July 2nd, 2012 | Published in Dragon Wars
Karen had never imagined that Marian Laverne could look so vulnerable. The rare times she’d had the misfortune to encounter the woman at Brierthorn, she’d given off an aura of icy strength. She wasn’t giving it off right now as she lay unconscious on the floor of the cellar. Indeed there was a fragile edge to her aura that suggested she’d been putting up more of a bluff than anyone had realised. Behind her, Karen heard Tara give a quiet squeak and knew that she’d sensed it as well.
“Mercy of the Void!” Kadoran exclaimed from where he was standing behind Sonia. “What has been done to that woman?”
“You see it then, Kad?” Nerrezza looked over her shoulder at him. “Is it as bad as Lyrrekka-ida said?”
“How can I not see it?” He shook his head. “How was that done? Whoever did it knew what they were doing and that means that the mess she’s in is deliberate.” He shuddered violently. “It’s worse, Lady Nerrezza.”
“Worse?” Nerrezza knelt down at Marian’s side and laid a hand on her forehead. After a moment she swore violently. “Someone did not intend her to outlive her usefulness to them. And I have an inkling how it was done – the real question is who.” Her hands were shaking as she turned to Tara and Carl. “But I need you to find out what really happened to your parents. For one thing, I suspect it will reveal who did this and, for a second, I think we’ll need the truth if we are to convince her of it.”
She turned to Lucas. “And I think we may need your help to get that truth past her filters, I’m afraid.” She smiled as he winced. “Yes, I know it seems wrong, but she’s too dangerous to allow her to hold on to this delusion.”
“I know,” he said. “But what you’re talking about goes beyond the ordinary nudging I normally do into the realms of the ethically dubious.” He paused as Sarah made a choking sound. “Sal thinks I don’t have enough ethics as it is. Not that it stops her making use of my services.”
Sarah snorted again at that but made no other response.
“We’ll worry about the ethics later,” Sonia said. “Nerrezza needs to fix her first and we need to find out what happened.”
“Yes,” Nerrezza said. “Can I borrow Kadoran, Sonia-ida? His talents would be very helpful with this. And we’re going to need several healers to help repair her essence once we’ve undone the immediate damage.”
“Of course you can,” Sonia said.
“How many?” Sarah asked simultaneously. “Will Birke and I do?”
“Well, it’s a start, but we could do with a couple more at least.”
“Hmm… I’ll go and beg a couple off the council at Waldhafen if they can spare them.”
“The situation’s stabilised, so they should be able to,” Nerrezza said. “It’s a shame we can’t take her there but she’d never survive in this state. But we don’t need the healers quite yet. For now we’ll block the pain, sort out the diversions in her essence and reconstruct her barrier. That way she should survive until we can reconstruct her essence.” She rose to her feet shakily. “Now if you’ll excuse me I feel the need to go and be sick before we start.”
“I think we should leave it until we’ve moved,” Matthias said. “It sounds like a long, involved task.”
“Healing her essence will be a long task,” Nerrezza said. “But while repairing her barrier and fixing the channels so that they’ll hold until she’s healed is complicated, it won’t take that long to achieve. But yes, we probably should leave it until we’ve moved.” She frowned down at Marian. “She’s starting to come around so you should probably sedate her again.”
“We should probably sedate all the ones we can’t trust again until we get them to Matt’s.” Sarah hesitated.”You do have somewhere to put them, right?”
“Of course I do,” he said. “You’re not the only one who’s been planning for this.”