Sequel to Damian's Oracle.
After spending thousands of years as the right hand man and chief assassin of the White God, Dustin no longer finds the human capacity for good convincing. That is until he meets a delightful Natural, Bianca, whose healing gift will alter not only his fate, but the destiny of all those around them.
"Sweetie, you can lay down in the bed next to your daddy"s."
Bianca looked from her pale brother lying too still on the hospital bed to the smiling nurse. The room was dark except for the light above Jonny"s bed and the red and green lights dotting the machines keeping him alive.
Adults would argue with her if she told them she wasn"t leaving Jonny"s side until he was healed. They thought her too young to understand words like coma and deteriorating, and they accused her of lying when she said she could help him.
The nurse handed her a thin blanket then pointed to the phone.
"Call me if you need anything, ok? All you have to do is pick up, and I"ll answer." "Thank you," she said again.
Satisfied, the nurse swept up the linens she"d changed and left. Bianca waited until she heard the door click closed and looked across the small bay to where her daddy slept.
She"d been able to do that. Why couldn"t she heal Jonny? She scooted forward, frustrated and tired, and touched her brother"s arm. She felt death within him, as she had with her cat Snickers after a car ran him over.
She"d saved Snickers. She"d kept the flowers around Jonny"s bed as fresh as the day they arrived last week. She"d helped her father sleep.
She couldn"t help Jonny.
Maybe daddy was right. Maybe she was too small. But she was nine, and Jonny was even smaller at four. He really wasn"t too much bigger than a cat, not when compared to an adult.
She cried again, snuffling and wiping at her nose before she pushed herself off the chair. She tried another wilted flower, bringing it back to full bloom.
"Jonny ... " she whispered. "I"m so sorry Jonny!"
It was her fault he was in the hospital. Her step-mother - Jonny"s mother - had said as much. Bianca cringed as she had earlier that day when her mother and Jonny"s mother screamed blame at each other until the nursing staff kicked them out of the room.
She didn"t mean to hurt him. He was annoying, and she wanted him to leave her alone. All he ever wanted to do was play with his stupid baseball, and she"d taken it and thrown it into the forest. He went after it, and she played with her toys all day.
He didn"t come back, even when it got dark, and it was time for them to go inside. "I can help him."
She twisted in her chair to see a man near the dark windows whose eyes were the color of her bright purple Easter dress.
"Are you a doctor?" she asked, wiping her eyes. "You want to help him?"
"I can make it so he doesn"t remember that you did this to him." Her chin trembled as guilt flowed over her.
"You understand that medical treatment isn"t free?" She nodded.
"It will cost you something."
She dug through the pockets in her jeans and pulled out the stash of one dollar bills she"d been given for trips to the candy machine down the hall. She counted them with shaking hands.
"I only have four," she said with some dismay. "I require more than that."
She looked up. His eyes seemed to swirl, around and around, changing from the color of her mother"s tulips to a color almost as dark as the night. He wasn"t like the other doctors. His voice wasn"t kind. He had no emotions, like a man in a Halloween mask.
"I don"t have more," she said, voice shaking. "What else do you have?"
She checked her pockets again then looked around. "I don"t have anything else!"
The man with purple eyes knelt in front of her. His face didn"t look rubbery like a Halloween mask, but neither did he look normal. She took a step back.
"You have to help him," she whispered. "Please!"
"I will help him, Bianca. If you make me a promise." She nodded uncertainly.
"You must keep this promise no matter what, or your brother will get sick and die.
Do you understand?" "Yes."
"There is a man you will meet when you are older, a man who -" "This is low, even for you."
She jumped as a hand clamped on the man"s shoulder. Her eyes flew up to another man with eyes the color of their Christmas tree. He had Papaw"s face, with wrinkles around his eyes and a kind smile.
"By divine code, you can"t interfere," the man with the purple eyes said in a tone that made her shrink away.
"By divine code, neither can you."
Purple-eyes rose. Green-eyes stepped between them, and Purple-eyes backed towards the window again.
"We"re so much better than this, brother," Green-eyes said. "Children are off limits." "For your kind, Watcher. There are no boundaries for us."
"Divine code disagrees with you and the rest of the Others." Purple eyes looked at her, and she shrank behind Green-eyes.
"The Grey God will destroy us all, brother. You can stop this war here, now," Purple- eyes said with a look that made her snap her eyes closed.
"You"re a fool led by a fool. Go, brother."
She held her breath and waited, able to feel the tension between them even with her eyes closed.
"He"s gone, Bianca," Green-eyes said.
She opened one eye, then the other, confirming his words. She started crying again.
"Jonny"s gonna die!" "You can save him."
"I can"t! I tried! I can't!" "Listen, Bianca."
He took her arms and sat her in a chair, handed her a fistful of tissues, and knelt. She blew her nose loudly and looked at him through blurry eyes. His small smile was kind, his bright eyes unblinking.
"You have a very special gift. No one else has one like you." "But I"m too little to save Jonny."
"Nonsense. You can save Jonny. You hear his body speak of the death in him?" "It"s awful," she whispered.
"If you listen really hard to what his body tells you, you can save him. No one wants to die, and his body will tell you what it needs from you. You need to rest tonight, sleep as much as you can. In the morning, you"ll be able to heal him."
"But I"ve been trying for days!"
He touched her again, his hand cool but the electricity that shot through her warm. "I"ve woken your gift completely," he said. "You must promise to keep it a secret and
to make Jonny keep it a secret."
She blinked rapidly, startled by the sensations going through her. "Do you promise?"
"You must also never harm another. It is the way of ancient healers. Do you understand?" he asked.
"In time you"ll learn more. Do you understand what I ask of you?" "I don"t know. I think so."
"Can you promise to keep Jonny safe?" "He"s my brother," she said, sniffling again.
"Good. Go to sleep, Bianca. I"ll watch over your brother tonight. In the morning, you"ll save him."
"You"re not a doctor," she ventured.
"No, but I"m a friend here to watch over you and Jonny."
Something about the man made her feel safe, and the warm electricity in her body made her sleepy. She kissed Jonny goodnight and crossed the bay to curl up with their father.
When she"d gone, the Watcher placed a hand on Jonny"s forehead.
Come back, god-slayer. Your time is yet to come.
As strong as the girl was, she was too small to bring Jonny back from the place the Others sent him. The Watcher"s hand fell away, and his gaze went to the dark side of the bay, where the little girl was already fast asleep.
A healer and warrior born to the same family. He smiled.