“What does mana root taste like? Been having trouble translating the one text I could find on the subject. The word’s either bitter or sweet depending on context, but the context’s not very clear.” He chuckles. “Maybe it’s bittersweet for all I know!”
“Pretty bland, actually. Just a little bit of a sour taste to it. How did you know I’d had some?” You think it’s not worth hiding that.
“Oh, there’s bits of blue on your face. The stuff they use to grow it turns the soil blue. And I’m told the roots themselves charge the soil with ether, but only in small amounts.”
“Suppose I should wipe that off, then,” you mutter. “Look, I’ll answer your damn questions, but I want to know you’re not doing anything funny with my friend.”
“Don’t worry. Spade used to be a battlefield medic. He hasn’t let anyone touch her since she was put on the bed. Hells, he barely gave me more than a minute to look over her, just to figure out if any magic was involved.” He smiles. “Not a wizard, mind you. Not even ether-sensitive. But I’ve studied enough old stories to recognize magic at work when I see it.”
Hmm. You think he’s trying to make a connection with you over Marian. Well, you see no reason not to go along with it for now, at least to see where he tries to take it, but you’d best not let down your guard.
“And was there any?” you ask.
“Well. Best I can tell, her mind is awake but her body’s having trouble keeping up. She can talk sometimes, even move, and I daresay she could probably cast a spell if she tried hard enough. But her eyelids haven’t lifted, and it’s not as if she can do that other stuff often.” Badger leans against a wall. “So yeah, I think it’s magic. And as it happens, I know a story about someone in a similar state.”
“And is that story any help to us?” you ask, a little impatiently.
“Well, hang on. First I’ve got to explain the details. For one thing, there’s a big difference between your friend’s condition here and the one in the story.”
They were underwater in the story