Continued from Part 1….
Lys thought about it for a moment. You are going to have to explain to the Father Superior, so why not start practicing now? “I’ve discovered, at least I think I’ve discovered a miracle.” She paused and waited for the older woman’s reaction.
“Huh. Is that a fact?”
“Um, yes, you see I’ve discovered that animals have souls.”
“Course they do! Stands to reason. You see a deer in the woods or a goose flying south for winter; they know what they’re about.”
Lys raised her eyebrows. “You agree with me? I can’t believe it – the first person I meet and she doesn’t eat meat either?”
“I’m sorry, but what?”
“Animals – you know they have souls, so you know we shouldn’t eat them.”
“That’s the craziest thing you’ve said yet. I’m talking about birds flying south, and you’re talking about food?” Elba shook her head.
“But, but cows, chickens, pigs… they’re animals. They have souls.”
“Don’t be silly! Oh, but I had the best roast pig last Summerfest. The meat just fell off the bone.”
“Haven’t I just been telling you that they have souls! We shouldn’t eat them.” She said the last words slowly, in case Elba was hard of hearing.
Elba scrunched up her face. “Don’t make no sense. What am I supposed to eat instead? I’m supposed to starve just because they have souls?”
Lys took one hand off the cart handles and waved it in the air. “We’ll eat… other stuff! You know, vegetables and bread and stuff.”
“You’re a nice enough girl, but I think you’ve got a screw loose. Do you know what I mean? Here, we’re almost to the gate. Gimme the cart. I gotta talk to the clerk.” She shooed Lys from the cart. “You’ll wait just inside the gate, and I’ll take you to the Dead Tower. I said I would, and I will, even though you’re loony.”
Lys handed over the cart and walked with Elba to the gate, where they separated. After a few minutes in her queue, Lys caught Elba’s eye and gave a small wave. The woman looked a little annoyed, but she returned Lys’ wave all the same.
About fifteen minutes later Elba came up with her cart. “I asked Sanji where your Chapter House is. Come on, I’ll take you there.”
“Oh, he’s a clerk I know. I try to get him when I come through.” She waved a finger at Lys. “And it’s not what you’re thinking. He’s just my friend is all. He don’t do me any favors, and I don’t make him any richer.”
Lys just shrugged and smiled. After a few moments she said, “Thank you for going out of your way like this. I really appreciate it.”
“No problem. I learn more about the city this way. It’s grown so since I was a girl, sometimes I even get lost in the old neighborhood. You wouldn’t know it to look at me but I grew up in Northhome, that’s where the rich people live. It’s not too far – your house.”
Lys was suddenly nervous about speaking with the Father Superior. It had seemed like the only possible action a few days ago, but now that she was here, she doubted her ability to explain. She’d certainly not won over her new friend.
Elba pulled her cart to a stop in front of a modest house. “Here you go! The Chapter House. Good luck to you, girl.” She nodded. “Yep, good luck.”
Lys touched her bag. “Can I at least give you a few coins for your help? I would have had to hire a guide.”
“Nope.” Elba laid her hand on Lys’ arm. “I have a feeling you’re going to need it! Good luck to you, vegetable eater!” She chuckled and pulled her cart down the street.
Lys watched her go and then took a deep breath and turned to face the house. Her legs felt weak from fear. “You’ve come this far, Lys – what’s a few more steps?” She put her head down and walked up the front steps.
At that time the Order was still in its youth. The building that Lys entered had just expanded, taking over the houses on either side as the Order grew. Within a few years of Lys’ visit, the Order razed the original house and built the complex we have today.
“Why do you need to see the Father Superior, Ray Rainwort?” The Sister behind the desk had a kind voice.
“I think I’ve discovered something, something big.”
“You can tell me, and I’ll make sure he hears about it.”
“No, thank you. I’ll just wait until he’s free.” Lys gestured to a chair against the wall.
“I’m not sure when he might be free to see you.” She smiled. “I’m really not.”
“I’m fine. It will be nice to sit down anyway. I’ve been traveling for four days.”
The Sister frowned. “People don’t just see the Father Superior, dear. I’m sorry, but that’s the truth. Perhaps one of the Rays—”
Lys sat up in the chair. “Yes! That’s a good idea, actually.”
A few minutes later Lys heard footsteps in the hall. A young man stopped in front of her and the Sister nodded, saying “This is the young Ray.”
He gave her a half bow. “Pleased to me you. My name is Chande. Will you come with me?”
“You’re Rhoshundari?” Lys felt her face get warm. “Sorry, I—”
He gave a half smile and nodded. “But I am of the Order. Please, come with me.”
“Of course! I’m sorry. I’m so glad to talk with another healer, you see—”
“I’m not a Ray. I’m a Brother. I don’t have the gift that you do.” They walked down a hallway, and Chande opened a door, waving Lys through first. “Holy one, here is the Ray – Lys Rainwort.”
Lys found herself standing in front of an old man. He was sitting down, and he completely filled the chair. “Sit down, child.” His voice was a whisper. “Now tell me why you are so anxious to see the Father Superior, hmm?”
“Thank you for seeing me, sir. I, I don’t know where to begin.”
“Take a moment. Collect your thoughts.” His hand touched a bell on the table beside his chair. “I should have asked – would you like some tea? Something to eat?” At his words, a dog barked and Lys realized that there was a terrier on a cushion at the man’s feet. “I was not speaking to you, Fez.”
As the dog lifted her head, Lys saw that one eye was blue with cataracts. “She can be healed.” The words were out of her mouth before she had time to think. She met the man’s eyes. “That’s what I came to Tolount to tell you, to tell the Father Superior – animals have souls.”
He blinked and then his eyes slid away from Lys. After a few moments of silence Lys shifted in her seat. That seemed to break his trance, and the man leaned forward. “Fezzie, would you like to see clearly again? Hmm, my dear, would you?” He grunted with the effort of trying to reach down to the dog.
“Here.” Lys left her chair and scooped up the dog, holding her out to the man.
He began to laugh. “You do have a special gift – Fez doesn’t let just anybody pick her up!” He took the dog. “Now,” he said softly, “what was it that Blane and I came up with for blindness?”
“Blane? As in Blane Wartenburg? Are you Ray Blackstone? The Ray Blackstone?” Lys dropped into the chair. “I practically memorized your book. My Blackburg is falling apart!”
“Oh dear, is that what they call it?” He shrugged and then put his hand to his chest. “I’m glad you liked our little book.” Lys opened her mouth, but he chuckled and waved, as if signaling that she didn’t need to answer. He stroked the dog. “Your generation is the first to learn magic – to learn in any systematic way. We didn’t know what we were doing! It’s like we were riding an untamed horse. It was all we could do to hold on… So how is it that we never thought to try to help animals?” He gently bounced Fez in his arms. “Hmm, dearest? How did we overlook you?” He looked at Lys. “Not Fez, of course – she’s not that old. No one is that old. It’s just me who’s left.” He scratched Fez under her chin. “Show me. Please.”
Lys swallowed. “I didn’t do anything special with Stone. He’s an ox, my family’s ox and I healed his leg a few days ago.” She knelt down and reached out her hand to touch the dog’s face. She let her breath out slowly and cast a sleep spell. Then she moved her fingers toward Fez’s eyes. “It’s the right eye?” She lightly brushed the eyelid with her thumb, and then she rested it near Fez’s nose. After a moment she closed her eyes. When she opened them, the man was staring at her.
“Where did you go?” he asked softly.
Lys carefully pulled down the dog’s eyelid. The eye was clear. “I just imagined running – running through a field and seeing birds; I imagined the joy of seeing birds.” She nodded to herself and stood.
Ray Blackstone nodded in response. “’The joy of seeing birds.’ That’s lovely. Do you do the same with humans?” He shifted the terrier to one arm and used the other arm to try to rise from the chair.
“Yes,” she said simply as she picked up the dog. She gently put Fez on her cushion.
The old man pushed himself from the chair. “This certainly changes things, doesn’t it?”
“Yes! And that’s why I came here. I needed to tell the Father Superior. We can’t – I mean, we have to stop eating animals.”
“Oh. Oh my, yes. I hadn’t thought of that.”
“You – wait, what did you mean?”
“My dear, you’ve changed how we heal!” He shook his head. “How could we have been so blind? As if mere words could matter!”
He took her arm, and they walked toward the door. “Let’s go see the Father Superior, shall we?” His pace was slow, and Lys felt him lean on her for support. “Mikkel’s not a healer – he’ll never understand,” the man muttered to himself. Then he smiled. “You said you healed an ox? Do tell me what you were thinking.” Lys didn’t speak for a moment. Ray Blackstone patted her arm. “Call me Timon – that’s what my friends call me.”
“Yes sir, Timon. I was thinking about walking back to the barn with the sun on my back, thinking about the satisfaction of a job well done.”
“Ah! And you say you think similar thoughts with humans – when you heal?”
Lys looked pained. “I’m sorry! I know it’s not right. It just makes so much sense to me. I have to feel it. I have to… hold a place for them, for the person I’m healing.”
“Don’t apologize, child. We never thought anyone would use our little spell book, let alone teach it. Everyone should come to magic in their own way.”
“Yes, and you gave me the idea! It was your speck spell that got me to thinking about it. You said something like ‘Imagine a faithful dog standing at your side while you sleep.’ Speck was my best spell. I could cast it easily, and it was so strong! I decided to imagine other things when I cast other spells, and it worked!”
They stopped at a double door. “Here we are, my dear,” he said. “Now, I’ll explain about the healing—”
“I don’t care about the healing! I care about the animals.”
Timon held his finger to his lips. “I’ll explain about the healing and you’ll explain about the animals, OK?” He put his hand on the door knob and smiled at her. “I cannot wait to see the look on Mikkel’s face when he hears that he’s eaten his last pork sausage!”