Author's note: I do research my stuff, but please remember that this is a work of fiction, not a medicine textbook. If among you there is some nit-picky doctor, please be nice and cut me some slack. Enjoy your read.
Lith spent the next few days familiarizing with the changes in both his body and mana core. Healing with true magic was much different from the on/off effects that fake magic used. Not to mention that the procedure for Tista required surgical precision.
So, he used his new job as Nana's assistant to master once again his mana flow. Lith also personally reported to Count Lark the slaying of the magical beast via Nana's communication amulet.
He gave the Count the chance to buy the perfectly preserved pelt, but for that the he needed to get in touch with Selia. Lith had no idea how to tan and preserve such magnificent fur, and neither did he know how much was its worth.
So, he had been forced to turn to the huntress for help, and Selia had accepted in exchange of 25% on the final price. The same fate befell the deer carcass.
Lith's goal was to improve his relations with Count Lark, by earning merits for both of them.
Through their confidential agreement, Lith would achieve merits because he had eliminated a threat to the County, while the Count would take the credit of the kill, being the one that had discovered Lith's talent and claiming to have entrusted him with the task.
According to the law book in Lith's possession, a noble would get great fame and honours, according to how his subjects performed.
While they would get merits, the noble would improve his social status and importance to the King's Court, raising his chances of achieving one more title with all the lands attached to it.
It was a perfect win-win situation.
Lith hoped to reel in Count Lark among his official backers. Having him has a patron was not enough. Being the Count a magic enthusiast, Lith was just one of the many talented youths he was sponsoring and nothing more.
Lith wanted their relationship to develop further, so when he finally could leave the village, he would have someone to rely on.
If there was one thing that he had learned from Nana's story, was that a country bumpkin like him was in desperate need of someone trustworthy in an influential position.
Count Lark was obviously thrilled at the idea that one of his proteges had achieved such a result. His hopes for Lith being accepted at the Lightning Griffon Academy skyrocketed, after so many failures, another success was on sight.
It would further raise the Count status in the eyes of the Court. Killing a magical beast was good, but finding and developing the talent of a powerful mage was much better. Mages were the backbone of the Kingdom, together with the military.
After settling his business with Count Lark, Lith had Solus help him completely rethink his concept of magic.
"So far I used magic just like a club, to kill and hit. But Gerda and Irtu have showed me that magic, in this world, it's not fixed as in Dungeons & Looting. I have been too narrow minded. It's not only light magic that can act at cellular level.
All kinds of magic can interact with matter, changing its properties. If Irtu could make the ground elastic, then I should be able to walk on water without freezing it first, by altering its density. I need more advanced spellbooks to understand magic's limits.
It's no wonder that Magi's talent increases exponentially after discovering true magic.
Not only they start with a better core than mine, so they can refine it to further heights, but they also become capable of replicating every single spell they saw until that point
While inventing a new spell takes a lot of time for a fake mage, finding the right balance between hand signs and magic words to obtain the desired effect, a true mage just needs to understand the underlying principles behind a spell to perform it."
Thanks to his battle with the magical beasts, Lith was able to quickly develop new spells, by either imitating their tactics or experimenting by himself.
After about two weeks, his body, mind and mana core were perfectly in tune, so Lith asked Rena to go to the village with Trion, giving him the opportunity to freely talk with his parents and Tista.
Trion and Lith were now in a more neutral relationship, there were no hard feelings left, but no trust either.
Lith had to dumb down a lot the concepts to make them understand the risks of the procedure. He was not a doctor, but they were his parents, and Tista was their beloved daughter and his beloved sister.
Lith would not proceed unless getting their informed consent, or at least the next best thing, since they understood very little of magic and nothing at all of anatomy.
"How sure are you about this thing?" Asked Raaz, holding Tista as tight as he could, like Lith was going to take her away.
"I'd love to tell you that everything will be alright, but I can't. I never tried something so big and complex. Tista, I worked years to develop this spell, just for you. The only thing that I can promise, is that I will give my best.
I obsessed myself nights and days with it, because I want you to be free and happy like anyone else, instead of being stuck in a cage, be it your body or this house, no matter how golden we can make it.
I want you to be able to run in the wind, walk in the snow. To get out of this house, to meet people, make friends, maybe someday fall in love with someone and being loved back.
I will do all I can to free you from these shackles, but I can't do it without your trust and consent."
Lith looked them in the eyes, one at a time, to show them his resolve and determination.
Tista escaped her father's arms, hugging Lith tight.
"Oh, Lith. When you talk like that you sound more like dad than a little brother." She said crying.
"Off course I trust you. You have always been by my side, taking care of me, even when I could do nothing but stay in bed all day. You worked so hard, giving me so much.
Food, clothes, you even invented the rocking chair for me (AN: is actually a swing. See chap 17 for more details). Mom, dad, I want to do it. Whatever happens, I could never regret having trust in my little brother."
Without saying a word, Raaz and Elina joined her in the embrace, all of them sobbing together, even Lith, so fond of their bond and so scared to lose one of them at the same time.
After Lith calmed down, he could finally start. On paper, the treatment was simple. By using Invigoration's real time imaging of Tista's body, Lith would use light and dark magic in synch.
Dark magic would destroy the damaged cells that composed almost half of Tista's lungs, while at the same rate light magic would enhance the healthy cells' ability to multiply, instantly replacing the lost organ tissue.
But even with his limited knowledge in medicine, Lith could see many underlying problems. The destroyed cells would release toxins and impurities in Tista's system, and if they accumulated too much she could die of shock or organ failure.
Also, regenerating a vital organ like the lungs was a delicate process, that would consume lots of her strength, and she hadn't much to begin with.
So Lith had decided to take things slow, treating only a minimal part of her lungs to begin with. Then he would use his control over her mana flow to expel from her body all toxins and impurities the dead tissue would release, and give her some time to recover before attempting another session.
During all the process, he took care of her eating and resting properly, to the point that Lith skipped hunting and magic training, only keeping his job with Nana to have a steady source of income while Tista was resting.
The whole procedure took over a month, but thanks to all his painstakingly efforts and meticulous bordering anal-retentive preparations, everything went well.
In some respects, even too well.
After the treatment, Tista's mana core had gone from light orange to yellow, and according to Solus, it kept evolving over time.
"Seems your sister was quite talented, but her illness prevented her core from properly grow."
"That's good." Lith nodded "As soon she completely recovers, I can bring her to Nana to learn magic. That way she will be able to learn a trade and achieve a social status on her own. What comes next depends entirely on her."
"Won't you teach her true magic?"
"That would be idiotic. She is just ten years old. If there's really some sort of global conspiracy and control over magic, that would mean putting her in danger. She deserves to finally have some fun. To live instead of just surviving.
I won't drag her into a beehive unless that's what she wants."
Lith made sure that everyone in the family understood the importance of keeping Tista's recovery a secret. Lith was still a no one, if the rumour spreaded, nobles or other mages could hunt them down to get their hands on the procedure.
Despite they regretted being forced to keep Trion in the dark, they accepted wholeheartedly. None of them was stupid enough to endanger such a hardly achieved happiness just for bragging.
Since according to Nana there was a chance for Tista of healing by herself with her growth spurt, they decided to stick with that version and claim it to be a miracle of nature.
Lith had got to the point of developing a spell to alter the results of Nana's Vinire Rad Tu, so that when she checked on Tista she would still appear ill, but slowly improving. This time he would not slip on the details.
Tista had to put up a façade every time Trion was around, but she soldiered up bravely. Being sick was a second nature to her, sometimes she even fooled Lith and her parents with her acting.
But whenever she could, she would walk with Lith through the Trawn woods, going together at his secret clearing where she could finally be free to run, swim in the river, sing and dance at her heart content.
Lith didn't regret even one moment spent with her instead of practicing magic or refining his mana core. Those things were of secondary importance to him.
He had started practicing magic only because of his hunger for power, to put this new world to the test before committing suicide again. But then he had fallen in love with his new family, and magic had become a tool instead of a purpose.
And that purpose was laughing and jumping around, in front of his eyes.
Lith couldn't and wouldn't hold his tears.
"Wherever you are, Carl, I hope with all my heart you too have found someone to love and to protect. I love you, little brother, and no matter how distant we are, you'll always be with me."
A few months later, Lith received an invitation from Count Lark, to join him for a day in his manor as his esteemed guest.