Princess, she stand there for a moment. Then she nod. “Yes, heal these poor people. I will join you soon.” I not sure, at first what she mean by that, but later, she beside me kneeling on cold hard ground, wrapping bandages. Hmmm, my first princess, sure but they not usually kneel and help with wounded, right?
As we work, she say to me “Neiki had some interesting theories about the magic that Seaonus is using. She thinks (Princess lowers voice) it might be blood magic.” I nod. “Oh yes, sure to be maho-magic. Smell like rotten meat, even earth smell like bad meat and rust, yes? Even you smell?” She sit back from human she wrapping. “But, but blood magic is punishable by death! Who would do that?” She clutch her neck, where jade pendant lay.
Recently old Mir’Itus help me with English. No more saying “me” now say “eye” for me. Confusing. I am me, yes? Point at me-self and remember to say “eye”. I do that now: “I not knowing what make man, or Nezumi, go to Taint side. We heal people and then deal with him, Mister Seaonus-san.”
Some human, we save. Some we get and they having bite-bite marks all over legs. They say “Dark down there. No ideas what bite.” Some we get and they look chewed up, from bottom to top. Too manys of the bites and too much time gone. I ask Grandpa to help those spirits go where they go, those humans.
Nightfall and we done with dead and wounded. Nezumi get stable all to ourselves. Human stay in houses with smelly human. Poor, poor human – they all smell of Taint. Some more, some less, but Taint. Gami-Gami, she insist sleep near door for the protection. We warm and cozy with horses, Princess wagon and plenty warm hay. At midnight, I wake to say prayers and think thoughts of spells. I no bad-bad shaman for to do dark things in night. I like the quiet black of night. Good for the reading and the thinking and memorizing. At my books, and I remember spirit walk this town – people shaky-fearful of spirit. Te’Ka’Mok would know if spirit is real. Creep-creep slow so to not wake Gami-Gami. Tell puppy Ookami to “sshhhhhh.” I sit on step. Wait. Listen. Look. I see lights in Twilight Mountains. Nothing else. Cannot say spirit or not spirit. Too bad.
Next day, early: Princess has Seaonus on knees and he shaky and crying over maho-magic. Try to tell her it for good. He asks for chance to kill self with sepooku ritual of killing. Bah! Stupid idea. Why that better than to be killed by beheader? Snick-snick and head gone. Better to die way, I thinking. Stomach stabby silliness. Princess say NO. Wait for the Magistrate to come by.
After he dragged away by mayor and sherrif, Neiki say to Princess “The Taint is strong. It is….. affecting me and will hurt everyone soon. We must find the crystal orb that Seaonus mentioned.” I hitch up robe. Scratch leg and think. Must be in tower, yes? Bad feeling there. I think about spell book. Pages under my finger. Smell ink. I sensing magics now. I walk to tower door. “Here. Crystal orb here. I go find.”
Much talk-talk about tower and safety-ness. Princess no go up. Neiki can no go up. Lion come with me. Scorpion stay with Princess. And then old Mir’Itus must come and Gami-Gami. Yes-yes. Come all. We go up stairs. Crooked tower now so crooked stairs. Up-up-up. I telling Mir’Itus to be careful with crooked tower stones and one fall and hit me on head. Hurt-hurt muchly, but I Nezumi and I go on!
We find big orb. Big bad orb. Down-down-down stairs. Telling Princess we find orb and Neiki say we must draw the Taint from orb. Princess look at me. “I no learn this magics. I not live long enough to learn this magics.”
Nya Scorpion come over. “Princess, I have heard that we can use Nezumi blood to draw the Taint from the crystal.” She paused. “It has been done by great wizards of the Scorpion clan. It would not require a lot of blood. Just a small amount will do. Or so I have heard.”
I turn to Mir’Itus. “They talking about our blood, yes? Blood magics for to heal blood magics? No-no.” I shake my head. Princess see and say “I want to know what all of our options are. I have not made a decision.” I nod. “Use old Mir’Itus! He old! He blood still good, but he have not long to live, yes?” Princess laugh and Mir’Itus glare at me.
Princess bite her lip and say “I have not made any decisions.”
I don’t talk about my crew mates much. We came together to do a job, er I guess a bunch of jobs and we get paid. I’d like to think that we is all, each of us an expert in our field, as they say on the vids. Roark knows his way around just about any gun. The Doc, well, she’s a wonder with the meds. That Mags, shit can she fly. Prudence is one of those born generals. You know — the kind that looks at the battle field and knows in her gut what to do. Miss V, of course, she’s a born leader. Just walks through life knowin that everyone is just waiting to hear her orders.
But that Lu. She’s a puzzle. She can sit and have tea with a group of cult members and not blink an eye. She can lift an engine block and cradle it like a baby. She doesn’t talk much about her people. I know she’s very religious and I love to hear her stories. I swear she’s got a few of them mixed up, though.
I never had much truck with Jesus before. My Ma tried to give us a good understanding of the popular religion, but since she wasn’t a believer herself, well it was a mite limited.
She tells this story about how Jesus converted a bunch people with the miracle of the Dogs Playing Poker. She does have a picture of it in her bunk. So maybe it is true. I do love the picture.
She has one she picked up when we were last in the Core. She says it is a picture of Jesus in his last incarnation, some hundreds of years ago.
What I love about Lu is that she jumps in on any job with both hands and both feet. She lends a hand and her strong back to whatever project I got going on. Who knew that when we landed on that dust bowl of a planet with that chunk of comet, that we’d leave with such a treasure as our Lu?