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Posted on August 29, 2010 at 00:16:43 AM by georgia
“Aura!” A deep voice bleats in her ear, “Aura, Aura – I didn’t mean to – but something – I didn’t – there’s...”
Shaking her head to clear it, Aura lets the babbling nonsense wash over her as she sits up. Something – or someone – teleported her out of the Shrine... an impossible feat for anyone without reverse telepathy (of whom there are none in Shaman) or divinity. Blinking, she turns to the source of the noise for answers.
Penguin looks a mess. His pupils are dilated, his eyes wide, his tail is wedged firmly between his legs and he’s quivering. Absolutely nothing he’s saying makes any sense, and Aura can only assume that he had managed to teleport her here by accident. Courtesy of Poppy’s level six capabilities, he’s now inherited her magic. Divinity, being the most powerful of all magic, is also the most unstable; even when it is fully controllable by its bearer (who must be an Original fairy – Poppy isn’t, hence her inability to control it) it still reacts to emotional arousal. A strong enough emotion – such as desperation or fear – can cause divinity to intervene by granting the heart’s desire. It’s doubtful that the Great Dane intended for Aura to appear suddenly; more likely he was simply crying out for help, and divinity granted it in her form.
Taking his large head in her small hands, she shushes him and gently fondles his ears in an attempt to calm him down. It doesn’t work particularly well, but after a few minutes he’s able to relax enough to articulate himself to some small degree of sense.
“Poppy’s dead!” He mutters dazedly. There’s no tears – that’ll come later, once the shock has passed.
“No she isn’t,” Aura rubs his head soothingly. “She can’t be, or else you wouldn’t be here, would you?”
“I d-didn’t – divinity – keeping me alive... she – sh-she...”
Taking a firm hold of his collar, Aura leads the dog towards the little cottage in the moor. His divinity, for once, had been reasonably accurate; she’s been brought within a hundred feet of the place where she presumes Poppy must be. Swiftly, so that she doesn’t have time to chicken out, she pushes the door open and walks into the kitchen.
The first sight to greet her is Draco (Aura takes an automatic half-step backwards, before realising her mistake and pushing forward shamefully), sitting at the table with his blonde head in his hands. He doesn’t stir as she tiptoes up to him. As she moves forward, bit by bit, Poppy’s body is revealed; she’s lying face-down on the floor with a pushed-back chair behind her, suggesting she’d been forced out of it. She’s completely limp and unmoving, and the obviously deep gash in her head makes Aura’s stomach turn – already her damp hair is stained gold and she’s resting in a shining yellow puddle. The presence of the blood is partially good, since it means that her heart must have been pumping it out still – but even if she hadn’t died instantly from the attack, there’s little chance of surviving that amount of blood loss. Explanations can wait until later. The first task is to check the state.
Slipping past Draco, Aura crouches down next to her daughter and rolls her over as gently as possible, fumbling for a pulse on her wrist. It’s faint, but there. She already knows what to do next – Poppy’s lips are tinged blue, suggesting a lack of oxygen; Aura takes a deep breath and performs resuscitation for a few moments before she’s rewarded by a shaky intake of breath from her patient. Tilting Poppy’s head back so that her tongue doesn’t block her throat (which is probably why she stopped breathing in the first place), Aura quickly runs her hands over her body to determine whether or not there are any other wounds (there aren’t, apart from a few bruises where she hit the floor) before reluctantly turning to examine the head injury. It looks bad. Aura glances up, sees Draco and Penguin staring at her with dumb expressions on their faces and, realising she can’t rely on them to get their act together and help, she jumps up and begins searching the cupboards. Thanks to Peregryne’s tidiness, a tea-towel and a bowl aren’t difficult to find; she fills the bowl with cold water, grabs the towel and kneels back down next to Poppy. Gentle sponging to remove the blood reveals that the wound isn’t as bad as it looks, although it’s still serious. She’ll need stitches. Something on the floor nearby attracts the deity’s attention: a needle and thread.
Jumping up, Aura switches the gas on over the stove and lights the flame. Holding the needle carefully at the end with the eye, she holds the sharp end into the flames for a few moments. The heat should sterilise the needle... the thread won’t be sterilised, but unfortunately there’s nothing she can do about that. There’s no such thing as hospitals or emergency rooms in Shaman; they just have to make do with what they have. Satisfied that the needle has been sterilised as well as it can be without proper equipment, Aura threads it and returns to her patient. Poppy’s hair is so thick that it’s difficult for her to see what she’s doing, so she’s forced to snip a bit out with the kitchen scissors – leaving a horrible bald patch – before she can sew the skin back together. Both Draco and Penguin look away at that point. Aura wishes she could too.
By the time she’s finished, Draco has recovered enough to get his act together and find her some bandages; with his help (he’s a bit useless, but at least he tries) they manage to bandage Poppy’s head, hoist her up and carry her into the bedroom and onto the bed. Penguin follows despondently. Poppy herself remains unconscious throughout the entire process. Only after she’s tucked her daughter up in bed does Aura turn to Draco and demand an explanation.
“I did it,” he whispers hoarsely. “With... with...” He points down the corridor; through the open door of the kitchen, Aura can see a blood-stained cast-iron pan on the floor. The sight makes her sick to the core.
“No you didn’t.” Realising how shaken he is, she hesitates only briefly before stepping forward and wrapping her arms around him in a gentle hug. “Mallos possessed you. He did it through you, the same as when you... when he killed me.”
Draco hugs her back in the clingy, lost sort of way a person does when they’re desperately grasping at any form of comfort they can possibly receive. “Will she be okay?”
Aura hesitates. He doesn’t deserve the news she’s about to give him.
“She’s in a coma,” she says gently. “She might wake up in a few hours, or it may be weeks or months – even years.” There’s a heavy pause while she lets this sink in. “There’s really no way of telling. Divinity will keep her alive so we don’t need to worry about tubes to feed her, it’s just... protection.”
“I’ll protect her,” he whispers back without hesitation. Aura steps back and stares at the fragile boy, but passes no comment.
She turns to leave, then turns back again and adds, “they say – sometimes, people in comas can still hear. Sometimes they can hear their loved ones talking to them and encouraging them to come back.”
And with that, she vanishes.
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