This section takes place right after Syndria leaves Simon and Ina's home in the woods outside of Caron.
Syndria walked on all day, the mountains her guide once Simon turned back at the edge of the forest. It was quickly growing dark, and though the Healer was afraid of what magical terrors would be able to find her in the open grasslands she was traveling through, the girl didn’t think she could make it to the mountains before night covered the land. Simon had told her there were many small caves in the mountain base--she was certain to find shelter in one. To Syndria, though, despite walking for hours, the peaks never seemed any closer.
In the pale moonlight, Syndria saw something begin to take shape in the distance. As she drew closer, the Healer could see what at first appeared to be a hill standing alone in the grassland. Thinking perhaps she could find some sort of shelter there, at least enough to feel more secure, she hurried her pace and quickly reached the strange hill. Once she stood at the base of the hill, Syndria wondered how she had not seen it earlier. Perhaps in the twilight it had blended in to the mountains in the distance.
“Whatever the case,” Syndria said aloud, “I am here now and I should look for a place to sleep.” Dropping the heavy pack from her back, the young Healer decided to sit and rest a moment. When she put her hand against the hill to steady herself, Syndria jumped back in pain. She felt a tremendous jolt of some kind, a feeling she had felt only once before, and it took the girl a moment to place from where that first feeling had come.
When Syndria had been with Nedra for eight years, the Ancient had explained what the presence of magic in others meant to a Healer. She sliced her palm and asked the girl to heal it, but not without a warning first.
“Before you touch my wound, prepare yourself. You will feel what will seem to be an explosion in your own hand, a feeling unlike anything else. While you touch me it will be as if your palm is burning. Hold the connection only long enough to begin the mending and I then will let the cut heal on its own.” When she had touched the Healer, Syndria had felt a pain unrivaled by anything she had felt since, even the excruciating pain of the prisoners on the edge of death. It took every ounce of strength the fifteen year old had to keep contact for the few seconds it took to begin healing the Ancient’s hand. After the young Healer had composed herself, Nedra spoke again. “If you are ever required to heal someone who has been injured by a Wizard, you will feel the same feeling. And while it is possible, to do so may drain far too much of a Healer’s own gift. Choose carefully how much you do for someone with such an injury.”
Kneeling at the base of the hill, Syndria knew there was no question as to the origin of the pain. Though it seemed impossible, this hill had been touched with some kind of magic. But why? What reason would the Wizards have for touching a single hill standing in the midst of a grassland with magic? Though she searched her mind, Syndria could come up with nothing. That was when an idea crept slowly in, the Healer’s rational mind trying all the while to push it away. She could take the pain from those she healed. Would it be possible to take the magic from the hill? Perhaps then she would see the reason for a spell’s presence.
“You really are a fool, Syndria!” she told herself. The pain of merely beginning the healing process on Nedra had been more than excruciating. What would happen if she tried to take the magic into herself? Besides the immediate consequences, it was possible that the Wizards had contained something within this hill, something that should not be released. But while her rational mind was arguing all the reasons Syndria should just go on her way and leave things alone, one thing changed her mind. It seemed a simple argument had ridden in on the back of the idea to try and take the magic into herself. The Wizards who had cast some kind of spell on the hill she was looking at were undoubtedly the same who tortured and killed good men as traitors. Syndria could not imagine them doing anything for the good of Tundyel. Everything they did was an order from King Simann.
Her mind made up, Syndria took a deep breath as she tried to prepare herself for anything. Still kneeling, the Healer braced herself and touched the hill, her eyes closed. Immediately, Syndria felt the same excruciating pain she had experienced healing the Ancient. It was as if she were feeling the pain of hundreds all at once. An explosion started in her fingertips and shot up her arm, quickly spreading throughout her body. She felt as if she were kneeling in the center of the potter’s furnace instead of the cool meadow. Struggling against common sense telling her to simply pull away, Syndria willed her left hand to join her right against the hill. Her entire body trembling from the pain, Syndria pushed the feeling from her mind and focused all her energy on trying to take the magic as she took the pain from people. She held it as long as possible, but after only a few seconds the pain was too much for her to bear. She started to drop her hands and realized in horror that she couldn’t move, couldn’t stop the pain. Opening her eyes wide with terror, Syndria began to pull back wildly. No matter how hard she tried, the Healer’s hands would not move. When she happened to glance up at the top of the hill, Syndria stopped struggling. The hill seemed to be disappearing, revealing stone underneath. Though the pain was no less intense, Syndria again focused on taking the magic into herself, closing her eyes once again as unimaginable pain racked her small body. Suddenly she fell back, no longer unable to take her hands off the hill. Every inch of her body shaking from the pain, Syndria curled into a ball as her mind faded and everything went black.