Surprise Meetings

Kura meets Faith...again

Seated on the shores of Lake Lovalus, Rharne serves as the home of the Lighting Knights, the Thunder Priestesses, and the Merchant's guild. This beautiful trade city is filled with a happy and contented people who rarely need an excuse to party.

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She pulled her attention back to the living and she took ahold of Padraig's hand as he and Kura spoke about being travellers, and Kura told her story. A gentle squeeze of the hand she held was all the apology for getting distracted she could give right now, but she gave it. Really, she considered, she was going to have to get better at that. It was just all so new and overwhelming. "It was a great honour, yes." She had no idea that it had utterly ruined Padraig's plans for the evening. She grinned at Padraig, though, when he said that her life was not what it was, and nor was his. The best thing that ever happened to him, that had been what he called her and she knew as truthfully as she knew anything that it was true. "And yes, both our lives have changed completely. Funny how that happens when you least expect it, isn't it?" She looked at him, noticing the slight twitch in his eye and she smiled, "Jamal. Not Tristan. You'd have never sat across a table or been in the same room as Jamal." Frankly, Faith gave thanks to Famula that there was currently no possibility that Padraig and Jamal could meet. It didn't warrent thinking about.

Her gaze fell to Kura though, who appeared to be very much a straight talking type, and Faith smiled. "There are two, actually. There's one who's very large and angry and his anger tastes like bitter coffee grinds in my mouth." She had only just realised that she physically experienced the emotions emanating from the ghosts she saw. How interesting. But it was the other one who drew her attention.

Faith frowned slightly, addressing the young woman there, "I'm sorry, can you understand me?"
"Yes. Of course I can. She needs help", the soul repeated.

"There's a young woman just there. About my age, I'd say, although I'm not sure how old that is. But she's thin, like she's starved and she says that you need help," Faith looked at Kura with a smile. "She's sorrowful when she looks at you. I... it's very new, this ability and she is.. you are... the first that I've been able to communicate with." She looked then at Padraig, with a glance which was at once determined and apologetic. "I think I can help her to move on to where she should be. I think that's possible." She held on to his hand and gathered herself for a moment. "Alright. Science. Facts and clarity, the history of it. Between the three, or maybe the four?" she smiled at the young woman who gave a slight smile back and nodded. "We can do this. I think there should be questions? Do we have questions?" she looked at Padraig for that and it had to be said, her glance was hopeful. After all, his was the logical mind.
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One hundred and twenty arcs. How strange it must be, Padraig thought, to live for what seemed like an eternity, while those around you aged, grew old and passed on. It seemed to him that it ought result in a great deal of internal conflict. Living forever was one thing, to watch friends and loved ones come and go was another. The Eternal Empire though, that was interesting. It was another place he might like to visit some trial.

"I'm afraid we haven't been here quite long enough to see much of the city just yet. But we'll stay a while, I think?" he said with a glance at Faith, though clearly a great deal of her attention was directed towards the unseen. Ghost-Watcher. It was an interesting choice of wording. But also fairly accurate he thought. But she was a judge? That was unexpected, but might account for some hard feelings, if there were spirits trailing her about.

He grinned a little though when Faith turned her attention back to him. "Least expected is right, and I'd have never bet on it before I met you," he confessed. "It's a wager I'd have been happy to lose." As for her previous owner Jamal, he could only have agreed had she said it aloud. He'd never had any inclination to meet the man or sit across a table from him. If he was to? Suffice to say the interaction would make the one between him and Tristan seem like a happy reunion between two old friends.

But now it appeared as if Faith did more than see the spirits that were present? Was this new or had it always been, and she was just becoming more aware of it? He'd wondered before though if she was able to do more than just see them. He'd asked in fact, if she could help them in some way. And in this case, she seemed to believe she could.

He wasn't sure what he could do that would be of any help. He couldn't see the figures by Kura's side. Couldn't sense or hear them. Did they notice him? Surely they did. Would the girl acknowledge his efforts though, that was the real question. But from a scientific perspective he was fascinated by the process. He'd give it a try then. "What is your name?" he asked. "How do you know Kura and how long have you been following her?" he asked quietly.
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Kura noticed the by play between Faith and Padraig in regards to her former owners, then shrugged. "I can't speak to Tristan, but Jamal had her sleepin' on a stone floor under naught but a thin rag for a blanket and only feedin' her once a day. In truth, I've wanted to meet the man so that I could...educate him as to his failings." she said, giving a grin that could only be described as feral as she spoke of educating Jamal. When Faith spoke of Kura's tag-a-long spirits though, the Mortalborn turned her attention back to her.

"Two? Hardly a surprise, really." she said, before pausing a moment in thought as Faith described one who was quite angry with her but ultimately shrugging. "That describes quite a few of my sentencees, lass. Tell the burk to bog off and leave you alone, he payed his own way to his death." she said, the very picture of uncaring nonchalance. The large man swelled in rage at her clear indifference to his fate, but still couldn't make himself heard. When Faith spoke to the other spirit, Kura watched with interest. When the girl described the second spirit, however, Kura's reaction was far more pronounced. Her eyes widened and she sucked in a breath that sounded pained.

She looked down at the table in shock as Padraig and Faith spoke, but when Padraig began trying to ask question of the spirit, Kura shook herself and let out a slow, shuddering breath. The ghost turned to Padraig and started to answer, but stopped and looked back at Kura as she spoke. "Thirty arcs. Cally would have been followin' me for thirty arcs now." she said, her tone pained, sorrowful and she glanced to her left, seemingly looking at the spirit. "She was a slave, born to the life. I sentenced her owner to a life imprisonment for assault and when we raided his house afterwards to see if there other crimes she had committed, we found her chained to the walls of his cellar." Kura paused and drained her ale mug down to the dregs and set it to the side.

"She was fifteen when we found her and had been...well, her owner had but one use for her. Afterwards, I re-tried him and sentenced him to hang, then set him to swing meself." she said, her tone a mixture of sadness and anger. "Cally hadn't been given a name, couldn't read or count. Could barely speak when we found her. I took her in, kept the care of her and saw to it she was educated. I'd intended to free the lass when she was older, more capable of survivin' on her own. She believe she existed to serve, though, and took on a role akin to a maid or squire for me, makin' sure I ate and such." she said, laughing slightly, though it was a wet, sad laugh.

"The others took to callin' her "Shadow", as she constantly standin' behind me to left, in case I needed her fer somethin'. She was with me fer three years, then I got put in charge of a case that would like as anythin' see a group of criminals what had been kidnappin' and sellin' people to unsavory types. We had the lot of them, we thought, but a few had slipped our net. I sent Cally home to make sure dinner and such was ready for us while I wrapped of everythin'. Poor lass never made it their, though. Bastards took her right off the street, tortured her to try an' make me let the rest of their group go free." she said, before taking another shuddering breath, this time one that was pure rage.

"One of my domains is Trackin', though. An' I can't be shaken off a trail once I have it. I found them and they thought to threaten Cally to make let them go. I wouldn't, and they killed her then and there, before I could stop them. I fed the lot of them to the birds for it, and did the same to their mates. Never even tried them, I was so furious, though the Empress pardoned my actions afterward. Said it was a fitting punishment for them." she said, her voice breaking as she spoke of Cally's death. As she spoke, Cally's ghost tried to reach out and comfort her, but Kura couldn't sense her in any way. "Why's she still here, though? There's no reason for that lass to stick around, she has every right to be goin' on." Kura said, before she looked to her left, where Cally had always stood, where her ghost was standing now. "So why won't you go on, Cally?" she asked again, her voice near to tears.
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Padraig's assurance that it would be a bet that he'd be happy to lose caused a slight smile to light her face, "Even for a shiny golden nel? You're too kind," she teased and as she did her attention was entirely and completely on him. This whole spirits everywhere thing was difficult for them both to get used to and she was thankful that he was so accomodating of it. But talk of Jamal caused her to lower her eyes to the drink in front of her, not really sure how to respond to Kura's words. Tristan had told Padraig that, she recalled, when the two of them had met but it had been in the middle of a very uncomfortable argument between the two of them. Padraig didn't need to hear any of it, she was sure, but might be happier knowing the man wasn't there any more. "He's disappeared, actually. I went to see him, to check that he was alright after the shadow beast attacks. But his shop was empty, he and his wife gone. There was no sign of a struggle but it wasn't right. He was always very meticulous about details, said that the little things made the difference and there were things out of place. I reported it, but I don't think the guard really believed me when I said he wouldn't leave, they assumed he'd fled because of the beasts."

Kura's reaction to the second spirit surprised Faith, although her reaction to the first caused a smile and a glance at him. "He heard you," she looked at the big man with concern in her eyes but he was very much choosing his fate. The girl, though, Cally, she turned to answer Padraig and Faith noted that, but then Kura spoke and her voice showed the emotion that she felt. Faith said nothing as she listened to the story, though her expression told of her compassion and concern. She looked between the two of them and, when Kura asked her question, Faith spoke in a soft tone, unable to hide the emotion she felt. "She's touching your shoulder, trying to offer comfort. She hears you, both of you, sees you." Looking at Padraig for a moment, she added, "She was going to answer your question," pausing she listened to the apparent thin air and smiled, noddding. "she says it's a pleasure to make your acquaintence and thanks you for asking after her. Begging your pardon, but she isn't following, she's doing her duty." Faith's voice shook a little at the last bit and she nodded her head to the spirit. "I understand," she replied, to some unheard comment.

Clasping her hands together, Faith looked down at them, apparently examining her fingers carefully, although it was a sure sign that she was thinking and dealing with her emotions at the same time. She could do this a number of ways, she thought, but the one that was best for everyone concerned was one which didn't lay Cally's soul bare, both for Kura and Cally's sake. So, there was only one option, really, and she did it the best she could. "To be a slave is to have a different mindset than everyone else. To be a slave from birth, even more so. It leads to what must seem like ludicrous behaviour to those who have never known it. Loyalty to those who hurt you, devotion to those who own or owned you and an insistence of behaving in subservient ways. It isn't that, not at all."

She chewed her lip a moment and examined her hands, tensing together as they were, with care. "It isn't that they strip everything from you, you have to understand that. When you are a slave from birth you never get to build anything. No name, no identity, no sense of self. Duty. Your duty, your function. It's all you have and it becomes overwhelming in importance. If all I am, all I will ever be known by is how I served, then I must define myself by that. When they achieve that, the trainers, they call it breaking. Once broken, your training is complete. That's how it's done in Athart." She glanced at Cally and nodded, "Yes, I was," she replied to the probably obvious question.

Faith looked at Kura then and smiled slightly, "She has followed you because she is yours and she had orders to carry out. She failed in those orders, and she says that she apologises for not making you the meal she was going to." Faith glanced at the spirit and nodded her head, "But she helps you, and that's what she's still doing now. I don't know, I'm very new at this, but it seems to me that she is still in service to you, still owned by you and feels she has not completed that service. It might be that you releasing her from that service is enough. But in fairness," she looked at Padraig with a slight and rather apologetic smile. "I'd say we've got an expert in the field of helping slaves to be free. I think that, even if Kura releases her, she'll still be stuck. What do you think?" He had walked with her, after all, since literally moments after she was freed. He was where she had run and she had stayed with him. She knew full well that her own journey was far from over, but she also knew that he had a clarity about such things which she lacked.
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So the mortalborn only knew about Faith's treatment by Jamal, who he'd never met nor wanted to, and not about Tristan. So far as Padraig was concerned, in some ways her treatment had hardly improved.

Still, he knew Faith disagreed and he could have said nothing in response. But he didn't. Impulse had its way with him instead, which in truth it rarely did. "I've met him. He's an insufferable boob." Tristan, he meant. And if what he said got back to her previous owner. Padraig's opinion ought come as little surprise to the man.

As for the young spirit aside of Kura, it was the latter who first supplied an explanation. In spite of the fact that he couldn't see, hear or even sense a creature that was apparently bound to the material plane, he could sympathize, and did, with the obvious sadness that the mortalborn was feeling while she remembered the tale. And by association, the unseen girl.

Padraig couldn't claim he knew the depth of Kura's feelings or what she was going through beyond what she said. But he knew something of the girl's torment. If not firsthand, through Faith herself and what he'd observed. But when she suggested that he give it a try, Padraig frowned. How could he possibly be of help? He'd try nonetheless, in spite of it feeling strange to speak to another who'd appear not to be there at all, in front of others who may view it as somewhat strange.

Nonetheless, he looked in that direction. "Once Faith was freed, she didn't necessarily realize it. Not right away," he said. "She knew it in the sense that it had been done, was on paper. But that's different, isn't it?" he asked the spirit girl. "Knowing and coming to feel and believe something like that takes time. And it has." He glanced at Kura and considered what to say.

"Telling her she can simply leave, that her duties are done by you, doesn't mean a lifetime of training and duty undone. I think that it needs a slow unraveling to convince her. It may sound strange, because she's already died. But simply saying I release you now, in her mind doesn't change anything. When Faith needed reminding that she was free, she had a moment to look back to. An official reminder."

"You've told her she can go, that she's released. But maybe, what you ought to do is officially free her. You said you'd intended to but didn't get the chance. Maybe now is the time to do that?" Of course the girl was dead, but the spirit was not. A scrap of paper or an official word might not seem to make any difference to the dead. But it might mean something to Cally.
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When Kura said that Cally was trying to offer comfort, Kura reached up to her left shoulder, where Cally had usually touched her when trying to comfort her. "Thank you, Cally." she said, her tone still saddened, though the spirit smiled slightly at her words before looking up at Faith.

"Could you tell him it's nice to make his acquaintance, please. And it's nice to meet you as well, miss." Cally said, her accent a softer version of Kura's own. "And could you tell her that I'm just doing my duty. I am sorry I missed making the meal though. She hardly ever remembers to eat when she gets busy..." she said, her tone thoughtful as she spoke before she made a noise akin to frustration. "She doesn't get it though. Why I stay." she said, an odd mixture of frustration and resignation in her voice.

Cally and Kura both listened quietly to Faith as she explained the mindset of a slave. Kura's expression grew increasingly angry throughout, but Cally just gave her a sad look. "You were a slave too, then?" she asked. When Faith acknowledged it, Cally grinned and gestured to Kura. "She likes you, you know. I haven't seen her this mad since...well, me." Cally said before pausing a moment in thought. "Except maybe that time she found out one of the Marshals was taking advantage of the female soldiers under her command. But that one pissed off the Empress too, so there wasn't much left of him." she said, laughing slightly.

"But I help her and she still needs help." Cally said, her tone saddened once again. She paused as Faith relayed that, then listened as she explained her own freeing and then turned to Padraig as he gave some explanations as to how they could go about sending Cally on to the afterlife. As he talked, Kura's expression remained neutral, but Cally got increasingly annoyed looking.

At the mention of officially freeing Cally, Kura frowned slightly. "It might mean something to her, though I don't where I'd get a proper set of documentation for it. There's no Imperial embassy in Rharne...or anywhere for that matter, so unless that's universal, which I doubt, I'd have to make a trip into the Eternal Empire to get the files." she said, her tone thoughtful. At her words, Cally let out a sound that could only be described as pure irritation and turned to Faith.

"You are all assumin' that I want to pass on. I don't. I'm quite happy here, thank you very much." she said in a huff, before pausing and letting out a sigh. "Well. I'd be happier if I could interact with more people and objects, but beggars can't be choosers." Cally sounded mostly resigned about that before giving Faith a speculative look. "Is there way for me to do that?" she asked curiously before shaking her head. "Nevermind, explain first."

Cally took a deep breath and looked at Kura as she spoke. "Even if she had freed me while I was alive, I wouldn't have left. It's not just that I was a slave. It's been thirty years with naught to do but think on my situation, I do kinda get that I don't purely exist to serve. First couple of years were a nightmare until I got a better handle on that." she said, shuddering. "But she saved my life. More than that, she gave me everything I am. My name, my education, everything. All while she has an empires worth of information to manage, cases to handle, missions to undertake, a friends betrayal to recover from, and a broken soul keeping her from sleeping through the night." she said, her voice impassioned as she tried to get her reason for staying through before a thought hit her that made her smile happily.

"Easy way to explain to her. I'm the Karem to her Raskalarn." she said, smiling brightly. "Now I just need to find a way to interact with the world again..." she said, her tone thoughtful as she waited for Faith to relay her words. During her speech, Kura had just watched Faith, knowing from the former slaves reactions that Cally was talking to her.
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At Padraig's description of Tristan, Faith's eyebrow raised slightly but she said nothing. There was never going to be any love lost between the two of them but, in fact, if being narky about Tristan meant that the focus was off Jamal and his treatment of her, then that suited Faith fine. She took hold of his hand and squeezed it before she described what a slave mentality was. It wasn't easy for him to hear, she was sure, but equally he already knew it. Kura got more agitated, it seemed, than Padraig did, but then he'd heard the stories and seen the scars. Faith gave Cally a soft smile, when she said that Kura liked her, "I feel the same," she replied. When Padraig spoke, though, Faith watched him and smiled at him with pride in her eyes. She was proud of him, there was no doubting it.

It had to be said, though, Cally's response surprised her a little, Cally says she doesn't want to go onwards, that she's happy here," Faith frowned slightly, listening intently to what the soul of the young woman said. She nodded her head, just once and spoke solely to Cally at first. "You're right. I assumed and I am sorry for that. My apologies," turning to Kura and Padraig, she spoke slowly, her hands clasped together in front of her as she did so. "I believe... I think, there is nothing that is to be done to send her onwards, for she does not wish it. Vri nor Famula will take her, for it is not that hse is waiting to... resolve.... anything, exactly. She says she is the Karem to your Raskalarn," she explained to Kura. "She doesn't want to pass over, she wants to continue to serve. But unlike those who Famula takes into her lantern, she wishes to serve you." This was all well above and beyond anything that Faith had ever heard of before.

"She wants to find a way to interact with the world again. I... have no idea," Faith looked at both of them, all three of them and then her expression changed from confused to determined. "So, we will need to, with Cally and your permission, Kura, we will need to do some research. You are her anchor, Kura, what holds her to this world. If Cally wishes it, I can seek Famula's blessing upon her, beseech her aid. What that will do, I do not know, it may well be nothing at all. However, I believe that, in Famula's name, I should do so. I will not, though, without permission. Then, we research. Anchors, souls, what they are made from. Known instances of them being able to interact and how. If we can work with you both, that is, we might be able to help?"

Silver eyes turned to Padraig, then. She would no more tell what he did or could do than she would expect him to of her. But with access to an actual spirit, would his alchemy be able to help, she wondered and, if it would, would he offer it. She did not ask, it was up to him and the look she gave him told that. There was no pressure from her for him to do anything, one way or another. Although if she was entirely honest, she thought he might be just a touch intrigued.
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"Tell her it's nice to meet her as well," Padraig said, when told what the girl had said. Otherwise he felt something like a foreigner in a strange land, surrounded by those who spoke a different language than him. Not quite the same, but only Faith could genuinely hear what Cally said. And the connection between her and Kura was theirs alone. He could only take what was translated for him, and try to make some sense of it.

What did seem clear was that the connection between the two women, the living and the dead, involved more than that of slave and owner. Certainly id did now, but maybe it had always been the case. Which ultimately led to a better understanding of why, in spite of Cally accepting her freedom, moving on wasn't what she wanted. Not trapped then, but remaining by choice.

"Official paperwork might be of some value," he said, when Kura explained that she couldn't get it. "But in the spirit of the thing, an acknowledgment might do." Or not, considering how determined Cally was that she'd stay regardless.

If she chose to stay, and Kura wasn't put off by the prospect of the girl following her round for eternity? Then who were any of them to tell her different? But the desire to be able to communicate with others besides those like Faith...Padraig frowned and shook his head. He didn't see how. It was a fascinating question though, and he wouldn't dismiss it outright.

He wasn't inclined to meddle with spirits though. Not without their permission. If he wasn't convinced they could find a way to manipulate things in the living, material world in their state, he wasn't going to bet on it. One trial, one might do more than scowl and rage unseen.

"There are lots of things," he considered aloud. "That when they are transformed into a different state, continue to have an impact. Gasses, vapor for instance, begins as liquid. Many liquids begin as solids. But this is different. Gasses, vapors, solids, those things don't have a soul, a will, they're not sentient. They don't choose their effects, once they've been altered. I couldn't begin to tell you whether it's possible or not," he added, addressing the question about whether or not Cally could learn to communicate with others.

"It might be possible, maybe, to identify some unseen change in the air when a spirit is present. Maybe a slight drop in temperature. Maybe some sort of residue left behind when they pass."

It was all complete conjecture. A curiosity. And even if they were to find a way to measure those things, that didn't mean they could be used to communicate in the way the girl wanted. But it might be a start, he guessed, if it was possible.
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Kura blinked in surprise as Faith said that Cally had no desire to linger on, then let out a sigh at her succinct explanation. "Karem, my mother, and Raskalarn, the Divine Empress. Two Immortals, and my mothers loyalty to the Empress is beyond absolute. If Raskalarn ordered, Karem would burn the world." she said, before pausing. "Actually no. Mothers loyalty to the Empress is based in part on the fact that Raskalarn would die before giving such an order. Her loyalty would compel her to kill Raskalarn, to spare the world and the Empire her insanity, as Raskalarn would want."

Cally shrugged at Faith and Padraig's suggestions. "I can barely read, and this stuff about Immortals is beyond me. If you think it will work though, I'll gladly give it a try." she said, before looking over at Kura, who had nodded at Faith and Pad's suggestions herself. "I thought maybe the Sacred Forest could do it, but she went their after I died. Despite her frequently indoor jobs, she is a creature of the Wild, I think. But the Sacred Forest...I don't think it even knew I was there." she said, sadly. However, she perked up after a bit. "But Speck might know. Milady said that owl remembers everything, and she can speak with Speck. With any owl, when she does turns her eyes gold." she said, before frowning. "People die when she does that though..."

Kura, unable to hear Cally's rambling, turned to Faith. "I think I remember hearing some things in relation to Famula. I have way to check, so I'll do some research myself. I'm staying at The Harpy Inn for now, if you guys want to meet me there." she said, before turning to Padraig. "I'm sorry, we haven't had time to speak much. Cally kind of...distracted me. It is nice to meet you though." she said, looking slightly embarrassed.

Cally, meanwhile, had apparently realized something. "Heeeeeeey. Miss Faith? How is it you can see me? She called you Ghost-Watcher, but I've never heard of something like that." she said before a thought apparently occurred to her. "Hey, are you a Mortalborn too? Like this Famooluh you keep talking about, is she your mother? Or maybe you're the mopey death guys daughter? Vry? Vree? I don't remember." she said, sounding like an eager puppy now she had someone to talk too.
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Wealth Tier: Tier 10

Surprise Meetings

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"She can hear you," Faith explained to Padraig when he asked her to speak to Cally. It was confusing for them all, and this was very new territory. It was important that she was clear that she was doing the right thing, as far as Famula was concerned, Faith knew. She listened to Cally and nodded, "She says that Speck might be able to help? The owl?" Faith addressed that to Kura but then said to them both, "and Cally is happy to work with us, yes."

Kura's words to Padraig were more or less lost to Faith as Cally spoke to her and Faith shook her head. "Just Faith, not Miss Faith. No, I'm not a mortalborn, no. I was blessed by the Immortal, Famula. When you died, Vri came to take you, but you did not go. Then, Famula came and offered for you to travel with her a while, she carried a lantern with her." Did souls remember, Faith wondered. But then Cally more or less gave her the answer and Faith smiled a gentle smile. "Vri. No, but I am a follower of both of them, Famula and Vri. When Famula blessed me, she allowed me to see and interact with souls who have not passed on."

Faith realised then that she had totally missed what Kura said and she looked between the two of them. "My apologies. I am very new at this and it is a little overwhelming sometimes. We research, you do the same and we reconvene?" She assumed, in fairness, that this was the decision that had been made and she did not share where they were staying because she also reckoned that Padraig would have done it already whilst she was chatting with Cally. She glanced at Padraig, though and her slight frown was the same as she used to wear when they first got back from the Eastern Settlement. Too much use of the power, it seemed, brought on a headache. She would grow accustomed to it, the more she used it, she did not doubt.
word count: 348
"Every evil has its good, and every ill an antidote."

~ Rharne HQ
Dust Quarter Satellite Clinic ~ Order of the Adunih~Soup Kitchen & Community Center
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