Iris was listening closely to the instructor and didn't seem to notice the shadows that had covered some of the students. It wasn't until the instructor had finally said something that she noticed. Looks down, her left arm was missing, leaving a gory stump. Startled, she let out a scream before realizing that she wasn't feeling any pain and some of the others in the room had a similar injury.
Lark hadn’t felt anything; no pain or sensation of the shadows creeping slowly up his right arm. Yet, as the professor mentioned it, he looked down and was surprised, as well as disgusted, to see a giant gash in his arm. Blood and pus alike oozed out of it at a rather quick pace and the rustic, sour smell rose to meet his nose as he sharply inhaled at the sight, regretting his actions soon after. It made him nauseous to look at something so repulsive, so he turned his head away, choking down a gag.
However, he was surprised yet again when a shrill screech in his air sounded, right in his ear. He winced before realizing that the sound came from his seatmate, Iris, whom he had had several interactions with before. She was looking at her severed hand in horror, though her scream cut short as she realized it was a mere illusion. Sighing, Lark pinched the bridge of his nose and turned his body towards her as the professor assigned the class partners.
“You alright?” He asked softly, bringing his hand down from his nose to look at Iris properly. He tried to focus his gaze on her face rather than her obvious missing hand, but his eyes kept sliding towards the space where her arm stopped and blood started pooling. It was, of course, a deception of the mind, caused by the professor’s shadows, but Lark still couldn’t shake his feeling of unease.
“Look like… we’re going to have to heal each other…”
"I . .. it. . .how . . ." she muttered, shock has set in deep. She slowly looked from her hand to see Lark looking at her; he didn't seem to be a shocked as she was, or he was much better at hiding his emotions. That was when the smell of Lark's wound hit her; she gaged a bit but kept whatever was in her stomach down. This was an elemental class right? Not a medical one? Her stomach was still extremely sour as she tried to look Lark in the eyes.
Hiding emotion wasn't a strength of her: all the fear, shock, horror, disgust and confusion was spread across her face as well as in her eyes. Her voice weak when she finally managed to speak, "Heal? How? This is an elemental class," she asked, trying to ignoring the pool of blood forming over her bare feet and the floor.
He could see the sheer look of repugnance on her face, her eyes revealing the fear in her eyes though the pair was quite safe at the moment. Looking into her vibrant orbs at his waver reflection, Lark realized how apathetic he looked about the whole ordeal. Though it he felt sick to his stomach, his face revealed none of this, his mouth set in a stern line, his eyes hard and unfeeling. In fact, if he had to put an emotion to his expression, he would have chosen neither fear nor abhorrence for the wounds, but instead an annoyance as if he were waiting for a late bus on a particularly hot day. It pleased him that he was able to keep such a straight face in a situation as disgusting as this one.
“How…?” He repeated her question, mulling over it for a moment. “Well, we are only allowed to use elements, so…” He paused, not wanting to scare her. Then again, what did he care if she were frightened? He had grown too soft lately. It’s not like it would actually hurt her… right? It was, after all, only an illusion. She would be fine.
“I… I supposed I’ll have to burn your wound closed.” That seemed like the simplest solution since he had no way to regenerate her hand. Normally such methods induced extreme pain that Lark hated to see and he had to keep reminding himself that the wound was nothing more than shadow
Iris couldn't understand how Lark was so calm or at least he acted like he wasn't bothered. The only thing that seemed to keep her from fainting was the fact that this wound was some kind of magic trick since there was no pain. If there was pain to go along with the smell and looks, she would not be conscious right now.
"Burn," she managed to muttered, "Like with fire?" she asked. While the question was dumb one with a clear answer, she still had to ask it. She bit her lip as soon as the words left them; wait if he was to use fire; would it actually burn her? Would she feel pain? How was that going to work? She looked at Lark with scared and pleading eyes.
Lark raised a brow slightly at her question. What else would he burn her with? Ice? He supposed that ice burns were indeed a thing, but they would not be effective at all—in fact they would be counterproductive— in healing her.
“Yes,” he said slowly, “’like with fire.’ It… shouldn’t hurt since this isn’t a real scenario. At most you will feel a light tickling sensation.” As he spoke he turned his eyes towards his left, uninjured arm, where he had begun to conjure a small flame. It started about the size of a droplet, but as he focused more energy and magic into it, it grew bigger, until it was bigger than that of a candle but small enough for Lark to control with ease. But size wasn’t the only factor; the flame had to be hot as well. It flickered in between orange and blue and then finally it became a blazing white ball in the palm of his hand. It was mesmerizing to watch, but of course he didn’t have time for that. He wouldn’t be able to keep the flame going for a very long period of time for it was one of his weaker elements. Perhaps he didn’t like it because of how loud and vibrant it seemed or maybe his distaste stemmed from his many negative encounters with a certain gray witch hunter. Either way, he had not practiced it much and his control was weak, so he would have to act quickly.
The heat from the fire tickled the palms of his hands, causing them to sweat. Maybe he had made the fire a little too hot. Kicking it down a notch, he faced Iris once more and spoke, his throat dry from the moment of silence during his immense concentration.
“Are you… ready for this?”
Iris' eyes widen as small flames appeared in Lark palm. This was the first time she had seen fire this close. Sure there was the occasional ship that caught on fire and eventually sank, but she kept far from those. As the flame danced and flickered in Lark's palm, she was able to focus on the colors it burned instead of the smell or sight.
She was almost afraid to look up at Lark when he asked. Part of her wonder if his words would hold true or not, the other just wanted to get this over with, her stomach wasn't very strong and this was testing it.
"Ye . . Yes, I'm ready" she managed to state, her voice shaky as she looked from his burning palm to her bleeding arm. The pool of blood now covered her foot, "Do what you think will work" she added with a slightly fear in her voice.
Taking a deep breath of apprehension, Lark leaned closer, grabbing hold of Iris’ arm both in an attempt to calm her and to steady himself so he wouldn’t fall and actually burn her. He would have much preferred to heat up one of his knives and press it against the wound but the professor had said that they were only to use the elements and nothing else. So he would have to do this the more difficult way.
He pressed the flame close to her skin, letting the wound get used to the heat at first before he got lessened the distance. It took a few moments but at the flames began to lap eagerly at the wound, reaching to consume the entirety of Iris but being restricted by Lark, the smell of burning flesh rose into the air. He clenched his teeth and continued working at warping the girl’s skin so that it covered the tissue and bone that poked out and formed a stump. His breathing became a bit more labored and his headache grew stronger as dizziness both from the odor and the energy he was using set in. But he would get through this. It was all an illusion. He had to keep reminding himself of that. Gritting his teeth he continued working the injury.
As the bleeding slowed and the tissue became mangled from the fire, the spirit let the small, burning ball go out with a sizzle and leaned back into his chair, his breathing unsteady and coming out almost pant-like. That had certainly exhausted him. He covered his face with his hands and sat silent for a moment as he regained control over the pounding in his head. He hated that pounding, but it seemed to appear every time he used his magic on another. It was… annoying.
He dropped his hands to admire his handwork and see if he had succeeded or not until he realized that Iris’ hand has appeared once more, the crimson blood and raw, red stained stump gone. That meant he had succeeded… probably. That’s what the professor had said, anyway.
Glancing at his own arm, his stomach lurched. Hi own injury was still there, as real as ever and ready to be healed… hopefully. He didn’t know of the mermaid’s medical knowledge or ability so he couldn’t gauge how well she would do. He himself would have not known how to cauterize a wound if not for the many informational medical books he had read in his spare time.
“I guess… It’s your turn then?” He said, hesitantly, his skeptic tone evident as he nodded towards his right arm. “What do you plan to do to… er, ‘heal’ it?”
Iris watched in awe and fright as Lark took her arm and held it to the flame. She cringed went the fire first licked her skin but like Lark had said, she felt no pain. Slowly, the bleeding died down as the skin and flesh warped over the exposed bone to make a sealed stump. As soon as he removed the flamed from the stump her hand reappeared. Her jaw dropped slightly, "Did. . that really work?" she questioned as she looked toward Lark.
The boy was clearly panting, the first real sign of emotion she had seen the boy show this whole time. But the job was only half done. His arm still had a gaping wound that was filled with puss and who knew what else. The smell was overpowering, it was worse than the rotten fish that would float on the surface of the ocean waiting to be eaten by birds.
Iris nearly jumped when Lark asked her what she planned to do. While she had never read an medical books, she figured that anything that smelled like rotting flesh shouldn't be in the wound. She bit her lip before she spoke, "I was thinking of flushing out the wound with water, since you can't really close it with all that nasty stuff in there right?" she stated, wanting his approval before she tried anything.
The young spirit looked at Iris, noting how it seemed it was her way to ask obvious questions in disbelief. Had it worked? Evidently it had; otherwise her arm would still be a bleeding stump. Rather than vocally answering, he nodded his head a bit, finally catching his breath and forcing himself to breathe at a steady rate. He then listened intently to her idea of washing out the cut before closing it.
“That’s… an interesting idea. I think we should try it. But…” He hesitated, not wanting to point out the hole in her plan. Perhaps she already had thought this problem through but just in case, he decided to ask. Lark preferred to know how the entire plan was to be executed before following through, as he disliked surprises and like to have everything laid out in an organized fashion.
“How do you plan to… actually close the wound?” Obviously stitching it closed would be the obvious answer in any normal situation, but in this case Iris was only allowed to use elements. Unfortunately she was further restricted to only water.
Lark’s mind wandered, his face scrunching slightly in concentration, for he was not making his usual conscious effort to keep his expression blank, as he contemplated what should be done. He glanced at Iris, as if studying her face intently, though his eyes weren’t really seeing the mermaid in front of him. He wondered if Iris could control ice…? If so, then perhaps she could somehow create frozen thread and seal his wound that way. He wasn’t sure if that would be a very effective method of dealing with the situation, but upon wracking his brain he found that he was unable to offer any other solution that did not require an outside factor.
Iris furrowed her brow, Lark had a point; just washing it out wasn't going to solve the problem. She closed her eyes for a second to think, how do close wounds? They could be wrapped in cloth, but wrapping it in water wasn't a permeant solution. Maybe she could burn the wounds close, but she didn't know fire quite yet. She recalled reading about sewing a wound close, similar to Casper and Chaii's stiches. Maybe that would work, but what would she sew it with? She needed something hard and sharp to pierce the skin but something fluid to close it with. Then a thought struck her, one of the other mermaids once showed her how to make water into ice then back to water and return it to ice. "I have an idea!" she spoke suddenly, her dark blue eyes seemed to sparkle, "I can use ice to make the small holes, then weave water through the holes and slowly turn the water into ice as I pull the skin together!" she suggested, hoping that lark would agree to the plan.
The spirit nodded content with the proposed plan. It seemed the mermaid wasn’t a complete ditz after all. Pulling his sleeve up higher than it already was, he gestured towards the wound, indicating that he was ready for her to begin. The smell had grown stronger now and caused Lark to grow nauseous. He was not good with blood, especially not from gashes. The smell brought terrible memories to his head and he clenched his jaw, reassuring himself once more that the wound was not real. It was not the worst of injuries he had experienced or seen either, but he supposed he was becoming soft after such a long time living relatively out of danger.
Lark clenched his fist in anticipation, though he made sure his face gave away no signs of anxiousness. He glanced at Iris and tried to give a smile that likely was more akin to a grimace. “Let’s get this over with,” he said.
Iris nodded to the spirit as she called forth water into her palm, as she moved over the wound. Using the water, she slowly washed out the wound. She watched as the fluid coming out of the wound as off color and smelled. Her goal was to keep washing it out until the water that came out was clear and didn't smell; which actually took a while.
Finally, the liquid coming from the wound was clear and no long smelled as bad before. "Ok, next step" she stated as she closed her hand over some water and closed her eyes. After a minute or two she managed to make a small needle like object, "We'll see how long I can keep the ice solid" she stated as she started to pokes the holes for the ice thread to go through. She had to refreeze the small piece of ice a couple times; she hadn't done much with ice before. Once all the holes were made she let the ice melt in her hand and formed the water into a thin string and started to weave it through the holes. It took some trial and error to get the water string to tighten like a string but she manage to get one end tight and iced it over slightly before tightening the next set of stringed holes and icing that area and the previous area. Her breathing was becoming winded, about 1/3 of the way through, she had to stop and catch her breath. Turning the water to ice took a lot out of her. She offered a meek smile to Lark before returning to the wound
He watched as the skin was sewn closed, coming together as it was pulled along by the thread of ice. As Iris worked attentively, making her way down the wound, Lark watched the illusion of the gash with fascination. As the wound shut, the stitches disappeared and the skin became smooth again, the excess blood floating up in small, colorless tendrils, similar to water evaporating on a blazing hot surface. The terrible odor was fading as well and now that both injury and smell were no longer prominent, Lark was able to watch the process calmly and with a straight, expressionless face. It wasn’t the gory scene itself that had bothered him, but the smell and sight of a large amount of the sticky crimson liquid was enough to send his head reeling out of control. It was even worse when he was the one inflicting the pain. At those times he often lost control of his body and mind… But that wasn’t the case now, and Lark turned his thoughts back to his quickly disappearing injury.
By now Iris had nearly finished closing the gap and successfully lifting the illusion. She had made her way down his forearm and was sewing shut his wrist with labored, but practiced and skillful stitches. Though the magic had taken a bit of a toll on the mermaid, she had been doing considerably well. She wasn’t able to control more than one element yet, but her mastering over water was evident. Lark supposed that since she had been exposed to water manipulation all her life, that it was to be expected, but still it surprised him to see the usual klutz who tripped over air and asked questions with blatant answers handling something so well. His opinion of her shifted a bit and she rose a bit in rank, power wise, in his mind. He wondered how the two of their elements would interact. Water and wind could be very powerful together, he mused, and if they practiced together certainly they would become stronger.
Glancing down, Lark realized that Iris was just finishing up and she pulled the last of the liquid thread through in one final effort. The last of his cut disappeared and he moved his arm, slightly stiff from holding still for quite a while. Rolling it over and examining it he saw that it had indeed returned to the former state, no sign that he had been severely injured earlier; not even a scar. Shadow illusions were certainly intriguing, and extremely realistic at that. The spirit boy made a mental note to read up on them when he had spare time later. He was already studying Shadowmancy but they had not gone terribly in depth as of yet. Researching it further would be interesting.
“I guess we’re done then,” Lark stood and then glanced around at the rest of the students in the classroom. Many had completed the task with ease and had filed out after finishing, but still some idled, finishing up ridding themselves of their own illusions.
Lark wasn’t quite sure how to end the conversation politely, so he simply gathered his few belongings and nodded at Iris into his scarf, glancing away afterwards and awaiting her response.
Once the last of the wound was sewed up, she offered a smile, weak, but still a smile. "There, all done" she stated exhaustion evident in her voice, "See you later I guess" she added as she started to gather her things. With that the spirit shuffled off, as for the mermaid; she remained in her seat. Partly out of exhaustion and part shear disbelief. Did that all really happen? Was it really just an illusion or was there more to it? The only thing she could wrap her head around was that it was magic.