Set in the world of the Dark Ability. A short story featuring the early days of the assassin Galen.
I could barely stand. Fire seemed to burn through my legs making them weak, a sensation I recognized from the last time Isander tried to poison me. I had no idea what he hoped me to learn this time.
How do you feel? He stood with his back to me, facing the small ceramic basin.
I saw the shock of white hair and the top of his ears and wondered if the poison made my Sight fail me. I struggled to make my jaw work. Pain. Fire. I took a shuddering breath as my flesh boiled. Undo this, Isander, I begged.
Instead, he turned and walked from the room.
My legs buckled, finally giving way from pain or weakness. I collapsed to the wooden floor in a heap. New pain surged through my body where it struck hard wood, but not enough to overwhelm the agony burning through my body.
Horror washed over me as I recognized the poison. Srirach. Tasteless. Odorless. No wonder I had not recognized it in my wine. As far as I knew, no antidote existed.
Forcing myself up onto my arms, I crawled toward the cabinet on the far side of the room. This was a test, I decided, and I needed to pass; Isander had no reason to kill me, at least not yet. If I could reach the cabinet, I could find Isanders stock of herbs, could try and delay the effect of the poison that now burned my blood. Then I could find Isander and beg with him to reverse the effect of the srirach.
But when I reached the cabinet, I was too weak to pull myself up. Through the glass, I saw the rows of vials and jars, each tantalizingly close but each just far enough out of reach. With one final surge, I tried again to stand, but failed, collapsing again to the ground. This time, I hit my head. Pain blackened my vision before I passed out.
When I awoke, I had memories of the pain that had burned through me, but no longer felt the burning that once worked through my body. I rested on a small cotmy cot, I realizedand the room was darkened with shades covering the windows. My tongue felt thick and strange. Muscles seemed cramped and achy, but not as they had before I hit the ground.
I heard something moving near the edge of the room and struggled to lift my head. Isander stood there, again in front of a basin, though this time facing me.
You recognize the plant? he asked.
Srirach. Somehow I managed to make the word with my mouth, in spite of the fact that my tongue seemed to rebel against me.
I had hoped for more of a reaction from him but, as usual, Isander enjoyed disappointing me. I do not know what I expected of himperhaps regret, perhaps shame at how I had sufferedbut I got nothing but his stare.
Are you certain? he asked.
I felt certain of nothing, but remembered with painful clarity the way my body had betrayed me. From my lessons with Isander, there were only a few poisons that worked like that. Of course, I should not have survived if poisoned by srirach.
Isander waited for my answer; he would say nothing until I decided one way or another.
How? I had unstopped the wine bottle. I had poured it into the glass. If any could have been poisoned, it would have been Isander.
This time, he smiled. The glasses. And just a tiny amount.
But I chose them, I said. He nodded slightly and with a sickening horror I understood. He had poisoned them all. But you
You think this the first time I have felt the effects of srirach? he asked. If you are to treat the effects of these plants, then you should know firsthand what to expect.
But there is no antidote.
No? Then how is it that you live?
I did not have the answer to that. What is it? I pushed myself up from the cot. A wave of dizziness and nausea worked through me as I sat. When he didnt answer I knew it to be another sort of test; as far as I knew, at least this time my life was not at stake. Holly oak? Teln berry? They both had healing properties and counteracted many of the poisons I had been introduced to during my time with Isander. He still didnt answer. Milk thistle? Carrom leaves? I closed my mouth as a sudden urge to vomit struck and leaned back on the cot.
Isander stepped over to me. His hands ran over my face as he examined me, turning it roughly, forcing my mouth open and checking my neck. Satisfied, he let me go. So different than the last healer I had apprenticed. I often wondered what would have become of me had I not been exiled from Elaeavn.
Srirach is almost always fatal, Isander started.
I recognized the tone; what he said now was important and he expected me to remember. If I didnt, the next time the test might be more severe.
Victims suffer painful spasms and paralysis, though their mind remains clear. A truly horrid way to die.
Why? I asked. Why would anyone ever use something like that? Though I no longer felt its effects, the memory of the srirach still felt painful. My training taught me to help others, not harm them. Why would Isander teach me this?
At first, I was not sure if Isander would answer. Victims must truly be deserving of such brutality.
Could anyone ever truly deserve such a fate?
Isander took a step away from the cot. I opened my eyes and watched him. His lined face tightened and his pale green eyes focused.
Surprising that a plant so easy to acquire can be so dangerous. Thankfully, few can recognize it, though the leaves are quite distinctive. The stalk must be cracked before the liquid at its center can be drained. Isander held a plant up for me. It had a woody stalk and wide brown leaves.
He handed the plant to me and I took it cautiously before trying to crack the long stalk. It bent but did not break.
You must score the edge of the stalk first. He demonstrated by drawing his knife along the edge of the stalk. Then he pressed slowly until there was a soft crack. He turned the plant over and a single drop fell to the floor. Very little can be harvested per plant. Another reason srirach is often overlooked. But, as common as it is, few agents counteract the effects of srirach. Usual healing agents for poisoning such as holly oak and teln berry are ineffective. A combination of two parts milk thistle, one part teln, and three parts red angerer stalk can work but combining them is often difficult and must be exact to be effective. Tchinth extract, warmed and mixed into wine or water is effective, though finding tchinth is usually too difficult and expensive. He looked down at me, an opening for questions. When I had none, he went on. I used narcass. Only fresh leaves are effective against srirach. I just so happened to acquire a supply recently.
I remembered seeing them. The leaves were a spotted brown with streaks of crimson running through. They smelled sickly sweet and had sharp edges. I had thought the narcass simply another poisoning agent and felt a flush of surprise that those leaves had saved my life. Perhaps that was Isanders real lesson.
Isander turned to the door and started out of the small room. When you can stand, you will travel into town. I need paper and ink.
He did not wait for my answer.
I lay back on the cot and sighed. The lesson for today was over.
I reached the village Wesvin by evening, not daring to wait until morning. The sun dipped toward the horizon as I approached and a cool wind gusted out of the north.
The walk from Isanders farm to the village served the purpose of clearing my head as well as rebuilding the strength in my legs. I wondered how long I would feel weakened by the srirach though decided not to ask. I suspect that was another lesson Isander wanted me to learn first hand.
As I walked, I was surprised to discover that Isander had been right about srirach. Gifted by Sight from the Great Watcher, I had never noticed how prominently the plants grew along the side of the road, though I had never truly lookedor known what I was Seeingbefore now. A particularly dense thicket grew near a copse of trees right on the outskirts of the village. Long thorned holly oak grew nearby. Growing wild like that made it look so harmless. I shuddered as I remembered the effects.
The village lay in the midst of a small valley. The wide Narahn River flowed through the village as it made its way toward the distant ocean, though I wondered how many in Wesvin knew the river eventually emptied into the sea. I passed the small farm sites on the outer edge of the village and hurried as quickly as I could, wanting to acquire Isanders paper and ink before shops closed for the evening. I patted my small pouch where I held empty vials for the ink, making certain they were safe. If they were damaged, I did not have enough coin to purchase new glass.
The road led along the river and curled into town. A strange twin masted fishing vessel pulled into the dock as I approached. Faded red and green paint along the sides should have told me its origin, but having only been apprenticed to Isander for a year, I did not know enough about such things as I should. The ships captain, a thick armed man with strange tattoos worked onto his arms and face, glanced at me a moment before dismissing me as he turned to another man of his crew. The other man had a shorn head. He held a faded set of chains in his hands. A long scar ran across one cheek. A heavy silver hoop pierced through his left ear; the right was missing. They argued for a moment before the scarred man grabbed a coiled rope from the deck of the ship and tossed it toward the dock, hopping off the edge of the ship and tying it to the dock.
I reached the small strip of stores lining the rivers edge. A few appeared still open, though most of the noise I heard seemed to come from the tavern near the end of the street. The tavern made me think of Brin, one of the few people in Wesvin I considered a friend. Likely she would be working tonight. Music drifted out of an open door and the scent of roasted meet and fresh bread overpowered the stink of fish I smelled along the water. My stomach rumbled and I realized that with my poisoningIsanders lessonI had missed lunch.
I looked longingly down the road, deciding that I would stop for something to eat before returning to Isander once I acquired his supplies. It did not matter to him how late I returned, only that I was successful.
Stopping at the store I neededa small building with a peaked roof and a pale yellow sign that had long since lost its letteringI tried the door only to find it locked.
My delayed recovery had kept me from reaching Wesvin in time.
I sighed, debating whether I would return tonight or simply wait here until morning. Already I knew what I had to do; Isander would not be pleased my recovery precluded my ability to acquire his supplies.
I was drawn toward the tavern by the music and the smells. Inside, a flutist stood near the back wall playing a buoyant melody while a man playing a strange stringed instrument strummed along with him. A fire crackled along the side wall in a massive stone hearth, pushing back the growing chill of the evening air. Nearly a dozen rough-hewn tables already looked occupied. Some people diced while others simply dined and drank. Four men played darts along one wall and I overheard them arguing over how many dronr were at stake; it was a game I would have enjoyed if not for the fact that my Sight gave an unfair advantage.
I found a small table along the side and out of the way and dropped into the chair. A waitress made her way over to me. She had an easy smile and bright blue eyes. Golden hair ran in curls down her back.
Galen, she said as she approached. Does Isander know you are here?
I had known Brin almost as long as I had been in Wesvin. When I got off the small trawler heading upriver, she had been near the docks buying the days catch off local fishermen. She had guided me to his house outside of town, knowing him only as the local healer. She was a friend, possibly my only one.
I shook my head. He sent me for supplies.
She glanced at the table and saw that I was empty handed. Success?
A test, I think. And no success. She laughed but it didnt reach her eyes. Instead, I Saw the fatigue there, the way her jaw clenched just a bit as she spoke. Sit for a moment, Brin, I suggested.
As I spoke, the captain and two of his men came into the tavern. They scanned the place, the man missing the ear sneering as he glanced to the dirt floor and the small bar. The captain shoved the other man forward. Thin and sharp eyed, he moved with a lithe sort of grace telling me that he knew how to use the short sword strapped to his waist. When he reached a table in the corner, he only had to glare at the pair of men dicing there before they grabbed their tankards and dice and moved. The captain looked over and saw Brin. He tapped the scarred man on the shoulder. A dark smile came to his face.
Brin sighed. Back to work, she said. Though I was no Listener, I recognized the reticence in her voice. Ill get you dinner and your first drink. After that its on you.
And a room? I asked.
She smiled and this time it did reach her eyes. What kind of test did you say this was?
The worst kind, I thought but did not say.
You can stay in the loft for free. Father wont mind.
You mean you wont tell him.
She tilted her head and leaned toward me. I pretended not to notice the soft scent of lavender clinging to her skin. Like I saidhe wont mind.
I laughed, finally feeling better. Brin had the effect on me. Unlike others in Wesvin, the color of my eyes and the height declaring I was from Elaeavn did not bother her. As long as I had known her, she had asked no questions about my past, although she knew that only the Forgotten left Elaeavn.
Dont worry, Galen. Whatever else Isander does to you, know that the Great Watcher looks over you. She tapped me on the shoulder and headed toward the bar.
I sat in the stable loft and shifted on the dusty wooden surface while trying to get comfortable. My legs remained stiff and sore, though I didnt know if it was from the walk into the village or whether there was some delayed effect of the poisoning. At least my stomach was full. The roast and carrots Brin had brought me were nothing like the food I usually ate with Isander; Brins cooking had flavor.
After bundling some loose hay together, I lay down and rested my head. Sleep did not find me easily. I struggled with what Isander taught me, not knowing whether the lesson had been simply understanding the effects of the poison or whether he intended me to learn about the cure. With Isander, I was never certain.
It had been different when I still lived in Elaeavn. There, I had apprenticed with Jeilla, a healer of such skill I suspected she forgot more than I would ever know about healing. When I had been exiled only Jeilla had not abandoned me, instead sending me to learn from Isander. Without Jeillas guidance, I dont know what would have become of me.
Just as I started drifting into sleep, I heard a soft cry instantly hushed. Blood pounded suddenly and my heart raced. Before knowing what I was doing, I leapt from the loft and crept to the door of the stable.
Outside, the night was dark. Only the light of the half moon shone. Without my Sight, I dont think I would have seen them.
The captain and his men made there way down the street and away from the tavern and back toward their ship. The smaller man walked in front while the man missing an ear was in the middle. He seemed to be carrying something. Or someone, I decided. The captain followed behind them, eyes scanning the street.
Pulling the door open just enough to slip out, I padded as silently as I could manage down the street. Knowing Wesvin, I followed them down a side street, drifting between buildings, always careful to make sure that I kept them in my Sight.
As I pulled even with them, I nearly stumbled.
The man missing an ear carried Brin.
It didnt take my Sight to know she was injured. But with my Sight, I saw more than I wanted. A deep rip in her dress revealed a gash across her stomach. A long cut along her arm told me she had fought back. As I watched, her head lolled toward me and our eyes met. Her nose had been bloodied and her lip split. She shook her head slightly, warning me off.
I started forward with the same impulsivity that had led to exile from Elaeavn.
The lady looks like she needs help, I said, stepping out of the shadows. I am a healer and can
The captain spun as I spoke. His dark eyes assessed me quickly. Close up, I saw that he was heavily muscled. Even though I stood at least a hand taller, he probably outweighed me significantly.
This does not concern you, he said.
The other two had stopped and turned. Brins eyes looked at me and, though she tried to hide it, they begged for help. I Saw in her face that she didnt think I could.
She doesnt need help? Foolishly, I had stepped closer. Born of Elaeavn, I had the speed and grace of most of my people, but even I couldnt do much against three experienced fighters.
The smaller man laughed darkly. Oh, she be needing help.
The captain shot him a look. The small man said nothing more, but the wide smirk on his face told me all that I needed.
Why dont you just let the lady
I didnt see what happened next. The captain moved with amazing speed for a man of his bulk. When his fist slammed into my stomach, I was unprepared and bent over as my breath was knocked from me. He kicked at the same time, sending me spinning away. Brin moaned and then I heard laughter.
Want me to finish him? the smaller man asked.
I turned my head and Saw the edge of his sword as he started to unsheathe it.
No. Leave him to me.
The captain kicked me again and again. It happened so quickly that I became numb. Eventually the pain became unbearable. Curled as I was on the ground, I could do nothing to protect myself from the barrage of blows.
Darrl! someone hissed.
There came another kick, harder than the others, and then nothing.
I dont know if he thought me dead, only that I was certain I hadnt moved for some time. The pain I experienced throughout the day seemed to paralyze me completely.
I tried to open my eyes. My vision swam as my Sight failed me. The men stood only a dozen paces away but it might as well have been leagues for all the good I could do.
Blood trickled out of my mouth and nose. Pain worked through my gut. A distant part of my mind assessed my injuries just the same as I had been trained to do when someone came to me. With as much force as hed punched and kicked me, I suspected internal bleeding. If I began coughing up blood, I would know for certain. If not, I might survive.
But Brin would not.
They made their way toward the ship talking in hushed voices. Or maybe that was my damaged hearing.
Shell fetch quite a few talens downstream. Girl like this? I know someone in Eban who would spend plenty.
You know she will. That lip will heal. They wont care about the others
Their voices grew more distant. Much longer and they would reach their ship.
I understood now why they had taken Brin. Not for personal enjoyment, though that would have been just as awful. Nothey intended to sell her as a courtesan, a forced companion. A prostitute.
I tried to move but once again my body failed. I coughed and managed to open my eyes to look. No blood. At least I might live.
I stared down at the ship, watching as they dragged Brin over the dock and beneath their deck. As she disappeared from view, she once more caught my Sight. I saw fear and resignation on her face as she realized no one could help her.
An eternity seemed to pass before I managed to slowly stand. There would not be much time before the ship departed and disappeared from Wesvin altogether. I limped into the shadows as I considered my options.
Returning to the tavern and waking Brins father might work, but I was not certain about the delay. Now that she had been abducted, I didnt doubt they would pull up lines and sail downstream. One of the men had mentioned Eban; once they reached the massive city, any hope of Brins return was gone. The local constable might help, but how much time would be wasted convincing him?
That left me.
I didnt know how I could rescue her. Against those three, I was outnumbered. How many more men did the captain have on the ship? But if I did nothing, she would be lost, sold into prostitution.
Anger clouded my mind. That these men dared lay a hand on Brin burned me in a way the srirach could not. That they thought to abduct her? To force her into prostitution?
I knew then I would do whatever I could to stop them.
I hurried along the road with seething rage. A distant and calculating part of my mind already knew what I sought. I found the thicket of trees in spite of the darkness. The patch of srirach stalks was as I remembered. I grabbed them, careful to pull the entire stalk, taking a fistful with me. Turning back to the village, I glanced at the holly oak growing nearby and decided to take that as well. I might need the healing properties.
By the time I returned to the village, the ship was already starting to pull away from the dock. The scarred man and the swordman stood on the deck of the ship. There was no sign of the captain or Brin.
Crouching near the closest building, I pulled a small knife out of my pocket and scored the stalk as I had seen Isander do. I considered what I had to collect the liquid in; all I had was the small empty jar of ink Isander had sent me to refill. That would have to do. I cracked the stalk and dripped the liquid srirach into the jar. I repeated the same on the remaining stalks until there was enough liquid in the jar for what I needed.
The only question I had remaining was delivery. Srirach was odorless and tasteless, but I had to somehow get it onto the ship. I could not do that from where I stood on shore. I gripped the now empty stalks, feeling helpless. If only I had some way to reach them from here.
My legs shook. A dull pain roared through my body. When I finally could rest, I knew it would overwhelm me. For now, I needed to suppress the sensation. At least I had holly oak. Tearing off one of the leaves, I tucked it quickly into my mouth and chewed. Some of the pain began to lessen. Holly oak might hasten my healing, but what I really needed was its other effectdeadening the pain.
As I peeled off another leaf, my hand brushed against one of the long thorns. A dark idea came to me. I might not be able to darts like other men, but there was a game I could play. And the stakes were Brins life.
I worked quickly. Taking the now empty srirach stalks, I twisted one of the holly oak thorns to act as a tip and then dipped it into the liquid srirach. I made a half-dozen such darts and then jogged along the road, following the river.
The ship angled toward the center of the river. The holly oak leaf had refreshed me, clearing my Sight. The two sailorsslavers, reallystill stood on the deck of the ship. The scarred man held the wheel, steering the ship toward the center of the river. The other man stood watch, staring out across the river.
When I reached the shore, I took careful aim and flung one of my darts.
It sailed wide.
I made a slight correction and threw another. This time it sailed true, sinking into the scarred mans thigh. His eyes went wide and he tensed a moment before dropping to the ground. The wheel twisted as he fell. Wasting no time, I flung another dart just as the smaller man turned to look at why his companion had fallen. I took small satisfaction how it stuck into his neck. He twitched and fell to the deck in a heap.
The ship moved downstream, drifting slightly toward shore. I ran alongside. I had only three of my darts remaining. Hopefully only the captain remained below deck.
I reached a rocky outcropping and knew this would be my only chance. I jumped, praying to the Great Watcher I could reach the ship, though not expecting him to listen. What I did now went against all the teachings of my people.
I landed on the deck and rolled, colliding with the scarred mans leg. Pushing away from him, I crawled to my knees. His eyes were still open and blinked, the only part of him that moved. He deserved the fire burning through him. The other man lay on his stomach, eyes closed. The dart in his neck had pierced the artery there as he fell and blood pooled around him. I felt ashamed that I regretted the way he died. He should have suffered.
A small stair near the stern descended below the deck. Gripping my remaining darts, I took the stairs as quickly as I could. The effect of the holly oak leaf faded and pain started working through my stomach and lungs. Each breath was painful.
Only a single lantern glowed. The air stunk of sweat and sewage. A single closed door blocked the end of the hall. Two other doors along the small hall opened into what appeared to be containment rooms. Shackles hung from the walls. I understood the chains the scarred man held when they first arrived at the village.
Ducking into the rooms, I Saw they were empty. That left the closed door at the end of the hall.
When I reached the door, I pushed it open.
I Saw everything at once by the simple lantern light glowing on the table. Brin lay sprawled across a bed, hands chained over her head. Her dress was thrown up nearly exposing her hips. The captain stood behind her, preparing to have his way.
I said leave me He cut off as he looked up to see me.
I didnt wait for him to finish and flung one of my remaining darts.
The ship heaved as I threw and it went astray. The captain lunged at me.
Again, I was surprised at how quickly he moved. He reached me before I could ready another dart.
This time I tensed, sliding out of the doorway. He went barreling past, lunging into the hall. I tossed another dart but again it missed, this time sinking into the wall just above his head.
Only one dart remaining. Without the darts, I didnt think I could overcome the captain.
The ship struck something and we both lurched from our feet.
Behind me, Brin moaned. I glanced to see if she was all right. When I looked back, the captain had lunged toward me again. His hands reached my throat and slammed my head back and into the wall. He squeezed my neck with amazing strength. The distant part of my mind calculated my likelihood of survival as miniscule.
With one last kick, I swung my hands and the remaining dart jammed into his shoulder. Again I prayed to the Great Watcher, this time that there was enough poison on the dart to bring down the captain.
He squeezed harder, crushing my throat.
And then the strength left his hands.
He fell away, crashing into the back wall of the ship.
I did not watch him. If the dart failed, I would not survive much longer anyway.
Turning back to Brin, the first dart I had thrown pierced her dress near her stomach.
I ran to her and grabbed the dart, pulling it away and tossing it to the ground.
Brin? I repeated. Already I feared there would be no answer, that the srirach had taken her ability to speak.
She coughed. Galen?
A moment of hope worked through me. Unmindful of propriety, I shifted her dress and looked for a puncture wound, but saw nothing. Carefully, I double-checked but still did not find any sign of the dart piercing her skin. I allowed myself to relax briefly. The dress had caught the dart, protecting her.
Where do you hurt? I asked. I worked to remove the shackles holding her wrists to the bed.
When they were off, Brin sat up. She looked past me and into the hall toward where the captain lay dying. What did you do?
What I had to.
Is this, she began, looking up at me, is this what Isander teaches you?
Not this. Isander would have me heal them next. After what I had done to save Brin, I wondered if Isander would teach me any longer.
She watched my face, looking at me with such concern I wondered whether she Read me. Oh, Galen She leaned close. The scent of lavender was gone, replaced by the stink from the captain and his men.
I handed her a holly oak leaf. Chew this.
Brin took the leaf and placed it into her mouth, chewing it slowly. I waited until her strength returned before starting out of the ship. She slid past the captain, bare feet sliding along the wall so she didnt come into contact with him. As she reached the stairs, she turned to me. Is that what you will do?
She pointed to the captain. As Isander would do. Will you heal him?
I looked down. The captain blinked up at me. I thought of the healing agents Isander had taught me, the reversing agents necessary for srirach. The holly oak could delay his death, perhaps long enough to prepare an antidote. And I knew how he suffered, knew the agony burning through his body, the way his flesh felt like it practically boiled.
When I looked back at Brin, I saw concern in her eyes. Still, I could not get past the way her lip had been bloodied, the large rip of her dress with blood staining the borders, the memory of the captain preparing to violate her.
No, I said.
I sat in front of the small fire, strangely feeling no warmth. Instead, I felt numb.
My stomach ached, though it was a distant sensation, dulled by the effect of the holly oak I chewed. I wondered if I should feel remorse. Intentionally taking a mans life with my knowledge of healing, purposefully going against the teachings of the Great Watcher, should leave me feeling different than the emptiness I felt. Unlike when I had been banished from Elaeavn, this time I could not claim an accident.
Standing next to me, Isander watched me. Pale green eyes watched me for reaction. When he finally broke the silence, it was as if he had Read my fears. You think the Great Watcher frowns upon what you did?
I blinked, thinking of Brins face, bloodied and bruised, the way the captain prepared to rape her. If the Great Watcher could allow that to happen to Brin, then I did not care whether I had his favor. I think the Great Watcher has already judged me.
Already exiled from Elaeavn, now I truly was one of the Forgotten, cursed to spend my days away from the blessings of the Great Watcher.
Perhaps you have not yet been judged, Isander answered. Perhaps you have been placed here with a different purpose. Have you considered that you served the Great Watcher through your actions?
I took a deep breath, surprised by Isanders reaction. I had expected disappointment, perhaps anger. During the walk back to his house, I had even feared that he would no longer teach me. I felt unprepared for sympathy.
He sat down next to me. Compassion deepened the wrinkles on his face. You understand now?
I looked over at him. His voice had taken on the tone of a lecture and I knew what he said now would be important.
He shook his head. I had not expected you to learn so soon. We have spent all our time on healing, but do you know why srirach would be used? How someone could deserve such a fate?
All at once I understood the real purpose of his lesson.
There was no doubt in my mind the captain and the others deserved their fate, deserved the brutality of srirach. A part of me truly hoped they suffered.
Isander watched me for another moment and then nodded. Good. Tonight you will rest. This should help, he said, setting a steaming cup on the floor in front of me. I did not bother to ask what he had put into it. Tomorrow the lessons continue.
As he left, I shivered in spite of the heat of the crackling fire, uncertain whether I could handle another lesson like this one. But I knew, had I not learned this lesson, Brin would have been lost.
Finally, I took a drink from the cup. I would need to be ready for tomorrows lesson.
Read more with Galen in book 1 of The Sighted Assassin: Binders Game