Reasons to find Kregg; 1, Cremsden had the beginnings of an incredible migraine, 2, the lovely numbing effect of the low fellis dosage had vanished leaving behind the more familiar if unwelcome anxiety pushing into panic and depression and 3, Kregg had told him to. Actually, really, he should just have stuck with the third one. Realistically it wasn’t as though Kregg was likely to attempt to help with the first two. But he’d had several turns of falling back on doing what he was told by the Master Healer, at least when his brain couldn’t come up with better options.
And right now his brain felt like it was stuffed with bandages, just not the nice comfortable soft cuddly ones any more. So, resignedly, he plodded off as he’d been told so that he could be shouted at and list anything that might be possibly useful later like a good cooperative accidental test subject.
“Ah, that’s more like the Cremsden we know and love,” Kregg said from his spot by the fire where he was poking a numbweed vat.
“I liked being happy,” Cremsden grumbled, flopping down gracelessly. “Passionberries and airborne fellis, right? At least that was Cuylar’s theory.”
“And shockingly Cuylar is right,” Kregg said. “Amazing if slightly horrifying.There’s been a few incidences with the airborne fellis.”
“Yeah. I kept going back to see why they were working slowly but didn’t make the connection.” Possibly because his brain had been failing at focusing on anything more complex than sex and walking in a straight line at that point. “Got a decent night’s sleep at least.”
“The combination is certainly proving interesting. The stimulant properties of the passionberries seem to counter the worse of the sedative effects of the fellis pollen,” Kregg reached for his stylus. “Okay, I want all your observations.”
“Still not telling you details of my sex life,” Cremsden warned, and took a breath. “Right. Must have got the fellis before the passionberries -- I was in and out of that field yesterday, and I remember feeling a bit… well, calm, when I sat down.” He shrugged a little, awkwardly. “Figured it was getting out of the Weyr. Passionberries have got to have been in the food somewhere because uh-- they took effect fairly quickly.” It was amazing how he could be teased by Kregg for turns and still possess the ability to blush -- brightly and completely, down to his collar.
“Mmm.” Kregg scribbled notes. “Approximate time? Less than a quarter? Practically instantaneous. What was the first indication it was taking effect?”
“I uh-- we probably didn’t finish dinner. Fairly quickly.” Cremsden said. “I don’t know, I just remember thinking she was looking really pretty suddenly and uh--” Still blushing. Still. “Couldn’t you have asked these ones an hour ago when I was too sedated to care about answering them?”
“Unreliable data,” Kregg said smirking. “Mm, interesting. But there is the factor of whether it made things extended.”
“Is there at least some klah or something around here so I can stare at that rather than at you laughing at me?” Cremsden said plaintively. “Look, bear in mind that I’m only going off descriptions of passionberries, but that-- it didn’t feel like a situation of going to the closest warm body. It was just.. All Margana suddenly.”
“Interesting. Were there others there?” Kregg said with genuine interest. “Were you presented with only one option or did it just intensify existing attraction.”
“There were other people about.. I think.” Certainly there had been the morning after but as Cremsden’s brain at the time had been concerned they were just new and slightly surprising additions to the landscape. “Fairly sure others were eating around there. I was only talking to Margana though.”
“Okay interesting. So the first reaction is to existing attraction,” he said. “And when you leapt into action...was that action better?”
“I thought we’d agreed to skip the sex life talk!” Okay, so that was a lie, he’d more hoped that if he said it repeatedly Kregg might take the hint. Not even hoped really. Optimistically attempted.
“This is science! For science Cremsden, for science,” he said still smirking. “You can make a comparative judgement.”
“If I end up identifiable in a paper I’m going to fecking kill you,” Cremsden muttered. “Yes, okay, it was... fairly amazing if I’m honest. And everything was… easier. So I proposed.” Because that had felt like the next logical thing to do at that point.
“Ooooo…. During sex. That’s not usually a good move,” Kregg said as he scribbled more notes.
“It uh. She said yes?” Cremsden was sounding a lot less joyful about it than he had a few hours previous. “Which.. I mean, she still meant it in the morning so that… that probably still counts, right?” He did not sound as though he were even convincing himself of that. Comedown from the mix had set all of the anxiety in the world free to hit him around the back of the head and this was far too easy to focus on. “I mean, it’s not like I tricked her. I mean, I didn’t intentionally trick her. And-- when did you propose to anyone anyway?”
“Used to do it all the time,” Kregg replied. “Funnily enough, no one seemed inclined to take me up on the offer. Did she have the same exposure?”
“We both had the stew. I don’t know where she went in the day. Transpor-- no, wait, she said she was logging stuff.” Cremsden pressed his hands against his forehead, trying to push out the headache building behind his eyes. “My head might be going to explode. Feel free to write that down.”
“Bad hangover symptoms,” he said making a note. “Have something to drink. The klah there is not spiked.”
“As compared with other pots that are spiked with very specific measurements?” Cremsden suggested, but poured himself a mug anyway, pushing another in Kregg’s direction out of habit. “Seriously though, do you think it counts?” Because Kregg was clearly exactly the person to go to with relationship questions.
“The one thing I know is if you try to take it back because it could be a mistake you might as well go out and be a target for the weyrlings flame tests,” Kregg said. “Or kiss goodbye to your male anatomy...well not literally because I don’t think you’re that flexible, but DON’T try and take it back. That a surefire way to get a concussion.” He poked the numbweed again. “I speak from experience.”
Cremsden stared at him a moment, opening his eyes wide from his squint-eyed look of pain. “You did, didn’t you? How come there isn’t gossip about this?” he demanded. “Or does it just not get a look in amongst everyone you insulted and casually assaulted?”
“Eh,” Kregg shrugged. “For some reason everyone seems to think it is sarcasm. Now, are there any other details?”
“Everyone seemed very--” Cremsden fumbled for a moment, searching for words. “You know how normally there’s a bit of your brain that analyses what people are doing and why they’re doing it?” He eyed Kregg a moment over his klah. “...In your case, probably your whole brain. You ever manage to get drunk and turn it off?”
“Hello, you were there for the detox,” Kregg replied. “Apparently I can even do it while not conscious of what I am saying. It’s like some magical power that I should only use for good.”
“Well, this stuff does.” Cremsden shrugged a little. “Once the passionberry part wore off. Turned off the overthinking -- or turned off the caring about it, I don’t know which.” He took a gulp of his klah. “If I’m honest it was.. Well, I’m glad we don’t live closer to those fields.”
“Reduction of inhibitions,” Kregg wrote down. “Is that something that usually occurs with passionberry intake? I wonder if we can do experiments… “
“Watch it,” Cremsden warned, and he was thinking now, managing to start rousing his brain out of its fog. “That could easily be addictive. Far too easily.” He frowned a little, shifting just enough to refill his mug. “I don’t know that this one shouldn’t be kept quiet.”
“You are seeing therapeutic benefits… or the fact it would be highly sought after for it’s various aphrodisiac properties?” Kregg asked.
“Both. You tell someone they can have amazing sex followed by being happy and actually liking everyone for a day or so and see how long they spend asking about side-effects versus the price,” Cremsden said. “Shells, I must have been topping it up every time I walked into that field, and that must have been every two hours or so.” Brains were funny things. They didn’t have to consciously acknowledge something was happening to keep repeating an action that felt good.
“Hmmm doses staged repeated...interesting,” Kregg said thoughtfully. “A two part solution.”
“Or a two part problem.” Cremsden rubbed his head again, wincing. “The calm part is lovely, but once it wears off, the anxiety comes bouncing right back in but magnified. My brain wants very much to go and sit in a corner so I can over-analyse every word that came out of my mouth in the last day right now. Or to have some more so it can stop doing this. This had sharding better be as bad as it’s getting or I’m probably going to embarrass myself more before the day is out.” He sounded matter of fact about it, but there was a tense twitchy air around him that said he wasn’t exaggerating. Knowing this was likely to be a side-effect and not real helped him stop reacting to it but not enough to stop feeling it all together. “Hate sharding calmatives. Everything is great until it isn’t again.”
“Or it could be your normal tendency to over analyse,” Kregg said. “I’ve been witness to a few of those sessions. Fellis doesn’t usually make you do that.”
“If it is, the fellis still managed to turn it off for a while,” Cremsden argued. “Which means my point remains the same. This leaks out, people are going to try and replicate it for fun and games.”
“Mmm, just like quickwort. But therapeutically, it seems to have a remarkable emotional effect,” Kregg said. “The Mindhealers will go even more crazy than they nearly are.”
“Unless they’re going to start prescribing a nice walk in a field they might have a problem getting dosage right,” Cremsden pointed out, and then reconsidered that, expression thoughtful a moment. “Though-- actually, wait, if it needs to be breathed in..” he said slowly, brain firing up enough to pull up the memory of some of those Second Pass notes.
“We need some form of delivery system. A mask maybe? Or...if it is actual pollen it could be mixed into a syrup or tincture. Might not need to be inhaled.” Kregg mused.
“No, look, there’s that thing I was studying for Megin.” From reluctance to sudden excitement in a moment as he made the connection. “It’s in the notes -- the inhaler. Designed to deliver to the lungs for breathing issues, but if we can get it right for one it would work for the other.” And never mind that he’d seen neither leaf nor petal of the plant he was looking for since arriving.
“If we get it right it will have a lot of uses. In through the lungs is a very rapid delivery system,” Kregg leaned forward. “We need a prototype. How far along are you?”
“..Not very,” Cremsden admitted guiltily. Truth was that he’d hit the point where progress felt unlikely enough that he’d hidden it a while and hoped for a miracle. “I can talk to the Smiths though. See what they can draw up.”
“It would be worth it. Better than burning things and letting the particles make things worse,” he said. “The Smiths at the Weyr are pretty flexible. Or go and ask where K’ren got his scalpels done.”
“I’ll work on it. When we get back,” he promised, and hesitated. Some questions felt big enough that you didn’t want to ask them. “..Any luck with what you were looking for?”
“There are a couple of numbweed variants. I’m distilling a couple at the moment,” Kregg answered gesturing to the pots over the fire.
“One of them the one that smelled edible?” Cremsden enquired, standing to peer into the pot and stir it idly. “Or was that just riders left unsupervised too long?” As one had been the WeyrHealer’s weyrmate he probably should stop commentary at that point.
“Got samples of whatever was going. It might be. It’s a very subtle leaf difference on this batch… no serrations on the leaf,” Kregg gestured.
Cremsden sniffed. “Can’t tell. If it is, the other pot is strong enough to smell for both of them,” he decided and made a face. “No sign of my flower. Didn’t think there would be but.. Eh. We’ll work something out.”
“We need to actually look for what we came up here to look for,” Kregg pointed out. “The numbweed is getting made, people are passing out under fellis trees...things are fine. We need to sort this out.”
“So, what? I pull apprentices off fellis picking and send them for a long walk to clear their heads and while they’re there look for this flower?” Cremsden said, and considered. “Might work at that.”
“Did you get some pictures drawn from that reference you mentioned?” Kregg asked.
“Did some tracings. I can hand them out, but…” Cremsden shrugged. “Are we not still keeping this quiet?”
“They don’t have to know what they are looking for. Just say it’s a herb you need,” Kregg shrugged. “For all they know it could be for seasoning dinner.”
“Yeah, ‘cause they don’t ask questions like ‘what’s it called’, ‘what’s the dosage’ and ‘are you going to test us on this later’.” Cremsden rolled his eyes.
“ Then lie. Or wait until we stumble around some rocks, and then panic and ask for more help at the end,” Kregg said. “Say that its for ...ooo a sexually transmitted disease.”
Cremsden sighed. “In ten turns time they’ll be qualified and writing to me to ask about that cure they remember searching for for a patient who just walked in, and it will be your fault. Just letting you know that.”
“Oh I’ll just get some pepper and mix it with some oil and ginger and tell them to try it out,” Kregg grinned.
“You would at that.” Cremsden made a face. “Fine. I’ll put the babies on it. If K’ren asks you found them something useful to do. You lie better than me, and he expects it of you.” And never mind that he couldn’t entirely remember why they were lying to K’ren about this particular thing. Working with Kregg made it hard to keep track of at times.
“Fine I can do that,” Kregg said. “I’ll get the pepper, ginger and oil ready and waiting. Sounds a bit wrong but it works.”
Cremsden stood up, still wincing as he moved his head carefully. “I feel like adding willowbark on top of what I already managed to absorb in the last two days might just be the extra step that would make blood come out of my eyeballs,” he said. “Fine. Let you know if they find anything.”
“I’m still going to go and look myself...once I’ve narrowed down the possible numbweed variants,” he said. “Then I’ll know what to take back and try and cultivate it.”
“Yeah?” Cremsden gave him a sharp look. “Leg feeling well enough to go exploring on, is it?” He eyed Kregg, awake enough at last to do his own quick assessment.
“Mmm. You have rather, haven’t you? Racing off to look for passionberries, that kind of exciting project.” Cremsden sighed. “What have you been taking?”
“I am high on the possibilities of medicinal discoveries,” Kregg replied evasively.
“The type you test on yourself first?” It was Cremsden’s turn to peer into his eyes. “You know you promised to log this with me. I know everybody sharding lies, but I can’t save you from the inevitable side-effects if I don’t know what’s actually in your system!”
“Believe it or not, I have not taken anything yet,” Kregg said. “But I’m intending to try some things on my leg soon.”
“With you, it’s always going to be a ‘not’,” Cremsden muttered. “Right. Fine. After I sort out the babies I’m sending one of the older ones over to help you. Apparently you need babysitting.”
“No I don’t… go off, and play with the passionberries, I’ll be fine,” Kregg answered.
Cremsden’s scowl said that he doubted that, but he went regardless, determined that he would indeed find someone to keep an eye on Kregg once the more urgent work was done.
Blackadder: I mean, what about the people that do all the work?
Baldrick: The servants.
Blackadder: No, me; *I'm* the people who do all the work.