Third story in the Potions in the Apocalypse series, first posted on my Mastodon account on September 16, 2019.
"Sometimes, all we can do is put up an umbrella & wait out the rain."
Uma was, in theory, Wel's student--but he had found over the last year of catastrophe & madness that he was learning more from her than she from him.
"Sometimes we can find where the floodwaters are breaking the dike & plug it."
She was drawing chalk symbols on the road while Wel held her umbrella--mostly symbols he'd taught her, some he'd never seen before.
She pointed at a sideways-twisted-L, anticipating his question (as she often did): "Personal runes. Don't know how they work for most people, but they work for me. This one means 'Shelter'."
Wel could think of 3 other ways to do what Uma was doing--PARTS of what she was doing. But right now, he was learning from her and not she from him; he stayed quiet.
"There." Standing, she moved both hands in increasing triangles while she chanted in Latin (and in gibberish).
When she stepped back, the stench from the eastern city had faded.
"Not quite an umbrella." She looked quite pleased with herself. "But it will help us endure the storm."
And when the world was ending, Wel knew, enduring was priority one.
Note(s): I don't know if I ever went back to these two, but the idea of the traditional runes and words vs. the personal of both comes back more than once. It's a fun idea - all of this magic which is based on millennia of tradition and oh-by-the-way you don't HAVE to use the tradition if you happen to have your own strong associations to certain things.