The Magi

An Allergic Reaction

It was the only thing Terrence could do to help the girl in his care. He knew, after many lectures from his older sister Marnie and several mentors, that using his energy to heal someone was a last resort. Everything else had to be tried first. It was too easy for energy healing to go wrong. That was why they had turned to making medicines rather than using energy to heal. Sighing he tried not to listen to the voices in his head, repeating the same things over and over again. If he didn’t try energy healing then the girl was going to die the same way all the others had.
Carefully, Terrence channelled his energy into the crystal he wore on a chain around his neck. Once the crystal was warm to the touch he knew that he could use it on her. He removed it from the chain and placed it gently on her forehead. She moved uncomfortably, moaning slightly under her breath. Breathing slowly, he tried not to think of all the horror stories he’d heard about energy healing going wrong. Focusing on her he gently pushed a little of his energy from the crystal into her body. For a moment he thought everything was fine. Everything was going just as it was meant to. Then she screamed. It was a terrifying sound that seemed to go on for hours, even though it was probably only seconds because someone ran into the room at the same time as it stopped.
“You should have come to me before you tried that,” the person said, lifting Terrence’s hand, with the crystal still tightly clasped in it, away from the girl’s forehead. “Now we have to wait and see if she comes through what you’ve done.”
Terrence looked at her, feeling tears well up in his eyes. “It was the only thing I could do.”
“I know.” There was a long silence. “We should have done it days ago, but everyone has been scared of energy healing since your aunt… well, since what happened.”
“What’s happening to her?” Changing the subject seemed like the best choice. No one liked to talk about Lorna. “Why did she scream?”
“Her magic is fighting with your healing magic. It only happens in people who are allergic to our healing energy, and before we stopped it was a very rare occurrence. I think it’s something that might happen more now because no one is used to having a mix of magic in their bodies.”
“I’m sorry.”
“It’s not your fault. I should have been the one to try working with energy healing, not you. Your mother’s going to kill me if something happens to you.”
“I made a choice, Sheryl. If I get ill because I chose to heal someone then that’s simply the way it’s meant to be.”
“You know how many people have died because of this disease.”
He nodded, watching the girl’s face contort with pain. “Saving the life of this girl would be worth it.”
“You’re more like your sister than anyone gives you credit for.”
For the first time Terrence looked at Sheryl, and smiled. “She taught me everything I know. If it wasn’t for her I never would have become a healer.”
Sheryl looked at Terrence, and he knew that she was about to ask him a question that more people wanted to ask him than dared to. He was the son of the matriarch, so everyone was careful around him even though he wanted to be treated the same way all the other healers were. Marnie had warned him, telling him that his position would make things difficult for anyone to treat him normally, because she’d been treated differently ever since she started training. Then again she’d taught him almost everything he knew, as their mother wasn’t happy about all of her children being healers, which he could never understand as the Magi had always been healers and always would be. At least that was what he believed, thanks to Marnie.
“Why did you become a healer?” Sheryl asked, sounding unsure.
“Mother never wanted me to, so to begin with I did try other things, because I wanted to make her happy. That was before I realised nothing would make Mother happy.” Terrance shook his head. “While I was attempting to do something else Marnie asked me to help her gather some herbs one night. I think she did it purely to give us somewhere we could talk without being overheard by Mother, or anyone else. She asked me what I wanted to do with my life and I told her that all I’d ever wanted was to be a healer, like her, like Aunt Lorna…” He sighed. “Maybe Aunt Lorna is why Mother was so against me becoming a healer, but in the end Marnie managed to convince Mother that I needed to walk my chosen path instead of rambling aimlessly.”
Nodding, Sheryl smiled at Terrance. “I’ve worked with Marnie before, and she always believed she was born a healer. I think it’s the same for all of us who chose to become healers, but at the same time…” Sheryl bit her lip. “Your mother was taught to heal, because she was a daughter of the matriarch, even though she was never a born healer. Most of the Magi have some idea of how to make basic healing potions. Everyone still views us as the healing race when things have changed so much since we first left Carne land and sometimes I hate it. We are not all healers, even though we are all Magi.”
“I understand what you’re saying.” Terrance had heard it all before from Marnie and he was beginning to understand why his sister was so angry about things. “It wasn’t until I had a chance to work with a group of healers that I realised how few of the Magi really do chose to follow the path that we are all meant to take. We are now the minority within our race, which means we have to do more work to help the growing populations.”
“We’re only permitted to what used to be our main way of healing, using energy the way you did, in emergencies, because the matriarch is scared that it might go wrong. The problem is using it in emergencies only means that it’s more likely to adversely affect whoever we use it on.” Sheryl sighed. “None of us are allowed to go into Carne territory, even though some of us do still have family living there, and it’s all a mess.”
“I didn’t realise that.”
“That’s something most people aren’t willing to talk about. Bringing up the Carne is never going to go well.” Sheryl shook her head. “Your mother, like those who have come before her, have very specific ideas about what it means to be Magi. Others… it’s hard, Terrence. Normally this isn’t something I would have brought up, unless I could be certain what I said wasn’t going to get back to her, because she doesn’t like anyone who argues against her plans. Unfortunately one of those plans is to get your older brother is to become her successor, rather than Marnie taking her place as matriarch.”
“Marnie and I have spoken about that before. She cares, probably more than she lets on, but that doesn’t mean she isn’t willing to talk away if she thinks that’s the best choice. Being a healer is the most important thing. Our older brother… I see that he isn’t the person Mother believes he is, and I think things will work out if he does become patriarch. He’s not the person Marnie thinks he is either. I’m the only person he dares to occasionally let down his shields around, because it’s not going to have an effect on our relationship. If he was to do that around Marnie everything would change, and that can’t happen, not if things are going to work out the way he wants them to.”
“Your brother is playing your mother at her own game?”
“He’s doing his best to.” Terrence smiled. “He wants to fix things just as much as Marnie does, but he knows butting heads with Mother isn’t the way to do that.” His smile faded. “There are those who say Mother might actually have hurt Aunt Lorna in order to get what she wanted.”
For a long time Sheryl was silent. It was easily possible to see the uncertainty she felt, and Terrence gave her the time she needed. Being able to talk about what the others knew, and believed, helped. “No one knows for certain what happened to Lorna. I remember it happening, even though I was young at the time. She was there one evening, and gone the next, with your grandmother telling everyone her body had been found. People believed what the matriarch said. She was the matriarch, so there was no reason for anyone to think she was lying, but, as the days passed, people started asking questions. There hadn’t been anyone who needed healing in the village. Lorna had no reason to be using any healing magic on anyone, and yet that was the cause of her death. Some started to think it was a way of protecting Rose. Others thought maybe your grandmother had done something.” She shrugged. “I don’t know what happened to her, not for certain, but there are rumours of there being travelling healers, who go to places we don’t.”
Nodding, Terrence looked down at the girl. “Did I make the right choice?”
“You made the choice Marnie would have made.” Sheryl smiled. “You made the choice Lorna would have made. Both your sister and your aunt were true healers.” She studied him. “I’m beginning to think you might well be the same, Terrence.”
“Maybe I am.” Gently, he touched the girl’s forehead. “Her temperature seems to have gone down.”
“Good.” Terrence’s eyes met with Sheryl’s for a moment. “The best thing you can do is get yourself something to eat. I know you feel fine now, but using energy to heal takes a lot out of you.”
“I know. When no one else would teach me what I wanted to know I went to Marnie. She told me that I only used energy healing if I had no other choice. Everyone else had said the same thing, so I didn’t stop to ask her why she’d said that, when I should have done. Had I asked I’d have known about the problems we now have.”
Slowly, he stood. Terrence was reminded of the first time Marnie had helped him to energy heal. She’d made sure he ate something almost straight after, but that hadn’t changed how weak he’d been. It had faded in a couple of hours, and he was certain the same thing would happen again, so he accepted it as normality. Breathing deeply, gathering every little bit of energy he had, he started to make his way towards the door of the room, grateful he would finally get a break. He felt like he’d been in there for days. Just as he reached the door he felt it. He had no words to describe the sensation, but he knew it wasn’t normal. Before he could turn to Sheryl, to ask for help, darkness swept over him. The last thing he felt was his body collapsing to the ground.