When the mer known as Aurora Yardley found out from Maddox what had happened to Arnold she had made it a point to search for him. She had also overheard which urchins had taken him so following Gil through the canals to where Arnold was being held would not have been hard. She waited there until Gil left, possibly to get a quick bite to eat and not thinking there would be any harm if he was only gone a few minutes. When Aurora was certain that no one else was on guard for the moment using a similar trick that dolphins used, vibrations that allowed her to hunt things leagues distant, she came inside to see him. Her first instinct upon finding him in that state was to try to heal him as she would have if they were not in a place that resisted such arts. Nothing happened.
Or rather nothing good happened. Her attempt fed into him like a sponge, it’s desired effect vanishing as it disappeared within and mixing with the same excess energies he was absorbing from the other sources in the area. These energies were somehow separate from Arnold, and he was incapable of using them for himself or his own recovery…in fact the last time someone had tried a similar attempt had been right after he’d been struck by lightning and the only affect had been to add to his discomfort as it then set his clothes on fire for a few seconds instead.
She stayed with him for a time, but soon another figure arrived, “A bit far from the water, aren’t we, cousin?” Stormy Stillwater said as he arrived and then looked down at the cat on the floor. “I heard that the Vole had a guest…my my…you have the worst luck, don’t you?” Stormy was not looking closely enough to notice the danger that all of them were in now from that very ‘luck’.
Aurora turned from Arnold to the door, “Mr. Stillwater, it’s not polite to sneak up on a mer.”
“Ah, yes that. I meant no harm…but you know how our people have a natural curiosity.” They talked for a time, and soon Stormy departed.
But his arrival still did not sit well with Aurora who looked down at Arnold and felt that this place was not safe enough for him, and that she had revealed his presence to one who might be his enemy. “You are found too easily. We must move you.” He could hardly argue or resist as she took him away, nor could he point out that this behavior was probably why mer had a reputation for kidnapping in New Babbage in the first place.
She could have taken him beneath the sea, believing that he would be safe there, but fortunately she felt that her room would suffice. She left him on the bed and then fortunately decided that she should go back to the Vole and tell those who were supposed to be watching over him what she had done.
Their conversation lasted awhile but it still wasn’t that long till Gilhooly and Dr. Sonnerstein came to make sure Arnold was alright.
“‘ow’d a merlady ‘ide ‘im up ‘ere then?” Gil asked right outside the door.
“She can shift her tail to legs with some difficulty…” Dr. Sonnerstein attempted to explain before entering the room and finding his patient laid out on a bed unresponsive. “Well, at least he’s not faded worse…and at least it’s clean in here… and comfortable…”
“Did ye bring yer energy test?” Gil asked.
Dr. Kristos Sonnerstein lifted a hand to tap his head. “All up here, Gil.”
“oh aye” Gilhooly Skute peered at Arnold on the bed and muttered, “‘e ain’t ‘alf bad fer a kitty, after all…. ‘ope ‘e dinna go away.”
Dr. Sonnerstein closed his eyes a moment, and breathed in deeply as he felt inside Arnold again. His soul was still in disarray, but separate from that was something much more concerning right now. Arnold was in a tumultuous state with that mixture of energies that were not his own and were somehow kept separate from him…Dr. Sonnerstein studied it for a moment and realized rather quickly what it must mean from the description his son had given him. This build up must be what really caused Arnold’s so called ‘bad luck’. It must build up inside of him and then expel out violently when it grew to be too much or through some other unknown factor.
Dr. Sonnerstein turned to Gil, “This could be dangerous…”
“He’s got a build up of energy…” Kristos began to explain as he leaned over the bed, resting a hand against Arnold’s brow.
Gil thought about this only a moment before he felt he understood, “Like when ye rub yer fur an’ then touch a doorknob?”
Dr. Sonnerstein confirmed this, “Except a lot worse.”
Gil didn’t like the sound of that, “cor…’ow’d ye get it out?”
“It either explodes out on it’s own, which we’d rather avoid… Or drain it somehow…” Dr. Sonnerstein told the urchin. “The last time it happened, as far as I know, he wound up struck by lightning.”
Gil could only say, “Ohs…”
Dr. Sonnerstein bit his lip, drawing a bit of blood thanks to his sharpened teeth. “I hope this isn’t a result of his contact with Aurora…”
“Er…. should I go get somebody? or somefin’?”
“Even if an energy vampire were safe for this, I don’t even know any….” Kristos responded, partly to himself.
Gilhooly Skute just shrugs, “I dinna know any blokes wot suck the energy outta someone…”
Dr. Kristos Sonnerstein rubs his brow, frowning. “I’m going to need my staff… But I wonder if we should move him back to the Sneaky Vole….”
Dr. Sonnerstein was cut off as a small piece of that energy suddenly shot out from Arnold, breaking away from the rest, and it flew off through the walls. It flew through the trees and outside branches broke off and fell down. The animals that stayed near the pub next door scrambled as the debris fell down near them.
Dr. Kristos Sonnerstein’s ears flicked about, but Gilhooly Skute hadn’t seen what had just happened, though he could hear the results from outside vaguely as he asked, “Well… is ‘e safe ‘ere?”
“I don’t think he’s quite safe anywhere at this point….” Dr. Sonnerstein informed him. “I think it’s best we move him back to the Vole… but you’ll have to stay away from him for a bit… I’ll have to see to this without my staff…”
Gil nodded this and accepted his explanation, “Alright then….”
Dr. Sonnerstein didn’t throw Arnold over his shoulder, instead he leaned over to carefully lift him up in his arms and carried him more as a father would carry his sleeping child to bed back to the Vole.
When they arrived Dr. Sonnerstein placed a hand on Arnold’s brow again, trying to judge the energy buildup. This place was making it grow even more, and while he was sitting there another piece flew off towards the stove. The fire inside flashed about wildly, and Dr. Sonnerstein held a hand out towards the fire while frowning. Judging by what he felt he had the strong suspicion that any attempt to use magic or other aetheric forces to attempt to control these flare ups might well be like throwing water on a grease fire and may only make it worse.
Fortunately after a few moments it returned to normal, the stove itself had kept the fire from reaching the wooden walls. Dr. Sonnerstein looked back down in Arnold’s general direction, “I’m afraid all I can do with you unconscious is to protect you from the results…This would be easier if I had the extra limbs though…”
Sonnerstein continued his vigil for a short time until Heliotrope and Maddox Lionhearts were led in by Gil. He removed their blindfolds and then went off with some more coins in his pockets for his trouble.
“Kristos. Any change?” Helio asked as his wife lit the candles to see better.
“Take caution.. He’s got a buildup of energy, what leads to his so called bad luck curse…It’s been sparking off.”
Helio mused for a moment, “A build up of energy?”
Dr. Maddox looked down worriedly at the bed Arnold was lying on, very confused, “The voles gave him enough energy to spark off?”
As they spoke yet another spark flew out and it flashed into the bar holding the liquors, causing the bottles to shake and a few to fall to the ground breaking on the floor. Heliotrope looked at it and exclaimed, “That’s what I felt earlier!”
Dr. Sonnerstein waited a moment to make sure nothing else was going to happen and then explained, “No, it’s not the voles…”
“Hrm? What’s happening, man?” Helio asked.
Dr. Sonnerstein tried to start at the beginning, “Aurora saw Stormy come here… She thought him a threat and took Arnold from here to her place down at the Iron Seahorse. Being closer to the energies of Strife house will only cause more of a buildup, but his chances of healing are probably still better here…”
“She…she tried to save him?” Maddox asked, while her husband snorted. “Stormy would not harm Arnold…”
“Aurora simply doesn’t know him…She misjudged..” Kristos tried to explain for her sake.
Helio mused for a second, “I was quite close to Stormy for some time. He can be… he gets bees in his bonnet.”
“I didn’t mean to say that he would, Kristos… It was just the fact that she cared enough about Arnold to want to keep him safe.” Maddox explained, trying to show that she had found this to be a pleasant surprise. Dr. Kristos Sonnerstein nodded in understanding to her.
“What about this extra energy he has? From being here?” Lionheart asked.
“Perhaps from Strife house… I’m not sure what else..”
“I wish he would come back to us… Does talking to him help?” She asked Dr. Sonnerstein while her husband mused.
“If I could get to him, wherever he is in there, I could consume some of the energy perhaps,” Helio thought aloud.
“I don’t see why not…” Kristos told Dr. Maddox. “Say anything personal…How much you miss him, how much you need him or want him… The life you’ve shared… Memories…”
Mrs. Lionheart kept in mind not to mention Jung or Nietzche….or any other cats for that matter since her mentioning that she wanted a kitten had made him react so poorly and had only helped fuel his feelings of being pushed away. “I will try…”
She turned to her comatose friend and began, “Arnold, do you remember the night I found out I passed my exams? When I was so happy, you and I went walking around the city, and we saw the stars in the night sky above, how beautiful that was? I’ve never forgotten that. And I hope that you haven’t either.”
Before the words had even finished coming out of her mouth a large force erupted out of Arnold, passing past them and almost knocking the table they were sitting at over and making the candle next to them flare up. It passed through and did the same to the next table, knocking it over and sending the wildly burning candle rolling towards the recently spilt alcohols.
“Helio!” Maddox shouted, and her husband quickly bounded for the candle and grabbed it before the increased flame reached the flammable liquid. If that had caught then the entire place would have burst into flames and the exit would have been blocked.
“He’ll bring this place down if we don’t do something. I should try at least.” Helio said as he set the candle back onto the table.
Maddox looked back at Dr. Sonnerstein, worried that maybe she had caused that, “Should…should I try more?” Dr. Sonnerstein nodded to them both to go through with their plans and to not stop.
Helio turned to his wife, “I’ll need you to give Arnold a vision, something you and he have shared. Describe what it looked like, smelled like.”
“Arnold, think back to the time when… When Tim was shot. The week after when I asked you for company…To sit with me in the garden, with the flowers in bloom.”
Heliotrope Lionheart let out a deep breath, hot with something inside him, and he let himself be subsumed in faerie fire.
“Those gorgeous flowers that Thaddeus planted there. You commented that they smelled like the night time?” Arnold would have told her that he recalled his exact comment rather differently, but he was unable to.
Helio intoned to his wife in a voice that sounded far away, “More details…”
As Dr. Sonnerstein leaned his back against the stove to block it in case of trouble, he felt something in the energy shift within Arnold…as if it was about to do something… “Careful, he’s about to pop..”
Lionheart began his attempt to feed on the vision as soon as it was constructed in Arnold’s drifting consciousness. “More, Maddox, more focus!”
“Those beautiful white flowers that bloomed all month. You loved those flowers and you wanted Thaddeus to keep them up…and you asked him if you could help him in tending them, even with your curse. And when he said yes, I remember the joy in your eyes….”
Heliotrope Lionheart kept trying to follow the trail of the lingering images towards the persona behind it, but Arnold remembered the events she was describing very differently. He did not trust Dr. Solsen or look to him as a father figure the way she did, the way she believed they both did.
“He’s not there! He doesn’t believe you!” Lionheart cried, but then he and Dr. Sonnerstein saw something else. “Wait…”
That energy in him that had been shifting had been attracted by her words, or perhaps just her presence, and it suddenly flew out of him and straight into Maddox, for the first time in centuries doing the function it was supposed to before his ancestors had broken themselves.
Arnold had just given the woman who would be his witch her power.