Ann continued to work her way through the stack on her desk. The problem with being gone was needing to catch up when she returned. She’d managed to get the citizenship ceremony arranged. It was mid-afternoon and she was halfway through the ‘it needs to get done today’ pile when the door opened.
“Hi, Cari, what do you need?” She asked without looking up.
“How did you know it was me?”
“Only you and Daddy don’t knock and I feel when Daddy is near.”
“Your room is beeping.”
“Your room. I hear a beep, beep, beep from it.”
“It’s probably the gate.”
The guards were given a charm to allow them to contact Remtani if someone came through. Unfortunately, she still had the other half of the charm in her room. “Let’s go see what they need.”
She took the girl to her room and deactivated the charm. Then she scried the gate.
“Your highness, there’s a man here who came through the gate. He says he knows you.”
“Curt?” Ann guessed.
“He says he’s Master John.”
“That’s John Masters,” Ann heard John’s voice.
“Sorry, he’s John’s master,” the guard said.
“Oh, tell her it’s Shintanillic,” John growled.
“I heard him. And I know who he is. I’ll be there shortly.”
“Can I come to the gate too?” Cari asked.
“Not this time.” Ann took her hand and started toward the nursery.
“I don’t want to go to the nursery. I’m not a baby.”
“You can’t stay alone and Daddy’s busy.”
“Can I visit Vaila?”
“He went to visit Pisha with Sinta.”
“Can I go see Grandpa Thailyn and Uncle Ruzi.”
“Grandpa is working and Ruzi is helping.”
“But I don’t like the nursery. I’m not a baby,” Cari insisted.
“Ann?” Tercala came from behind. “She can stay with me.”
Ann hesitated. Cari had talked him into a few things she shouldn’t do in the past.
“I’ll only let her do things I know are okay. And if I’m unsure, I’ll ask Dad or Shay.”
“I’ll be good,” Cari promised.
Ann nodded. “I’m going up to the gate. Andy’s in a meeting with Dad and Ti.”
Tercala nodded. “We’ll be fine.”
Ann hurried off. She had enough energy to transport there and back but not much else. Hopefully, John wasn’t there to cause trouble.
Seeing him, Ann knew he wasn’t. He paced and fidgeted. He looked grief-stricken and possibly ill.
“John, are you okay?”
“Did Nim tell you I proposed to Carry?”
“I told her what I was and she flipped. Then, her dad did a background check on me. He’s a fed. He was trying to get me arrested for being there illegally, and for identity theft, and probably whatever else he could think of for hurting Carry.” He paused, closing his eyes in despair.
“Are you okay?” Ann asked, wondering if she should call Thailyn. He looked rather pale.
“I didn’t realize how bad losing the bond would be.”
“You left your mate behind?” Ann was shocked at the idea.
“Shades no. We weren’t mates, but the bond is strong. Shades. It feels like losing a mate.”
“You’ve had a mate?”
“I’ve had two. I was on another world, not dead. The first time, a friend stayed with me. The second, I went into a mental institution on a suicide watch.”
“Isn’t that only for a couple of days?”
“Not back then, and not if you try to kill yourself in the hospital.”
“Did you cast to get here?”
He shook his head. “I tried.”
“You’re going to need a healer. Let me contact the palace.”
Jaidu, are you with Remmy?
He’s just in the other room. I can get him. What do you need?
Permission to bring John to the palace.
Okay, I’ll talk to him.
Can you scry the guards? I can’t do that and transport us there. John’s in no condition to cast.
Moments later, Jaidu scried and Remtani gave his permission for them to come. Ann transported John to the healing rooms at the palace. Technically, he was still a noble since he was still an emissary.
“Shunati, you remember Emissary Shintanillic.”
Shunati nodded. “You go by John?”
John didn’t answer. He stood facing the wall, leaning his forehead against it.
“I think he’s in shock,” Ann said. “He left a bonded chosen behind and tried to cast.”
“And he was injured,” Shunati added, indicating a wound on his side he had been covering up.
“Her dad shot me,” John explained.
“There’s something in there,” Shunati said as he examined the wound.
“The bullet,” John said.
“It’s a little lead projectile shot at high speed. It’s what caused the wound,” Ann explained.
“It’s not lead. He used copper,” John said.
“This is bad.” Shunati frowned. “I can’t get it out with magic. It needs to be removed before I can heal him. Chances are he has eta-vie poisoning too. Ann, tell your dad to get here and bring Lamdi. And have Andy bring several doses of rat’s nectar, green bough, and silver root.” He helped John lay down and put him to sleep.
“He can’t have green bough right now because of the bond,” Ann reminded him.
Ann sent to Thailyn who was there with Lamdi within moments. “What’s happening?” He read John and allowed Lamdi to read him also. “Get some green bough, silver root, and rat’s nectar,” he instructed.
“He’s partially bonded,” Ann warned. “He left her behind.”
“He what?” Tylan looked shocked. Then he shook his head to clear it. He thought a moment.
“Okay, we’ll need silver root, rat’s nectar, liquid shade, Blue Rame and Fizbat.”
“Fizbat, it was the third potion on the test.”
Ann sent the message to Ti, who related it to Andy.
“Andy says he doesn’t have any Fizbat but will make it up right away,” Ann reported.
Thailyn nodded. “We need to do surgery first to get that eta-vie out of there. Then we’ll treat him for the poisoning, and we’ll need to arrange a deathwatch. Nim said they’d been together for years. The shock itself could kill him in this state.”
“How long will the surgery take, so I know when to start the watch?” Ann asked.
“Not until morning. I’ll keep him sedated that long at least. Without the green bough, he’s going to be miserable. I’d like to help him avoid that is much as possible.
“Also, have someone tell Ruzi and Pisha I’m going to be late.”
Ann nodded. “I will, and I’ll let Ti know that Lamdi will be too, though he should figure it out.”
With that, she left so they could operate but something occurred to her. She returned, using her shield for germs, just in case.
“Tercala can levitate copper and is at full strength.”
Thailyn nodded. “Get him.”
As Ann went, she sent out a community call to all the dragons in Sen-gan requesting help for the deathwatch. Most agreed readily, though Thailyn growled at her for distracting him and told her to hurry up fetching Tercala.
She entered Cari’s room where she and Tercala were playing dress-up.
“You look cute.” She smiled at Tercala’s makeup.
“Thank you. What’s a deathwatch?”
“It’s to keep an eye on someone who’s lost a mate. It’s for an old friend from Earth.”
“I could help if you need,” Tercala offered.
Ann nodded. “We might, but right now, Thailyn needs your help healing him. He needs you to levitate some copper from him.”
Tercala nodded and transported off, makeup and all.
“I can help watch them too,” Cari offered.
“Thanks, but what if he tries to hurt himself?”
I’ll call you, she sent with a grin.
Ann stared at her, stunned. “How?” Children could learn telepathy. But not without help.
“Uncle Ghin taught me,” she said proudly.
Ghin was one who would know how to teach a child. He’d lost part of his tongue as a baby and had trouble speaking. So he and his friend, Bria, had both been taught telepathy early to help them communicate.
“And you heard my call?” She started helping Cari take off the dress-up clothes.
Cari shook her head. “It was loud so I blocked it.”
Is this loud too? Ann sent.
Cari shook her head. “That’s okay. Maybe Vaila can help me watch John.”
“Maybe you two can help a grown-up,” Ann suggested. She decided to let Cari leave the makeup on for the rest of the day. “It can get tiring sometimes.”
“Okay,” she agreed.
“Now, you come with me. I have other things to do to help John.”
Ann still wasn’t strong enough to transport another time without drawing in, so she got a horse and rode with Cari to Thailyn’s home to give Pisha and Ruzi the message. She also let them know about the deathwatch, and both offer to help. After stopping at the home to ask them to check on Pisha and Ruzi and let them know Lamdi would be late, they returned to the palace, to organize the watch.