Oct 16, 2021 1:29 PM
Naima and Elie
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"I suppose one hour won't make much difference," she says, after a bit, and then begins communing with her dog.

It's always kind of a surreal experience, not being able to prepare spells. When it fails it fails all together, even the easy ones whose forms she knows inside and out. She can shape them properly, if she's very careful and slow, but she can't make the magic flow through them right. She hasn't gotten enough rest, at least not in whatever sense matters for spell preparation.

Within fifteen minutes she's sure it's not going to work. She leans back against the nearest tree and stares miserably up into the canopy.

"I can't do it. I didn't sleep well enough."

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"Alright. That's fine. We'll both take a nap together until we're rested. Can you cast slumber on yourself?" 

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"Probably. Depends on the hour. But someone needs to keep watch. Or maybe they don't, I don't know. I guess Wishbone's here."

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"Well, if a dinosaur came to eat us in the night, what exactly could we do about it right now?" 

If Naima dies because she was trying to rescue him he doesn't know how he's going to live with himself – though of course in that case he'll certainly be dead too. One must be grateful for small comforts. 

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"Slumber it. For one minute. And I have a lightning bolt from yesterday, although then we might just have a forest fire on our hands."

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"I don't know, this whole forest seems fairly ...damp. But I do think we need to risk sleeping – if you like, I could stay up for a while longer?" 

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She presses a hand to her face. Mostly this is a futile attempt to press the shooting pain out of her head.

"It's probably more important for you to get your spells back in a timely manner than for me to. If you don't sleep we can't get the phantom steeds back."

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"...Are you sure? You look like you're in pain." 

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"I am in pain!" she says sharply, and she has enough presence of mind to be dimly aware that this is unideal in some way but not really enough presence of mind to begin to think how she would avoid it. "That's - not material."

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Right. Right, he's an idiot, he's been treating Naima like a child when she's really more qualified to deal with this situation than he is, and if she thinks it's best to stay up so he can sleep and prepare his spells than he had better just get to sleep and get them both out of here faster in the morning. Stupid, stupid, stupid. 

....But he doesn't like to think of going to sleep and leaving her alone. Without quite thinking about it, he reaches up and puts his hand on her forehead. 

"You're warm. Promise ...promise you'll wake me if you start to feel worse." 

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She breathes a tiny bit faster. She feels - she doesn't know how she feels about that. It's a normal thing to do to check her condition. She's done it to lots of people. It's exactly the same sort of thing as when she splinted his hands up this morning. So there's no call to have feelings about it. But she's alone, and scared, and hurting, and wants the contact, and is also terrified of what happens when you want contact and you're alone and the only other person around is someone who knows that you want to marry them and who doesn't want to marry you.

She should stop thinking about this because it's stupid. It's hard to focus very well on things that are not stupid. She has to make decisions and it is not at all obvious to her what the right decisions to make are.

 

"If I wake you you won't get your spells back."

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Naima is right. He is just so unutterably godsdammed stupid, and Naima is right, and the last thing in the world he wants is to argue about this right now, but it's wet and full of dinosaurs and they're stuck a thousand miles from home and both of his hands are broken and he's exhausted through to his bones and Naima looks like she might actually start crying and that seems more unbearable than any of this rest of it. "That doesn't matter if you're not well enough to ride. Please, Naima. If you need me – " 

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"I don't know how to fix this," she says, miserably, and there's a panicky note in her voice that she hates. "I don't know many of the plants here and I don't know how to find the ones I'd need even if I did, and I think that my spells are not coming back because I am sick, and I'm not sure they'll come back if I sleep again, and - if I don't know how to heal myself then the only way to stop it is to get someplace where they can, right, otherwise we just - if we get to the point where all we can do is ride it out then I can't control it, if I can't treat the illness I'm not any more invulnerable to diseases than any other adventurer - "

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Well, she's not wrong. 

"Adventurer is doing a lot of work there. You're more durable – even if whatever you have would kill an ordinary person – and we don't know that – there's every chance you'll make it through. The only thing I know right now is that at least one of us needs to sleep. Me first, if you insist." He may be exhausted, but he's a little keyed up, now. "Slumber me? Once I've rested, I'll get us some phantom steeds. We can ride through the night. We'll get out of here. I – " he can't promise "– I'll be right here." 

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"Okay," she says, weakly, and feels like she should feel relieved that they're going with her plan, except she doesn't, actually, because unlike most situations like this she is not actually sure that her plan is better than any other.

She slumbers him.

A few minutes later she feels incredibly stupid, because now she needs to stay up and keep watch, and she's not actually remotely in a state of mind to keep watch for two hours, let alone eight, and if she had any other patient with these symptoms and didn't have herbs for remedies on hand, sleep would be just about the second thing she'd tell them to get as much as possible of, after water. She's not very clear on whether she still needs lots of water and sleep when she has a ring of sustenance. She'd weakly guess that it's still the best possible course of action. Except that she's supposed to be watching for dinosaurs. This was stupid. She's an idiot. Probably her blood is cooking off right now, or something, and this is probably not doing her any favors on the intelligence front.

She stares up into the inky blackness above her and wonders what kind of animal she will be stuck as forever if she dies and gets sent to Nirvana. She wonders if she's ever going to see her son again. She wonders who'll raise him. Shawil, probably, which really means the church with Shawil occasionally looking in for reasons that Rahim won't understand and Shawil won't explain. She wonders what they'll tell him about his mother. Maybe nothing. Be so easy to let him assume he was dropped off by a random prostitute one day. 

She wishes Élie were awake again. She dimly wishes he would touch her again, partly out of some idea that it might anchor her but mostly, probably, because slowly cooking off makes it harder to remember why people should not be stupid. She wishes she could send him to get water. She tries sending Wishbone, when this occurs to her, and she manages to get back a cup of lukewarm water with an insect in it. She drinks it. She's tempted to spread some water across her forehead, too, but the fact is that she's already very thoroughly bathing in her own sweat, and it doesn't seem likely that more dampness will help.

 

She doesn't make it the full eight hours. When Élie wakes up she's asleep again, breathing more shallowly than she ought to be.

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Oh, no. He doesn't want to wake her. He summons his spellbook from the etherial plane – and gets a painful but predictable surprise when it falls on his useless hands. Ouch. So that's going to have to wait. He notices that some of Naima's hair is stuck to her forehead with sweat and spends what feels like hours trying to decide if he should push it back, up, out of her eyes. 

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She stirs slightly but doesn't wake. She's actually stirring pretty frequently, quiet sounds and small changes in position, not usually related to anything that seems to be happening to her. She's just not capable of truly restful sleep right now.

Whatever else it's doing, the ring of sustenance is at least causing her to slip into unconsciousness for less time than she normally would. Eventually she opens her eyes. She's feverish and achey and the shooting pain in her head has only gotten worse. She can't remember what was happening before she fell asleep. Élie was sleeping, maybe? Right. She must have failed at keeping watch until he woke up. She would be embarrassed, but she's not sure she can stand, right now, which seems like it's probably the more pressing problem. She needs to think how to fix it, but it's hard when the pain is crowding all of the other thoughts out of her head.

"I guess nothing ate us." It's not meant to be a whisper, but it comes out not much louder than one.

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Oh, no. She sounds so weak. Élie takes a couple of moments just to breathe, because somebody needs their wits about them if they're going to get out of this forest fast, fast, fast. He wonders if endure heat does anything for fever. Worth a try, at least. He can summon his horses – but Naima doesn't look well enough to ride, not for any length of time. He could conjure a carriage, but there aren't any roads out here in the middle of Mwangi expanse. He can – get her some water. That seems important. Just as soon as he has hands. 

"I heard a few things go bump in the night, but it looks like they had tastier options. How are you feeling?" 

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"Bad." She should probably be thinking of something more responsible to say but the thing where you have to think about what you say and whether saying it is a good idea is stupid and her head hurts. "Worse. Probably going to keep getting worse until something does eat us. - I realize this is not a helpful thing to say and I wish I could be helpful but I am currently too busy thinking about how all of this is stupid and terrible and I hate it, and probably a reasonable person would be able to ignore this in favor of figuring out what needs to be done, but I guess I'm not cut out for this. Or something."

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"That's alright – I mean, it wouldn't be alright if something ate us, but I don't think anything will, we'll get out of here, and even if we don't Catherine or Shawil will scry us when they notice we're missing and get a teleport. So we just have to focus on staying alive right now. We can do that. Could you" – he holds out the spellbook, helplessly – "I'm trying to keep it open. Just here, so I can get my unseen servant. I thought I might try preparing endure heat, see if it does anything about your fever. Or at least the – this." He gestures in the hot, soupy air. 

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Seems kind of unlikely that it'll help with heat coming from inside a creature. Spells draw distinctions along those lines a lot. But it's so hot. She has no idea how much of the pain is related to the heat, but it kind of feels all mixed together, the heat and the dampness and the pain. It's hard to think between it all. But she can probably hold a book open, if that's what they're doing now. Easier than coming up with her own plan. Hard enough to think about breathing and not crying or making enough noise to attract unwanted company.

"I think I can do that. Long enough to get one spell out of it."

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"That's good. Thank you. One spell is all I need." 

He is really regretting his broken hands right about now. If he could just access his fourth circle spells, maybe he could – what? Summon a hound archon and see if it could sniff their way out of here? No point worrying about it now. The important thing is getting Naima back to civilization, as fast as he can, any way that he can. Her hands are shaking.

"There now. All done." 

And he can cast his unseen servant, and prepare the rest of his spells. He's never been especially religious, but he offers up a quick prayer to Nethys to help him see a way to get them safely home. 

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She goes back to curling up on the ground and trying not to be too obvious about the labored breathing, or otherwise interfere with his focus until he's clearly done.

"I don't know if I can ride." It comes out a whimper. "Genuinely uncertain." 

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"That's alright. I can – " tie her to the horse? Absolutely not. Make some kind of sledge? Wait here until Naima feels better or the dinosaurs come and get them? If only phantom steeds could carry two people. 

...He's an idiot. "I can just use Mount. Ordinary horses are slower, but –  I can hold you, so you don't fall." 

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Oh hey. Obviously. She's going to try not to fault herself for not thinking of that around all the pain and the heat. It sounds a little terrifying but she's pretty sure this is the sort of situation where you go with whatever seems likeliest to keep you all alive. " - I guess that might work. You're - sure you can do that?"

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