They arrived back in the camp 5 days later, and Taru fell
into bed almost immediately and slept for the next 18 hours. When she woke
again, she only stayed awake for a few hours, enough to eat, change her
clothing, and read a little, before she slept again. She didn’t realize she was
ill until Jaki came to check on her after the third day of her not showing up
for dinner. She could hardly move her head when Jaki knocked on the door. She
was freezing cold, and she burrowed deeper into her covers.
Go away. She
called out weakly. The lack of strength in her mental voice surprised even her.
She tried to sit up, but her body was too tired to allow that. She heard the door
open, and opened her eyes again. She saw Jaki standing there, and she smiled
wanly. Jaki walked over, and she was shocked by how cold the hand that touched
her forehead was. Jaki smiled sadly down at her.
“Taru, you’re sick. Why didn’t you come and find me before
it got this bad?” Jaki asked her. Taru managed to shrug, and tried to get warm
again. Jaki sighed and left the room. Taru didn’t remember her coming back, but
suddenly there were freezing cold hands on her again. She tried to push them
away, but she couldn’t manage even lifting her arms. She let the world go on
around her, and she just floated in a lovely world of haze and disconnection.
She was not awake, but she didn’t think she was asleep either. She didn’t have
any real sense of the passing of time, but she did know that someone was with
The days passed in a haze of unawareness, and suddenly
fluctuating temperatures. She would be freezing in one moment and boiling the
next. She could not find a nice middle ground no matter how hard she tried, and
it was exhausting. Her whole body ached, like it would if she had a lesson with
Hawk and didn't bother cooling down or stretching. It wasn't painful but it was
annoying. She was most awake when someone tried to feed her or change her from
the sweaty and gross clothing. She didn't remember who was helping her, or what
really was done, but she knew that it happened.
The first time she became fully aware she was soaking wet,
her clothing and bedding was clinging to her body and she struggled to sit up.
Jaki was sleeping by her bedside in what looked like a very uncomfortable
position. She was worried about her friend having a very unhappy neck if she
stayed like that, so she tried to nudge her awake. Lifting her arm proved to be
impossible however, and she was amazed at how weak she was. She hadn't been
this weak since the first month she had been in the camp. She hated when her
body betrayed her this way, and she sighed heavily. She knew that this recovery
would not be an easy or fun one. Jaki must have been woken by her sigh, and she
struggled to come back to full consciousness. Taru smiled at her as she looked
over, and Jaki seemed very pleased to see her awake.
"You with me Taru? You've been out of it for a very
long time." Jaki said, stretching her neck and back as she got out of the
chair. Taru didn't try to reply mentally, she just nodded her head. She knew
that it would be a few days before she could summon the control to speak
mentally without either broadcasting to the whole camp, or having to state
everything in sentences instead of questions. She was frustrated by this lack
of control, but she would never admit that. She had tried very hard to keep
from speaking for almost the first four months of her stay here.
Jaki checked her forehead, and smiled when she didn't feel
the heat that had been ravaging Taru's body for the past week. She helped her
friend sit up and take a few drinks of water. It was doing that, that she felt
the wetness of the clothing and bedding.
"Your fever must have broken, I'll go find someone to
help change the bed clothes. You shouldn't sit in that for long." She
skipped out of the room, and Taru was left alone to consider her current
position. She felt incredibly weak, but she didn't have the aching body or the
insane temperatures that had been present for so long. She felt grimy and it
wasn't solely the sweat on her body. She figured that she hadn't been out of
bed for nearly a week, if not a little longer. It was odd to think that a week
of her life had disappeared without her knowledge. She was also perturbed by
the thought of all the training she had missed in those days. She would be
behind now. There was also the issue of what happened in Buenasha. She wanted
to know the outcome of their mad scramble back to the camp, and what had
occurred with Eamonie. Taru was aware that they had spies in High City, but she
didn't know how quickly they could get information back to them.
Jaki came back in then with a large man that Taru hadn't
seen before. She trusted her friend but she didn't like strange men, especially
large ones. He hauled her out of bed, and Jaki quickly changed the bedclothes.
She nodded to him, and he placed Taru gently back into bed, and she sighed as
her head hit the pillow again. She looked at Jaki, and tried to indicate her
discomfort with the disgusting clothing and the state of her body. Jaki seemed
to understand the nonverbal cues that Taru was sending. She helped her sit up
and gathered a bowl of warm water and a towel. She helped her change her still
damp clothing and washed everything that she could reach. Taru felt much better
afterwords, and reached for her journal and a quill from her bed table.
'What happened, how long have I been out?' she wrote. Jaki
had to squint to understand the shaky chicken scratch that Taru called her
"As much as we can figure, you contracted some form of
the flu from High City. You were the only one who caught it, but you got a very
bad case. And you have been out for a week. Well a week as of today. Any other
'Yes, a lot. But for now, just one. How long will it take
for me to get better?'
"Always wanting to rush things. Taru you have to
understand you were very sick, we were afraid the medicines would not be enough
for a while. You have a lot more healing to do. So I'd say at least a month
before you will be ready for active duty." Jaki tried to meet Taru's gaze
to help drive home how important this was, but Taru refused to look up from the
sheet she was twisting in her hands. The younger girl sighed, and nodded. She
knew how slowly recovery could happen, but she had hoped that she would never
have such a long convalescence ever again. Jaki left her then to go and get
some broth and more water. Taru tried to remain awake until she returned, but
her eyes became heavy and she was soon asleep again.
Jaki returned to find her sleeping, and took the soup over
to the small fire to keep it warm until her friend woke again. What Jaki had
not told her was that Alye was almost certain that someone in Buenasha had
poisoned Taru, but they had no clue who it was. That had concerned them a great
deal, and they had been trying to figure out when or how it had occurred since
they had arrived back in the camp. Alye's spies in the High City had been
unable to find anything out, and that too was worrying. She took a cool cloth
and placed it on Taru's forehead. The fever may have been gone, but she still
needed all the comfort she could give. She sighed and resumed her seat beside
the bed. She hoped that Taru would awaken again shortly, as she needed to get
some liquid into her. She didn't want her to become dehydrated again, the
measures they had had to take while she was out of it with fever had not been
pleasant. Just the fact that Taru was alive was enough to make her smile, and
she settled down into the slightly uncomfortable chair to wait.
Taru awoke for a few minutes later that night, and Jaki was
able to get her to eat some broth, and drink a lot of water. Taru wasn't
totally awake for this, but she did cooperate with Jaki, and didn't make too
much of a mess. She knew that it would be a long time before her friend was up
for much more then eating. Sighing she settled back into her chair to try and
sleep through the night.
Days drug into weeks, and soon it was two months later. Taru
was frustrated beyond belief. She was not getting better, her strength was
almost non-existent, and she could do nothing but stay in bed and read when she
had the energy. She had lost so much weight that even if she was able to get
out of bed she didn’t think her legs would hold her. Jaki was working with all
the healers in the camp to try and figure out what was wrong. Taru knew at this
point that it wasn’t a simple illness that she was suffering from, but no one
seemed willing to talk to her about what was wrong. She was getting worried
that perhaps she wasn’t going to get better and would end up dying in this bed,
unable to even walk herself to the bathroom.
What Jaki and the others weren’t telling her was that
whatever had been used to try and poison her was still lingering in her system,
but they couldn’t figure out how. Also they didn’t know why her body wasn’t
still fighting it like it had in the beginning. Alye was beginning to think
that it was a magical issue, and as such had brought Shet into the small group
that was working on the problem. Shet did have some insight into the issue, but
he didn’t have any idea how to cure her. He was researching the possible
potions that could have caused this, but so far he was hitting a dead end. In
the end it was Taru that figured out what was wrong.
She had been reading, as that was about the only thing that
didn’t exhaust her to the point of sleep. She was still frustrated with her
slow reading skills, but when there wasn’t anything else to distract her, she
found that it was quite distracting to struggle through the huge tomes. She was
reading a book on magical potions and poisons when the book fell from her
hands. On the page before her was a potion that caused the exact same symptoms
she was currently experiencing. The others had been hiding the fact that
someone had tried to kill her. She wished she had the strength to stomp out of
the room and confront them all, but as it was she decided that perhaps having
as much knowledge as possible would be a better plan.
The potion was called The Mage Killer. Apparently only one
with some type of ability with the elements was affected by it, and what the
potion did was latch onto the power that lay dormant in all who had elemental
ability. That power was the one to eventually become a mage, if all the
elements could be mastered. There was apparently a very big difference between
having elemental ability and actually being a mage. She guessed she should be
happy that there was, if she was a full mage and this potion had been given to
her, she would be dead already. Looking at how to prepare the potion, she
realized that only someone who was a mage already would be able to make it.
There were no mages in Buenasha, at least not that they knew of. The country
was progressive in some areas, but they still had a deep-seated hatred for all
magic. That was the main reason no mental speaking was allowed.
For thousands of years, the mages had been the ones in
power. The country of Shenta was still ruled by mages, but all the other
countries had managed to get them out of power. There was a level of corruption
that had pervaded those with the mage ability. Taru thought it was because of
how much power a mage would have over normal people. It took someone very
special or very damaged to be able to have that and not take advantage. There
were the four hundred years of wars to get the mages out of power. They
decimated many countries, and part of the reason Terotmal was as barren as it
was, was due to the magic that had been unleashed during the wars. There were
some mages that fought against their brethren, but when the war was over all
those who demonstrated any ability at all were killed.
It was after the war, and in the dissipation of the magic,
that people born with disabilities started having abilities. At first they were
all killed as mages, but soon the ruler of New Shenta, the land now known as
Malaquent, realized that they didn’t have the intense power that mages did.
They all had abilities, but they were more a compensation for a lack of
something, then a power to make them stronger then others. Malnoch, the ruler
of that time, had decided to set up a school to help teach those with
disabilities to control their abilities and to use them to help the communities
where they lived. Sadly that school had been turned into the Compound when
Cana, Demertia’s father, had taken over the country.
So the fact that she had been attacked by a mage in Buenasha
was almost inconceivable. Taru then realized that perhaps they weren’t as safe
in this camp as they thought. Someone in Malaquent, the last country other then
Shenta that had full mages, had managed to not only find out that they were
making a trip to High City, but also managed to somehow poison her while they
were there. She needed to talk to Alye or Dayn soon, but she had no way to get
in touch with them, and it would be a couple more hours until Jaki came to give
her dinner. She decided that the best thing that she could do now was to read
as much as she could, but it was hard to keep all this to herself. She managed
to finish the book before Jaki came in with her dinner on a tray.