I held down panic that I’m certain came from the Robert side, because steel-nerved Tiana would never panic, and rolled Bruna onto her back. In order to see better, I lit my circlet of light.
Her arm had indeed mostly stopped bleeding, but my fairy sight showed miasma raging out of control in her body.
“I really need to do a purification… this amount of miasma could kill a human. How did she pick up so much?”
“Do. Not. Purify. Her.” Ceria said. Her hand rested on the pommel of her short sword. I pulled my hand away from Bruna and nodded carefully.
Now, if I were going to threaten someone and had the choice, I would go with magic, and Ceria is a combat mage. Her sword is just a backup. But I guess the sword made the point faster.
“You have to tell me the reason why,” I insisted. “She is in really bad shape here.”
“Because it could kill her, okay?”
“Purification cannot kill a mortal… which means you’re telling me that she isn’t a mortal, doesn’t it?”
I need to explain something here. The word in Ostish that I’m translating as ‘mortal’ doesn’t mean a living person that can die. It means a creature with a natural lifespan, like a human or an elve. It also includes dwarves, halflings, merrow and beast-kindred like Ceria. What it doesn’t include is monstrous races like vampires or magical races like fairies, nor does it include demon-kind. The reason is that these tend to live until something kills them. They don’t die of old age. Which makes them not ‘immortal’ but ‘non-mortal’.
Ceria nodded, looking very troubled. “What she needs is mana… stabilized by a mortal. She needs it so she can keep the miasma in her body under control. But the way she has to get it…”
She frowned and looked away. “I guess it has to be me. I don’t think fairy mana counts.”
Fairy mana would count just fine, if she could get it from me. But magical life like fairies prevents the mana from being extracted by monsters. I didn’t bother telling her that.
“How does she get it?” I puzzled. Bruna didn’t appear to be a vampire or a succubus. And although ogresses are not grotesque the way the words ‘female ogre’ would suggest,– they’re actually somewhat attractive in a She-Hulk sort of way– they don’t look human like Bruna does.
With a sigh, she admitted, “She has to make love to a mortal. For best results, she needs to bring her lover to climax. She collects it by skin contact while it spills out.”
The surprise hit me as hard as Truck-san. “She’s a succubus?”
Because that is basically what a succubus does. The medieval belief that they’re after the semen is nonsense. But, I could not imagine a succubus looking anything like the chiseled, toned, statuesque adventurer laying in front of me. I mean, Bruna was basically Xena the warrior princess, except taller and honey blond.
But Ceria shook her head. “She’s not. But as far as mana goes, she might as well be. She’s an amazon.”
Looking down, she added, “I really hate this. She tries to keep it secret, and here I am, blabbing it to you.”
I had heard of amazons, but I had never seen one before. And I didn’t know anything about them. They aren’t native to Baris, the continent that contains Orestania and Hamagaar.
So, when Ceria said ‘I guess it has to be me’, she meant…
As I felt rise to my cheeks, I wondered, “Can you do that? I mean…”
She grimaced and nodded. “Can I get off with a girl? Sure I can. I’m better with guys, but I’ve done it with a girl before. But Lady, that’s not the problem. I’d be doing it with my sister, you know?”
The situation had just become way weirder. “Whaat? You two are sisters? How?”
“Same dad. Different moms.”
I remembered Ana and her late husband. “But your dad must have been a cat man, then. Why isn’t she a cat girl like you?”
“That’s just the rule with mortals. If an amazon has a girl child, the child is gonna be an amazon, no matter what the father is.”
An amazon is a monster, just like a succubus or a vampire. So Bruna was basically just like me. But, now that I understood what the problem was, I had a fix for it. At least, a temporary fix. Worried what might happen to me without a willing source like Melione along, Arken had enchanted two more bracelets for me. One was identical, but the other had a different function.
I slipped off my pack and dug into it. I pulled out that bracelet, checking to make sure it was the right one, and also a stone I was going to need. Slipping the bracelet over Bruna’s wrist and closing it, I gathered mana into my hand and forced it into the embedded silver, causing the enchantment to activate.
“What will that do?” Ceria wondered.
To my relief, I saw miasma within Bruna begin flowing into the bracelet. It was working.
I answered, “It will take time, but it should draw out miasma from her body. It can’t do it forever, but hopefully it will be enough. In the long run, she’ll still need mortal mana though. The miasma will build up faster as her supply of mortal mana decreases, so this is just a delaying action. But maybe you won’t have to …. um… do that…”
She could probably see the severe blush on my cheeks. The light from my circlet was strong enough. I took the stone now and held it over the injured arm. “While I do this, you scrub the blood off her arm.”
“Huh?” she asked, but once I poured mana into the stone, water began flowing out. It looked totally like I was squeezing the water out of the rock. She didn’t need my explanation anymore. She began using the water that was running onto her sister’s arm to rinse the wound.
I usually try to choose magic items that require mana from the user. They tend to be more effective, and it’s a way to get some use out of the crapload of mana I can channel but have little purpose for. This stone is a good example of one of those items. It had already found a permanent home in Tiana’s toolkit before I came along.
Once the blood was gone, I again put my hand on her and… absolutely as lightly as I could possibly do it, resumed healing.
She regained consciousness immediately, with an inarticulate howl of pain.
“Sorry, sorry!” I stammered, stopping the healing right away.
“I said, don’t purify her!” Ceria yelled at me, grabbing up her staff.
“I wasn’t! That was healing!” I yelled back, holding my hands up. “I swear!”
“I’m fine, Ceria,” Bruna insisted, rubbing her arm, although the tone of her voice didn’t sound particularly ‘fine’. “It really was healing. Gawd, it burned, though. What is up with that?”
“I’m… really bad at healing magic,” I confessed. “I have more power than I can control, apparently.”
Bruna let out a sigh, and sat up, bracing her back against the tunnel wall. She tried rotating her arm, then said, “Hit it again. It’s still messed up.”
Scowling at my hesitation, she pulled off her leather glove while telling me, “I’ll endure it.”
She stuffed the glove in her mouth and clamped down. After letting out a preparatory huff, I started the healing again.
I again could feel the feedback, as if Bruna’s body was telling me, Put the magic here, then here, now clean out this, and grow this…
But after about a minute, I couldn’t stand watching the tears streaming down her face anymore and stopped.
After opening her mouth to let the glove drop, slumping in relief and huffing several breaths, she tried her arm again.
“Yeah. This is a lot better. Almost brand new. Not even a scar. Wow.”
She looked at her other arm, noticing the bracelet for the first time. “What’s this thing?”
“I put that on you. It’s draining the miasma from you. It will get full eventually. I might also be able to have you take it off temporarily so I can purify it, but I’m not sure if it will still work after that. It should last until we get you out of here.”
Bruna retorted, “Get me out of here? You told us your friends are in trouble. I can still go.”
“You need to take care of… your problem, right? You can’t get what you need from me, and you don’t want to have to get it from your sister, right?”
She looked over at her sister, frowning. “You told her?”
Ceria looked a bit guilty, but insisted, “I didn’t have a choice. She kept wanting to purify you.”
I added, “And you were very much losing control of your miasma. You had a lot more built up than one attack by a rat would explain, and it was growing fast.”
“I can go,” Bruna repeated. “I can sort of feel if it’s getting bad, and I feel like it’s still alright.”
“Perhaps,” I answered. It did seem to be very slowly decreasing, but I would have been happier if it were faster.
“I’ve heard you fairies can see stuff like miasma,” she commented, looking at me.
I nodded. “I can. And I’m telling you, I still see a lot.”
“Lady, I can go,” she persisted. “Your friends are in trouble.”
I looked over at Ceria. She looked concerned, but she nodded. “If she goes… out of control, I’ll just let her do me, alright? That’s always been our backup plan.”
I felt the blush coming back, but I had a concern. “What if she’s unconscious again, like just now? I mean…”
Bruna laughed, raised her fists above her head and stretched languidly. “I told her what to do ages ago. She just hasta use one hand on me and the other on herself. My body will manage the rest, whether I’m conscious or not, as long as she gets herself there while doing me.”
That was a lot more graphic than I needed. My cheeks were blazing hot now.
“Look at her,” Bruna teased. “Blushing like a virgin.”
“Well…” I stammered, “I mean… I am… still a maiden…”
“‘I am still a maiden’,” Bruna imitated, with her fingers splayed on her chest, making me sound oh so innocent.
I couldn’t help it, okay? Tiana had been raised to think ‘virgin’ was a dirty word, and her feelings were winning over Robert’s on this matter. She used words like ‘maiden’ or ‘virtuous’.
Ceria giggled. “You really are a little rich girl, aren’t you?”
I clammed up and doused the circlet of light so they couldn’t see my embarrassment. I mean, Tiana wasn’t the only virgin here. Robert had never done it, either.
One thing I knew. I didn’t want them to actually execute that backup plan. I once had a backup plan, myself. The regret was still gnawing at me.