People are always capable of surprising themselves. In Tessa’s case, being surprised by Glimmerglass was a little weirder than usual.
“You can bring them back?” Tessa asked. “But they’re…”
And she stopped herself right there.
Yawlorna and her people “weren’t [Adventurers]”. That was true. Or it had been. But then they’d started gaining levels. Like an [Adventurer] would.
“I was working with Kellsgrith,” Glimmerglass said and then raised her hands in a calming gesture as Yawlorna’s shocked expression. “Nothing dangerous. Don’t worry. Just some analysis spells and a few very tiny wounds. Which Kellsgrith was fine with. I had her administer them to herself so that there wouldn’t be any danger of someone overdoing it.”
“You had her wound herself?” Yawlorna asked as though the question was so far beyond believable that it shouldn’t have been able to surprise her.
“Only a little bit,” Glimmerglass said. “Just a few small cuts on her arm. And a tiny little stab into her leg. We stopped before we tried the throat cut or the heart stab.”
Yawlorna drew in a deep breath. And then another. And then a third.
“Do go one,” she said at last, her face assuming a chiveled expression of only mild interest.
“Thanks to Kellsgrith’s help, I’ve been able to prove that our healing magics are more than superficially effective on your people,” Glimmerglass said. “I’m not sure if landing here converted your basic biological processes to be compatible with this world or if they always were, but your bodies follow all of the same physio-arcane laws as an [Adventurers] does.”
Yawlorna stared at Glimmerglass, waiting for her to continue. Tessa though recognized Glimmerglass’s pause for the anxiety Tessa knew all too well.
“I think you’ll need to break down what you mean by that,” Tessa said. It was so much easier to keep the gears in her head turning when she wasn’t the one who was on the spot. She wished she could bottle the feeling of clarity she had and guzzle it the next time she went too in depth on something technical and her brain froze up.
“Ah, right,” Glimmerglass, shooting a smile at her other self. “The short form is our spells that raise the dead should fine on you folks. Did you want to hear the longer explanation?”
Though she was vastly more powerful than Yawlorna, there was still the same nervous hesitation in Glimmerglass’s voice that Tessa knew must have come from her input to Glimmerglass’s personality.
Or maybe self-esteem was something that didn’t necessarily increase as you improved?
“This may surprise you, but yes, yes I would,” Yawlorna said. “Especially since I was able to get one of these from Mister Pendant.”
She drew a notebook and a fine quality stylus from her pack and leaned forward on the chairs they’d assembled into a cozy circle, a (Mad?) scientists gleam in her eyes.
“I’m not sure how much you’ve worked out or what people have explained about the basic nature of our world, so just tell me to skip forward if I’m covering ground that’s old news to you,” Glimmerglass said.
“Oh I find listening to primary sources worthwhile no matter what topic they’re covering,” Yawlorna said.
“Okay, well to start then, this world has magic, obviously. That isn’t something that’s true of all worlds though, which is something we’ve only recently learned, thanks to Tessa and the other alternate selves who’ve joined us recently,” Glimmerglass said. “I could go into the theorycrafting that’s been spawned by that particular revolution for the next several years if we had time, but for the purpose of this topic the important thing is that we’ve been able to make some significant leaps forward in our understanding of the core rules that govern magic here because we now know that magic’s not a requisite part of reality.”
“And who is ‘we’ in this context?” Yawlorna asked.
“I can directly speak for the high level casters who are working with Penswell and the [Grand Coalition] focused on the mystical defenses of the [Fallen Kingdoms]. I’m sure other high caliber casters and scholars are reaching many of the same conclusions we have but with the world being under existential threat there hasn’t been much time to put together conferences and write up the proper academic papers.”
“I believe I have some notion of what that’s like,: Yawlorna said. “I would sell body organs for a chance to publish even one damn paper on the things we’ve found here.”
Tessa noted the wording and wondered if Yawlorna was limiting herself to her own organs or whether she’d offer any that were on hand that didn’t seem to be sufficiently needed by their present owners. Probably the former, but “publish or perish” was possibly a real thing in places other than Earthly academia.
“The principal insight that’s relevant here is that we always believed [Adventurers] responded to healing spells, especially life restoring ones, differently than regular people because we’d been switched on a separate magical paradigm,” Glimmerglass said. “Since magic is everywhere in this world, we believed that normal people must have their own set of magical rules they were bound by, while [Adventurers] worked under a different and disconnected set. Learning that it’s possible for people to exist without any ties to magic lead to several of us investigating whether [Adventurers] might not simply have some extra enchantments that allow things like [Resurrection] spells to work on them where they fail on normal people.”
“That sounds nice than presuming that the regular people lack souls,” Yawlorna said.
“That was a theory that was floated for years a few centuries ago. One of the good thing of encountering soul stealing demons though is that is proves very quickly that everyone has a soul, no matter how mundane they might be.”
“If you already knew that mundane people had an <eternal aspect>,” Yawlorna said, the word ‘soul’ translating oddly from the Nezzparin language Yawlorna was speaking, “what stopped you from simply fixing their bodies and reclaiming it?”
“Normal people’s souls are less bound to the material world it seems,” Glimmerglass said. “They can sometimes linger as the [Disembodied] but far more often the soul passes on down a road we can’t follow, and leaves behind at most an after-image in the ectoplasm which is what people often call a ghost. Those aren’t the people who died, just more or less distorted reflection of who they were at the time of death.”
“Why do I feel compelled to believe that your people have tried sticking those into revivified bodies already?” Yawlorna asked.
“Probably because you’ve talked with us for more than five minutes,” Tessa said.
“It tends to turn out as horribly as you might imagine,” Glimmerglass said. “The best case scenario is that the revivified person appears just like the original but fades out and ‘dies’ again in a few days as the ghostly impression on the ectoplasm of the [Dead Lands] fades away.”
“The worst cases dive right into the realms of body horror and nightmare,” Tessa said. “If those things linger they wind up as boss monsters that [Adventurers] need to destroy, and those storylines are messy.”
“But this won’t be our fate,” Yawlorna said. “If the worst comes to pass I mean.”
“It won’t be your fate if we have to resurrect you,” Glimmerglass said.
“I note that you didn’t exactly answer the question I asked,” Yawlorna said.
“If the worst comes to pass, you won’t be resurrectable because your soul will be bound in a [Torment Realm]. That’s a nightmare and a half, but until you’re fighting much higher level dungeon bosses, that’s not a scenario which should ever occur.”
“Of course. It was silly of me to assume that death was the worst thing this world might have to offer. Foolish really,” Yawlorna said, her notetaking not pausing or slowing as she spoke.
“There’s a lot to take in here,” Tessa said. “I’ve literally read the manual on this place, and all of the forum posts and wiki articles I could find, and it’s still a constant stream of surprises.”
“That’s comforting, or terrifying,” Yawlorna said. “Maybe both?”
“Well, the good news is that for as alien as this world may feel to you, you’re not intrinsically removed from it,” Glimmerglass said. “Once you started leveling, a lot of the same enchantments and metaphysical qualities that [Adventurers] possess began to manifest in you as well. You didn’t need to become something else, something like the rest of us, you just needed to have the same ‘extras’ added to you that us [Adventurers] got.”
“How sure are you that they got all of the same magical add-ons that the rest of us have?” Tessa asked.
“Oh, they don’t have all of them,” Glimmerglass said. “But then neither do you, or anyone else here. Heck I’m missing some too. The key is that they have the core set that every [Adventurer] shares no matter what race, job, or level they are, and that includes the response to restoration spells.”
Tessa could see the magic in her head as code. There were method calls like “pass through a level 50 gate” that she couldn’t hear or answer yet. On the other hand “pass through a level 20 gate” was a privilege she’d gained without even being aware of it.
“So you can resurrect us. Maybe. Probably. Does that mean you know what happens to us if we die here?” Yawlorna asked.
“In general terms, yes,” Glimmerglass said. “When you die, you’ll find yourself in the [Dead Lands] standing over your corpse. It’s a little surreal the first time it happens, but you get used to it pretty quickly.”
“It helps that while you’re dead, you’re not stuck like that,” Tessa said.
“From there you’ll want to find a [Heart Fire]. That’s where you can collect the power to resurrect yourself. Or, in this case, you can wait near your body and allow one of my spells to put you back in it.”
“What happens if we run off?” Yawlorna asked.
“My spell can bring you back to your body as long as your spirit is still available,” Glimmerglass said. “Which will be true as long as the [Hounds of Fate] haven’t gotten a hold of you.”
“They destroy souls?” Yawlorna asked.
“As far as we know, nothing can destroy a soul,” Glimmerglass said. “The Hounds carry them somewhere else though. Somewhere beyond. Somewhere we can’t contact them.”
“Can they be fought?”
“We don’t have any of our abilities as ghosts,” Tessa said. “You’ll hear them well before they get to you, but if they catch up and you’re not in the safety of a [Heart Fire Chapel] or back in your own body, that’s pretty much it. You’re done.”
“I suppose that means there isn’t any hope for bringing back the members of my crew we already lost then?” she asked.
“I could tell you that nothing’s impossible, but the reality is probably that they either passed on to whatever afterlife you normally go to, or that the Hounds got them long ago and brought them to wherever they bring our people,” Glimmerglass said. “There’s usually time to resurrect dead [Adventurers] but not that much time.”
“I’m not the first field promoted captain to lose crew members on a mission like this,” she said. “If there ever was a mission like this.”
“It wasn’t supposed to be this dangerous, was it?” Glimmerglass asked.
“A survey mission,” Yawlorna said. “Good for the students to get some practical experience under their belts before they started doing serious work.”
“We’ll help keep them safe from here,” Lisa said, putting a hand on Yawlorna’s massive clenched fist.
“I know,” Yawlorna said. “And I’m grateful for what you’ve done for my three chief idiots over there. And for offering us a place with you tonight. I think there’s only one more thing I need to know.”
“What’s that?” Glimmerglass asked.
“How can I learn to do what you do,” Yawlorna said, looking at the healer sitting before her.