Maddox worked the last few days in that horrid asylum and as a result had lost said days. That included sleep and apparently her mind. She’d decided to go back to Huxley to look for Arnold or Blackberry, and to catch up on some of her other obligations. Sleep could wait just a bit longer, she supposed… She walked in, in her work dress, she took off her hat and sat on the couch. A sigh escaped her as she waited. Sooner or later, Arnold would bustle in and order her to eat and take care of herself. She saw her friend, the Mer Aurora, and waved.
They exchanged greetings and then she delivered news thatleft Maddox’s already exhausted head spinning. She’d said that she’d seen Helio administering to Arnold and that he wasn’t moving. Maddox resolved to find her husband as quickly as possible, as soon as she was able… She fell asleep waiting to see if he would come on his own, and as she slept was bestowed upon a gift by her Mer friend. The gift of never drowning in water was nice, but it wouldn’t keep her from drowning in her emotions.
Soon, Helio did arrive to find her and took her for a walk along the pier. As they walked, Maddox found her chagrin, fatigue and worry were settling upon her shoulders as a heavy woolen cloak would. Helio found this break in the conversation the time to finally tell her what he knew. He started with the sentence that would haunt her thoughts for a long while.
Heliotrope Lionheart: Something’s happened to Arnold.
Dr. Maddox S Lionheart sighs heavily and eyes her husband. “Please. Tell me. I’ve barely slept in two days and I hear that Arnold’s hurt?”
Heliotrope Lionheart: He’s… affected by something. I don’t know what exactly. Kristos is examining the substance. But it has affected his nature. You do know that he’s not quite like us… well, you?
Dr. Maddox S Lionheart: He’s… He’s a cat. I know that…
Heliotrope Lionheart: He’s more like me than like you. He’s partly of what is generally called the Fae, but even that is not quite it.
Dr. Maddox S Lionheart looks at him quizzically. “What are you saying, Helio?”
Heliotrope Lionheart: He’s not a cat nor a human nor a fae, but something combined from all three. A servitor. He and his kind are designed to be witch’s familiars.
Dr. Maddox S Lionheart’s eyes widened… “A..wi-witch’s famili…But I’m not….I…” Her knees get weak.
Heliotrope Lionheart holds you up. “Keep calm, my dear. He’s bonded to you, by more than just mere words or even blood on a contract.”
Dr. Maddox S Lionheart: I am not a witch, Helio…. I have never done magic… ever… I don’t understand…
Heliotrope Lionheart: I don’t know the whole tale there, but I’ll leave that for later. Right now, he is in trouble. He’s fading.
Dr. Maddox S Lionheart: Fading? Into thin air fading?
Heliotrope Lionheart: Yes. It happens to Fae when they no longer have a purpose, or when people stop believing in them. For him, some foreign substance triggered it, but I suspect his not feeling needed lately has exacerbated it.
Dr. Maddox S Lionheart: I…I’ve been killing him? And I… I didn’t even ….I have to see him, Helio. I need to help him!
Her mind started racing as she heard all this. The information was making her head swim, even more than it was before. As the conversation continued she learned that the two people who could help take her where she needed to be were Gilhooly and Scald. She got Helio to agree to come with her, and of they went, looking for Scald.
When they arrived at Kristos and Scald’s house, Maddox ran up the stairs. Calling for them both, she was frantic. She needed to find them… either one of them. She was consumed by the need to find Arnold. She needed to get to him soon or he would fade from her and she would have to tell Thaddeus… She dreaded telling her father that she had let Arnold fade into nothing. She would not tell him such things. She would not have to. She would fix this first.
When they left Kristos’ abode and made it to the Gangplank, they found Gilhooly.
Gilhooly Skute: ‘ello missus L, mister L
Dr. Maddox S Lionheart: Gil, I need to talk to you…. It’s urgent.
Gilhooly Skute: it’s urchin?
Dr. Maddox S Lionheart: It’s important.
Gilhooly Skute: oh aye, alright then
Dr. Maddox S Lionheart: Please.
Dr. Maddox S Lionheart: Outside?
Heliotrope Lionheart: Where to?
Heliotrope Lionheart shrugs.
Dr. Maddox S Lionheart: Gil, dear, I will feed you for the rest of your natural life if you help me, just this once.
Gilhooly Skute blinks.
Dr. Maddox S Lionheart: That’s how important this is.
Gilhooly Skute: am I gonna get croaked maybe?
Dr. Maddox S Lionheart: No. No sweetheart. I need to find someone.
Dr. Maddox S Lionheart: Someone you know.
Gilhooly Skute: oh aye, I can do that….
Dr. Maddox S Lionheart starts to mimic cat’s ears on her head. “Someone who’s in a safe place”
Gilhooly Skute bites his lip and concentrates
Heliotrope Lionheart: The one from earlier, Gilhooly.
Dr. Maddox S Lionheart slowly mouths to the urchin. “Arnold.”
Gilhooly Skute: oh! oh aye… ‘e’s safe as a, er, as a whistle
Dr. Maddox S Lionheart: I need to see him. That’s what’s important. Please, Gil. My promise stands if you take me to him.
After Gil finally agreed to take them to where Arnold was resting, they ran into Scald. He blindfolded them both, and took them to where Arnold was lying on a makeshift cot. Her brain could not wrap around what Arnold looked like lying there. His ears, feet, paws, all of those had vanished. He had no tail… it seemed as though his clothes were the only thing betraying his shape. She fought the urge to cry as she looked down, in the small cramped space, she knelt next to him. She tried to speak to him, voice wavering as she inquired of the poor fading familiar in front of her.
Dr. Maddox S Lionheart: Arnold, please… you can’t die… you just can’t. You promised you wouldn’t leave me….
Heliotrope Lionheart: Maddox… tell him that he’s needed here, with you. Tell him you need him.
She shifted her weight and tried again.
Dr. Maddox S Lionheart turns her head to the form on the makeshift bed and her tears start again. “I need you. I need you Arnold. I need you with me. I can’t be without you, you know that don’t you? We all need you… just please don’t fade away…”
Arnold’s ears barely perk, but aside from the fact they look less…not there there’s
not much change apparent yet…
Heliotrope Lionheart: Don’t just tell him, convince him.
Dr. Maddox S Lionheart’s face crumpled a bit more. “Helio… Helio, what can I do? What should I do?”
Heliotrope Lionheart: You know each other better than any of us know either of you… remind him what he has done for you in the past, when you needed him most.
Heliotrope Lionheart: That might help the process.
Heliotrope Lionheart in the meantime starts to chant under his breath, focusing a bit of the energy of the area as best he can.
Dr. Maddox S Lionheart knelt down next to Arnold, as best she could in such a small space. She petted between his ears, the soft fur feeling like silk, as she whispered. “When I was first in college, that night in the alley… you saved me. I would have died right there if you hadn’t..” She continued to pet him, despite the cramps in her legs and the pain in her chest as she spoke.
Arnold’s hand suddenly reaches out and grabs hold of Maddox’s, his claws digging into
her arm unawares.
Heliotrope Lionheart: Keep going!
She wasn’t sure exactly what she was doing… She was telling him everything he knew already, trying to evoke some sort of… something from his still form. Everything was beginning to run together as she continued, the adrenaline still pumping within her.
Dr. Maddox S Lionheart’s breath came out in a gasp as his claws dug in. She faltered for a mere second and the continued.” And you… you saved me the night Metier came to kill me. You took a bullet for me at a time when I was not sure who was loyal to me and who was just trying to keep more blood off the street… You cared for me, Arnold. I would be dead, a million times over , if you hadn’t been with me. I need you.”
Arnold is drawing something from her, more than just her words, thought that was helping. His anchor in her is leading him back.
Heliotrope Lionheart touches Maddox’s shoulder, letting some of his strange sort of not-quite-of-this-world existence feed her
Dr. Maddox S Lionheart’s gasping got a bit stronger, if for the feel of the energy as well as the digging claws still in her arm. “Please, Arnold. Think of Thaddeus. He’s like our father. He loves us. He loves you. He wants to see us both…If not for me, for Thaddeus. Stay with us, for our father, Arnold.”
Arnold lets go finally, releasing her.
Heliotrope Lionheart opens his eyes and slumps back a bit.
When all was said and done she had kept him from fading… Albeit she became a pincushion when he grabbed her, but that pain was nothing compared to her fear. The fear that he might never again open his eyes and fuss at her for not taking care of herself, or for forgetting to eat for the umpteenth time. They dressed the wounds and took her out from where they had been… And after the blindfolds were removed again, she had Helio take her home. Fatigue and pain were blinding her, making things difficult to process as he lay her in bed. She was nodding off and he held her close, and she finally passed into the beloved blackness of sleep. Little did she know that when she woke, things would not be much better than when she had fallen.