I awoke beside a roaring fire some time during the night. I pushed the thick woolen blanket off, and tried to sit up, ignoring the buzzing pain in my head.
"Ye're awake," came the gruff voice from my right. I turned my head to see Garrick sitting by the fire, whittling on a piece of wood.
"How long.." I asked, unable to get the rest of my question out. I figured it had been quite a while, due to the dryness in my throat. Luckily Garrick understood the question.
"Ye've been out for a few hours now. I think ye may've overdone it when trying to heal the Taru." He paused, carving another long, thin shaving from the bit of wood. "He's doing much better, by the way."
"...good," I croaked out. "Water?" I was more thirsty than I could remember being, and the pain in my head was still pounding along with my pulse beat.
"Aye," was the reply, as Garrick got up and grabbed his waterskin from the ground next to him. "Ye'll want to drink this slow."
I nodded, using my arms to drag myself into a sitting position. My entire body ached, but I was eager for the water.
Garrick crouched down beside me, holding the waterskin up to my parched lips. It was a bit humiliating, but I don't know that I could have done it myself, to be honest. And I really wanted that water.
Garrick tilted the waterskin, trickling warm water down into my mouth. He controlled the angle with a steady hand, being careful not to let too much out at once. After a moment, I raised my hand slightly, signalling him to stop.
Warm or not, the water had helped immensely. The throbbing pain had diminished down to a low ache, and I felt a bit of my strength return.
"Thank you," I said, nodding my head to Garrick. I finally had the energy to look around a bit. I noticed we were in the shadow of what must have been the same rock outcropping where we had originally intended to camp. "How did you get me back here?" I asked.
"I carried you," Garrick said, rising from his crouch and moving back to his previous spot. "It wasn't even all that far," he added, a deep chuckle rumbling from him.
"Where's Kuto-Lulu," I asked, looking around slowly for him.
"Standing watch," came the reply. "We're still in Quadav territory, and we're down a man. Bad timing, aye?"
"Aye," I agreed with a smile. "But I think I'll be all right, Garrick. I just need a good night's sleep and some food. By morning we'll be back down hunting up some more lizard skins."
"Aye," he replied, "that may be, but we must be prepared for the worst. If ye can't battle with lizards, we best get you back to town." He continued whittling as he spoke, shaping the bit of wood into a still-hidden shape.
"I guess we'll see in the morning," I said, settling my body back down to conserve energy.
"Aye, that we will," came the response. After that, he went quiet for a while, and the only sound was the crackling of our fire.
"Aspen," he asked, finally breaking the silence, "why did ye use up all your energy on the Taru? Ye could have done yourself some real damage, or even been killed." He paused, his hands continuing to deftly whittle away on the wood. I could finally see the shape of a bird trying to emerge. "Did ye not learn how to manage your energy in training?"
I was silent for another long moment, considering what my reply should be. For something was supposed to be largely a secret, my innate casting ability was certainly becoming common knowledge.
"I..never had any training," I finally responded, looking toward the fire. "I've always been able to make a few things happen. I just have to will it, is all." I paused, shifting my gaze over to Kerrick, then added, "It's not really something I wanted spread around, but.." I trailed off, shrugging my shoulders.
"Ye need training," came the quiet reply after a moment. "Ye're likely to kill yourself without it. I think ye got off extremely lucky today in that canyon."
"Your probably right," I said with another shrug, still gazing into the dancing flames. "I just feel like I wouldn't be a free Hume anymore. Like maybe they would lock my in a laboratory somewhere and run horrible experiments on me."
"Ye're not the first spontaneous caster, ye know," replied the large man. "I mean, aye, ye're uncommon as a dancing Galka, but ye're far from the only one."
This was news to me. I'd never heard of any other spontaneous casters.
"I'd advise ye to get some training when we get back to town. I can use a couple connections from my service days, and I know of a trainer who'd be happy to teach ye a few things." He paused a moment before adding, "And he'll let you out when you want for adventuring, or 'field training', as he calls it."
"That doesn't sound too bad," I said with a smile. "I'll sit down and talk with him, if you can arrange it."
Perhaps learning a few things about my abilities could be a good thing. At least I could try to avoid things like today's events.
I shifted my body, trying to get comfortable on the hard-packed sand, and drifted off to sleep. Maybe tomorrow we could all get rich off lizard skins.