Kiara Episode: 10
Perhaps because their two hearts were now linked by love, as Kiara slipped into fever, so did Jeremiah. Although miles apart, even in their fevered dreams they sought each other out. For days they both wandered lost, through the nightmare world of fever that some call the land of the dead.
Jeremiah was to remember later, that he had seen her. There was an image in his head of her reaching out to him. He could see her pale hands almost touching him before she was swept away like leaves in the wind. He heard her call out that she would find him. He awoke to see his mother sitting by his bed. “Sarah, Sarah! Go fetch the doctor quickly!”, she said.
The doctor looked serious but spoke kindly. After a whispered conversation with his mother, the doctor came back and gave him a sad smile, then rubbed his head and left without a word.
At first his mother told him nothing, only that he must stay in bed and rest. It was only when he was stronger that she told him that he had caught a disease called polio She said he was very lucky as only one leg had been affected and he would still be able to walk. She explained that he would have to go to a special clinic and have a metal splint fitted to his leg. When he asked if it would cure it, she hugged him and said that he must be brave. She told him that while he was in a fever, his father had gone to war, and that he was the man of the house now and must be strong. She explained that she needed him back on his feet and helping her to run the bakery until the war was over and his father came home. He realised that he would never be a soldier after all, but he did not cry. Even with one leg he could still be the best baker in town.
Much had happened while Kiara slept. After cleaning her wound and applying the poultice, Matron left her to Maria’s care. She sent for the cook and told her to help Maria in every way she could. “Martha! I understand that you have many duties in the kitchen, but I wish you to make a fresh poultice every two hours and help Maria to change the bandages”, she said to the cook when she arrived. Martha almost gave matron her most withering look, then seeing how tired and strained she looked, simply said “Yes Ma’am”. When Matron returned an hour later with the bag of coins, Martha was glad that she had held her tongue. Matron then went to every servant and gave each of them a bag of coins. She asked that they would stay with her for as long as she needed them, but that they were free to leave at the end of the month, – if that was what they wished. She told them very little except that the home might close suddenly and she wished to pay them in advance so that they were well compensated for all their hard work. On finding several years’ wages in their hands, they all agreed to stay for as long as she needed them. She decided that perhaps the same approach might be best with James as she wished to treat him no less generously than the servants. He had become the one person in whom she totally relied, and she did not wish to lose him. Still he deserved no less an option than the others, although she would feel very much safer with him by her side.
That first evening after the fire, a very subdued and well-scrubbed James came to her quarters at seven o’ clock. As he knocked at the door he wondered if he still stank of death and ashes.
Matron seemed nervous and vulnerable as she led him to the sofa and bid him to sit down.
There were two brandies on the coffee table and a large bag. She handed him a brandy and sat beside him. He felt uncomfortable to have her so close. He was afraid that he would forget who he was and reach out to touch her face, that beautiful, ageless face that was now lined with worry and stress. He looked pointedly at the coffee table. Mistaking his intentions, she said, “That bag is yours, James. Pick it up!”. “I do not want it madam”, he said, still staring at the table. “There is a lot of gold in that bag, James. You are now a very rich man. “I do not want it Madam”, he repeated. He felt crushed. She was paying him off after all his years of service. Did she not trust him to stay silent? “I paid off all the servants when you were in the woods. They will stay until I decide what to do. It was only fair to make the same offer to you. To be honest, I am praying that you will stay as I have need of a strong friend at this moment”. She touched his hand and he turned to her with tears in his eyes. His look told her everything. She squeezed his hand, – almost breathless in her relief. “Well you best start calling me Alice then, for we are about to embark on a very dangerous adventure.
Over dinner she explained the dangerous situation they were in. She told him about Kiara, and the doctors real identity. also she explained her doubts of the goblin staying dead, and his incredible speed and strength. They considered the possibility that the strange machines they had seen in his part of the house might be the key to making sure that he did not return. Alice was determined to stay and fight it out if they could. She had spent forty years in the manor and to her it was her home. James showed her the pistol he had always carried in a shoulder holster and swore to protect her.
That night, she took Annabelle into her room with her. James gave the gardener a shotgun and left him to protect the infirmary, while he spent the night dozing on a chair outside her room with a shotgun, loaded and broken, open on his knee.
Droc awoke from his healing much sooner than any other goblin could have, – especially after the treacherous attack by that ungrateful hag. She had killed him instantly, totally destroying his bio-energy body in a single crushing blow to his head. Fortunately, the Cradle had immediately begun to repair the trauma to his own body caused by the reverberations through the morphic resonance field. It was the discovery of the Morphic Resonance Field that had allowed him to fight his way up to become Arch Deacon. It was a sharp blade across the throat of his predecessor in middle of the rest period that made him king. The Cradle tuned itself to him through the morphic resonance field and allowed him to return automatically from the body which it had constructed on the other side of the Etheric Barrier.
He tore himself impatiently, from the web of energy which held him down, leaving his face only partially healed. Strips of flesh hung down from where the left side of his face was not yet reconstructed. Even by goblin standards he was never handsome, but with his jagged teeth bared and his face twisted in anger and the torn flesh on his cheeks, – he was a terrifying sight. “Cursed women! Damned faeries! They will pay for this!”
From the next cell in the warren, the clerics rushed in, “Sire! Sire! You are not yet healed!”. He eyed them evilly, – looking for a victim. They all looked down at the rough stone floor in terror. “I built this machine! he screamed. “I drained the faery magic to power it!- his voice was almost a screech. “I am your king and your Archdeacon and I opened a doorway from this barren planet in which we were imprisoned! “And I will break that hag into small pieces with my bare hands.”
He calmed a little, “I ended 1000 years of futility and frustration, and before this stinking hell hole in which we are trapped has passed one more year, – we will feast on faery flesh. We will tear down their ancient trees and kill their guardians and when we have destroyed the web around this planet, – the universes will be ours to take”.
He calmed himself. He turned to his Deacon, – “Tarag!, how soon before the cradle is ready again?,- I must return!. I have found a princess of the faeries. With her energy transferred to my machines on earth, we can move battalions through the web, and crush the faeries before they can even assemble”.
Tarag looked at him in panic. “How long?”, Droc asked again. There was an edge in his voice. “Seven sunsets, sire”,- he was shaking as he spoke. Before he could blink, Droc had grabbed him by the throat and had broken him like a twig.
Droc looked around at the quaking clerics. His eyes settled on Hrirc. Hrirc looked much less scared than the rest of the treacherous back-stabbers. “Hrirc, come here!”. Hrirc calmly walked over to his King. “You are my new Deacon,- How long will it take you to prepare a new body?”. “Four sunsets sire, – to ensure that your new body is far superior to the one prepared by the traitor Tarag!” Droc looked at him, pondering. “A clever one, – this one”, he thought, “After our victory I will kill him myself”. Out loud, he said, “Very well, Deacon Hrirc, you have four sunsets”. Droc strode out of the room and up to his own quarters at the very top of the mountain. It looked like a giant termite colony carved out of solid rock. He went to the opening that was carved into the wall of his cell and gazed out over the rocky valley below. It was devoid of all life and a black sluggish river ran down from the hill. It was covered in oil slicks which glittered like pools of gold, and glowed in rainbow colours from the evening sun.
For anyone, apart from a troll or goblin, it would be a depressing sight. But in his mind’s eye, Droc could see it filled with thousands of faery slaves, all chained and broken. He sighed with impatient expectation, “Four days and he would return to collect his princess and his revenge. He remembered the chattering child called Annabelle. The hag seemed fond of her. Her would kill her first, then the hag. Then he would suck the magic from the princess with his latest toy, and bring her empty husk back to be his puppet queen. His pleasant musings had given him an appetite. He walked over to a blow tube coming from the wall and removed the cover from the end of it. “Bring me a changeling!”, he bellowed down the pipe. He smiled to himself in anticipation, showing a row of razor sharp teeth.