“I’ve never seen anything like this,” Sarah said later that evening as she examined Catherine. “But Karen’s right; this thing is rewiring her brain somehow. The lump is obvious and physical but it feels like it has tendrils through out her brain – and they aren’t physical. I’m fairly sure I can fix it, but I’m not sure if her increased ability levels will survive me doing so. However, even with the increased ability the harm it’s doing her is outweighing any good effects anyway.”
From the expression on Sarah’s face Lydia suspected that was an understatement.
“How bad is it?” Catherine asked.
Sarah hummed to herself as if she was unsure how to answer. Then she sighed. “There’s a lot of activity in certain areas of your brain. You’ll probably end up having hallucinations and odd mood swings within weeks. Only your own healing ability has retarded its growth so far and it’s starting to work around that.”
“And after that?” Catherine asked.
Sarah shook her head. “I don’t know. It might stop growing. That would depend what the intent was behind it. If it’s trying to enhance your abilities it should stop. If its enhancement of them is a coincidence, then it probably won’t. If it doesn’t, you’ll eventually die just like with a conventional brain tumour.”
“Ah,” Catherine nodded. “Neither option sounds good. You can get rid of it?”
“You talk about it as if it’s intelligent,” Matthias noted simultaneously.
“I can, and I don’t think normal treatments would be effective,” Sarah said to Catherine before turning to Matthias. “I seriously doubt that it’s intelligent of itself but there is a definite intelligence behind it. There is nothing natural about this thing.” She shuddered and turned back to Catherine. “Will you let me help you, dear? It shouldn’t affect your innate abilities and I’ll do my best to leave the enhancements intact. It would be a shame to lose them.”
Catherine gave her a wan smile. “I think I’d almost give up on healing to get rid of these headaches anyway. I thought I was just overreaching myself.”
“Good, then you can stay here tonight and we’ll begin shrinking it tomorrow. You can help me. You look exhausted, I’ll show you to one of the guest rooms.”
When Sarah returned from seeing Catherine to her room she was frowning. “I don’t like this, Matt,” she said. “I didn’t want to say it while she was here but I think her brother was behind that thing in her head.”
“I’m fairly sure you’re right, now you mention it,” he agreed. “It sort of feels like him. What I don’t understand is why. We did find something else that might interest you, however.” He passed her the sketchbook open at the page with drawing of the robed man cracking the sky. Sarah took one look at it and swore. Matthias nodded. “Pretty much my reaction,” he said and told her what Catherine had said about the drawing and them finding him unconscious.
“So this is a drawing of a past even and he’s trying to repeat it? Why?”
“I don’t know, but we need to find out what this is if we’re going to stop him. Did you hear about the rain of fish? We had some weird aerial phenomenon in Devon as well.”
“I did, then my father called from Brierthorne and said the swimming pool had turned to blood.” She tutted to herself. “I had the shower do that to me once as a teen-”
“Oh, God, you too?” Karen said. “Worst thing ever.”
“Isn’t it,” Sarah agreed. “But the residual water in some pipes is minor. An entire swimming pool is big. I suppose we can be glad it wasn’t a public pool. Can you imagine the chaos?”
“All too well. I have Lyr looking for any other weird news stories,” Matthias said.
“Yeah, I’ve put Ian on it as well. He’s already found two sky castle mirages that he can’t match to any real castles. If I’m right then we’re talking the level of strange incidents that usually only happen around Astrals happening everywhere. Everywhere in Britain, anyway, and I think it might be wider than that.”
“Do you know what Sonia said when I spoke to her earlier,” Matthias said. “She said that at least it would distract the Lavernes.”
Sarah gave a wry chuckle. “I suppose she isn’t wrong, but I think this may be a symptom of something worse. I just wish I knew what.”
“Same here,” he agreed. “But I’m sure that it’s all connected.”
“Yes,” she said. “Have you spoken to your family yet?”
“About Sonia being alive, you mean? Not yet. I’m going to do it tomorrow.”
“Good, because you need to move her as soon as possible.” Sarah fidgeted slightly. “I’m getting knots in my stomach. The sort that usually mean trouble and it relates to Sonia.”
“Oh, great! That’s all I need,” Matthias said. “I knew she wouldn’t stay safe if it leaked out.”
“I haven’t told anyone except Ian and Dad and I’m sure they haven’t leaked it. You know everyone except Ian, Lucas and Jason are at the other house so we’re up to our ears in space. Perhaps you should all move up here for the night.”
“What, even the dragons?” he said teasingly.
She winced but nodded. “As long as you’re sure that Lyrrekka can keep that male one under control. I like her and her daughter seems adorable.”
“She is,” Matthias sighed. “And Salia would probably be happier with more speakers to talk to. I’ll call Sonia and tell her to pack some stuff.”
“Great! I’ll go and get Ian to help me make sure the guest rooms are ready.”