Shaking Down Shadows
Street Doc / Connection 1
Sioux Fire Healer in Snohomish
Kent Gravesong stood over the unmoving woman as he gently waved a stitched bouquet of animal feathers side to side. The room was thick with incense, the hazy orange glow of the pseudo-office’s neon lighting painting the room in an earthy, solar glow; the piercing green flicker of medical terminals’ firing temporary tiny beams through the smoke.
She hadn’t moved since being put under for the transformation. When the bloodied, jumpy oni had entered his abode and made her request, he initially had no reaction.
All of the ware out of me, fresh parts put back in. Whatever it takes, but now.
It had only taken two ticks of the small hand for Dr. Gravesong to procure suitable replacements for the woman’s ware, but even that amount of time had drawn inquiries and protests from her. Not impolite, not quite impatient, but stubborn and insistent. Though she’d said any ware would do so long as she would wake up functional, the Amerindian refused to work with inferior materials.
For him, each surgery was not merely reconstructive application of medicinal knowledge or consumption of carefully brewed infusion, but a commune with Fire-Bringer. To many, Fire-Bringer was held and feared as a changer, a spirit whose abilities aided in the chaotic manipulation of the world.
But Dr. Gravesong knew Fire-Bringer for what he truly was: life-giver, wound-mender, curer-of-illness. Where there was the chill of injury bringing about lifelessness, Fire-Bringer breathed the exuberant flame of being. As Gravesong knew him, Fire-Bringer lent himself much more to the kilning of good health than to the stoking of arson’s flames.As his youngest niece sat cross-legged on the floor of the room, swaying faintly and muttering under her breath about the purification of illness through flame and the mending of skin with sparks, his patient’s newly-implanted eyes flickered open.
They scampered around the room at first, no doubt identifying the smoke and winding embers that surrounded the surgery table with the combat she had only hours ago escaped. Gravesong felt uncertainty, then vague licks of panic awaken within her essence, what little remained of it following the day-long procedure that had nearly exhausted the man and his assistant.
“You are well, Redhorns,” he assured flatly. “Despite my warnings, you are whole again. Soon to be functional.”
Gravesong again felt worry flare within the woman, and she began to fight to rise on the table. Gently, with a hand more felt than seen, more metaphysical than real, he guided her back down to rest, stoic face replacing verbal chastisement for her efforts.
“Red…line,” she corrected through gritted teeth before lying back down, her chest rising and falling with shallow breath from the effort.
The Amerindian allowed a small smirk; Fire-Bringer gave life to both the body and spirit. This oni on his table had a silent stubbornness to her, qualities that he and his totem saw much potential in.
His niece stood next to him, watching the patient as the other woman gradually calmed, newly-implanted fingertips stretching experimentally and thermographically-enhanced eyes tiredly shifting over her form.
“The demon woman is awake already,” the girl both exclaimed and questioned, her chanting having dissipated. Dr. Gravesong merely lowered his head in a nod, but the smile beneath belied his firm posture.
“There is much life in her,” he muttered lowly, sending swirls of smoke rolling over the oni’s form with his feather focus. “She wishes to forge a new life from the ashes of the old one.”
“If she tries to get up now, she will only get burned,” his niece cut back more loudly.
The man laughed, a low, broiling grumble emanating from his chest. He shook his head knowingly. “This one is a protector of life and flame. She will tend to her own tirelessly, and will not snuff the wicks of others out needlessly.”
He nodded again, more to himself than his niece. “The Fire-Bringer is with this one.”