I am finding it easier to disassociate from some of my more base requirements, like eating – I do not feel hungry, but I still miss the taste of things, and even though I feel tired from time to time, sleep is no longer the complete rest I would have required with my original form. I wonder if this is a bad thing?
With as much stealth as I can possibly muster, so as not to wake my companions, I place a few pieces of wood onto the fire and watch as a shower of sparks soar skyward.
It is necessary to post a watch in these woods, especially north of the pass, and you would be a fool for thinking that it is only the Svanir you should worry about. This is wild country, beyond the influence of Hoelbrak and regular friendly traffic to keep the more wary predators at a distance; out here the wild bites without thinking. Quiet as the night may seem, this is only because it listens carefully – as I do now.
Sadhira stirs, freeing herself from a heavy blanket so that she can prop up on her elbows. Blowing an errant lock of hair to one side, she then gazes about the rough camp before finding me. “Want me to take a turn on watch?”
“No.” I do not mean to be abrasive, but I can hear it in my voice.
“Don’t you need to sleep?”
“What happened to you?”
“You should rest; we have a long day tomorrow.”
The elementalist sits up, arranging the blanket around her waist. “I can’t sleep.”
“You should still rest, you never know-“
“When you’ll get the next chance – yeah, yeah, spare me the lecture; I’ve heard it plenty of times before.”
“Why are you here?” I ask her.
“Why should I answer your question, if you won’t answer mine?”
“I have no reason to explain anything to you – especially as you do not wish to be with us.”
Sadhira smooths the blanket flat. “I am not angry with you.”
“You would rather be helping your friends, in Lion’s Arch?”
“It’s not that easy.”
“Of course it is – we are not that far from Hoelbrak, and you seem capable enough.”
Sadhira chuckles softly. “Okay: I am here because it is in our nature. William, Amber, myself – simply put, this is what we do.”
“You do not seem to be that keen.”
Holding two hands up, Sadhira bows her head in mock admonishment. “I’ll grant you that – you are right in that I don’t want to be here, that I would rather be helping Will and Amber, and…”
Sadhira sighs. “You really give me the creeps – well, maybe not so much now.”
“That’s it?” I must admit, I had at first guessed that Sadhira found me unusual, but hearing her say it like that feels lacking.
I glance out at the night-filled forest. “We have some time, and I have to admit that I am curious; everything appears unnecessarily complicated at the moment.”
Sadhira leans forward and fishes a burning brand from the fire. Holding it close to her mouth, she blows steadily until the tip glows brightly, illuminating her face so that I can easily see her eyes as she appears to concentrate, and then with the briefest flicker, the ember winks out like a snuffed candle.
“How-” I begin to ask, but I think that I might have the answer already.
“The elements,” whispers Sadhira. “You understand that I exercise a certain control, an understanding, or perhaps if you prefer: I have an affinity with magic.”
“I understand.” Actually, I do not really, but I know what she is getting at. More to the point, I wonder what relevance this has. In the forests though, I am prepared to wait and listen.
Sadhira continues: “Many, even those well versed and well practised in the arcane, deal with magic in the same way that someone might take food for nourishment.” She pauses and seems to consider her analogy for a moment. “Biting into an apple does not immediately give you reason to consider the planted seed, or the growth of a bearing tree; at the very least, your hunger might be sated, and then what do you do with the apple?”
“You toss it away,” I reply, not thinking that Sadhira is expecting an answer, but in an odd way I feel like I am conversing with Helena, and although past conversations are very much one-sided, I am expected to contribute – even if my contribution typically elicits despair at my own seemingly empty-headedness.
“Yes.” Sadhira actually smiles and I feel slightly taken aback, rather than pride at guessing correctly. “Exactly that. You toss it away and your meal is done with.”
“But you could have re-planted the seed?” I venture.
“You could do that,” the elementalist agrees.
“So if you do not…” I pause. “What does this have to do with me?”
“If you just toss the apple aside, all is not lost. Maybe a bird will chance upon the core and make good with a meal. Perhaps then it will pass the seed and later there is a chance that another tree may grow. The point is, there is a connection – many options to keep things complete. I see magic like this.”
“Right,” I offer cautiously. Helena’s worldly explanations resulted in a glimmer of new-found understanding – Sadhira just confuses me.
“I see the completeness.”
“Oh, you mean balance?”
“If you like.” Sadihra glances at the sleeping forms of Treen, Genni and Agnon. “We may all seem very different from one another, but we do share similar ideals. Like your asura friends and their belief in the Eternal Alchemy; it may seem odd, but ultimately many of us believe in a form of connection.”
I have heard references to the Eternal Alchemy before, but the asura do not strike me as a race with a spiritual bent. “I still do not understand how this has any bearing-”
“I see things as a whole, Asbjorn,” interrupts Sadhira. “I do not just summon fire from nothing; there is a connection and this connection forms a whole – a complete thing. When I look at you, Asbjorn…” She trails off.
Sadhira sighs and seems apologetic when she says, “I do not see you as a whole – you are not complete.”
“That is it?” I ask with a half laugh. “I appreciate that you do not know the complete story, Sadhira. But I could have told you that.”
The elementalist shakes her head. “No, you do not understand. I do not mean your lack of a physical form. I mean you – when I look at you, sense you… something is missing.”
Edited by Amy