Apr 16, 2021 6:09 AM
Naima and Elie
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Weak smile. "Yeah, it feels like a different sort of thing. Feels less like anything sometimes, like it's a - more naive action, or something, like how you have to learn to talk but once you know how you don't really have to try?

" - I think you should try to get a full eight hours now. We'll probably figure out how to get you out of them in the morning. And even if we don't - you'll be able to walk farther if you're not about to fall over."

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"Yeah, that – that sounds like a good idea. I'll do my best. Don't want to slow you down tomorrow." 

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"Mhmm. You wanna let me do the sleep hex? Because it's, uh, hard. To get to sleep here."

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"I can imagine. Very loud and ...damp. Loud and damp. You know, I've never been particularly good at falling asleep, terrible thing in a wizard, used to have all kinds of trouble about it. ...I mean, yes, you should hex me." 

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"Okay." Then when he's gotten as comfortable as possible, which she's very sure isn't saying much, she can hex him.

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And he can sleep. 

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Well.

She's tempted to spend the next eight hours moping, but not very tempted, because they're stuck in the jungle with not more than two days of full rations for a single person. She doesn't actually need to eat anymore - she'd forgotten this, momentarily, in the shock of being stuck here, since she's so used to eating anyway - but Elie does, and she needs to keep Elie alive because - she doesn't feel like she should have to have a reason for that. She is very aware that if you don't eat for long enough, you die, and that eking a living out of an unfamiliar wilderness presumably requires even more work than supporting yourself via farming does. Maybe it'll be easier if they can find any sort of decent-sized animal to kill and cook, but if they go looking for one then they might find any number of other things. 

She un-merges with Wishbone (who also needs to eat) and spends an hour getting her spells back. She lights up the forest with a cantrip, hoping that this won't draw the attention of anything she can't handle. She explores the immediate area for anything that looks food-like, and then heads a little further out, in ever-widening circles, tasking Wishbone with sitting right next to Elie and alerting her if something is wrong. She finds a lot of insects. She supposes they could probably eat insects if they had to. If she could climb, she could probably find some fruit somewhere, but the first branches are too high up and she doesn't want to waste a fly spell on it. 

It takes her a while to circle back around to thinking about what she's going to do. The first order of business is to get the handcuffs off. She tries to picture the sort of dislocation necessary for something like that, and isn't at all sure that it can be done without damaging the bones themselves. The wrist has a lot of bones in it; she will probably need to dislocate several to get them through, and the widest part of the hand is above that, which means she also has to dislocate several of his fingers, and fingers are so easy to break if they get hit with enough force, and she doesn't even know whether she's capable of applying the necessary force -

It's really very unfair that she can't just not touch him. Not touching him would be, comparatively speaking, very easy. But she has to do this stupid complex procedure that she's never done before, as quickly as possible, while also trying not to cause additional damage, and she has to hold his hands to do it, and it's stupid and she hates it and she wishes she were home. Wishes that they could go back to their previous level of awkwardly ignoring what she'd asked of him, under circumstances where she was actually able to control how much contact she had and didn't have to continuously monitor her emotions for whether they were going to make him feel guilty and powerless and horrible.

She wishes he'd said yes. But he didn't. And if he's judging her now for - pursuing what she wants even though she doesn't have the wisdom and experience necessary to make difficult or important decisions at this stage in her life, then, well, he won't be the first. And maybe he's right, maybe she does need more experience to make this decision. She definitely doesn't feel like she's thinking entirely clearly. It's - hard, to think clearly, in this situation, given all of the guard rails that are missing from it. But she will have to do her best.

 

 

When Elie wakes up, she's roasting mushrooms over a little contained fire. They're not poisonous. It's anyone's guess how much nutritional value they have. 

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He's groggy and hungry and really, really done with his shoulders being stuck in this one position. 

"Morning. ....is it morning?" 

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She glances at the canopy above them. "Early morning, but yeah. Should have been long enough to get your spells back, once the cuffs are off."

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"Okay. Is there anything else we want to try before we go through with this?"

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Sigh. "I prepared reduce person, if you wanted to try that, but I don't think it'll work."

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"Yeah, there's no reason to believe they're resistant to magical effects." 

She tries it. It doesn't work. Now there is a small Élie and a dainty little set of anti-magic shackles. 

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Sigh. She dismisses it.

"I don't actually know how to do this safely. This is not really something that I have ever worked with at all. Just - so we're clear. I guess you should probably have something to bite."

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"Don't worry about that, there's nothing I'd be using my hands for that an unseen servant can't do and I can always get a regenerate in Quantium." He's trying to be as resolutely up-beat about this as possible without actually crossing the line into chipper because that would be disturbing. "If you use a heavy rock or something it'll be quick. Of course, I'm probably more resilient now – best to find a very heavy rock." 

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"That - do you think that's the best way to do it?" She guesses that it sounds easier than trying to individually dislocate bones, but it also sounds like it'll make it totally impossible for him to use his hands in any capacity until they get to Quantium.

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"I don't see how else you could. Bones are strong, it's very hard to just break them manually – I tried. On the ship. And I think I'd rather you do it all at once than breaking them one at a time."

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"I guess that makes sense."

Well. She can look around for the heaviest-looking rock she saw when she was looking for food. It should be big enough to smash things pretty thoroughly.

She kind of feels like she would have a much better idea what to do if she knew more about - surgery, maybe, a surgeon would be good here - but she doesn't, and this is what Elie wants her to do, and - it's cruel of her to keep asking him how okay he is with this, really, when he is probably not very okay with it, and shouldn't have to be.

She gives him a leather strap to bite, and uses some oil from her herbalism pouch, in case that makes it easier to get his hands out after, and then - 

(Can't afford to be squeamish. Women and children are - not even that, children and Osirian women can afford to be squeamish. Adventurers and doctors cannot be.)

- she brings the rock down as hard as she can.

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that hurts just about as much as you'd expect.

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Yeah.

She pulls the handcuffs off - which probably hurts a lot more, since the whole point of this is being able to force his hands ways that they're absolutely not supposed to be able to go - and then she can heal him and try to figure out where they're at on the damage front.

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His hands ache, and when he tries to make a fist there's a sharp, queasy pain as the shards of bone slide against each other.

He awkwardly holds out his hands. "Do you think you could help me splint them?"

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"Yeah, of course."

She had somehow kind of forgotten that this was an obvious element of this plan, but it's fine, it's fine, it's fine, she knows how to splint broken bones, even if she doesn't know how to break them cleanly and has never tried to put bones back together when they're in quite this many pieces. 

She'll just... very insistently pretend to herself that they are someone else's hands. There. That's much easier to deal with.

It's a slow process, checking each bone for breaks and making splints for all of them. She doesn't say anything while she works, other than repeatedly asking whether things hurt or feel off. Easier not to have to think about talking at the same time.

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This is ...it's not nice. He's in pain and it's about a hundred degrees and humid and the air is full of biting insects and they're hundreds of miles away from civilization. So he's had better days. But at the same time, it's – good, to have someone just take care of him like this. There's still the loathsome little voice in his head nagging him to find out what she really wants and how she's going to use it against him, but it's getting quieter and quieter as Naima fastens his fingers to the splints. It's painstaking, delicate work. He needs to concentrate, so he can get his spellbook, but it's hard to think straight when his bones keep stabbing him like that. His thoughts feel jumbled. He realizes that she has never, actually, touched him. He closes his eyes and thinks about a late nigh at the hospital in Sothis, going over their research notes, and what it would feel like if she reached out and took his hands. 

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She is trying really really hard not to think about this being the same kind of thing as any other kind of touching, because if it were the same thing she might have to have feelings about it, and she does not feel like having feelings would be very good for her ability to focus on splinting things.

When she's done she lets go just a little bit suspiciously suddenly, because she really really really doesn't want to accidentally cross over into accidentally doing the sort of handholding that she would probably have to have some kind of feelings about.

"I think that should hold them. You'll want to avoid using them as much as you can, of course. I can try healing them again tomorrow. I'm not sure it'll do anything for the bones, but maybe we can at least keep the swelling down."

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"Okay. Then – I'm going to try recalling my spellbook now."

He holds very still and tries to concentrate until he can block out the heat and the bugs and Naima sitting right there in front of him until the outline of a book appears in his lap and slowly solidifies. 

"....I'm going to need your help turning the pages." 

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"...right, no unseen servant until you've prepared it. I can do that."

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