Gamven’s muffled grunting caught my attention as soon as my head had cleared. Pulling myself to my feet I searched him out, which didn’t take long in spite of his attempts to stifle his involuntary groans.
Wet carmine stained his right pant leg below a tear in the cloth patched with a tightly-pulled bandage, this too red and glistening. With both hands, Gamven pulled at either end of the encircling cloth, cinching it tighter against the mangled flesh. He’d evidently put a small stick into his own mouth before tending the wound and bit furiously into it as he pulled, his teeth carving indentations into its surface as he did.
I knelt down next to him, and gently took the bandage from his grip. I continued to pull it tight as he continued to bite and fuss; I needed to buy myself some time to think. To heal the wound, I’d need to see it, and it was quite clear that the gash would bleed profusely as soon as I pulled the bandage free. I’d have limited time for the working once that occurred. In death and comedy, timing is everything, isn’t it? The thought made me smile at myself a bit; Gamven tensed his face in worried puzzlement at seeing that.
By now, my surviving companions had drawn close. “Hold him down,” I commanded.
“What? Why?” Vitella asked.
“As much as it hurts when the wound is made, it’s going to hurt more when it closes,” I told her. She took my point quickly and knelt by the warrior’s head, pulling his hands upward and tucking them into her armpits. He didn’t fight.
Once they’d taken hold of him, I began to focus my mind. I felt the Power around me, seething in the living things and between them, holding everything up as assuredly as some giant holding the sphere of heaven. This I tugged at, gently at first, more
aggressively when I felt my will had seized it tight. I pulled it toward me, focusing it into an invisible ball of raw potentiality, splitting my concentration between the structure of the working and holding the essence that would power it.
Focusing my consciousness now on the structure of the working, I began to build it within my mind, regulating the thoughts and images in sequence that, once I’d poured the Power I held through it, might achieve the desired effect. A chant, quiet at first, uttered from my lips, the words Old Aenyr, pulling the edges of my focus taut, centering me as I shaped the Power.
I do not know how much time passed like this—time begins to feel irrelevant during the working of a thaumaturgy—but it must have been several minutes. I closed my eyes as I worked, ignoring the surrounding world but keeping the ends of the bandage pulled hard as I employed the subtle art. I could feel the Power taking shape, form emerging where before there had been none, possibility becoming potentiality.
My eyes opened and I ripped the bandage free of Gamven’s leg, placing both hands on either side of the deep laceration, trying not to let the glint of bone distract me from my purpose. I could feel the Power flowing through me now, through my hands and into Gamven as I chanted all the while. He began to writhe and scream as layers of flesh knit themselves together, muscle and tissue burning with every sensation of the process. I’d not pulled enough of the Power to finish the working. I knew that I’d taken that risk not looking at the wound before beginning, and now here we were.
I had a choice, though one with fewer options than I’d have liked. Had I not just fought with a monster and used sorcery to protect myself, I might have been able to draw the remaining power from within myself, quickly and efficiently if exhaustingly. In my present circumstances, though, I had no such luxury. So, two options were left me. I could release the working and hope that what structure I’d given it held, at least partially closing the wound and staunching the flow of blood enough that Gamven might survive. But, if I wasn’t lucky, the possibility within the Power once the structure fell away might cause some unwanted effect, some mutation of the flesh or worsening of the wound.
It wasn’t really a choice at all, I realize. My chanting rising in tone and intensity, I ripped a chunk of the Power free from my surroundings, forcing it into the working like meat into a grinder. Some of it fell away, free to become whatever chaotic thing chance determined. One of the nearby trees burst into flame, heavy droplets of rain pounded Lord Aryden from a clear sky. Worms burrowed out of the ground, their low cunning sensing the danger and squirming away from any other random catastrophe that might occur as quickly as they could manage.
Vitella remained in her position, struggling against Gamven until he passed out, even as the sleeves of her shirt rotted from her arms as if time had accelerated for them prodigiously. I could hear Aryden muttering a prayer to the One now, but drew my focus back to Gamven’s leg, still chanting and imagining and shaping each movement of the closing wound before burning the Power and willing it to be.
Finally, the flesh stitched itself closed leaving a patch of discolored and roughly textured skin where the gash had been. I let the remainder of the Power I’d gathered fall from my grasp, becoming more Flux. Some of it attached itself to me, I could feel it. As chance dictated—but probably at the least opportune time—it would manifest in some event like the ones already occurring. The remainder proceeded to do so, creating additional marvels around us: dancing lights, patches of hoarfrost, the sudden growth of some flowering weed sprouting through the ground. None of them, save perhaps the burning tree, presented any danger, so my Wyrgeas must have been good. Better than expected.