My brother and I were discussing this the other day. How on earth ARE those little vulneraries and elixirs from Fire Emblem supposed to work?
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One day, in the midst of a terrible battle, Prince Ephraim and Lord Hector, through some twisted series of events, were fighting side-by-side to destroy a horde of flesh-hungry gwyllgis and wyverns.
Ephraim spun Reginleif around like nobody's business, coolly goring the heart of first one creature then the next. Hector was laughing at the shrieks the monsters made as they saw his glinting Wolf Beil come crashing towards them.
All was well. But then, disaster. A freak ballista shot impaled Ephraim's arm, and a rock falling from the sky (presumably it had been lodged in Huey's hoof) hit Hector in the forehead. Naturally, as Hector had a very thick skull, it didn't do much damage, but it was rather ugly and caused a small amount of bleeding. Ephraim wasn't bleeding much, either, because the arrow was still stuck in his arm.
"Owee, mama!" Hector shouted, picking the rock out of his head as Ephraim finished the last wyvern with a swift kick to the jaw. "Good thing we have that healing elixir, here, hey Prince?"
Ephraim glanced in his satchel. Indeed, they had one full elixir between them, which was plenty given the circumstance. He used his uninjured arm to pull the vial of sparkling blue liquid out of the bag.
"I suppose since my injury is the worse of the two, I should go first," said Ephraim.
Hector grumbled but agreed. He pulled the arrow out of Ephraim's arm, which caused the young prince to yelp rather unmasculine-like and to shoot Hector a dark glare. Eventually, though, the prince turned his attention to the matter at hand and looked back at the blue vial. "Erm, I've never actually had to use one of these things before," he said. "Am I supposed to drink it, or am I supposed to pour it over my wound?"
Hector scratched his brow and winced. If his forehead hadn't been bleeding before, it was now. "Actually, I don't know, either. I've never been hurt before."
"Do you think it will kill us we use it incorrectly?" Ephraim asked.
"Probably not," said Hector, so Ephraim wisely chose to believe the opposite.
"If I pour it on my wound, then most of it will just leak away," he mused. "But if I drink it, then how does it know where to work?"
"If it tastes awful, you're probably meant to drink it," said Hector with a grimace, remembering the awful tonics Serra had forced Matthew to drink when the thief had gotten his arm stuck trying to retrieve a lockpick from Umbriel's mouth.
Ephraim shrugged and sniffed it. It smelled sweet. "Maybe we should just go find a healer really quickly and ask," he said.
"We left all the healers behind," said Hector. "Remember? Figured we wouldn't need them because we have these elixirs."
"Oh yeah," said Ephraim, starting to feel very woozy. "I think I'm going to sit down for a moment."
"Maybe we should test it on something," said Hector. "Here, give it to me." He took the elixir from Ephraim and strode over to a writhing gwyllgi that obviously wasn't quite dead. "Drink this," he said, pouring one third of the liquid down the gwyllgi's throat. The gwyllgi stopped writhing. "Oh, good, it worked," Hector declared. No sooner had he made the proclaimation than the reptile let out a deafening screech. Syrup-thick blood bubbled out of its mouth and its eyes went blank, the entire creature freezing into an unbecoming dead bug position. Hector hacked off its head just to be sure.
"It's dead," said Hector. "I'm not certified in hocus-pocus healing, but either elixirs don't work on gwyllgis, or we're not supposed to drink it."
"Which... do you... think?" Ephraim grunted, trying to tie a tourniquet around him arm.
"We could try it on something else," said Hector, "and see if the death thing is a general phenomon when this stuff is swallowed."
"Then we won't have enough left for us," Ephraim murmured, his voice growing fainter as his face grew paler. "I think... we're not supposed to drink it. I don't know how the elixir would.... know what blood... it was supposed to clot, and so would just clot everything and ...kill you. I think the arrow must have hit an important artery. I'm going to lie down now."
"Hmm. Well, that makes sense. Pour it on it is, then." Hector grabbed Ephraim's arm and was about to pour half of the remaining liquid on the noble's wound when he remembered something. "Didn't Natasha use an elixir when Forde's kidneys got crushed when Bartre hugged him hello?"
"Yeah..." Ephraim was lying on his back, eyes closed.
"How could you pour an elixir on crushed kidneys?" He wiped some blood off his forehead and flicked it off his wrist. He was starting to get a little woozy as well.
"Maybe it wasn't an elixir she gave him after all," suggested Ephraim, eyes still closed.
"I think it was," said Hector. "I mean, this stuff is a cure-all for, well, all... except poison. I wonder if it's habit forming?"
"Are there any instructions printed on the container?" said Ephraim, voice barely audible.
"I'll check." Alas, there were no instructions. "Boy, that's dumb," said Hector. "How would we even know the difference between an elixir and a spy's sleeping potion?"
It was about now that Ephraim passed out. Hector thought about the elixir a while longer before finally deciding to pour half a dose on Ephraim's arm, and then make him swallow the rest if that didn't appear to help anything.
Unfortunately, by this point Hector had also lost too much blood so he keeled over as he stumbled towards Ephraim, and landed unconscious with a whump on the ground.
Farina spied them from atop her pegasus nearly twenty minutes later. "Dumb boys, bleeding to death," she muttered to herself. "Two full uses of magical elixir left, and they're both too manly to use it. Serves them right." She swooped down, picked up the elixir, and returned to camp to report the location of the missing lords.
Needless to say, Princess Eirika made hocus-pocus healing certification a mandatory requirement for anyone joining the army after that.
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"For those whose reasoning is bent, I shall straighten it with my bow" - Rath from Fire Emblem 7