"You are ready for your first healing rune!” Esther said when Dalia entered the healer’s hut in their town of Targa. It was a small hut with 2 rooms – one for the patients, and one for operations and storage. The patient’s room was the smaller, entrance room. It had chairs along the sides of the rectangular rooms and two doors; one to the other room and one to the outdoors. This is where they were now.
“Really?” Dalia asked eagerly.
“Yes. Let’s go to the other room.” Esther told her, and the two of them walked through one of the doors and into the storage room.
There, there were shelves upon shelves of herbs and other non-magical healing items. But one of the selves had scrolls of parchment, and Dalia knew that each one contained a healing rune.
Now, Esther took one out of its cubby and unrolled it on the operation table that occupied the middle of the room.
On the scroll, the top-left corner read ‘warmth’, while in the center, there was a symbol that filled the parchment:
“I thought it would say ‘heal’ or something like that.” Dalia said, surprised.
“To use a rune for heal would probably kill me, and I’ve been using runes for a long time.” Esther replied.
“Because it would heal everything, and use up a lot of energy,” Esther replied, “Now, let’s get to it.”
Dalia looked back at the rune.
“This one can help cure colds. Focus on it. Concentrate.” Esther directed Dalia, “Look deep into it and focus on warming up the table. It’ll work better if you touch the table.”
Dalia reached out and placed her small palms on the table. Looking at the rune and focusing all her willpower, she tried to heat up the table. For a while nothing happened, then in her mind, flames rose up, but she forced them down and concentrated on the heat the flames had given off and released it at the stone table. Suddenly, warmth hit her fingers and surprised, she jumped back, loosing concentration. After the rush of adrenaline, the sound of clapping reached her and she saw Esther clapping. Dalia felt weak, but powerful from the magic.
“I’m surprised you didn’t faint!” Esther exclaimed.
Dalia gripped the now cold table to steady herself. “Really?”
“Yes, most people do. I know I did, and I heated this table a lot less. You seem to have a gift for magic.”
“Wow!” Dalia decided to keep quiet about making the flames go down. Being too powerful could be dangerous, especially if it reached the wrong ears.
“I think we can try another one!” Esther told her.
“Cool!” Dalia said eagerly.
This time, Esther pulled out a different scroll, which read ‘calm’ and had this symbol:
“It is tougher to calm a hysterical person then a nervous person.” Esther told Dalia, “And it will be a lot easier on me, because I’ll only be pretending.”
The rest of the day went by quickly. Dalia learned quite a few runes and had to bring them all down. Esther sent Dalia home with homework to learn a few runes.
Once Dalia got home, she found that her parents hadn’t returned from work yet, so she studied a bit, then got ready for bed and fell asleep as soon as her head touched her pillow, drained from the magic.
The next day, Dalia expected it to be sunny, but once she got outside, assuming her parents had already left the house for work, she found that fog had covered the sky, almost blocking out the suns. The town felt quiet, as if it was abandoned.
She walked to the healer’s hut and, unusually, met no one on the way. Esther wasn’t there, which was also weird.
She waited for a while, until she decided to enter the storage room.
Walking in, she saw the scroll with the rune warmth on the table. As if it triggered something, the flames rose up in Dalia’s mind and the scrolls began to burn. The hut started to burn.
She tried to remember the rune for cooling, but in the panic she had forgotten it.
Then the scroll with warmth on it rolled up and changed into a skeleton with burning eye sockets.
Dalia rushed back, but the skeleton waved it’s boney hand and the scrolls reappeared and the fire stopped. It then said, “Your warning has been given. Join him.”
Dalia fell unconscious.