Oct 24, 2021 8:14 PM
Naima and Elie
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"Thanks." It feels strangely intimate to have someone else handling his spellbook – as if she could reach past his skin and touch his own material soul. Not – bad, exactly, but not comfortable either. He's hyperaware of her movements. 

"We should go through and see what's on your list –  they took my spell component pouch." 

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"Right. I don't write mine down, but - you can tell me what you have and I can tell you which of them I have. If that works for you."

She expects that preparing spells is something that takes a certain amount of concentration, and that you'd therefore want anyone helping you with it to be calm and quiet and as little of a distraction as possible, so she tries to be that. It's a little uncomfortable - everything about this situation is already a little uncomfortable, honestly - but it's somewhat less difficult to be calm and quiet when she's doing it for a good reason. She thinks.

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"Okay, uh – most of my cantrips don't have material components but I'd have to prepare them as first-level spells, so it's probably not worth it. I can prepare Endure Heat, Feather Fall, Magic Missile – Mage Armor takes a piece of leather and I have that on my person. Unseen Servant, of course – I don't suppose you have Alarm or Color Spray? Those might be useful. The summonses all take a candle, if you happen to have any on you." 

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"Sorry, no Alarm and no Color Spray. I do have some candles."

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"Oh, that's very good. Alarm would be nice but we can get by without it, the summons are much more important. What else? I've got Obscuring Mist, Blur, Scorching Ray – Web just takes a spider web and I'm sure we can find one of those. Invisibility requires acacia gum; if you don't have it we could look for some – I know gum trees are native to central Garund, but that's about it. Gaseous Form and Fly might be good to have. I know you have Lightning Bolt. And Phantom Steed doesn't take a material component, thank gods. 

...I won't be able to prepare any fourth circle spells, except Dimension Door. So that's everything that seems relevant right now." 

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"I have Fly. I don't have Gaseous Form, but I do have some gauze in my pack for injuries, so that should work. No acacia gum. I don't have a spiderweb on me, but yeah, there's probably one around here somewhere. Although I'm not sure it wouldn't be better to focus on moving instead of gathering materials first."

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"Yeah. I should get us the horses first, we can pick up a spiderweb if we notice one on the way. 

I'm sorry. This is going to take some time." 

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"I know how long it takes to - " Oh that sounds really combative now that she's saying it out loud. Uh. " - it's fine."

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Then he is going to concentrate, dammit because in just another hour he can be useful again – and it's easier than he feared, as he sinks into the familiar ritual, building up his spells, letting the complicated shapes come together in his mind and settle there, ready to spill out into the world. When he's done, he lets the book fade out in his hands. He feels just a little bit more human. 

"I'm ready." 

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There is a sense in which spending an hour sitting still and not moving except to turn pages as directed is really easy, because if you work at it it's not like you're going to fail, and also a sense in which it's really hard, not actually because it would normally be hard, but because it means she has to sit very close to Elie and pay attention to what's happening without actually having much of anything to do, other than try to keep her thoughts away from anything that might make it difficult to remain composed, which it turns out is actually much harder when you don't have anything demanding more of your mind than turning pages does. She is tireder than she feels she should be at the end of the hour. But she thinks she did okay.

"Okay. East is - that way, I guess."

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And there are two phantom steeds standing in front of them. 

...it's actually pretty awkward to try and climb on a horse without any hands. 

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"Do you, uh. Need help. Not that I'm entirely sure how to give it, but, uh - "

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He's currently trying to scramble on top of the horse mostly using his elbows while the unseen servant hauls him up by his shirt collar, so, uh, not his most dignified moment. 

"I'm fine, I've got it. ...I'll get it. Just a second." He is, at this point, very technically on top of his horse. 

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"Okay. Just - so long as you've got it figured out." 

At least this makes it pretty impossible to be embarrassed about not being the best at handling horses. Phantom Steeds are supposed to be easy anyway, though. She can pull herself up onto hers and, uh, awkwardly wait for him to be mostly done with what he's doing.

And then they can head east.

 

It's hard to say how much headway they're making. The phantom steeds are slowed down significantly by the forest, both by the trees and by the scattered patches of mud that suck at their hooves, but at least they're probably much less tired than if they'd had to do their own walking. It's still pretty miserable. She's used to heat, but not used to the air around her being wet, a blanket of water that keeps the sweat stuck to her face and failing to do her much good. Mosquitoes have identified her as a ready source of blood. She swats at them occasionally, but doesn't really have much hope that this will keep her from being thoroughly bitten up by nightfall. She's not very sure whether being fully clothed is helping or hurting her, from a survival standpoint, but the thought of trying to combat the heat by shedding layers makes her feel kind of sick, in this situation, so she keeps herself thoroughly wrapped up and tries to ignore the oppressive dampness. She focuses on the plants. They have so many beautiful plants here. It's great. Most of them are probably poisonous.

The steeds run out after seven hours. They can keep walking a ways after that, but eventually they'll have to rest.

She hands Élie her whole bag of rations when they decide they're done walking. "It's only enough for a couple days, but - no sense in me carrying it, really. Might as well decide yourself what pace you want to go through it."

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"Oh – yes. Thank you." 

Now that she mentions it, he does feel hungry. He tries to dig out a bit of stale bread, fumbles, and settles for awkwardly gnawing while the unseen servant holds it in midair. Humiliating. He wishes he could ask Naima not to look. Why spend year mastering the fundamental forces of reality if one's still going to have embarrassing physical needs at the end of it? 

On that note, he'd like nothing in the world so much as a long, cool bath. He'd thought Osirion was hot, but the desert is nothing next to riding for hours in what feels like a bath of his own sweat. Actually – 

"Naima – do we have a way of finding clean water?" 

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Good question. "Um - well, it's a rain forest, right, so I assume there must be some way to - oh! Oh, I'm an idiot. Ice spears. It should just - make a pillar of ice." Wow, that sounds really good right now. "And I have it prepared, I didn't want to be shooting off lightning bolts where they might cause a forest fire."

She considers also trying to use it for hunting - Wishbone will need to eat some kind of meat very soon, he's already miserably hungry - but the thought of waiting to make ice, now that she's thought of it, is nearly unbearable. She can probably kill some animal by screaming at it later, anyway.

She focuses, and whispers, and waves her hands, and then they have a large, sharp pillar of ice. It'll melt in a matter of hours, but right now it's here, and it is quite possibly the most beautiful thing she's seen all day. She spends a few moments with her forehead pressed against it, cooling off, and then she pulls out her dagger and begins collecting ice shavings into a bottle.

"Here. Try this."

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Oh, that's wonderful. Naima is wonderful. What would he do without her. He lets the chunks of ice melt slowly on his tongue and feels just a little bit more than a human being. 

"You should rest. I'll take the first watch." 

He's not sure he can fall asleep just yet, anyway. He's too uncomfortably aware of the sweat sticking his clothes to his skin and the insect bites and the ache in this hands. Give it a couple hours. How far can they be from the edge of the jungle by phantom steed? 

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She supposes that's probably the next step in this little misadventure. She has very little desire to sleep. She's tired, but not exactly the kind of tired that goes very well with being able to fall asleep. She considers arguing, but she doesn't really know what else she could spend time doing, other than maybe collecting food, and she doesn't want to do that right now and also doesn't really feel like arguing.

She nods. She fills another bottle partway full of ice shavings so that she'll have some water in the morning, and then she curls up with her back to him and tries to get to sleep. At least by now she's so miserable about the conditions her body is operating under that she has less time to think about the fact that she's alone with Elie in the jungle. She presses her bottle of ice against her forehead and tries not to think about anything complicated.

She sleeps for longer than two hours.

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Well, he's not going to wake her. Even with a ring of sustenance, it's not surprising she'd need a little extra rest. 

He has the servant clear the brush a little, until it gives out, and then there's nothing to do but sit and stare out into the jungle. It's humid and still and dark, oppressively dark, darker than he's ever seen anywhere above ground. Tomorrow he'll remember to prepare a silent Light. He listens to the birds and the monkeys and the things crawling around in the undergrowth and wonders vaguely what dinosaurs sound like. 

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She wakes up with a splitting headache and some nausea. 

The headache she can actually think of plenty of explanations for - it's possible she hasn't had enough water to make up for all of this sweating, or that the humidity itself causes it, or any number of things. She's occasionally gotten headaches after reading too long in dim light. The nausea is more worrying. She hasn't eaten anything in two days, so it's not something she ate, and she's never been particularly prone to random bouts of nausea. 

 

"I think," she says, when she's thought for several minutes about whether to tell Elie what she realized in moments, "that I am probably sick."

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shit – what do you do for sick people – he is not the party expert on this – he remembers that soup is usually involved? – rest, fluids, who knows what kinds of strange horrible illnesses people get in the jungle – what if he has to start identifying herbs, he doesn't know the first thing about herbs – shit shit shit – 

"Alright. You should get some more rest. I'll try and find some more water for you, those big round leaves look like they collect it. Do you need anything else?"

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She waits for a moment with her eyes closed, thinking.

 

"I'm trying to decide whether we should move on as quickly as possible towards the edge of the jungle. If it's serious it will probably get worse before it gets better, but we might have time before - but I suppose you have to sleep, still."

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He hates it, but – "...yes. I'm pretty useless as things are. But – " not panicking, not panicking "– there's really no reason to worry just yet. Can you prepare spells? You have remove disease." 

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"Right." She should have thought of that immediately, it's worrying that she didn't. She's taking a better inventory of how she feels, now, and - the headache's strong and sharp, it's not the sort of thing you'd get without something seriously wrong with you. She feels very weak, and very hot, and has sweat through her clothes in several places, although a lot of that seems to just be how existing in the jungle is, it's not necessarily a symptom of anything. She wonders idly whether there's a point at which her ring of sustenance will have difficulty keeping pace with it.

"I'll prepare spells. That should fix this. You should - do you think you should start sleeping while I do?"

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"I – I don't want to leave you like this." 

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