I sprinted around the property until I found them. Two Protectors were lying on the ground, vines binding them together. Bark was crawling up their bodies quickly, merging them as one.
While linking the doctor to tell him to prepare for more Protectors infected by the bark, I ran to them. Luckily it only infected their shoulder muscles so far, so if they needed to remove it would be a small percentage of their total body. He linked back immediately telling me that the hospital was ready to receive any body that they had to.
I grabbed them by the arms and teleported them to the hospital. The doctors placed them on a bed and rushed them into another room. When I let go of their hands, I stumbled a bit, the sudden and intense use of my powers taking a hold of me.
The doctor grabbed my arm to steady me. “Are you alright?”
I nodded and heard something that sounded like a saw cutting through the vines. “Do you think you’ll be able to heal them?”
He took a deep breath. “If we can, we will. No promises. I will do everything in my power, Moon Goddess.”
“Mae,” Valerio linked, sounding urgent. I nodded to the doctor and immediately teleported back to the forest. Again, I stumbled into a tree, but caught myself before I could collapse in front of everyone.
“Valerio!” I called.
He answered from behind me, deeper in the woods. I hurried over to him as quickly as I could without falling. When I saw him hovering over Ayodele, I collapsed, unable to hold myself up any longer. My eyes widened.
I stumbled over to them, collapsing next to Valerio. His eyes were a bit glossy as he stared down at Ayodele. Ayodele laid on his back. His chest wasn’t moving up and down like it should’ve. A bit of blood was dripping out of his mouth.
“White!” I called through the woods. I needed him to be healed now. I couldn’t lose him. Aaisha was giving birth, she wouldn’t let me live it down if she lost Ayodele right now. And I just couldn’t.
My head was spinning slightly. It was like Damon all over again. I couldn’t help him. I was too weak to help him stay alive. I was about to move my hands over his chest to help save him since White was taking a while to get to me. But Valerio wrapped his arms around mine and pulled me into his chest, holding me back.
“Mae, it’s useless,” he said. I shook my head. It wasn’t useless until his soul rose. “Mae, he’s gone… His soul is gone.”
As soon as he said those words I stopped fighting. His soul had departed from his body? I… I couldn’t believe it. He was gone. Another one of my men was killed, slaughtered by that divinity, the hunter - whatever the hell she was.
Another death was on my hands.
Valerio held me closer, trying to stop my body from moving as I hiccupped. Again, another close friend was dead. I shook my head and wiped my cheeks. I knew this was going to happen, but I wasn’t prepared. I didn’t think it would happen so soon. I wanted him to be here with me for at least a little while.
He was one of the smartest men I knew. He aided me so well, and I never got a chance to commemorate him for his hard work.
White came tumbling out of the woods, her fur tinted red a bit. Black was behind her, keeping a watch. She ran up to Ayodele, sniffed him, and whimpered. She laid by his side and tucked her nose into his neck.
“How did this happen?” I asked. “He doesn’t even look injured.”
“He was like this when I found him,” Valerio said softly.
I pulled myself out of Valerio’s hold and stood up. “We need to get him to the hospital,” I said remembering my vision. His body will belong to Ashur soon enough - if I could rise Ashur’s soul and transfer it into his body.
Again, I was about to teleport Ayodele, when Valerio stopped me. He picked him up and we jogged to the hospital together. When we got there, we placed Ayodele on a bed and waited for the doctor to check his insides.
“Everything looks normal, but it seemed like he died from an excessive amount of oxygen in his system.”
“Excessive amount of oxygen?” I asked. That’s what he died from? I curled my hands into fists. Was she taunting me now or something? Killing one of my strongest with a strong gust of wind?
I growled and closed my eyes. My fingers grazed against Ashur’s soul which swirled around in the scar on my forearm.
Valerio ordered the doctor out of the room and shut the door behind him. He even pulled the curtains closed so it was him, I, and Ayodele’s body in the room. “Do it,” he said. “You know how to rise a soul from the Jumper apartment - those images on the wall taught you. You can do it.”
It was so soon - too soon - but I didn’t know how much time I had before I had to transfer the soul into the body. I pressed my lips together.
This was Ayodele’s wish. He had known this was coming and gave me consent to do so. So, I would honor his wishes. Ayodele was about to be Ashur.
A white film blurred my vision. Power transferred from Ashur’s mark to my fingertips, making them tingle. When his soul was no longer inhabiting the space in my arm and was swirling between my fingertips, creating small infinity movements, I pressed my fingers to Ayodele’s lips, hoping it would work.
Ashur’s soul slipped out of my fingers and through Ayodele’s lips. For a moment nothing happened, and then his body began to seize. I widened my eyes, trying to stay calm, but it wasn’t working.
Before Valerio could stop me, I closed my eyes and placed my hand on his chest. My mark ached and I felt my powers coursing through my body to my hands. Wave after wave radiated out of my hands and entered Ayodele’s body as I hoped to revive him.
After a few moments, his body stopped seizing. I thought he was going to end up like Luca - seize, seize, seize, death. But his monitor beeped with a steady rhythm.
I took a deep breath and stumbled back into Valerio’s arms. He wrapped his arms around me, holding me up. He sat on the chair next to Ayodele - Ashur’s - bed and we waited. How long would this take? Would we actually be able to rise his soul? Would this be successful or would I be losing two people today?
We waited and we waited and we waited. The night turned to morning and the morning turned to midday and I could only imagine Aaisha screaming at Samuel to come find me and bring me to see her baby.
Sometime during the night, Samuel had contacted Valerio to tell us that she had a beautiful, healthy baby. He wouldn’t give him any details about the gender, because Aaisha had threatened to cut his… tail… off if he mentioned it to me. But I had my suspicions, sometimes Aaisha wasn’t great at keeping secrets like this.
Despite Aaisha’s threat, he still seemed extremely happy for her. He did love kids after all.
I wanted to see Aaisha so bad, but I had to make sure this worked.
It was nearly night again. Darkness filed into the room from the window. Valerio gathered me into his arms and stood up. “Let’s bring you back to the cabin to rest.”
I shook my head. “We’re staying for a bit longer.” He sighed and sat back down. I curled into his chest, resting my head against it. I listened to the light hum of his breathing.
At 7:32pm Ayodele’s eyes fluttered open. I jumped out of Valerio’s lap and gazed down at him. “Hey… how are you doing?”
“Good…” He furrowed his brows at me and sat up. “What am I doing here?” he asked. “I’m in the hospital? Where’s mom and my brothers? Are they here too? Did someone get taken? Did they die? Was it that woman who stole my brother?”
I gazed over at Valerio and smiled. Ashur was here with us. We really did it. A stray tear slid down my cheek. I brushed my fingers against his forehead. “Ashur, everything is alright.”