truth Spell out of it, but I was focused on water elementals..." 

Savil can keep telling Abras about her abortive attempts to summon, categorize, and figure out the properties of water elementals until he tells her to go away or until the sun hits the zenith and more food sneakily appears beside them, whichever comes first. 

Permalink

Water elementals are pretty neat and Abras knows very little about them! Do they have minds? What are they mind like? How much do they vary from one to the next? 

Permalink

Savil agrees with him that they're fascinating! They do have minds, for a certain definition of 'mind'; none of them are as intelligent as people, it's hard to compare because they're quite different but they seem to vary between, oh, 'snail' and 'unusually clever dog'. The difference is that Mindspeech, or something akin to it, is their native communication. "Imagine a snail that could talk to you!" she says at one point.

Each plane (earth, air, fire, water) has its own set of elementals, coming in several types or 'species' that vary in intelligence and cooperativeness with summonings. (Savil isn't sure if they mate and reproduce like ordinary species in the material plane; she doesn't know how to visit their home planes, though there are rumours that some schools of magic teach how mages can project their minds there, and it's not the kind of question they understand and answer). Savil isn't sure if individual elementals of the same type vary; she generally can't tell them apart. 

Elementals of different planes vary quite a lot; air elementals have an affinity for minds, which makes them easier to study and interact with, thus Deedre's successes. Water elementals seem to have an odd, sideways, but surprisingly acute perception of weather patterns in the material plane. Savil had kind of hoped she could incorporate them into weather-magic somehow, but ended up stuck on communicating to them what she wanted. 

Permalink

Abras isn't as animated as Savil will remember him being before everything happened, but he's definitely engaged! Water elementals being able to sense weather patterns is interesting; he wonders if they're doing it by sensing water or something else, and whether you could use little scaled-down models of weather phenomena with real water to communicate things to them or if they wouldn't get the analogy.

Permalink

Savil doesn't know the answer to most of his questions, but agrees that they're good questions! Ideas for experiments worth running at some point in the future, maybe. 

When the food arrives, she nudges it toward him. "I think that's enough sitting and talking. Eat something, and then why don't we walk around some?" 

Permalink

The arrival of lunch makes him aware that he forgot to eat breakfast; he eats some nontrivial fraction of a reasonable meal. And then they can go for a walk.

Total: 996
Posts Per Page: