The second mission was completed. The Hand of Destiny now had two of the blessings. Now there were only the Blessing of Earth and Blessing of Fire. They were the hardest to acquire. The party was at the top of the tallest mountain surrounding the desert. They made sure the lone old Aarakocra priest had enough food and care before they moved on.
Kariss made her wishes known that she would like to try to heal some of the afflicted in the desert village they had visited before. Many of those too stubborn to leave had no other choice but to wait for the healing waters as they had no other option. Kariss’s new blessing of water allowed her to cure one major illness per day. It was the only thing that might heal the ash stricken before they could get the ingredients of the panacea together.
The party headed down from the mountain and traveled back to the desert village. Kaladrax went off to talk with Kitu and let him know that the oasis was now free for everyone to visit. Kitu thanked him and they went off to plan the next few expeditions to the oasis. Kariss on the other hand went among the people. She covered her face with the hood from her cloak and found a man struggling to get a wagon together to head off into the desert.
She stopped to talk to him and he explained that he wanted to take his mother into the oasis to heal her from the ash curse. Unfortunately, she could not move on her own anymore and he was too weak to take her alone. He had bartered for a wagon but it was small and would not fit his mother without modifications. Kariss asked if he was also afflicted.
He was silent for a moment and then slowly lifted his left sleeve. There on the arm was an ashy patch that was spreading into his forearm. Kariss asked him to come into the hut with her and they went into the darkness together.
There, among the bed where his dying mother lay and their only belongings in the world were scattered on the floor, he was healed. Kariss placed her hands on the ashy patch with a bit of the water they had taken from the oasis and closed her eyes. A silver glow started under her hands and the man’s eyes grew wide as the ashiness receded down his forearm until it disappeared from his skin. He asked if she could also cure his mother.
Kariss explained that she could only do this once a day and asked if she could come back tomorrow to help her. He readily agreed and gently led her out of the hut when she made to leave. She went back to the party and he went back inside to tend to his mother. Kariss made her way to the makeshift camp that Milo, Hepolita and Aleera had erected as the others were busy. Kariss came back first.
While Aleera was helping her settle down to rest they talked. Kariss expressed her displeasure at hearing that members of the party were keeping secrets from the others and Aleera, in her guilt, confessed. She told Kariss that Glaurunda, Kaladrax’s mother, had revealed to her that she had caught the affliction. It was on her right arm and was spreading every day. She had asked Aleera to keep it from Kaladrax so he wouldn’t worry about her.
Aleera had reluctantly agreed. She knew that Kaladrax would be distracted from their missions if he was worried about his mother. Kariss told her she understood but that she needed to tell him the truth. She argued that it would hurt more the longer Aleera kept that knowledge from him. It was true and now that they had a way to cure the affliction even if only once a day.
Happy with the decision to reveal her secret to Kaladrax she headed off to find him. He had come back and had already set up the Tiny Hut as the sun went down. They helped Karriss get inside and the rest of them were already getting ready for bed. Aleera pulled Kaladrax to one side of the hut once everything was set up. She told him what she had been keeping to herself and waited for his reaction.
He was dead silent. Then he responded with a low “Get out.” Aleera was stunned. She had not expected such a reaction. She told him she was sorry. Tears running down his face now, he yelled, “GET OUT!” Aleera ran out of the Hut into the night with tears of her own escaping from her eyes.
Inside the hut, Kaladarax seethed in anger. Karriss spoke up telling him that he shouldn’t be too angry and that she had known too. Before she could explain that she convinced Aleera to tell him he yelled at her to get out too. This time though, the Tiny Hut was also affected by his fluctuating emotions. Kariss was launched out into the night as her permission to enter the Hut was revoked. She landed on her butt in the soft dirt and had to spend the night outside. Aleera, being Vistani and used to sleeping outdoors, had no problem finding a safe place to burrow down for the night and cry herself to sleep.
She didn’t think this was something they could get past. Her and Kaladrax might be able to keep working together as business partners and guild mates but she was pretty sure their romantic relationship was over. It hadn’t been that long to begin with and she had kept something very important from him.
To Aleera, secrets had their uses, but Kaladrax believed that they were always bad, even as he kept things to himself. Could he ever forgive her? Could she ever go back to someone with such a volatile temper? He had looked like he could kill her where she stood and as a wizard he could make that happen. Secrets might have their uses but secrets had also cost her a relationship she was coming to love being a part of.
Kariss was livid that she had been expelled from the Hut and even more upset when she realized she could not re-enter it. So she slept on the floor near the hut in anger and hurt pride. Aleera went to sleep in tears with thoughts of dying love in her mind and a dagger of pain in her heart.