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    Tsukihana
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Do vaporwave kitsune count technicolor sheep? - 22. Chapter 22

“Hikaru… “

“Yes, Mi Tiefal.”

My heart in Draconic.

“I wanted to ask… “

My words are interrupted by a discordant banging on the carved doors of the Office.

“Boss?”

Hikaru’s body shakes with the intimidating growl that rumbles deep in his throat. When his voice emerges, it’s a primal guttural sound. His arms wrap tightly around me and he sits up straight in the leather chair to answer the voice on the other side of the door.

“I said we are not to be disturbed.”

“I...I know, Boss, and I tried to dissuade them, my deepest apologies, but… “

“Spit it out before I cut off an appendage to feed my Wife. I hear she is partial to fingers.”

My head jerks up at the word ‘Wife’, but I am struck silent by the thunderous look on his face and the way his eyes are once more lightening to a piercing shade of glacial blue. On the other side of the large doors, I can smell the tang of fear wafting off of whoever has the misfortune of being out there.

“It’s for her, the creature we brought back, sir. Pardon, I mean the lady. I mean that these small beings showed up and made a ruckus at the front gate and said they seek Lady Moon, that they can smell her scent here.”

“The kobolds… “

A feeling of dread grips my heart like a vice.

“Moon?”

“I have to see them. It must be important… They hate coming into the city. The Lost Ones distrust it here.”

Hikaru places a soft kiss against my forehead.

“A moment, and then I will admit them.”

“Yes, Sir.”

He gently sets me upon my feet before rising himself. Pulling a bronze key from a drawer in the desk, he leads me to a tall armoire made of the same ebonwood. Turning the key in the lock, the wooden doors are thrown wide to reveal neatly pressed and folded rows of pants and shirts. Pulling a silk robe off of a hanger, he wraps the smooth fabric around me and knots the tie at my waist. The black material pools about my feet and hangs well past my hands, but his scent lingers in the cloth.

For himself he pulls on a clean pair of pants and a white dress shirt much like the one I shucked to the floor. Leaving the shirt unbuttoned and hastily pulled on, he motions for me to remain where I stand as he walks to the Office doors. Throwing the lock free, he opens one door wide to reveal a visibly tremoring guard.

Just behind him I see a flash of anole green scales, Ein’s knees trembling from holding up the cloth wrapped bundle in his hands.

“Ein!”

On instinct I run to the door, falling to my knees atop the plush rug.

“Please, My Lady, help… I’ve done all I could, please help Frau… “

The small creature's scales are lacerated and one eye is so red that I am unsure if he can actually see through it. Even with Hikaru’s intimidatingly tall frame standing off to the side, he toddles in through the open door to fall to the rug in front of me. In desperation he pushes the fragilely small bundle of bloodied cloth into my arms. In his condition, Ein carried her all the way through the city while somehow managing to scent me out.

I turn to Hikaru with pleading eyes and I can feel the hot trails of tears falling from my cheeks to be soaked into the black silk.

“Please, help us… if there is any way to save her, I’m begging please... “

Turning he begins issuing orders to the guard.

“Have Surgeon Honore brought here immediately. I don’t care if he’s asleep, gambling, or fucking… you drag his ass here by my direct order. He’ll know better than to argue. Have Larson bring whatever first aid materials we have here to my office right now. He lost a finger, I’m sure he’s not far from them at the moment. Now.”

“Right away!”

At a dead run the guard disappears back towards the direction he came from. Lowering his towering frame to rest on his knees beside us, Hikaru places a hand on Ein’s shaking shoulder.

“You showed great strength to make it this far with your wounded comrade. Don’t worry, we will do everything in our power to save her. You did a good job.”

Ein turns and for the first time since entering the room, he looks at Hikaru. Eyes widening in shock, he throws himself to the floor at his knees.

“The Pearl Dragon… “

His words are infused with such abject reverence that even me, who is accustomed to their worship, is taken aback at the feeling Ein imbues into his tone.

Looking a little lost, he gives me an aside look.

“This is normal, yes?”

Nodding absently, I gingerly peel back the cloth from Frau’s unmoving frame. Her eyes are shaking beneath her half closed lids, as though she is trapped in some kind of nightmare. A slice across her neck is bleeding through a rough bandage. Holding her three foot frame is like cradling a child in my arms and I can feel the tears coming in earnest.

“The others… “ Silence meets me and the kobold can’t quite lift his head to look me in the eye, “The others, Ein. Tell me… “

He only shakes his head, unable to put into words the horrors that brought him to be in this current situation.

“I stayed still until it grew quiet. Thought I was the only one left when she reached out for me. Please forgive my cowardice, Amethyst One, I have failed you.”

When his eyes finally rise to mine, I see that something inside him is raw and broken.

“Thought at first it was you returning from wherever you had left for, cept something was off… It happened so fast… like a shadow leaping from the walls, they all fell without ever knowing what struck ‘em down. Something blunt struck the back of my head and I fell hard seeing stars… After that everything got quiet… scary quiet like a tomb. By the time the ringing in my head stopped it was already too late.”

Anguish fills his face as he throws himself down to the rug before me.

“I’ve called for one of the finest physicians in the whole city. If anyone can save her, he can.”

“I’ve brought the supplies, Boss.”

The goon with the missing finger, Larson, appears with a large white kit. Seeing me, he pauses for a moment before entering the room.

“If you don’t get your ass in here with those, I’m going to feed her the rest of you.”

“Sir!”

“Start by checking over this fellow, right here. You show him the same courtesy as though he were one of our own, understood?”

“Completely, Sir.”

“Good, I will check over the other one. Her wounds are far more grave.”

Hikaru turns towards me.

“May I please have a look at her, Mi Tiefal?”

My face wet with tears I tenderly hand the small bleeding bundle into his hands.

“She’s very weak… I will have a room prepared immediately. GHENGIS!”

The sun-kissed manservant appears with a step from the left, likely he’s been there the whole time.

“Send word to have a room made up for her, and have Dr. Honore brought to it immediately upon his arrival.”

“But, to leave you…”

“I have given you directions, now see they are carried out.”

Ghengis stumbles back from the deadly draconic aura directed at him.

“Right away.”

“Larson, you stay here and continue treating him. I must get her to where we can get her stable and ready for when Honore gets here. He’s your responsibility, so take care of him.”

“Of course, Sir.”

“Moon, come with me. If she wakes, I want someone she can recognize at her side so that she’s not afraid.”

Getting up to my feet, I gently pat Ein atop his head.

“You will be safe here. I promise I will stay by her side.”

His small green arms wrap around me, hugging my legs tight.

“Thank you, Lady Moon, you don’t know how relieved I was to find you.”

“Later, after she is seen to, we will get to the bottom of things. Let yourself be taken care of, Ein. No harm will come to you here.”

I follow Hikaru out of the office and it’s my first time seeing any other part of the house since I came to. A wood-paneled hallway leads off in both directions, while another closed door is directly across from us. Opting for the hall to our left, I stay close on his heels. The air smells of newly finished construction that hasn’t had time to fade quite yet. More unopened doors loom on either side of us, and he pauses in front of one at the far end of the hall to the left.

“Turn the handle for me please, Moon. This one will do fine and it’s close to the front entrance.”

Doing as he bids, I open the door that leads into a generically furnished bedroom which I have a feeling has never been used as of yet. Someone has turned down the full sized bedclothes and a pitcher and basin of fresh water and rags wait on the table beside it.

With painstaking gentleness, he lays Frau down upon the fresh sheets and tosses the bloodied cloth she came wrapped in across a chair. Behind us, Ghengis fills the open doorway with a stranger looming just behind him.

“The Doc is here, Boss.”

“Good, we have no time to lose. Moon, are you okay with standing on the other side of the bed? If she comes around while the doc is patching her up, I need you to be the one who keeps her calm… Her life could depend on it.”

“I would trust no one else at her side. I owe the kobolds much.”

Hurrying around to the other side of the bed, I sit down and take her small crimson clawed hand in my own.

“You have to pull through this, Frau. For all our sakes I need you to live, both for me and Ein. If you only knew what he went through, and how brave he was to save you… you’d be so proud of him. Please live, Frau.”

“Tell me what we have going on here, Dragon.”

Doctor Honore jumps into immediate action, inserting a device much like a stethoscope into his ears.

“She’s suffered a deep laceration to the windpipe. Her companion managed to staunch the bleeding, but you know how these things flare up once we remove the bandages.”

“Alright, let’s see what we have here.” Turning to where Ghengis is standing sentinel at the door, the doctor beckons him inside. “We might need an extra set of hands, get in here.”

At Hikaru’s nod, the tall tanned manservant enters the room to stand at his master's back beside the pitcher and basin.

“I will get ready a fresh clean cloth.”

The surgeon places his old-fashioned leather medical bag at the foot of the bed. From within it, he pulls forth a glass syringe and a bottle of clear yellowish liquid.

“This is no more than a very mild sedative to keep her calm since I don’t know the extent of the harm that's befallen her. I will admit though that I am unfamiliar with those of her kind so I am working a bit blindly here. She needs to be kept warm and her temperature monitored to make sure it doesn’t take a drastic drop.”

“Leave it to me. I will make sure that she stays warm.”

Hurriedly, I let my form change and revert back to a kitsune. Honore’s eyes grow wide with shock for a moment before giving himself a little shake. I shrug off the black silk robe to lie forgotten on the wooden floor and hop up onto the bed. Laying down beside her, I blanket the lower half of her tiny body with my myriad tails.

Jabbing the top part of the stoppered bottle, he fills the syringe with the liquid. Drawing out her arm, he finds a suitable place in the crook of her elbow where he can inject between the crimson scales.

“Wet towel.”

His hand reaches out to collect the cloth from Ghengis, before wringing out some of the water over Frau’s wounded neck.

“The blood’s gone and dried up… this will help to unstick it. Don’t want to cause further harm. Dragon, on my say, I’m going to need you to lift beneath her shoulders and head at the same time so I can unwind it. Keep her good and supported… Go.”

Gently, Hikaru’s hands slide beneath Frau’s prone body and lift her up. Doctor Honore begins to carefully unwind the bloody cloth from around the kobold’s neck.

“Okay, now you may lay her back down. Fresh cloth, Ghengis.”

His mouth forms a grim line at being issued orders by someone other than Hikaru, but he hurries to obey nonetheless. Taking the soiled wrap from the doc’s hands, he quickly disposes of it in a wastebasket before dipping the fresh cloth again in the water.

“Very good. Now, let’s see what the damage is.”

Honore’s strokes are precise and careful as he wipes away the dried caked-on blood atop the slice through Frau’s throat.

“Another.”

Over and over they repeat this until finally she’s somewhat cleaned up. He leans in close over her and lets loose a loud sigh.

“Good or bad, Doc?”

“She’s a lucky lady. The slice did very minimal damage to the windpipe, which I think will heal on its own. I’m going to swab the area with an antiseptic and she’ll need stitches. They’ll sting a bit, but thankfully I think it will be the worst of it. Beyond that? Bed rest and keep an eye on her so that infection doesn’t set in and change the bandages regularly. I believe she will pull through fine though.”

“Thank the gods.”

At the sound of my voice, the surgeon jumps a bit but recovers quickly.

“At a better time, I will properly introduce you to my wife. She’s not from around here.”

“Wife, eh?”

“Wife… “

Honore and Ghenghis speak at the same time, although the manservant sounds decidedly more put out by it than the surgeon does. Reaching into his surgeon's bag once more, he removes a large stoppered jar full of what appears to be clean white cotton balls and another necked bottle filled with a dark yellow substance like Iodine. He uses a pair of steel clamps to pull out a fresh ball, and then douses it with the yellow antiseptic.

“Keep a close watch on her, Ma’am. This will probably sting despite the anesthetic, but it needs to be done.”

Curling a bit closer, I lay my head protectively atop her chest, finding relief in the gentle rise and fall of her breaths.

“Alright… “

Bending down over her prone body, he begins to swab her wound. A moment later, Frau’s eyes pop open and a horrible gasping sound emits from her throat as she looks around in panic.

“Frau!”

Her eyes dart back and forth in a panic before locking on me, and I can feel a wet trail of tears dampening my fur.

“Shhh… it’s okay. Try to calm yourself, they are trying to help you.”

Tremors wrack her small frame and the sick gasping sounds she makes as she tries to get her breathing under control tears at my heart.

“The doctor is going to clean your wounds, it’s going to hurt for a bit.”

I nudge my paw so that it is beneath her hand.

“When it hurts, you just squeeze okay? I’m not going anywhere, you are safe here with me, I promise.”

Her head nods then winces from the pain and her eyes shut tight as she squeezes me in answer.

“Go ahead, she’ll try her best.”

Doctor Honore quickly continues cleansing the area, disposing of the used materials in a wastebasket beside the bed.

“Okay, try to do what you can to reassure her while I thread the needle, because this is the unpleasant part.”

Frau’s eyes watch him dig a curved needle from his bag and a length of surgical thread, a tremor overtakes her.

“Look at me, Frau. Just keep your eyes on me.”

Her mouth moves in an attempt to form silent words that won’t quite come out through her damaged throat, but she manages to keep her attention on my face.

“You’re a brave girl, so very brave. I know this is going to hurt a bit… but me and Ein, we know you have it in you. He got you to safety and he’s very worried. Someone else is tending to him. Can you endure a little more for our sake, please?”

Shakily, she nods.

“Good girl, I swear I will stay at your side. No one here will let harm come to either of you. Just a little more, okay? If you have to shut your eyes, you just do what you need and squeeze me tight.”

Her eyes dart once more over to where Doctor Honore is carefully threading the needle before shutting her eyes tight.

“Alright, ladies, I will do my best to make quick work of this, so bear with me”

Curling my tails around her small body, I reassure Frau that I am here with her while I watch the surgeon push the needle through the delicate thin scales of her throat. Automatically she jumps from the jab and I can feel her tiny hand reflexively squeezing my paw tight. True to his word, he makes quick work of it, and she is left with a neat row of stitches closing the gaping wound.

“That should do it. Now all that’s left is to wrap her with some fresh bandages. After that, I will look in on the other one while I’m here.”

Pulling a fresh roll of gauze from the satchel, Hikaru gently lifts her once more so that Honore can wrap the white bandages around Frau’s neck.

“I am going to leave some medicines for the pain and to ward off infection setting in. I’ll come back in a few days to check in on removing the stitches. If you two gentlemen would follow me, I’d like a private word with you both.”

“I will be back, Mi Tiefal, stay with her for a bit. I will make sure that Ein is properly cared for and given a room to rest himself in.”

Petting my head, he follows the other two men out into the hall and shuts the door behind him. Turning my attention back to the kobold, I see that her body is still shaking like a leaf and a look of abject fear still lingers in her eyes.

“Frau?”

Her attention snaps to me and I feel her jerk in reaction to my voice.

“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to startle you.” I make sure to keep my tone low and even, for fear of spooking her. “Ein told us what he could about what transpired… I’m so sorry, Frau. I should have been there… It’s my fault for letting my cousin talk me into leaving with him without saying a word. I should have been there to protect the Lost Ones. I failed you all.”

Lifting the hand that grasps my paw, she gently strokes my cheek as her head shakes in dissent.

“You don’t have to coddle me, Frau. I do blame myself.”

Though no words can pass her throat, the fire in her eyes speaks volumes.

“It is sweet of you to try and comfort me, even injured as you are. Now I have no excuses, no reasons to lie to myself. I let myself be cajoled by family instead of letting my better sense guide me. Even now I don’t know what happened to Kemuri… everything about his behavior was… off, but one doesn’t desert family when they are in need…”

From behind me, I can hear the door to the bedroom opening. Even without lifting my head from Frau’s chest, I can sense his energy. Hikaru’s aura caresses me like a physical touch from across the room.

As the kobold looks upon him, her eyes widen in awe and wonder and reflexively she moves to attempt a bow before the dragon.

“No..no, none of that now. You stay resting as you are.”

She immediately obeys, folding her hands on her chest as she stares up at his visage in visible adoration.

“Frau, this is Hikaru, and we are currently in his home. You may rest assured that you may recuperate without fear… Or else he will face my wrath, and he’s afraid of that.”

My attempt at levity has Frau’s eyes darting from me to him in quick succession.

Bowing his head to the kobold graciously, he places his hand on my shoulder.

“Your Lady speaks true,” he says in Draconic, “No harm shall reach you while you are under my protection.”

Her slight frame visibly sags in relief, and I can tell that the experience as a whole is taking its toll on her.

“Your companion has also been tended to, and he is resting comfortably in the room next to yours.” Hikaru continues, “I have brought some medicine that the doctor has left with me, I would be obliged if you would take some, and then we will leave you to a well deserved rest. Moon or I will check on you every so often to make sure you are comfortable. I will tell Ein myself of your status.”

A tiny crimson scaled hand reaches up for his hand, which he immediately takes hold in his warm grip.

“Think nothing of it.” He pulls a vial of pills from the pocket of his dress pants, removes one, and sets the stoppered glass upon the bedside table, then pours her a fresh glass of water from the basin. “Take these, for the pain and inflammation.”

He gently lips, pressing the pill into her mouth and carefully tipping the water into her mouth. After a few swallows, he is satisfied and lays her back down upon the pillow. Picking me up into his arms, he tucks her in with the blankets.

“I will have a bell brought and placed upon the table for you so that you can ring for help if you need anything. Rest well, ma’am.”

Copyright © 2021 Tsukihana; All Rights Reserved.

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