Content warning: graphic description of injury
Monica had been trained as a nurse when she was little, which was probably why Caro woke her up in the middle of the night instead of someone else.
“Mama, mama, mama,” Caro said, shaking her.
Monica groaned and sat up. “What is it, dear?”
“There’s some people who need you to nurse them.”
“Out there on the side of the road. I woke up Duke Mephisto, too.”
“Where are they?” Monica stood up and threw on a dress over her nightgown. “Why were you out on the road, Caro?”
“I was getting water. Someone bought it from me and gave me money from England.”
Monica pulled on her boots and picked Caro up. She went out into the hallway, where Joseph and Millie were standing around looking confused.
“What’s going on?” Joseph asked.
“Some people are hurt,” Monica said. “Come with me if you have to.”
Joseph grinned and ran back into his room, presumably for proper clothes. Millie went more slowly, but she went all the same.
Duke Mephisto, a tall man with a flaming red beard and an angular face, was standing at the bottom of the stairs. “Mrs Carter. I apologize for waking you.”
“No, it’s fine. Where do I need to go?”
“Your girl told me they’re somewhere along ‘the road.’”
“That’ll be one of the roads out of town. I know where she goes to get water.” A servant handed Monica her bag of medical things, and her and Duke Mephisto set out walking, Caro in tow. They’d walked a ways when the other two children, Joseph and Millie, ran past them, evidently racing. After that it was uncomfortable silence the rest of the way, because Monica knew she was walking with a demon lord. What was she supposed to say to him?
At last, Duke Mephisto broke the silence. “I can carry that bag for you, if you want.”
“No, it’s fine.”
“Your home is nice.”
They were silent again. There were things Monica wanted to say, like do you regret it and would you like to become an angel again and what is hell like, but she didn’t say any of them. How did she start that kind of a conversation?
“You know…” Duke Mephisto said. “I had a dream last night.”
“From the Man in Red.”
“Who do you think the prophet is?”
“I have a few guesses. It could be anyone who’s died in any way related to liquid.”
“Which are your guesses?”
Monica stopped walking. “Listen. If the Man in Red sends both angels and demons concerning messages, then…”
“You think he means for us to sort of… unite.”
“Maybe. I mean, neither of us want to utterly destroy creation, do we?”
Monica held out her hand. “Then how about, if only you and me, call a truce?”
Duke Mephisto shook her hand without hesitation. “Yes.”
“Then tell me your guesses.”
“You tell me yours as well.”
“Deirdre, the Irish girl Johann’s with. She drowned and she’s a dead banshee, but she might not know it.”
“This girl Caro, right here. She drowned, too, and came back as a ghost without explanation.”
“Mama?” Caro asked.
“We’re talking about grown-up stuff, dear.”
Duke Mephisto smiled. “Well, Caro? Are you a herald of the apocalypse?”
Caro grinned. “Yes.”
Duke Mephisto laughed. Evidently, he had a very strange sense of humor.
“Any more guesses?” Monica asked.
“Ishmael Carter. He died at sea and has said he’s a prophet.”
“My opium addict relative?”
They had to stop the conversation there, because Monica heard commotion up ahead. They must have looked very strange coming down the road like they were. There was Duke Mephisto, impeccably dressed in a crimson waistcoat over a pressed, pale red shirt, black pants, and shoes that looked like they were made of polished coal. There was Caro, with her curly, messy, blonde hair, green dress, and giant pink bow adorning her head. There was Monica, black hair tied up into a loose bun, wearing a simple dress that was tied at the waist, and carrying a medical bag. They looked like all three of them were going to a different engagement: Duke Mephisto was going to a ball, Caro was going to a playdate, and Monica was going to a battlefield.
“Mama!” Joseph shouted from the ditch at the side of the road. “Look what I found!”
Monica climbed down into the ditch, and saw an upturned wagon. A young woman with a broken piece of wood going straight through her calf lay half under it, unconscious. “Joseph, Millie, Duke Mephisto is going to lift the cart, then you’re going to pull her out gently. Do you understand?”
“Yes, Mama,” Millie said.
Duke Mephisto was barely able to lift the cart, even with demonic strength, so it took the children a moment to get the young woman out. Joseph held her leg up, while Millie did most of the work.
When they had gotten the young woman out, Millie turned to her brother. “Can you do that?”
Joseph glared at her. “Maybe I can, booty.”
“Booty booty booty booty booty booty,” Joseph said. “Booty booty booty booty booty booty booty booty booty.”
Millie pushed him back. “Quit it.”
“You quit it,” Joseph said, shoving Millie.
Millie pushed him again. “You started it.”
Joseph ran forward, his head down like a battering ram. He crashed into his sister and she laughed.
“Do you actually think you’re hurting me right now?”
Joseph roared, and backed up for another strike.
“Children,” Monica said sharply.
They glared at her, but stopped fighting for the moment. Monica looked down at the young woman and did a quick analysis of what was wrong with her. She probably had several broken ribs, as well as a lot of surface lacerations that didn’t look very deep, and of course, the piece of wood going through her leg.
“I’m going to look for other survivors,” Duke Mephisto said.
“Wait. What’s her name?”
“The girl? Sylvia Sapping.”
“Alright, thank you. You may go. Children!”
Joseph and Millie came running. Monica took several bottles out from the medical bag, and began to pick at Sylvia Sapping’s leg wound. She pulled the cut open, probing it for complications or broken arteries that would be hard to repair. Luckily, she found none, and was now satisfied that she could safely remove the branch from the leg.
“Millie, you get on that side,” Monica said, pointing to the other side of Sylvia Sapping. “Joseph, you get this side.”
The two of them got into position, each taking a part of Sylvia’s leg. “Lift on three,” Monica said. “One, two, three!”
They both pulled upward at once, lifting the leg and the stick in it off the ground. Monica saw that the stick didn’t actually go all the way through, just very very deep into the flesh. That was a relief. Monica slowly slid the stick out of Sylvia’s leg, then said, “Alright, every lower her leg to the ground. Gently.”
Luckily, they listened to her. Joseph stood up and threw the offending stick into the tall grass at the side of the road.
“Bad stick. Bad.”
Millie had turned back to Sylvia. “Will she be okay, mama?”
Monica shrugged. “Sadly, I’m not sure yet. She may live, but I need to check her over and assess the damage before I tell you anything for sure. Why don’t you kids go home and get the real doctor? Take Caro with you.” She shouted to Duke Mephisto. “Is that quite alright with you?
Millie and Joseph went over to where Caro was twirling around in the grass clearing and singing nonsense words to her doll.
“Hey, Caro, we’re leaving now,” Millie said.
“Where is Mama?” Caro asked.
“Mama’s going to stay here to help the people you found,” said Joseph.
“Oh.” Caro paused. “I want to stay with Mama, thank you.”
Millie shook her head. “Come on, Caro, we need to go.”
“I want to stay with Mama,” Caro repeated.
“No, Caro, we need to go.”
“Yeah,” Joseph said. “It’ll be fun.” He grabbed her hand and tried to lead her off, but she yanked her hands away.
“I want. To stay. Here.” She smiled at him, then turned around and went back to playing with her doll. Monica applied antiseptic to Sylvia’s wounds.
Joseph jumped back, eyes wide. “Oh dear.”
“Caro, put your shoes back on,” Millie said, pointing to Caro’s abandoned pink boots, lying over in the shade of the silver birch tree. “We have to walk back.”
“No, I want to stay with Mama!”
Millie sighed, then went over and picked up Caro, throwing the girl over her shoulder like a sack of potatoes.
“NO! Mama! Mama!”
Monica looked up. “Oh- Millie, would you put her down?”
Millie ignored her. “Get her shoes, will you, Joseph?”
Joseph ran and grabbed Caro’s shoes.
“I want to stay with Mama!” Caro shouted.
“Millie,” Monica said sharply. “Put her down.”
Millie did not listen. Caro whacked and punched her sister’s back, to no avail. Apparently seeing that punching was futile, Caro went on to kicking, and eventually landed a solid kick in Millie’s stomach. She dropped her with an oof, and Caro ran over to where Monica was.
And then, the worst possible thing happened.
One of Caros’ obsessions was milk. She would often drink nothing but milk, and didn’t really care where it came from. So, when Monica poured milk from a flask into a bowl so that she could soak the iron instruments she was about to use on the faerie Sylvia in it, Caro suddenly forgot all about wanting Mama.
She crawled over to Monica, and looked up at her with large, innocent eyes.
Monica looked at her and smiled. “Not right now, sweetheart. I’m using this to help the girl here.”
“Hmph. Please, Mama?”
“Maybe later. You drank nearly an entire cow at breakfast.”
So, Caro walked up to Millie.
“Can you ask Mama for some milk?”
Millie raised an eyebrow. “What did Mama say?”
“Mmm… Go ask her for milk?”
Lilia shook her head.
“Hey, Caaarrrooo! I have miiiilk,” Joseph said, sloshing around what was obviously water inside a canteen.
Joseph was laughing as Caro went running after him, trying to get the ‘milk.’ He ran off down the road, sisters in hot pursuit.
Hopefully, they would find their way home, and hopefully, Millie would remember to get the real doctor. Monica focused back on Sylvia.
“Is there anything more you can do for her?” Duke Mephisto asked.
“I don’t think so, no. Not here. We have to wait for her to wake up.”
“I found another girl back along the road, but I think she’s dead.”
Monica followed him back to where a young woman with short, choppy blonde hair lay. Her throat and chest were badly scratched by some unknown blade, but she was still breathing. Barely.
“What should we do?” Duke Mephisto asked.
Monica felt for a pulse and found the girl cold and clammy. Her pulse was slow and sluggish, and her breathing was slow and shallow. “Severe blood loss.”
“What do we do?”
“Stop the bleeding.”
“Right, I probably should have figured that out.”
Monica grinned. “Here, take some of the bandages from the bag. Do you know how to dress a wound?”
“We need water.”
Duke Mephisto got up for a moment and returned with a heavy iron bucket full of water. “I have no idea what this was doing by the side of the road, but here it is.”
“I’d like to bless whoever put it there.” Monica dipped a rag in the water and showed Duke Mephisto how to wash a wound, add antiseptic, and place a gauze dressing over it.
“Seems simple enough,” Duke Mephisto said. “I can already bandage a wound.”
“Good. There’s bandages in the medical bag. You work on her arms. I’ll do her throat and chest.”
They worked on the girl for a long time before she was all bandaged up, and the bleeding had stopped for the most part. When they were done, Monica went to attend to a young man with a broken collarbone, a young woman covered in dirt and scratches and bruises, a boy with a broken leg, and lastly, her relative Ishmael Carter, Monty. He had a broken shoulder, and the other young man he was laying next to had a head injury that would probably result in a concussion.All of the victims of the crash were covered in long, shallow scratches that seemed like they had been inflicted by an animal’s claws. What could have done this to them? Was it a demon, or a faerie, or a werewolf, or something else entirely? The thought of something else on an island that she had long ago claimed as under her protection made Monica angry. This was her home, and she would protect it.
Sorry I forgot to update yesterday! Something came up and I unfortunately didn’t have time.
Fortunately, I had time to update today, and I have several edited versions of the first few chapters (which are… rough, to say the least) that will be released as part of the extra content released during November and December.