The night passed quickly and the ship had turned to head back. It took a circuitous route to get us back to the capital city's harbour and the scenery was just different enough to keep our interest. We had been so eager to go to bed the night before that we had missed supper, so we ate a hearty breakfast in the maid's cabin to make up for it. Our maids were giggling as Vanessa tried to feed me a strip of fried meat and I licked her fingers.
“Don't tease her too much, my love.” Helena said to me, clearly amused. “You know the rules.”
“I do.” I said and handed her a piece of meat, then ate it and licked her fingers, too.
Helena laughed and shook her head. “I shouldn't be letting you have so much fun. Poor Vanessa's expectations are going to be so high...”
“I said at our first friendly gathering meal that David has already met and exceeded them.” Vanessa said, unabashedly. “I just need to get used to him passing them even more.”
“Too true.” Helena said and gave me a kiss. “You're wearing a medallion.”
“I need to protect the people I care about the most.” I said. “I'll send off another commission when we get back home for more blanks to be made.”
“Well, if you have three left, then that must mean Hope, Sara, and Tabitha.” Helena said and the three women let out surprised sounds.
“My thoughts are so easily read.” I said and left the room to get the box. When I came back, the three of them were standing together and waiting for me. “Hope, since you haven't shown any propensity for magic, you need to be near someone that does for this to be activated.”
“I understand.” Hope said as she accepted it and hung it around her neck. “It's so pretty.”
“It's blank.” I chuckled and handed the next one to Sara. “You are under the same restriction.”
“I'm never not by Tabitha's side.” Sara said, a bit proudly.
I nodded and gave the last one to Tabitha. After a short explanation of them and their functions, Tabitha tried hers and then activated Sara's and Hope's for them.
“I don't even feel drained!” Tabitha exclaimed, happily.
“That's the benefit of metal over wildwood.” I said. “It takes much less magic to activate.”
“You're going to be handing them out to everyone, aren't you?” Helena asked, her smile huge.
“No, just those I deem fit for them.” I said and that made both Helena and Vanessa laugh.
“Almost everyone he knows.” They said as one and then laughed again.
I didn't comment to counter their statement and that set them off. I shrugged and kept eating the meal, then we spent the rest of the day lounging and relaxing all over the ship. The ship docked at the main platform and we all left the ship happier than we were when we entered it.
It was evening, so we went back to the mansion and let the maids unpack as we soaked in the bath. Vanessa was in Helena's normal tub and Helena was in mine. Vanessa tried to wash herself as she watched us wash each other. She was mostly successful with both tasks.
“Shall we give her a hand? Or four?” Helena asked me.
“Of course, my love.” I said and we stood up.
Vanessa's face was bright red as Helena and I gently washed her all over, even though she had washed most of herself already. She had only experienced two baths with maids doing the work, so having the two people she was contracted to give her a bath, gave her a sense of rightness that she hadn't expected. When she told us that, Helena reached up to cup the side of her face.
“It's because you know we care about you.” Helena said and Vanessa nodded. “I'm glad that we don't have to let you get used to us touching you before we can touch you like you want us to.”
Vanessa blushed and ducked her head a little. “I'm glad you're not jealous of me.”
Helena chuckled. “I'm not that vain. I know there are younger and prettier women that exist.”
“Somewhere.” I said and she laughed as she lightly slapped my cheek to put suds on it.
“Yes, somewhere.” Helena rolled her eyes at me before we rinsed Vanessa off. We all stood and dried each other off before going into the main bedroom. We were dressed in our night clothes by the maids and Vanessa looked a little sad as she went to her bedroom.
“We're always leaving the doors open, so we're all right here with each other.” Helena reminded her and Vanessa smiled with a nod as she climbed into bed. Helena and I climbed into bed and snuggled close.
“Thank you for making me relax the last two days.” I said.
Helena gave me a quick kiss. “You're welcome.” She said and kissed me again, then we made out for several minutes. “Goodnight.”
“Goodnight.” I said back. “Goodnight, Vanessa.”
“Goodnight.” Vanessa responded.
After a short while, Helena drifted off to sleep. I waited until Vanessa drifted off as well and slipped out of bed. I opened my vault and took out the stack of fifteen pages I had for a specific recipe and crept downstairs to go into my potions room. I needed to start making something that I knew was going to take all night to complete. The last two days of relaxing would let me stay up all night, with no detrimental effects, so I got to work.
Unlike the last time I prepared it, I wasn't working with a small pot or a limited fire. I had a full stew pot for my preparations and I revelled in having so much more to work with. I began prepping the ingredients and started brewing. I wasn't tired at all as the night quickly wore on and I tended the potion that was slowly taking shape.
It really did take all night, just like the last time, only I didn't have four and a half vials when I was done. I now had a full crate of 36 vials of regeneration potion and didn't know what to do with it all. I had been so eager to finally brew an entire pot's worth that I completely missed the fact that I had no real use for it, except for my hand.
I counted the days until I had to go back to the academy and hoped that if I only used a quarter of the dose that it would be over in a quarter of the time, or just over two days. My decision made, I took the crate and carried it up the stairs. No one was awake, so no one saw me bring it into the bedroom.
I couldn't put the crate into the vault, since it wasn't that big of a vault, not with my five books in it, so I found some cloth and quickly sewed up little pouches similar to my bandoleer. I put 30 of the vials into it and tucked them into the vault before I put the others into my bandoleer and left one out.
I had to wait for Helena to wake up before telling her about what I was going to do. She wasn't very happy with losing me for two days, then she took my hand and rubbed her fingers over the damage that the panther's claws had made.
“All right. I'll get Linette over here after breakfast and she can monitor you.” Helena said, reluctantly.
“It's necessary. I need full functionality of my hand.”
“You've been doing well so far.” Helena sighed. “I know that's not good enough, so I'll hope you're right about the smaller dose not taking as long.”
“I can't take the chance that an even smaller dose than a quarter will work.” I cautioned her. “It could partially heal it or not even get that far through my body.”
“You can't apply it topically?” Vanessa asked.
“It might just fortify it in place like the healing potions do, since it's a magical wound.”
“I see. It has to be internal and uses your own body to heal itself.” Helena said and I nodded.
Linette showed up after breakfast and we set up in one of the guest rooms. She promised to not take the remainder of the vial for experiments, as long as I promised to give her a vial for use on another patient. When she told me who it was, namely the man I had seen with no arms at the medical building, I only agreed if she didn't take samples before giving it to him.
“You really don't want me testing it, do you?” Linette asked, a bit angry.
“It's a waste of time.” I said and drank a quarter of a vial and corked it. I cast the lock charm on it and laid it on the bedside table. “Potion masters from the guild and the castle can't pull my potions apart. What makes you think a bunch of healers can?”
Linette sighed. “You can't keep this a secret. The whole kingdom knows it exists now.”
“It got out officially?” I asked and she nodded. “Do they know where the potion came from?”
“Not... really.” Linette said, hesitatingly. “They know you're involved and only those that know you're the one responsible for all of the stronger healing and health potions going around, knows that you could have made it.”
“I made the cleaning potions, too.” I reminded her needlessly.
Linette chuckled and shook her head. “How long does it take for the thing to kick...”
“Ughhhhhh.” I groaned as a wave of pain flowed through me.
“That soon.” Linette said and then I was kind of out of it for a while.
When I came back to myself, just over two days had passed. I woke up and I wasn't sweat covered, or was laying in a sweat soaked bed or clothing. I moved my hands around to pat myself in several places and a woman's soft laugh made me stop and look at her.
“I owe Helena a gold coin.” Linette said, amusement in her voice. “She told me you'd check to see if you were clean or not.”
“You let the maids bathe me?” I asked and she nodded. “I could have hurt them.”
Linette shook her head. “We bound your arms and legs to stop you from thrashing around before they gave you a sponge bath.” Her eyes went to my crotch and then went back to my face. “Your personal maids are a beacon to their profession.”
“Did they take turns at the same time or only did one ritual per bath?” I asked.
“Turns.” Linette said, her face red. “It was... admirable.”
I raised my eyebrows at her and she turned her face away.
“I saw my father with his maid once.” Linette said. “She was... well...”
“He was sleeping with her.” I said and she nodded, her gaze still averted. “I won't degrade my maids like that. They are too good at their jobs to ruin their reputations of professionalism.”
Linette turned back to me then. “You understand it.”
I nodded. “I even told them that I respect their work and that they were free to find people to be with, because I would never try to change their jobs from professional to debauchery. I won't even touch them sexually when they bathe me naked.”
“You are a very strong man.” Linette said, admiration in her voice.
“How many times did I scream like a little girl while I was out of it?” I asked, to counter her current thoughts.
Linette chuckled. “A few times.”
I looked at my right hand and smiled at the smooth skin that was there. “I assume you documented everything.”
“I did, and it was thoroughly fascinating.” Linette said and moved over to sit on the bed as she took my hand. “Watching it pull apart and regrow was an experience I've never had before.”
“Wait until you give the vial to that man and watch his arms regrow. You might want to restrain him completely, since he'll have to suffer for the full ten days.”
“I will. I'll also give him pain relieving potions to help.”
“You did that for me?” I asked.
“Only once. By the end of the first day, nearly all of your muscles were locked up and you looked like you were going to break apart. I administered the potion during a particularly less violent episode and you relaxed almost immediately.”
“Thank you.” I said. “I'll need to remember that if it ever happens again.”
Linette gave me a pointed look. “Helena's forbidden you from maiming yourself for at least a year. She's already lost the last two days with you and doesn't want to lose any more.”
I nodded. “I'll do my best to keep her happy.”
“Make sure that you do.” Linette said and waved a hand over me as she chanted under her breath. She nodded at whatever she discovered, wrote it down, and gave me a smile. “All right, David. You're fine, so get out of bed and go kiss your fiance.”
“Yes, ma'am.” I said and gave her a military salute with my healed right hand. She waved me away and I climbed off of the bed and grabbed the vial that was still there. “I'll get one for you to take.”
“Thank you.” Linette said.
I left the guest room and went to the main bedroom to see that Helena was there with Vanessa. They sat side by side with an arm around each other on the bed.
“David!” Helena gasped.
“Linette said I was fine.” I said and held up my hand to show them.
“Come here.” Helena ordered and I did so. She pulled me into a hug and then kissed me passionately. “I'm so sorry that you had to go through that, my love.”
“So was Linette. She didn't like me screaming like a little girl.”
Vanessa laughed softly. “The poor woman. How terrible for her.”
Helena laughed, too. “Get her a vial and let's get changed. We're picking up your boat in a little while.”
“It's ready?” I asked and she nodded. I went to the vault and opened it, changed the partially used vial for a full one, and closed the vault. I walked back to the guest room where Linette was packing up her things and gave the vial to her. “Remember, if he doesn't have magic, there's a real possibility that he could die.”
“I have Alex and Donna's records.” Linette said. “I know exactly what to expect for both a partial healing...” She touched my hand. “...and for a full restoration.”
“I'm glad to hear that.” I said with a nod. “Thank you for staying with me these last two days.”
“I wouldn't trust anyone else with your welfare, not after everything that's happened between us.”
I raised my eyebrows at her and she laughed.
“I do not want to lose access to your potions.” Linette said with a stern expression that was marred by her sly smile.
I smiled back and left her to go back to the main bedroom. I had to get changed and then I had to prepare a few things to bring along to the docks. My ship was going to need a few upgrades before I took it out onto the water.