After Jack found an oil-skin bag to put the heart in, we set off. Vale was a bit unsteady on his feet for an hour or so and needed help walking, but Harold assured me that was normal. It was one of the reasons that they did not use that kind of healing potion very often.
But even with the side effects and the implied expense, its abilities were astounding. I had seen field hospitals in several wars, seen men succumb to gangrene, infection, and worse. A potion like this would be an absolute miracle.
I spoke to Harold at some length about it, and he described the different costs and benefits of the various elixirs. The one Jack had given Vale (a ‘supreme healing potion,’ as she put it) was apparently officially a ‘Level 5 regenerative elixir, with Class E side effects.’ This meant it was extremely powerful, but also had extremely debilitating side effects. Not to mention that it required a number of rare reagents.
“But you call it a supreme healing potion,” I insisted. “There have to be weaker versions that would still be useful.”
He nodded. “Sure. Here.” He pulled up a nearby stalk of the tall, wavy grass to show me. “Boil this in blood—human blood, that is—and the result is what we call sick bloodstopper. does not do much besides stop the bleeding, but you would be surprised how useful that is.”
“Oh, I am a soldier,” I reminded him. “I have seen many men die to blood loss. But…why do you call it sick bloodstopper?”
The archer chuckled. “Because it makes you sick! Class F side effects, as Professor Haber says. Not as bad as Class E in some ways, but the point is you will be puking your guts out. There is a reason we do not have any with us.” He shrugged. “That being said, sometimes you want a patient to puke their guts out. So it is not all bad.”
I did not really have enough direct experience with anything more complicated than bandaging wounds, so I had to take his word on that. “What about others? Not as strong as the one you gave to Vale, but enough to save a man from a mortal stab wound?”
He went for one of his pouches, but made the mistake of doing so with the hand he had been using to keep the tall grass out of his face as we walked. He cursed as he got smacked with the blades, and I quickly moved to clear a path for him as well as myself.
“Thank you,” he said, sputtering. He found the pouch he was looking for. “And here it is.” He showed me a small vial of some red liquid. “This is usually just called a healing potion or an intermediate healing potion, but it is technically a Level 3 regenerative elixir, with Class B side effects. Pretty much the most efficient potion we have.”
“How do you make it?”
“It is a bit complicated. Takes a couple days, and the reagents can only be mixed at high noon on a sunny day, but it is not too hard. Worth the effort, certainly.”
I nodded. Nothing was ever easy, but it could be easy enough that it was worth doing. “You said Class B side effects. What does that mean, specifically? Like Vale’s potion, but less so? Or something completely different?”
“Something completely different. Specifically, a general numbness through the body.”
That made me grin. “For a healing potion? That does not even sound like a bad thing.”
The archer chuckled as he replaced the vial in his pouch. “Exactly. I mean, it lasts for over an hour, so sometimes you can suffer a dangerous injury and not even notice, but it does not eliminate pain entirely, so it is not too much of a problem.”
“Once we find your villagers, remind me to get the recipe from that professor of yours,” I said warmly. “Kings are always leery about committing troops to anything without being able to justify the cost. I think that would be able to justify quite a bit.”
He grinned back. “I am sure we can arrange something.”