Thomas sketched something in the air over Jessie’s rib in glowing amber light. It looked like mathematical equations so she assumed it was modern magic. She felt something shift just a bit in her chest and then it faded.
“I had to set one of the ribs,” Thomas explained. “Now then, the next spell will change your body just a bit. Don’t panic! The fear of medical magic is entirely irrational. Yes, it can hurt you, but so can any other drug. So can fire! Technology, be it magical or otherwise is used to change things. Change things a little and they get better, change them a lot and someone dies. All technology is dangerous, so is living in caves in fear of things with big teeth.”
Thomas picked up a brush and small paint pot then painted symbols on the bruised area of her rib. Jessie couldn’t read any of it, but they looked Asian. For that matter the painting looked like calligraphy of and eastern sort. There was no glow to the painted symbols but that didn’t mean much. “Did you know that magic is only banned from medical application because it can’t be widely used? It’s true, you can check the FDA’s official statements. They say it’s very unpredictable and its use would be ‘of limited scale’ so they ‘can’t effectively regulate it!’ People die because they aren’t happy with their ability to regulate.” He sighed sounding truly put upon. “That’s why I have this operation here.”
Jessie didn’t respond to any of that. Thomas seemed to be chattering away on autopilot. She guessed he said this to nearly all his patients. She couldn’t move, he seemed to be trying to help, and she didn’t know magic anyway, so she sort of tuned him out. It was the way she normally tried to relax and get through a dentist appointment.
Her attention didn’t come back to Thomas until he asked the nurse for something and the nurse responded with confusion, “Sir?”
“Yes, it will make her stronger. That will help with the healing.”
The nurse nodded, “Of course sir.”
Jessie was debating asking what she’d missed, when the nurse swabbed her arm with alcohol, tied a rubber strap around her upper arm, poked her on the inside of her elbow a couple of times, and inserted a catheter needle into her arm. That done the nurse hooked a pole into the side of the bed, hung two bags of clear fluid from it, and connected it to the catheter.
“Mostly it’s saline, there’s also some calcium.”
“Yes, the spell I’m about to do, will cause your ribs to heal very rapidly. It’s going to do so by supercharging the processing of various nutrients in your cells and the regeneration of those cells. For the most part, you’ve already got a lot of those nutrients in your blood, or can steal them from soft tissue, but if we don’t get you extra calcium while the process runs then you’ll run an excess risk of osteoporosis when you’re older.”
That made sense to Jessie, but she didn’t trust it. “What was the second bag?”
Thomas didn’t blink, hesitate, or even seem slightly surprised by the question. “There’s also a solution of magical molecules there to make you stronger.” Jessie shot a look at the nurse and wondered if she seemed slightly disapproving. Then again, the nurse had seemed slightly disapproving the entire time she’d been in the room. She looked like a woman who had to stand all day.
“I’m fine with healing normally.”
“Well I’m not; I know how to fix your ribs by the end of the day, and I am to some degree at fault for them being broken. Relax! I told you, enchantment is safer than they make it out to be.”
Jessie almost objected again, but if he intended to hurt her he could do it with or without her consent. She might as well pretend she trusted him for whatever leverage that would offer, “Sure.”
“Good! Take this.” Thomas handed her a rock. It had the word “rock” written on it. Jessie stared at it in confusion. It looked like a semi-polished river stone, and the script was a large clear san-serif font. “I’ve already set up as much of the spell as I can. In this particular case you’re going to do the last part. In the cattāro mahābhūtāni there were four elements defined by how they were perceived rather than their physical from. Pruṭhavī-dhātu is stone and it’s connected to bone. You’re going to meditate on this stone and it will plug you into the spell which will then allow you to guide your own healing. Understand?”
Thomas shrugged, “It’s an interesting set of concepts which we mostly shouldn’t take the time to explore right now. Just let the stone and its nature fill your mind. The spell will make that easy.”
Jessie looked at the stone and thought about that. She was going to feel very stupid if this was some sort of trap. She looked at the stone. It was hard. It was unyielding. It was a bit cold. It didn’t bend but it would break. If it broke, all the bits were still hard.
As she looked at the stone and thought about it the spell grabbed on to her. A rock would seem to be the sort of thing that couldn’t be repaired, but that wasn’t true the earth was a continuous flow of stone. Mountains rose to the surface of the planet, were extruded into the sky, and then ground to sand by the wind. The sand was slowly subducted down into the fire of the Earth’s core and reformed into new mountains.
She found herself falling into her blood and therein she found little bits of floating rock. Or at least little bits of elements like rock. It was the calcium flowing out of the IV bag, and now that it was in her mind she could bump and nudge bits of it as it floated past the breaks in her ribs. There her cells snatched it greedily and formed it into the stone of bones. The cells, she saw, were going like mad and they also consumed the magic that was flowing through her. Jessie fed them more calcium and enjoyed the power the magic lent her. The bones rapidly knit until they were almost whole and the excess calcium in her blood was almost entirely gone. It had, Jessie thought, been relatively well timed.
The magic and the awareness it give her faded. Jessie opened her eyes again. Thomas was still standing over her and he still wore a friendly smiling look. He was plucking the pins he’d placed in her body out. They too seemed to be out of magic, or at least they’d quit glowing, “How was it,” he asked.
“Pretty cool, really. I thought I knew what magic was like, but…”
“I presume you took a single class in school or something like that?”
“That really isn’t the same, you need real power to really know what magic is like. It’s not the sort of thing high school students get to work with.” He frowned a bit, “That’s reasonable, of course. Still, I wish they’d do a bit more to get people exposure. Maybe that way the industry wouldn’t be hurting so bad for qualified magi. ” He shrugged then reached out and pressed on the spot on her ribs that he’d painted with symbols. “Does this hurt?”
Jessie looked down surprised, it didn’t. She shook her head.
“You’re probably all healed up in that case. I’m going to advise you to take calcium, a multivitamin, and a good mineral supplement for the next few days, but that will be the extent of your follow up treatment. And how do you feel otherwise?”
“Tired,” Jessie answered then realized that was very very true. She wasn’t just tired she was basically exhausted. Her eyelids were heavy and suddenly she was glad she was lying down because standing up would have been too much effort.
Thomas nodded again, “That’s expected. The spell I used doesn’t do much of the healing for you, it just makes your cells grow faster. We don’t fully understand the physics effects of that one. It could be time is sped up for the cells, or it could be the chemical reactions are simply all more volatile while remaining fundamentally similar. There’s surprisingly little difference, actually. A lot of energy has just been pulled out of your body.” He looked back over her shoulder, “Nurse, let’s put her on a mild glucose solution.”
While the nurse was working with the IV pole, Jessie noticed both its bags had lost a lot of their fluid. Her eyes drifted shut. She forced them open and shook her head slightly. A minute might have passed during what she thought was a blink. The new bag was in place and the nurse was gone. Her eyes tried to pull shut again. She shook her head again.
“Don’t worry, you can sleep. Your body needs it. ”
Jessie still didn’t trust Thomas but she had to admit he was growing on her. High quality medical care apparently was a good way of gaining her trust. Then she realized her eyes were shut. Then, if she thought anything else for a while, it was part of a dream.