The Werewolves' Story
The Pack: Chapter Three
::It's magical,:: Thonynde said firmly.
"But I don't smell anything!" Rythri protested, annoyed. She'd been talking about magic this whole time, but Zzandoren had already said it obviously wasn't magical. That had been Rythri's thought, too, but Zzandoren's reasoning made sense, dammit. So why did she keep harping on it?
::But I can feel it! It's wrong!::
"Wrong doesn't mean magic," Rythri growled at her. "You've never sensed magic before."
::Maybe this is a different kind,:: Thonynde growled, back.
"Would you two stop it?" Resham snapped. "You bickering is not helping anything!"
They subsided unhappily, still casting daggered looks at each other while helping Zzandoren get the two more survivors they'd tracked down into the temple. He'd had to spell them both to sleep in order to capture and return them to town, they were both so wild and mad. One, a teenage boy Chav had called Bandin, had just run and cried and wouldn't let them near him, struggling wildly and tearfully once Thonynde pinned him down. The other, a middle-aged woman Chav had called Faye, had been sitting on the ground laughing madly and refused to move; she'd tried to throw Rythri across her knees and smack him like a baby when he tried to drag her up, so she'd had to be spelled, too. The priest, whose name Chav gave as Oraeven, didn't resist when they moved him out of his corner. That was something, at least.
Chav was holding up pretty well, considering. They'd found a lot of bodies, out there, and he knew all of them. The one he quietly told them was his employer at the general store they actually carried back and buried right then and there, rather than marking to return to for burial later, for his sake. Rythri just hoped they didn't find his family, or anything, though Chav hadn't actually said that he had family in town. Maybe he didn't.
Then there was Thonynde, which was probably pretty scary, right there. The dragoness turned off her shift suit at Zzandoren's request when they led the kid out to meet her.
Well, "kid". Chav probably wasn't any younger than Rythri was. He thought they looked about the same age-- or about the same age, if he didn't look so much younger than he really was!
Predictably, Chav had yelled when Thonynde showed herself. Amusingly, he'd actually ducked behind Zzandoren. Soberingly, he'd asked shakily if the rest of them saw her, too, or if he really was going crazy like the rest of the town.
"Yeah," Rythri assured him. "She's my bond-- like how Riihan bond. Her name's Thonynde."
"She's the reason we found you," Zzandoren explained. "She sensed your mind."
"Broke down your door, too," Resham added.
"I'd wondered," Chav laughed nervously.
::And I don't eat things with thinking brains,:: Thonynde put in gruffly. ::So stop thinking I'm going to eat you.::
Predictably, he'd yelled again, and looked like he thought he was going crazy again. "That's her," Rythri chuckled. "She talks in your head, since her mouth can't make the right sounds."
Chav peeked over Zzandoren's shoulder at her. "Wow."
After that, he was better about her, but then, after that he had other things to worry about, like the dead people they found and the live people they were trying to find. They found at least ten dead ones, plus the two live ones, and Chav said there were at least thirty people in the village itself and a good twenty more in outlying farms who came to town regularly and would need to be looked for, too. They had a long road ahead of them.
Right now, though, there didn't seem like there was much they could do: Zzandoren hovered over the three "patients" while Thonynde, Resham, and Shessyi continued stalking around in search of survivors. Zzandoren didn't want Rythri to leave, in case someone turned violent and he needed help, and he stopped Chav before he went out with Resham. "I might need to ask you questions," he'd said kindly, but Rythri thought he'd noticed how pale and shaky he was getting and wanted him to take a break from seeing dead neighbors. Rythri privately agreed.
After they got Leyha and her dead baby out of the temple, anyway. Which probably wasn't even hers, given it had pointed ears and she didn't. That, though, Resham took care of herself, looking guilty again-- well, she ought to, after jumping in and going too far, like that.
But that still didn't give him or Chav much to do except hover over Zzandoren while the priest muttered things like, "But they don't have fevers anymore," and "What could cause that..." to himself. That really wasn't helping Chav much, who looked a little ill each time he said something. When he finally got down to casting spells, Rythri gave the blonde anari a nudge with his elbow.
"C'mon, let's clean the place up a bit," he suggested quietly. Looking grateful for something to do, Chav followed him off, leaving Zzandoren to work, or whatever it was he was doing.
They only got about halfway through clearing out debris from broken pews and smashed glass when Zzandoren sighed, dropped his hands, and put his staff aside. "Call Thonynde back," he told Rythri, sounding tired. "I think she might have been right. There is magic in this-- or something unnatural."
So he called her back.
"What are they doing?" Chav asked in a whisper as both Thonynde and Zzandoren bent over Bandin, focusing fiercely, one silent and the other murmuring spells under his breath. Thonynde didn't fit inside, but she crouched at the door and Zzandoren had Bandin at the farthest-back pew, so she was close enough to work.
"Trying to cure your friend there," Rythri whispered back. "Thonynde can heal, too, though she does it differently from Zzan."
"Do you think it'll help?"
Rythri shrugged. "It can't hurt."
::Ugh! This isn't right, this isn't working--::
"Do you have any other suggestions?" Zzandoren growled back; he must have been frustrated, to get to growling already.
::Actually, I....:: Shaking herself a little, Thonynde didn't finish her thought, but-- focused again. It wasn't what she did when she healed; Rythri know what they felt like, but this was... something else. Something like it, but definitely not the same.
And then, taking a breath, it suddenly felt like the air got cleaner. Lighter. Just-- less oppressively dark. Glancing at Chav proved that it wasn't his imagination; the blonde looked like he was breathing freely for the first time since they'd met him, like he'd forgotten how and was now surprised at how it felt. His color was even better.
::Look now,:: Thonynde suggested tiredly.
Zzandoren did, murmuring again, and he blinked down at Bandin. "It's gone. What did you do?"
::Purified it,:: Thonynde said. ::It wasn't magic, it was corruption.:: The last came with a vocal hiss of distaste. ::Corruption of a normal disease. That's what felt so wrong about the town; that corruption is everywhere. It's gone now, at least from this building.::
"Is he cured?" Chav asked quickly, hurrying over. "Are they cured?"
::They're not going to get worse or die from it,:: Thonynde answered him. ::Not unless they catch it again.::
"The damage is still there?" Zzandoren asked regretfully.
::I'm not a miracle worker; that's your job. I have a town to purify now, so if you'll excuse me....::
Smiling, Rythri trotted out and grabbed at her hand before she could leave. He gave her forearm a hug when she paused and lowered it at his tug. You're wonderful, he thought at her impulsively, and her mandibles went pink with pleasure at the compliment.
::Thanks,:: she said embarrassedly. ::Gotta go get to work....::
Rythri let her go and headed back in to grin at Chav. "It's a start," he told the nervous werewolf. "It's a good start."
Chav smiled hopefully. "Tell her thank you for me."
::Tell me that after we've found all your friends,:: Thonynde answered in an "over the shoulder" kind of way.
"All right," Chav nodded, and got back to working on cleaning up the temple.