My coaching is paying off; Dionus has been able to still his touch on the Atmosphere completely. It leaves him blind; his anxiety over the matter is visible whenever we stop to rest. It is necessary though. While his skill in sensing danger as it approaches is invaluable, calling a Daedric horde down on us is the last thing we need right now.

I asked Salisir if there was anything he could teach me when we stopped for the night. I want to pry every SwordSkill from his hands if it kills me. He said it was foolish to use any form of magic so close to Matasten. I handed him a stick. Thankfully, he laughed.

“Fine,” he said. “We don’t have time to heal out here, and that old man was the last Sympathetic Healer you’ll see within the reaches of the Nanten, so I’ll teach you how to steal some for yourself.”

DrawnLife, he called it. The motions were similar to PiercePunch, but distinctly different in the details. The final motion requires that I draw the tip of the blade from my intended target towards myself. He says it will transfer health from my opponent, though it isn’t lethal. I asked him where he could learn such a skill, it seems horrific to me.

“It’s what all the Blood skills are derived from.” He looked at me as if I should know precisely what he was speaking of. Then with an expression that said he had revealed too much, he shook his head and muttered a “Never mind.”

Does he mean there is an entire expression dedicated to stealing life from others? I’ve never heard of such a thing. Terrible as it sounds, I imagine I would have. Perhaps it has yet to be formalized into an expression, but it sounds like it would counterbalance Sympathetic Healing, the ability to give one’s health to another in exchange for any malady. Gods but I hope we don’t run into that in the Nanten.

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I know the motions to do it myself now. What would it feel like to take life from another man and use it to bolster my own? Even in the midst of battle, would such a thing be right to do? It seems despicable, and I can’t help but feel as though its ties are strong to the Daedra. Their obsession with blood has left innumerable scars on the world.

The jungle feels thicker here where hills rise sharply on our flanks. The foliage along the slopes towers over us much as the trees do, and I feel all the smaller for it. Tomorrow evening should put us within striking distance of Matasten. I am more anxious to get this over with than anything.

The closer we draw to the seat of the Arbor King, the more I can feel his presence. Perhaps it is the presence of the society as a whole. It doesn’t help that I can smell death on the breeze. Matasten must be stained with the stench.

We may do our best not to touch the Atmosphere as we move, but that does not mean it doesn’t touch us. I do not like whatever taints it in this place. We march straight into the maws of an evil beast, and we do so with our arms held down at our sides.

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