Marked for Death
Part II: Sick Leave
The day before the operation came far too quickly. Despite my frenetic calls every hour, Abraxas didn’t pick up the phone during all that time, meaning Síthmaith and Amber would be my only hope of surviving the day ahead…
Once classes were over, I only had time to eat dinner when my tablet beeped. I picked it up and saw that I was called at the gates. I quickly grabbed the bag I’d prepared and notified Amber before going. Once I reached the gate, a woman from the security team got us into a car and drove us to the island’s airport where a small plane and Dr. Sij were waiting for us.
“Good you’re here.” She said coming toward us. Her four eyes quickly darted toward Amber.
“Hi, I’m—” Amber began.
“Amber Alastria von Alexis.” The doc said, interrupting her. “I know all of the students and their medical records by heart. It’s a venusian talent.”
“Would you mind if she comes with me?” I asked. “I’m a little scared of being alone…”
“Of course not.” She answered after a moment of reflection. “It’s a private plane ride and there’s plenty of space. I’ll make sure to notify the administration she’ll be missing for a day or two later so you don’t get in trouble.”
“Don’t mention it.”
She invited us onto the small plane and we sat down, putting our slim bags in the compartment above our heads. The doc had a special seat designed for her, allowing her to sit without squishing her tail against the back end of the seat.
“We’ll arrive in a little over an hour. Since your procedure is scheduled for the morning, we’ll be spending the night at the Ravenhold hostel. Have you two been there before?”
“No, haven’t had the chance yet.” I said. I knew Ravenhold offered free New York bus every weekend, but it wasn’t like I had the option to go… Heck, with my paranoia, I hadn’t even gone into town on the island…
The plane ride thankfully went smoothly, no magical attack or even mundane problems. I still had Abraxas’ protective amulet, but I didn’t know how long the two remaining protective crystals could last me…
After landing, a taxi drove us to a four floor building in Brooklyn, only a few streets away from the Queensboro Bridge which we could see from the back. Although it was unmarked, Doc Venus explained that it was actually the secret Ravenhold New-York dorm for students. Although Amber and I got off, the doc stayed in the car, promising to pick us up in the morning before being driven away.
“Guess it’s just us.” Amber said.
“Better that way.”
“What about that Sith girl?”
“Síthmaith said she’d meet us there.”
We went inside and examined the place. The first floor was beyond mundane; a kitchen, a living room, several bathrooms. Much to my surprise, Síthmaith was already there eating a turkey tv dinner while Malkie was sitting on the table only a few inches away, looking haughty like cats do.
“Oh hey.” She said.
“How did you get here before us?” I asked.
“The ways, obviously. There’s an exit in the park down the avenue.”
“The ways?” Amber asked, frowning before looking at me for an explanation.
“I’m still not clear on what those are either.” I said with a shrug. “Abraxas mentioned them but didn’t bother explaining.” As much as he’d promised to help me, he was very lite on the details, allegedly it was for my safety.
“They’re magical paths through time and space.”
“You can time travel through them?”
“Aye, mostly to get lost in the future. If you’re unlucky and stupid enough to find a past way and step through you’re gonna get shredded by paradox. You really don’t wanna go through the ways without a good guide.” She said before rubbing her cat’s head.
The vision of Malkie’s true nature was still vivid in my memory; something vast, powerful and ancient, more than I could understand. And somehow that being was trekking around with a teenage girl and letting itself be pet…
“There’s one in the park in Ravenhold, it’s in the giant oak. Could show you, but best you don’t try alone.”
“I’ll keep that in mind.”
“Food’s in the freezer.” She then said, abruptly changing the subject. “Dibs on the turkey.”
I didn’t argue, I had other things to worry about than who ate what. I got a lasagna one from the freezer and nuked it in the microwave.
“So, what do we do now?” Amber asked.
“We wait and see if anything happens?” Síthmaith said. “Can make a protection circle for the night. But you’re gonna have to stay in until morning.”
We all ate quietly before I excused myself to take a shower after dropping my bag in one of the rooms. When I came out, Amber went into the shower. I went into my selected room and found one of the two single bed had been dragged to the middle of the room as Síthmaith drew around it with a permanent marker. Ravenhold was not going to be happy about it, but I had bigger worries than a damaged floor.
“Is that the protection circle?” I asked, looking at the ovoid shape lined with weird marks that surrounded the bed.
“Aye.” She kept drawing on the ground with her marker.
“It’s not very round… And you can really use a magic marker like that, you don’t need some actual magical thing?”
“Nah, the circle’s just the vessel for holding the spell in place, I’m the one doing the magic. It just oughta feel right for me to power it, don’t need to be perfect.”
She kept doodling until she just stopped. She ordered me to go on the bed, which I did. She then pulled out a pocket knife and nipped her finger, rubbing the drop of blood on the circle and chanting something in what I assumed was Irish.
“There, all done.”
“So, I’ve got to stay there?”
“Aye, until you’re ready to leave. Once you get out, the spell’ll be broken. Things can go in but not leave. It traps your essence, so you aren’t leaking it all about and getting tracked.” She explained and I nodded.
“Good thing I just peed.” I muttered to myself.
“If that’s all, imma go to bed too.”
“Thank you Síthmaith, I owe you so much.”
“G’night baby witch.”
She left and I stripped down to my underwear and put on a tank top. Amber came back to our room with her hair still damp only a little while after. Like me, she’d removed her clothes and instead had put on a pair of boy’s boxers and a loose t-shirt.
“I’ve got to stay in here until morning.”
“Oh alright. Guess that means no goodnight kiss.” She said, partly joking, partly serious.
“If you come in, you’ll have to stay too.”
She nodded and sat down on the other bed, checking it out, fluffing the pillow and all that.
“What is it?”
“I don’t want to be alone tonight…”
“You won’t be I’ll be right over the—” She stopped almost as if it’d only clicked in her head after a minute and our eyes met. “Oh… That way…” She blushed and looked away from me and at the floor.
“You don’t have to if you don’t want to…” I said looking down and letting go of her hand. “I mean I don’t want to be needy and make you do something you don’t want to do…”
“No!” She practically yelled. “It’s not that…” She said sitting down next to me. “You’ve probably noticed I don’t have very good control of my strength.” She rubbed the large metal bracers she wore with her hand. “It’s why I wear those stupid things, to weigh me down so I don’t accidentally hurt someone else… I tried power stabilizers, but they just made me sick as death…”
“You don’t have to worry about that, I know you won’t hurt me.”
“I wish I had your confidence.” She sighed.
“But you know, even if you’d break a bone I’m headed for the hospital in the morning, won’t be much of a detour to stop by the ER before going to surgery.”
She just gave me a look, but I still saw the small shadow of a smirk.
“Alright. But you’ll be the one doing the hugging.” She said. “It just seems safer that way.”
“I can live with that.”
I hopped to the back of the bed and she joined me under the covers. With the size of the bed, there wasn’t much room for the both of us, leaving me pressed against her back. I wrapped an arm around her belly, closed my eyes and just focused on her warmth, hoping to chase the fear of tomorrow away.