26th of Harvester 383 ONT, Champion’s Fist, Impromptu Bridge Meeting 11:05am
It was a meeting of the command staff, save for the Ship’s Wizard who was currently down in the mess trying to cook a noontime meal for the crew. Captain Thalion looked around at the assembled officers from the first mate down to the Carpenter and Master Gunner. None looked happy to begin but they all knew the reason they were there. They heard a crash from below and then shouting from Hikari, “Gods damned tail! I swear I’ll cut you off!”
Willhym sniggered and Thalion sighed and looked to zir Alchemist and Healer. “Any news? Any progress on being able to help her or stop this?”
Both shook their heads but it was Josiah who spoke first. “It’s not a disease or a magical affliction. Nothing I do shows anything beyond Hikari being in perfect health. Restorations, cures, remove affliction, I’ve tried them all and by the might of the Old Stone this is nothing I’ve ever encountered or can heal.”
“Her scales might make an interesting concoction if I can get some from her.” Cassidy added thoughtfully, or at least thoughtfully for him, “They are a lot darker today than they have been so they might make a good basis for potions of fire resistance.”
“We are trying to help her. She is part of our crew and family.” Thalion reminded him.
“No offense, was just trying to be helpful. But it’s not a bad chemical reaction going on here. We could get something out of it though.”
The captain sighed, of all times why did something like this have to happen now? “Anyone else have any luck?” This was followed with silence.
“Well if you all are not going to say it then I will.” Willhym spoke up annoyed at having to be the one to bring it up. “She’s changing and it isn’t stopping. We just barely survived a run in with a giant red dragon and I don’t reckon we should be waiting to tangle with another one. The crew have been talking and they’re right worried.”
Thalion folded zir arms and glared at the Master Gunner. “Look, no one wants to see her go. She’s full of fancy tricks and a great cook and all but if she keeps changing and becoming more of a dragon then will she really be Hikari? And that spider thing, its changing too. I’m sure I saw wings on it the other day.”
“The wyrm Aurumtec was an agent of Bogna and steeped in the evil,” Thaden adds nodding, “Nothing but evil can come from consuming his heart. The fall from Bendu to Bogna is a short one.” He wouldn’t outright call for her being removed from the ship but he still did not trust those who did not use Ashla.
“I will not abandon family. She can stay for as long as she wishes to and we will deal with what is to come.” Thalion stated. “But don’t stop looking. If we can do something about it we will.” Another crash from below and a cry of frustration made Thalion wince wondering how much the repairs were going to be. They dispersed each to their own tasks and thoughts whether worry for themselves, the ship or Hikari clouding the easy flight back towards High Port.
26th of Harvester 383 ONT, Champion’s Fist, Wizard’s Quarters 1:34pm
Hikari paced her small room the sound of coins beneath her feet only adding to her frustration, fear and helplessness. A few days prior she’d found her bed to be too soft of all the damnedest things and only when she’d finally overturned a chest of coins on the floor had she felt comfortable and relaxed enough to sleep. Though it had taken a good six hours of staring at the mess before she relented and lay down on it. But it had been ten days since the end of Aurumtec and ten days since she’d been afflicted with all this.
How long? How long could she go when even her own mind wanted to betray her? Even now thoughts of those coins sparked concern that others might take them from her. And the quiet and solemn presence of Phobia was now filled with a growing need to seek out more coin and add to what she already had. These were dangerous thoughts and she’d only realized the extent of it after staring too long at the belt pouch hanging from Teagan’s belt trying to decide how much it contained until the mate asked her a question. Which is why she was now hiding in her quarters afraid to go out and face the crew. She’d wrecked the soup she’d made earlier when her tail swung around and knocked it off the stand and one chair had ended up as kindling earlier than that. The only thankful part was that her wings at least she had managed to settle and drape them like a cloak and the Captain’s mastery of the sewing arts had left her with an outfit designed to accommodate the tail and wings.
How long? She was running out of time and the answers could be anywhere. With a growl she kicked coins across the room and left her quarters intent on retreating to her Sanctum as had become an increasing habit of hers. The doorway was just down the hall and she entered swiftly before taking to wing and flying for the rooms at the top of the stairs. She glanced to Pan’s shrine as she passed. Another frustration as he’d remained silent to her pleas and Hikari assumed there had been some agreement about her between him and Ymeri and she’d find no help there. Plus this was of her own doing and Pan only disliked others meddling with mortals.
Finally the mithral doors opened and she landed. Taking a deep breath Hikari worked at calming her thoughts in preparation for her daily ritual. Approaching the red dragon egg she sighed and ran a scaled hand over its surface feeling the smoothness and enjoying the heat and warmth of this part of her Sanctuary. Then she patted the egg before sitting down with her back to it and her tail wrapped slightly around the base. This had become her peaceful resting place.
Closing her eyes Hikari began draw upon her powers. First she began to gather the energies of her will (mythic power) shaping and forming it in her mind as one might the blueprint and base form she wished to have to cover herself, Phobia and the egg in. It would act as a guide and a focus for the rest that would follow. Then she gathered her arcane power from the reserve she used to go beyond what normal casters could do to the very power behind her spells she pulled it all in pooling it and then weaving it deftly into the matrix she’d created with her will. But the tapestry was not yet complete and she again breathed deep and focused as she had learned on the weave drawing in all the Bendu weave she could hold before threading that through as well.
Now, with all her powers gathered and twisted together and wishing she had a ley line or nexus to draw through as well Hikari brought it all to bear on herself, Phobia and the egg. It was not a specific spell and used three very different sources of power but she did it daily and held it together for as long as she could over them and through them trying to purge any essence of Bogna, any malicious magics and will from their forms and to remind and reinforce the idea that they were not a red dragon and they were not an evil creature and they would never be the monster that the heart was trying to make them be.
It took all her skill, all her knowledge and more than a bit of faith and will to make it work but she had created something. And until she could learn more she would continue to use it and to do everything in her power to push the evil in all forms from her and those affected by the heart… But would it be enough?