November 18th, 2011 | Published in Dragon Wars
Lydia was already out of the door before the others could react.
“Lyd! Wait!” Daniel rushed after her but the only response was the sight of her back going down the stairs.
“Well it must be important, Dan,” Matthias said. “Or Bennu wouldn’t have called.”
“I know that, but we don’t know why he’s calling. She should have waited for us. It might be dangerous.”
“Overprotective idiot!” Karen slapped the back of his head gently. “Lyd can look after herself, if you hadn’t noticed.” She hesitated. “Still Bennu was calling all of us. We should go and see what’s wrong.” She headed towards the stairs, pausing at the top. “Come on then. He sounded like he was at the back.”
They trooped down the stairs, through a very traditional looking kitchen complete with whitewashed walls, shiny copper pans and marl tiles on the floor.
“This is nice!” Lucas said behind her.
“No, it’s not. It’s a pain to keep clean,” Catherine said. “But Mum and Dad would never spring for a more modern one. They said it would ruin the flavour of the house. And I can’t afford it and hire people to run the farm for me.” She looked miserable.
Karen shook her head at them and stepped outside, followed by Alban, Matthias and Daniel. The light seemed wrong somehow and Lydia was standing on the grey flagstone of the patio staring up at the sky. Karen looked up as well and her mouth went dry. She turned back and looked through the door to where Lucas and Catherine were still discussing the kitchen. “You really should get out here!” She looked over at Matthias. “What is this, Dad?”
He stared up at the swirling spiral of green clouds in the sky above the farm and shook his head. “I’m honestly not sure, but I don’t think it’s natural.”
“Well it could be natural,” Lydia said mildly. “But it feels all wrong, as well.”
“I’m going to ask your mother what she thinks,” Matthias said. He pulled out his phone, snapped a shot of the sky and sent it to Sonia. A moment later his phone rang. “So any ide-” he broke off and listened. “What?! Why didn’t you call… never mind. Ask Lyr to stop looking at archaeology papers and start looking for recent weird news articles… yes, I think it might be connected.” He listened again then chuckled. “I’m really not sure that’s much of an upside in the circumstances, Sonia. This could be serious.” Whatever she replied made him laugh again. “I love you as well. See you later.” He clicked off the phone and frowned. “It’s raining fish in Preston. Two incidents isn’t enough to see a pattern, I guess, but-”
“But it seems unlikely that it isn’t one? I agree.” Lydia nodded and stroked Bennu’s feathers. “Would you mind flying up there and having a look? We need to find out what it is, but it might not be safe.”
“Of course I will!” he said.
Catherine gave a little shriek and went pale. “I-I-” She pointed at Bennu. “There’s a talking bird here and you’re worried about some odd looking clouds?”
“Bennu’s a friend,” Lydia said as he winged his way into the sky. “We’re used to him. This is new.”
“He’s from the same place I am,” Alban said. “He’s a speaker like me. There’s nothing odd about him.”
Catherine gave him a slightly wild eyed look. “At least you look mostly human. He’s a bird… I mean if he was talking telepathically I could take it but he’s making actual sound.” She stopped and a puzzled frown crossed her face. “But the sound he was making didn’t actually sound anything like what I seemed to hear now that I think about.”
“You noticed that?” Matthias stared at her. “Most people never notice that.”
“It’s the same with me,” Alban said. “I’m speaking my own language; you’re just hearing it in yours. That’s the way it works for speakers. Don’t ask me why.”
Catherine gave him a perplexed look. “So you are. That’s freaky.” She rubbed at her temples. “I need to sit down, my head’s started up again.”
“Let me look.” Karen followed her back into the kitchen. Catherine sat down on one of the chairs and Karen delicately extended her healing into the woman’s brain again. The thing in her head was now pulsing rhythmically. “What’s it doing? Oh! Dad, come here!”
“What is it?” Matthias came back in.
“Remember that guy you told me about. The one who was born a null but turned into a clairvoyant ember after he fell off a ladder? The detective guy?”
“Yes, Sarah thinks it must have been a result of his brain rewiring around the damage. He also developed schizophrenic type symptoms so most people wrote him off. Why?”
“Well, she’s already an ember of course but I think something similar is happening to Cat as a result of this thing. Look.”
He stepped past her and pressed his own fingertips to Catherine’s temples. “That is… I definitely want Sarah to look at this. Can your employees look after the farm for a couple of days without you, Cat? I want you to come back with us. My friend needs to see this thing in your head and I’m worried what Jayden will do if he realises we’ve been here.”
Catherine hesitated for a long moment before nodding. â€œI only run the tearoom myself and Helen and Mary will be here for the afternoon shift soon. Just let me call Mark and tell him something came up.” She caught Matthias’s look. “He’s the manager, he’ll do the rest.”
“Okay, and pack yourself an over-night bag.” He looked around as Lydia came in with Bennu on her arm. “Well?”
“It’s like it’s not there, physically anyway. I can fly right through it with no trouble and no loss of vision except it makes me feel sick,” Bennu said. “It passes as soon as I leave it,” he added at Lydia’s concerned squeak.
“Hmm,” Matthias said. “I think we’ll get Sal to take a look at you as well. Just in case. We’ll just head back as soon as Cat has packed.”