Federation-Apocalypse Session 152 – In the Houses of Healing

Galatea, Villa Farnesina, 295 × 224 cm, origin...

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It didn’t take long for Raphael, Archangel of Healing, to notice the visitors.

(Raphael) “Ah, it looks like we have additional guests. Are you here to learn the healing arts, or are you here seeking assistance in some matter?”

(Kevin) “Assistance I fear: the Lady Tyra Istral has an injury that is beyond any of our talents – at least without great risk of making the situation worse. We were hoping that you could advise or assist us.”

(Raphael) “Hmm, Lady Istral, if you would please step forward to the front of the class? I would like to take this opportunity to demonstrate some of the advanced healing techniques for these students.”

(Istral) “I do not mind, matters of privacy don’t bother me quite as much these days.”

(Raphael) “And do any others among you need assistance?”

(Marty) “I’m fine, but I’ll definitely pay attention.”

(Kevin) “Not, I think, at the moment, thank you.’

Hm. The Lady Istral was indeed an honorable and noble soul. Despite their total unfamiliarity, her surroundings weren’t affecting her nearly as much as they did Kevin. It did make him wonder how she’d view the entities of this realm. After all, they were generically humanoid, rather like a compromise between all the species she knows, neither fur nor feathers nor scales. Just – by her standards – utterly generic beings of light.

Would she be seeing this as – by her standards – a sort of “generic good guy” world? And what did that say about human spirits? Come to think of it, did they even have a concept of the darkness as an independent power of evil in Ciarkian? Their world was awfully… Darwinian. Notions of philosophical good and evil held little power there.

Did souls from the Core have a richer experience of darkness than the ones who had originated in Ciarkian? They would still be fundamentally human of course, but who knew how they could be shaped as they journey through the Manifold? Besides… their world featured fairly benign creators who did’t interfere, local gods who interfered sometimes but were really more nature elementals than gods, and occasional things from outside that could be really WEIRD. The idea of a “deal with the devil” didn’t have much purchase there – although some outside things might fill that role. It would explain why they had fewer doubts about his pact; there wasn’t much of any notion of “compromising with evil” in their society, it was simply pragmatism; Kevin was offering an excellent deal…

(Raphael) “Very well then. Let us have a look at the problem. (Light tendrils began to swirl forth from the Archangel to orbit Istral.) Hmm, a first glance would point to an issue with the tail, but this would be misleading. The fact that the additional tails represent a form of personal growth point to this being a deeper issue than one of some missing biomass. Note what happens when we try a simple regenerative effect…”

Meanwhile, Kevin and Marty continued their private discussion…

Perhaps the desire for a simpler role was, in some ways, a bit limiting – but it was also very characteristic of the animal-people notion, since they were often perceived as more primal and with a lot of very stereotypical behaviors. The magical basis of their society might be a symptom of the same thing; a simpler way of life than the human one.

Marty kept an eye on the lecture too. This was pretty much the first time he’d been exposed to medical training beyond “give them the healing pill and stab if that doesn’t work.”

Meanwhile, a tail began to reform from the stump, and nearly approached full growth before turning necrotic and falling off.

(Raphael) “Note what happened, the form was fine, but the spirit was unable to maintain the outward expression of power. This suggests that the spirit has been damaged in some fashion. Now, if we switch our focus to the spiritual level….

Suddenly the world around them went dark, and the people in the class turned to a translucent blue or green color.  Marty shone with a golden yellow color, Raphael shone with a brilliant white light that was both blinding and pleasing to the eyes at the same. Kevin showed as a blue ghost with black clouds of swirling murkiness and ominous red glowing lights beneath the black clouds shifting across his form – albeit with occasional, lightning-like flashes, of light.

Kevin and Marty promptly started private speculation on the meaning of the various colors – even if some of them were clear enough. White for the Light, black and red for the Darkness and for dominance and lower instincts, blue was perhaps logic, green was probably related to life. Kevin didn’t see why he couldn’t be as pretty as the others though! Darkness could be pretty! The night sky was!

Marty was thinking about yellow… Chaos perhaps?

The Lady Istral glowed a violet color, save for the stump of her tail, which ended in a black cloud with bluish lightning arcing off silently from the stump.

(Raphael) “First note the violet coloration of her spirit. It is easy to tell that this one is a mage and a psion of considerable power. Now, if the injury was merely a physical one we would see the rest of the tail shine forth like the rest except maybe as a dimmer light. Note the fact that the tail abruptly ends in this swirling black mist of dark energies. The fact that this has not spread beyond the wound indicates the spirit is fighting the infection. Another sign of this is the violet discharges around the wound itself. What does this tell us about the nature of the wound and why her tail refuses to regenerate?

Perhaps a necromantic spiritual corruption? And for the spirit to regenerate into that area would be to allow it to infest the rest of her?

Oh well! Pure guesswork there, and simply trying to jump ahead of the lecture for amusement; it wasn’t like either of them was a masterhealer!

(Medical Student) “That the spirit is devoting the power that would go towards manifesting the tail towards fighting the infection?”

(Raphael) “Yes and no, the amputated tail is a symptom and not a sign of her physical health. Remember, the tails represent her power, if the infection is damaging her power, then it stands to reason that the damage would then manifest itself in the form which represents it. Now as to the nature of the infection, it appears to be necromantic in origin, and I would dare say I detect demonic overtones in it as well. Tell me young lady, do the concepts of light and darkness have any real meaning for you beyond abstract concepts or simple facts of illumination?”

(Istral) “I am not sure I understand…”

(Raphael) “I thought as much. Lady, you recognize that I appear to be different in spirit than the others here? I am certain one of your power can recognize that fact? That is because I represent the concepts of good, healing, self-sacrifice, and other qualities that represent “good” behavior in a species of social animals. Now, the others here are normal spirits like yourself with varying degrees of power. Blue tends to represent magic and purity, green represents life and ties to those around you. Gold, which our friend over here displays, represents a sort of divine aspect still taking form. You could see a certain element of purity in that I suppose. Now, our other friend here (indicating Kevin) has been dealing with powers of a darker sort. Death, destruction, the will to live at all costs and the urge to fight. Some would call these evil, but most social species need some of that in order to survive. It’s making the conscious decision between light and darkness that enables the spirit to become something more. You, having come from a world with no symbolic distinction between light and dark powers, are somewhat immune to them. That is keeping the corrupting nature of the curse at bay, but still your spirit must fight off the foreign power that has entered your system. I suspect your first incarnation died at a very young age. Perhaps shortly after birth or even before then. We can heal the wound, but to do that will require you to make a decision. You must choose between light and darkness.”

(Raphael turned to Kevin) “Do you have anything to say on this matter? As a representative of the Darker powers, I assume you would have something to add.”

Kevin sighed.

(Kevin) “Hm… The powers of darkness are a heavy burden, and can easily become powers of destruction – both of the user and of everything they might hold dear. I… acquired them far too early. Still, the darkness is a weapon of tremendous power, and – unlike the light – that power is not limited by the user’s purity. If you feel that your world faces menaces greater than you might become, and has need of that power – the darkness would be a choice. It certainly offers greater immediate rewards. The light, however, offers great long-term rewards, is no threat to your world, and will demand no more than self-sacrifice of you. The Darkness is necessary at times. I suspect you have seen wars; there are far more vicious wars out there. If you feel that you must fight them, the darkness will serve. If you wish only to defend and heal, you do not need it.”

(Raphael – with, perhaps, a trace of surprise) “Well said, now there is no need for a decision right now. You just need to be aware of the implications of such a decision. A time will come when you need to choose what purpose you serve. Are you a weapon or a shield? I cannot tell you, nor can anyone else on any reachable plane of existence. Only you can tell yourself that.”

(Istral) “Haven’t I proven who I am already?”

(Raphael) “To some extent yes, but some decisions need to be conscious of the consequences for them to have consequences. Such is the nature of innocence. Don’t worry, it will come in due time, and sooner than I expect you think.

(Marty) “I can’t make the decision for you, but I know one thing. My friend here sometimes has problems holding in all that darkness and destruction. The light’s not so bad on that. He’s right about the self-sacrifice, though.”

(Raphael) “Now I have shown you the way, it’s up to you as to which path you end up picking. (Raphael turned to Kevin and Marty) I expect you had other matters you wished to attend to while here?”

(Kevin) “Indeed, yes. Ms Istral? I trust you will not mind if we leave you in the capable hands of Raphael here for the moment? We shall be back by (he glanced questioningly at Raphael in hopes of some indication of how long that should be, and didn’t get anything) shortly to pick you up for the return trip to your world; it is rather distant from here…”

(Istral) “I should be fine. It definitely looks like I have a lot to think about right now.”

(Kevin) “Well, you may not need to come to any final decision for many years – but it must be your decision. We shall see you again a bit later.”

(Kevin, to Marty on the way out) “And off to see Menthas!. Now… A new flaming sword?

(Marty) “A new flaming sword might not be a bad idea, I’m sure they keep spares.”

(Kevin) “I hope this doesn’t turn out to be one of those “A thousand years is as a day!” deals! That would be bloody awkward to explain back in Cyrweld! “Oh, we took your city hero away for a bit of the afternoon and left her in a distant dimensions! She should be back in a thousand years!”. They’d get lynched!

Of course distortions like that normally only applied to local time, and when you exited you’d find that it was the dimensions internal time that had shifted, not Core time…

(Marty) “Well, we could always try to bring in a ringer!”

Kevin had to frown at that. That just didn’t seem likely to work, and he wasn’t much for lies anyway.

(Benjamin) “I take it you are now ready to visit Menthas?”

(Kevin) “Yes indeed!”

(Benjamin) “Very well then, one second.”

Benjamin raised his hand, and there was another flash of light. Suddenly they found themselves at the entrance to a Classical style open air building. The landscape was a rugged hilly terrain with a pleasant climate and dotted with trees and picturesque “ancient ruins”. An aqueduct could be seen in the distance, and a small fountain that seemed to glow without giving off light was off to one side. A number of reclined chairs were scattered about the building, many of hem occupied by resting angels and people.

The air was filled with enough light to make Kevin felt slightly sickened, but it was otherwise unimpairing.. They could see Menthas playing a game against a human on a board set between their two chairs.

By the time they got there, Kevin and Marty had pulled in half a dozen different presents from elsewhere, including a new flaming sword, a video game system, a couple of get well soon cards, a fruit basket, a magic shield, a very large Kadian gift certificate, several bottles of fine wine, and a selection of other bits and pieces, both magical and mundane. Even if angels didn’t need presents, they could appreciate the thought!

(Marty) “Hi, Menthas! How are you recovering?”

Menthas looked up from her game to them.

(Menthas) “Ah, so you did come to visit! A number of the others around here figured you wouldn’t show up again after having gotten what you wanted from us. It’s good to see that I was right. So far, the injuries have all healed nicely, and the weariness of battle and having lost so much energy is dissipating quickly enough. I should be ready for battle again in a few weeks…  And yourselves? I see you both have recovered well in the time that has passed.”

(Marty) “We’re doing all right, though we took some major dings and have been taking a break ourselves. Just thought we should see how you were doing.”

(Kevin) “Oh pretty well recovered I think! I wasn’t sure what you’d like, so I brought you an assortment of get-well presents! Would you like to let some of the Neodogs who were assisting you visit? They tend to worry if there isn’t a pack handy to protect any friend of theirs who is injured…”

(Menthas) “That would be nice. It’s always nice to have others who care about you around.”

(Kevin) “I’ll set up a gateway to near the gates of heaven for them then. “

Unfortunately, due to external circumstances, this session had to be cut short at this point.

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