Saturday, April 30, 2016

Threat of the Fire Demon - Chapter 24

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Now for the next chapter in "Threat of the Fire Demon."



"Come on,” he coaxed. “What’s in the bucket?”

“Don’t press, Charles.”

She leaned back against him as he stood behind her enveloping her in his arms. They were admiring the garden and its bounty. It had never, ever grown as well. He turned her around.

“I want to share with the neighbors. At the rate the plants grow they could all have enough to store up for the winter.” He put his hands on either side of her face and raised it up to look into his eyes. “It was a horrible winter last year, Azur. I don’t look forward to repeating it and because of you, we won’t, but I want to pass the bounty on to my neighbors. I want them to be safe and well fed too.”


Azur burrowed her face into his chest. “Promise me you won’t be grossed out.”

Above her head Charles raised an eyebrow. “Grossed out?”

Without another word Azur picked up the bucket in one hand and took his in another to lead him into the house. They walked past Brela and Simone playing ball in the front yard. She led him to the trapdoor that would take them downstairs to their room. When they got to their floor she filled the bucket with water from the sink. Then she went in the bathroom and came out with the ash she swept from the floor each morning. She put two handfuls in the bucket and stirred it with a wooden stake. Then she took the trashcan of ash back to the bathroom and returned with a metal spoon full of crimson colored mud. She put it in the bucket and stirred again. The liquid swirled and steamed then settled into the chestnut color it was when she brought it to the garden.

Charles just stood there.

“Well?” she asked finally.

“Fire demons have magical poop?” he said with a lift of his eyebrow in disbelief.

“When mixed with the ash and spread before a full moon, yes…” Azur confirmed.

*****

Charles formulated the plan quickly. He rented two hippogriffs from the stable in town and a wagon to load soil into. He coaxed several neighbors to help him dig a pit at the end of the trough he and Saul built earlier in the winter for the waste from washing down the basement after the chickens and cow.

His plan was he and Azur would secretly make the mixture in the basement and pour it in the trough. It would collect in the pit for his neighbor’s to retrieve for their gardens. No one would see what it was made of. No one would know how it was made. Azur would still be safe and the community would benefit from her bounty.

The ratio was so low to the amount of water mixed with it that within the month the pit was full and Charles was showing off his garden and telling all his neighbors that his wife had a way with plants and had this great fertilizer she concocted. No…she would not tell them what it was made of…it was an old family recipe, but they would share the concoction.

People came and toted it away by the barrels full. By the following month the area was alive with produce and word spread quickly further into town.

Everyone was whispering about Charles’ Egyptian wife’s magical powers. No doubt she was a sorceress of some sort, but they didn’t care. Humans in The Realms were used to all manner of strange beings and this one did not come with teeth or claws to ripe you apart, instead she came with the secret to a garden’s bounty and, she and Charles were willing to give it away.

*****

“Drink this,” Azur said and handed the warm mug to Saul.

He sniffed at the contents. She had been giving him herbal potions for weeks. With each he felt a bet better - a little less pain, a little more mobility. Azur was using her healing powers and potions to try and cure him, but she had explained that it would take time because his injuries were partially healed before she reached him. He downed the mug full in one long gulp. He had found that was the best way. This one tasted like grass and earth with a touch of cinnamon, but it smelled like burnt hair and oil. Basically, he had been enduring a lot of horrible smells and tastes with the hope that one day he would walk upright again.

She took the mug and then unlike the times she had worked on his hip in the past, she smoothed her hand across the scars on his face and she gently tugged and played with his torn ear. It didn’t hurt. It tingled and tickled. He flicked his ear and his paws kneaded the blanket he was laying on in a gentle rhythm to match the stroking of his face and ear. He started to purr.

“Hey,” Charles teased from the doorway. “You are enjoying my wife’s attention way too much.”

Saul’s eyes were closed. At the moment he was experiencing no pain.

“Go away,” he said softly over his purr. “She’s mine at the moment.”

Charles came closer and watched his wife work. The knotted pink welt of the three long scars left from the bears bite on Saul’s face were shrinking smaller and smaller with each stroke of her thumb. And when she moved to his ear, Charles was amazed to see it growing almost infinitesimally with each gentle tug of her fingers.

“Azur?” He said with amazement.

“Shhhh…” she said. “Let me concentrate while the mixture is still in his system.”

Charles backed away, but couldn’t take his eyes off her hands and what she was doing to Saul’s face. It was healing before his eyes. The scars were now gone and the hair was beginning to sprout along the tan bald skin like newly planted seeds in the garden. Saul lifted a paw to rub his face. She caught it in her hand and pushed it away.

“I know it itches, but you have to keep your paws off it,” she said softly. “Just relax.”

Saul went back to kneading the blanket. His eyes had not opened since she began.

Charles watched as the bald patches filled in and the ear, now its full height, started to grow back its tip of black tufted hair.

Azur ran her hand over his head. “Sleep now,” she said, and as if Saul had been given a sleeping potion, with a huge sigh he settled down with his head on his paws and slept.

Charles noticed her hands were shaking. He went to one knee by her side and took them in his own.

“Are you all right?”

His look of concern warmed her heart. She leaned over and kissed his forehead. Charles saw lines on her face he swore he had not seen there this morning.

“Azur?”

“It takes a lot to heal this sever an injury. The buildup of the potions in the patient’s system over time and then with the laying of hands, the actual healing can take place. Sometime in the fall we will be able to heal his leg. The shoulder and chest will heal themselves, but I want to see him walk again. I want to see him whole.” She lowered her forehead to touch Charles'.

“Will you be all right?” he asked.

“I will be fine, a little older…magic has its costs…but it is worth it.”

She smiled and they both turned to look at Saul’s face. He was smiling in his sleep, his lip caught up on one canine.

“Look at him,” Azur said. “He’s our Saul again.”


Azur in her demon form - Fanart by Sarah Hyndshaw

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