The Gieden RPG sourcebook had a short story in it, broken up through several chapters. Each part was meant to introduce readers to the concepts explained in that portion of the book.
A few days ago, I posted the first section, meant to give the reader an idea of the relationship between the Gieden and the Roian. Here are two more bits from later chapters; the first on additional magical abilities, the second explaining Taints. Together, they make a decent bit of flash fiction...
Hope House was an orphanage of sorts, where Roian parents dropped off their magic-using children and never looked back. We never bathed, we slept three or more to a bed, and we got up before the sun, hoping to get a bite of breakfast before it disappeared. The elderly couple that ran the place couldn't even remember all our names; they did the best they could by us, but it was never enough.
It was a hard life, but it was there that I learned the art of Healing, honing my skills on the bumps and bruises of my new brothers and sisters. I had other talents, too; I could feel the emotions of those around me, and knew when someone was lying to me. I could see auras, and sense the presence of others in the dark. None of the others could do these things, and when they discovered that I could, some of them stopped meeting my eyes. Some even worried that it was a Taint.
As word of my abilities spread, people from across Unity City came to visit me. Most were Gieden who were unable to use Healing magic; some of them had injuries so minor that I turned them away rather than exhausting myself over a cut toe. But there were Roian, too, who came to me when death was the only other option, or who came bearing the dead in their arms. The latter of those were turned away as well. There were some things that even I could not heal.
There were many times when I cursed my ability to sense the emotions of others, but none so much as when the dark-haired mother of a dead baby boy showed up on the front steps of Hope House. Her anguish found me even before the door was opened, and by the time she came to make her plea, I was a sobbing mess, kneeling on the floor of my room. I couldn't imagine how she managed to stand.
She begged me to save him, and I knew it was too late, but looking down at his lifeless body, flooded with empathic grief, I couldn't say no. I came to him, and put my hands on his chest, and summoned the magic up through the ground and into my body. I could feel it burning like electric fire as it travelled through my shins, my knees, my thighs…The magic flowed through my abdomen and welled up in my chest, forcing out all air and causing my heart to pound so hard it nearly burst, so hard my throat throbbed with it, and then I channeled all that power down my arms, through my hands, and into the baby boy.
His body shuddered. And then, nothing. My healing was so tiny compared to what he needed; I felt like I'd thrown a tiny pebble into a gaping black well, and would never even hear the splash.
I knew what I had to do. I pulled upon the magic until my whole body shook and the mother was forced to leave her baby in order to hold me upright. She knew my body was suffering, but I felt no sympathy from her, no remorse, just need, as deep and unending as that well.
I channeled the magic through my fingers, tempering it as I released it into the body of the infant; it felt as though I were slowly reaching into a fire to grab the burning logs within. My fingertips were melting away to the bone. I closed my eyes and screamed through the pain, and channeled until I collapsed, unconscious on the floor.
I woke to the sound of a baby crying, and the feeling that my baby was alive. I pushed myself onto hands and knees, and I reached out toward him, but his mother recoiled, horrified. She threw a blanket across her son's face and scurried out of the room, glancing back only once, a quick, wide-eyed look over her shoulder. I stared at my outstretched hand. The fingers were translucent and faintly glowing. I was Tainted.
I never even knew his name.