Authors: Bonnie Lamer
I don’t know what I expected. Maybe smoke or shimmering or something that indicated that Kallen would be able to pass through the shield that had stopped him yesterday but all I got was a big nothing. I look at Mom questioningly and she gives me a small tight nod. She doesn’t look at all pleased but she makes a gesture with her hand for Kallen to come to the house.
Kallen looks just as unhappy as my mother as I approach him and he leans away from me. And he called me an ungrateful snit. I put my hands on my hips. “Do you want help or not? My dad’s a doctor, he could tell me what to do.”
Kallen scoffs. “When is the last time he treated a Fairy?”
Okay, he does have a point. “I’m sure between him and my mom they can figure something out.”
Kallen gives a doubtful look to my mother and I can tell she’s just itching to take back her spell that will let him come into the house. His side must be getting worse because his face contorts in pain. He nods once and attempts to rise to his feet, which is obviously difficult. I reach out to help him up.
He yells, “No!” just as my mother says, “Xandra, don’t touch him!”
When my hand touches his bare skin, he hisses loudly and falls back to the ground. The amulet around my neck glows brightly and I realize the mistake that I had made. You can’t help a Fairy if you’re wearing a Fairy repellant. I start to take it off but Mom puts a cold hand on mine. “No, go get your Aunt Barb and she can help him. You mustn’t remove the amulet.”
Reluctantly, I nod and I walk towards the house. Aunt Barb must have heard Mom because she is already pulling her boots on to come outside. She walks through the snow to Kallen and she kneels down next to him. She gingerly puts an arm around his waist and puts his arm that isn’t pressed against his injury around her neck. He’s about ten inches taller than her so it’s awkward but she manages to slowly get him to the house.
“Where?” she asks Mom and her voice is strained from exertion.
“On the couch.”
Aunt Barb helps Kallen to the couch and he slumps down onto the overstuffed cushions. His face is pale and blood is still trickling through his fingers. “Thank you,” he says to Aunt Barb and he must be in pain because his voice has lost some of its haughtiness. He didn’t even complain about a lowly Cowan helping him.
After a moment, I realize I am staring at him and when his cold green eyes find mine, I blush and turn to Mom. “What should we do?”
“I need you to go into the kitchen and pull down the plastic box on the top shelf. It has all of my healing herbs and flowers in it.”
Mom has healing herbs in the pantry? The things I don’t know about my parents just keep adding up. Trying not to feel like I have been betrayed yet again by being kept in the dark, I nod stiffly and go to retrieve the box. I hear Mom ask Aunt Barb to get a pan of warm water, a bowl and some clean towels.
I have to use the step stool in the pantry to get the box down. It’s on the very top shelf and pushed all the way to the back behind some old camping supplies. No wonder I never saw it before. I push the lanterns and the metal plates and silverware aside that we haven’t used since Dad died. He was a lover of camping, Aunt Barb not so much.
The box is heavier than I thought it would be. I bring it down the ladder and take off the lid to gaze into it. The plastic box is sectioned off into a bunch of compartments and each one is filled with some sort of plant or herb and each one is giving off a distinct odor. Individually, they probably smell fine, but all together? It smells a little bit like the compost pile we have in the woods behind the house. I quickly put the lid back on and bring the box into the living room.
Kallen is still on the couch and Dad is examining his wound. Looking up at Mom, he says, “I’ve never seen anything like it. It’s as if a hole was burned straight into his body. It’s about three inches deep from what I can tell. What did you throw at them?”
“Iron,” Mom says. “It’s poison to a Fairy and reacts the same way a hot poker would on a human. As soon as it touches them, the iron begins to burrow inside causing as much damage as possible.”
“How did you do it?” I ask. Mom’s a ghost, how did she throw something at the Fairies?
“I have Witch’s bottles buried all around the house. It’s just a matter of releasing them.”
Kallen looks at Mom with some degree of respect as she says this. Obviously, she had planned ahead for some things. Apparently it’s a good defense but I have no idea what she’s talking about. “What’s a Witch’s bottle?” Kallen doesn’t look at
with respect when I ask this. His expression is condescending and annoyed.
“Have you not taught her anything?” he asks Mom.
Mom narrows her eyes and gives him a hard look. For a second or two, I think she’s going to hex him or something but she chooses to ignore him instead. Turning to me, she explains, “A Witch’s bottle is similar to a small bomb but it can only be called forth by the Witch who created it. It’s rather simple in design. A glass bottle is filled with whatever you need, in this instance I wanted to ward off Fairies so I filled it with iron nails, and then you mix in your urine to claim the bottle as your own and you can set it aside or bury it until you need it. You call it forth with a simple incantation.”
Okay, the ick factor of this conversation just increased by a million. “You threw iron nails and urine at them?” Gross.
Ignoring the fact that I am thoroughly disgusted, Kallen turns to my mom. “Are you wortcunning?” he asks. Mom nods her translucent head as she looks into the box. She has made her long blonde hair appear to be pulled back in a pony tail so it doesn’t fall into her face. I don’t know if she had to or if she is just trying to seem as alive as possible.
“What does wortcunning mean?” I ask. Okay, if Kallen gives me one more of those looks, I’m going to poke him in his side. The injured side. It’s not my fault I wasn’t taught any of this stuff.
Mom looks up from examining the things in the box. “It means knowledgeable in the use of herbs and flowers for healing and magic.”
“Oh.” Let’s add that to my list of things I’m ignorant about, too.
Mom is all business now. Turning to Aunt Barb, she starts giving her instructions. “Barb, please pour about a cup full of water into the bowl. Then I need you to take a pinch full of angelica, willow, vervain, and mugwort.” As she says each name, she points to the compartment containing each. “When you have them all, use the blood stone to pound them and stir them together.” She points to a stone that looks exactly like the one on the bracelet she gave me but bigger. “This should be a strong enough unguent to start the healing process.”
Before I ask, she turns to me to explain. “An unguent is a magical healing salve. The herbs and flowers will aid in healing and the blood stone with stop the bleeding.” I nod stupidly as if this is all making sense. What happened to good old fashioned medicine? It seems like some stitches and antibiotics would be better than some herbs stirred together by a rock but I bite my tongue so I don’t say that out loud.
Mom is giving more instructions to Aunt Barb. “Use one of the towels you got to cover his wound with the salve. Pack it in as much as possible and then press the towel over it.” Turning to me, she says, “We need to create a saka to begin the healing.”
Okay, I think she and Kallen are just making up words now. Exasperated, I say, “You know I don’t know what a saka is or how you create one.”
Mom looks properly chastised. “I regret that I have not taught you these things. I just wanted you to remain innocent as long as possible.”
“That worked out well,” I mumble under my breath. Out loud, I say, “What do I need to do?”
“A saka is a joining together of mana.” More of the new vocabulary from Mom’s library of stuff I didn’t need to know until now. Hmm, am I bitter much?
“What’s mana?” I see Kallen roll his eyes and I am so tempted to hit him that I have to join my hands together. He would make a great scapegoat for my building resentment of being kept in the dark.
“Mana is the spiritual power that Witches gather from the earth. Each Witch has the ability to hold a certain amount within her. The more powerful the Witch, the more mana she can hold and the more powerful her magic is. When a large amount of mana is joined together, such as through two Witches binding their mana for the same end, it is called a saka.”
“Okay, but I still don’t know what to do.”
“We need to join hands and I need you to concentrate on the salve, willing it to heal him.” I’m just now noticing that Mom refuses to say Kallen’s name. I wonder why? Does she hate Fairies that much?
Moving closer to Mom, I hold my hand out and she closes her ghostly hand around it. My hand instantly becomes colder. “Close your eyes and imagine his wound healing.” I do what she tells me and in my mind I think of my anatomy lessons and imagine the organs and tissue in the location of his injury knitting themselves back together as if the searing of the iron was occurring backwards. I’m able to push everything else from my mind and the image becomes clearer. I can see the torn cells as they once again become whole and I see them again form muscle and bits of liver and fascia, I see the bones knitting together as if they had never been touched. And finally, the skin becomes whole pushing the salve from the wound. I am so engulfed by these images that I don’t hear the gasps or murmurs at first. The cold touch of Mom’s hand is gone. She must have dropped my hand because I wasn’t doing it right and it was easier to do it without me. Slowly, I open my eyes nervous to hear what I was doing wrong now.
Dad and Aunt Barb have backed up so they are now standing about five feet from the couch and I’m not sure what their expressions mean but they kind of look scared. Kallen and Mom are looking at me as if I just sprouted a new head or something. Putting my arms akimbo, I ask, “What? What did I do wrong?”
“Wrong?” Mom asks. She sounds surprised. “Xandra, you didn’t do anything wrong. You did it exactly right.”
“Then why are you guys looking at me like I’m a freak?”
Kallen answers first but he answers with a question which is always so annoying when you want answers. “Has your mother explained to you why the pairing of a Witch and a Fairy is forbidden?”
“I think it’s pretty clear that no one has explained much of anything to me,” I say as I cross my arms over my chest.
I can’t figure out the expression on Kallen’s face. The only expressions I’ve seen so far have been annoyed and more annoyed but now he seems to be trying to keep his face blank of emotion. “Because it has always been feared that the pairing would unleash a creature who was too powerful to be stopped by either the Witches or the Fae.”
Putting my hands back on my hips, I sigh heavily. “So?”
Slowly, Kallen takes his hand and pulls the towel covered in salve from his wound. Or, I should say, from the area where his wound should have been. He looks pointedly at his skin and then back to me. My brows furrow together in confusion. “Okay, it’s gone. Isn’t that what was supposed to happen?”
Mom shakes her head. “A healing salve takes time to work. It’s a difficult process to reconnect tissue, especially tissue that has been burned because it becomes a matter of creating new tissue, not just knitting tissue back together. It should have taken days for this type of healing to occur with saka energy being directed towards it several times. The fact that he has been healed completely after one saka is unheard of.”
I still don’t understand what the bid deal is. “Well, you said you were a powerful Witch.”
Mom shook her head. “I didn’t do this.”
Apparently, from the expressions on their faces I’m being really dense. “Then who did?”
I look at Kallen’s wound and then back to Mom. “Uh uh, no way. I don’t know how to do that.”
“I channeled your mana, focusing it where it needed to go but once it found its purpose, I had to let go. I’m not a strong enough vessel for the amount of mana you were sending through me.”