Legends of Amacia: The Gathering Shadow

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Chapter 13: Nightmare Attacks

In the King’s Chambers of the keep of Kaal Bek, Hannibal tossed and turned as he slept beside Selina, who also tossed in her sleep. This night, for the second time since their telepathic fusion, they shared the same dream. This night in the dream, they found themselves in a remote mountain fortress within the middle of a desolate wasteland where a multitude had taken refuge from imminent attack. People lined the walls…heavily armed and armored, awaiting the coming assault. Hannibal and Selina stood on the parapet wall clad in strange armor and armed with swords, looking out over the wasteland from the ramparts with Harry and Nathanael. Joshua and Doug, and a remnant of his team guarded the parapet. The first thing Hannibal noticed was the sun in the sky was accompanied by an enormous red planet twice the apparent size of the full moon just a few degrees to the left of the sun. The monster planet loomed in the sky like an evil mirage with several sizeable moons in a great cloud of debris around it, casting an eerie scarlet light over everything. Meteors and fireballs breeched the atmosphere, indicating the Earth was starting to plunge into the debris field around the rogue planet. A stiff breeze blew out of the north as Hannibal looked to the southeast. A cloud of dust rose on the horizon as everyone looked on. “He’s coming,” Joshua said to Hannibal as he looked through his binoculars.

“Yes, the Emperor is coming,” Hannibal replied in his hardened warrior tone. “And he is not alone. He brings the full force of his infernal legions with him.” He lowered the binoculars and turned to the multitude, looking them over. Seeing fear and uncertainty on their faces, he called out, “Be not afraid. The Lord our God will do battle for us this day. Stand still and see the salvation of our God!”

As he spoke, the meteor fall became a great storm of blazing stones, raining destruction down on the wastes between them and the cloud of dust. The cloud of dust began to mix with the smoke and fire from the grievous rain of stony hail. The cloud of smoke and dust roiled like a thunderhead, beginning to take a shape of a great cat, even the Black Prince. Suddenly, lightning bolts began to shoot from the cloud at the fortress. “Take cover!” Hannibal shouted as the lightning struck the side of the ramparts. Everyone dove for cover except for Hannibal. He jumped up on the ramparts and stood firm as lightning from the cloud struck all around him. The great cloud cat raged and reared up as it approached the fortress. Fire spewed out of its mouth as Hannibal faced his adversary. He looked up to the sky and with an icy expression, pointing to the cloud. The great red planet seemed to answer him with a great hail of house-sized meteors out of the debris cloud. The cat cloud pulled back from the onslaught and spewed more fire and lightning at Hannibal in an effort to destroy him and the fortress. The fortress rumbled under the barrage, but held. Hannibal looked at the cloud and cried out, “Rage on, foul fiend! You’re beaten!” At that, a hideous cry issued from the cloud as Selina suddenly jumped up beside him, and then Nathanael and Harry, all of them ready for battle.

The cloud rushed forward with the intent to destroy them. It reached the wall and rose up, blowing fire out of its mouth. Hannibal reached out and grabbed Selina’s hand and Nathanael’s hand. Nathanael grabbed Harry’s hand and Hannibal shouted to them, “Welcome to the fiery furnace! Don’t doubt and believe!” Everyone else fled the ramparts and watched in disbelief as the fire engulfed them. As the fire reached them, Hannibal’s face began to shine with a supernatural brilliance as he cried out to the cloud, “The infernal fires will not avail you! Go back to the Darkness, Black Prince…go back to the infernal fires that spawned you!” As the infernal fires spewed out of the mouth of the cloud, engulfing them, it did nothing to them, which enraged the beast further. A strange blue shield had formed around the four as Hannibal’s eyes glowed blue. The fire was powerless to penetrate it. A telling grin came across Hannibal’s face as he let go of Selina and Nathanael, drawing his sword…the Sword of the Lord. Nathanael, Selina, and Harry placed their hands on his back as Hannibal raised the Sword of the Lord high and cried with a voice that echoed supernaturally over the whole battlefield, “Oh, Lord and Father, in the name of your Son, Jesus, smite this beast and send him to his reward!” He raised his sword high and pointed it at the red planet, which continued to rain meteors on the plain and cloud. Then with a whistling swing, he pointed the blade at the cloud as his eyes changed from glowing blue to yellow. A great discharge of energy erupted from the planet, striking the beast cloud square in the head with such force that it knocked Hannibal, Selina, Harry, and Nathanael down, flinging them across the ramparts to its inner edge, stunning them briefly.

The people watched in utter terror and awe as the great battle took place. The energy bolt shredded the cloud into pieces. The cloud’s shriek echoed around the world. The ground shook violently at the energy strike of planetary proportions. A few seconds later, the cloud began to dissipate. Hannibal and Selina shook off the stun and got up, rushing to the wall in time to see the cloud dissipate as he had seen in the vision at Harry’s house on the surface. They looked toward the city of Amacia and saw the red planet unleashing hell against it with a rain of debris and energy bolts that erased it from the face of the Earth like Sodom. They watched the planet destroy the city, yet failed to keep an eye on the dissipating cat cloud. Nathanael and Harry rose and saw them looking toward Amacia, not paying attention to the threat in front of them.

Nathanael saw a forty-foot feline demon leap up on top of the wall and shouted, “Look out! The monster cat isn’t finished!”

The feline demon rushed Hannibal and Selina, catching them by surprise. It swiped viciously with the back of its hand, connecting and knocking them fifty feet down the length of the ramparts. Nathanael and Harry charged as it instantly descended upon Hannibal and Selina. It pinned Selina beneath its massive foot and scooped up Hannibal like a rag doll in with its hand wrapped around his chest. “Puny insect; how dare you defy me! You cannot defeat me! I am eternal! I am FOREVER!” the Black Prince hissed venomously as he squeezed, shaking Hannibal so violently he lost the Sword of the Lord. It went clattering next to side of the keep where it joined the ramparts and wall. Severe pain racked Hannibal’s body from being crushed in the demon’s hand. Abruptly, the Black Prince flung him fifty feet against the side of the keep where the ramparts joined it. Hannibal crashed against it soundly. His ribs crackled as they snapped from the impact. All his breath fled him as he gasped in pain, falling to the ramparts in a heap. A loud snap echoed from his leg as he landed, eliciting a shriek of agony. Hannibal struggled to rise to his hands and knees, balancing on his left leg because of the snapped femur in his right leg. He gasped, wheezing as he rose, trying to regain his wind as blood rose in his throat. Seeing the Sword of the Lord just within reach, he grabbed it, feeling a surge of strength and healing from it.

With Hannibal down, the Black Prince then turned its attention to Selina and began to crush her under foot. A scream rose from Selina as its foot pressed down on her chest, and then a gurgling growl as blood rose in her throat along with the audible snapping of bone. Hannibal felt her pain and used the Sword of the Lord to push himself to his feet after regaining his wind. As he rose, Hannibal saw Nathanael and Harry attack the Black Prince to rescue Selina. With a swipe of its massive arm, Harry sailed off the ramparts to his death, one arm having been ripped off. With another swing, the Black Prince’s tremendous claws caught Nathanael and ripped him in two in a gush of blood and entrails. Time seemed to stop as Hannibal rushed forward in an instant berserker fury, despite his broken leg and ribs. “You’ll pay for that, fiend!” he shrieked as he flung his sword with all his might into the chest of the beast. It ran in up to the hilt and caused the Black Prince to stagger and release Selina from its death grip.

The Black Prince swung around, wailing in pain, and looked at Hannibal in amazement as he balanced on his good leg. “You hurt me!” the demon Emperor railed in pain and amazement. “A mere human insect has hurt the most powerful being in the universe. Now, you’ve sealed your doom!”

Hannibal stood still, balanced on his good leg without any weapons, facing the monstrosity as it lumbered toward him, shaking the wall as the beast moved. Blood drooled out of the corners of his mouth as the Black Prince smiled hideously at him, knowing Hannibal was defenseless. “Time to die, son of Caverias!” he hissed to Hannibal. “With your death, the Caverias line dies forever and I win!”

Suddenly, the Holy Spirit filled him with power and Hannibal, by sheer instinct, lashed out with the only weapon he had left…the Lord. “Feel the burn, you shit-faced fiend!” Hannibal snarled as he pointed at the enemy with the index and middle fingers of his right hand…his eyes suddenly glowing white. Without warning, another great energy surge came down from the colossal red planet and struck the sword in the Black Prince’s chest, being attracted to it. Selina managed to crawl away just before the surge hit. As the energy bolt hit, Hannibal’s eyes continued to glow white as he called out, “Michael…Bind this devil now and send him back to the Abyss!” With a flash of blinding brilliance, a deafening crash, and a hellish roar from the Black Prince, the dream vanished as a ghostly image of an immense cloaked angel with ice-blue eyes, its face covered up to its eyes, and a massive sword drawn hovered over Hannibal, as if it were guarding him. The angel’s cloak fluttered in the breeze from the north.

Hannibal bolted upright in the bed with a cry. He looked around wildly, hearing Selina gasping for breath and moaning loudly as the taste of blood slowly touched his tongue. Excruciating pain filled his legs, back, and chest as he turned to her with great concern. “Selina! Selina…what’s the matter?” he cried desperately as sweat dripped from his brow.

Selina moaned again and opened her eyes, looking into Hannibal’s face as he leaned over her. After a few moments of catching her breath, she said weakly, “Someone tried to crush me.” Blood began to ooze from the corners of her mouth.

Hannibal wrapped his arms around her and gently embraced her. Hannibal began to weep, saying, “I thought I’d lost you! The Black Prince was trying to crush you underfoot! He killed Harry and your dad. Oh, God in heaven…what’s happening?” Just as he spoke, Nathanael and Harry burst into the room. Selina suddenly cried in agony as blood flowed out of her mouth in a convulsion. “Oh, no!” Hannibal cried, ignoring his own blinding pain. “Don’t die! Hang on. I’m here.” He slowly laid her on her side so she wouldn’t choke on her own blood.

“What’s going on in here?” Nathanael asked as the lights came up.

Hannibal rolled over onto his back after laying Selina down and found he could no longer ignore the excruciating pain wracking his body. A shriek escaped his lips as he clenched his chest. “Damn…how did that happen?” he groaned. Suddenly, he coughed and his chest burned like fire as blood filled his mouth. He turned very pale as he rolled on his side and coughed again, spewing blood. Harry and Nathanael saw it and became very concerned, especially when they saw Selina bleeding from the mouth same as Hannibal.

Both of them came and helped Hannibal sit up. Nathanael took his handkerchief and cleaned him off as Harry asked, “Are you all right?”

When the pain subsided enough for Hannibal to speak, he whispered hoarsely, “I don’t think so. I think my ribs…and right leg…is broken.” A flash of blinding pain caused his back to arch and a groan to escape his lips as blood dribbled from the corners of his mouth.

Nathanael held Hannibal until the pain subsided, and then asked, “Can you breathe?”

“Barely,” Hannibal wheezed as the rest of his team rushed in. “But I think the blood is slowing now. Please help me lay down, and then help Selina. She’s worse off than I am.” Nathanael handed the handkerchief to him and gently laid him down. A sigh of relief escaped his lips as Harry pulled back the blankets, uncovering Hannibal’s legs. A gasp escaped Harry’s lips as he saw Hannibal’s right leg swelled up like a balloon and almost black from the bruising.

“Nathanael, look at his leg!” Harry cried urgently.

“Dear god,” Nathanael breathed as he checked out Hannibal’s leg. The moment he touched it, Hannibal shrieked in agony. “It’s definitely broken. But how can you break a leg in your sleep?” Nathanael asked.

“I have no idea,” Harry stated. “You’d better check Selina, Nathanael. She doesn’t look good at all.”

“What the hell?” Thomas asked as he and the rest of the team entered the room and gathered around the bed in their pajamas. “What’s going on?”

“Oh, no,” Arabella cried with great concern, seeing Hannibal’s swollen, blackened right leg. “What happened? You two look like you had the shit beat out of you.” She immediately crawled on the bed and started examining Hannibal’s leg.

“No,” Hannibal growled at Arabella through the pain. “You need to…help Selina. She’s worse…off than I am. She’s…bleeding internally…like I am.” As he spoke, bruises began appearing on Hannibal’s face and neck.

“Just a moment,” Arabella insisted, gently probing Hannibal’s leg. With each prod, Hannibal growled in agony. Looking him in the eye, she ordered, “Don’t move that leg. If you do, the fracture could compound.”

“Okay,” Hannibal wheezed. “Please, look at…Selina.”

Arabella smiled at Hannibal, nodding as she crawled around to Selina as Nathanael examined Selina, checking her pulse and using his telepathic link to her as her father to ascertain her physical condition. He found her condition serious, but stable.

“How is she?” Arabella asked, checking Selina’s pulse for herself, finding it weak, but stable.

“It’s bad,” Nathanael stated grimly. “She has eight broken ribs, damage to her internal organs along with some internal bleeding. But she’s stabilizing right now. Her pulse is weak, but stable.”

“My god,” Arabella cried in astonishment. “How can you tell?”

“Selina and I are linked telepathically as father and daughter,” Nathanael stated. “All Lynxian parents are linked like this to their children. Even though it’s nowhere near as strong a connection as she has to Hannibal, my link with her is strong enough to allow me to scan her body telepathically to see where the problem is. It’s not the same link she has with Hannibal but it does allow me to check on her condition in situations such as this. I know it’s serious but she is not deteriorating, which is good. We Lynxians have a much faster healing capability than humans do. Her body is already isolating and healing the damaged areas, which I must say is rather extensive; however, I cannot confirm the diagnosis without a physical examination, which I highly recommend. The thing the worries me about this is I’ve never seen this level of damage brought on by a psychic attack before, which I suspect is what happened. Who did this, Hannibal?” When Selina groaned, Nathanael stroked her head gently. “You’re going to be okay, princess. Just don’t move too much otherwise you may aggravate your wounds,” he ordered.

Selina smiled at him and whispered telepathically, All right, dad.

Arabella looked down into Selina’s eye, seeing bruises forming on her face and neck as well. “Nathanael’s right,” Arabella agreed. “Just lie still and we’ll take care of you. Moving may aggravate your condition.” Selina nodded silently, her pain and weakness evident in her expression.

Nathanael abruptly looked Hannibal in the eye and asked bluntly, “What happened, son? How did you break your leg in your sleep and look like you’ve been beaten almost to death? Who launched such a violent psychic attack on you?”

Hannibal ignored the question as tears welled up in Hannibal’s eyes. He looked toward Selina as she lay on her side, blood oozing from her mouth. He felt the fire of her pain and reached out to hold her hand, saying, “I’m here, honey.” She squeezed it as a tight smile crossed her lips, in spite of the pain.

“What happened, Hannibal?” Harry asked insistently. “We heard you scream like someone was being killed in here. It was heard all over the wing and woke everyone. And once we get here, we find you and Selina looking like you were on the losing end of a fight. What the hell happened? Was it a psychic attack like Nathanael is saying?”

Hannibal ignored Harry for a moment, staring into Selina’s eyes. “It’ll be…okay, princess,” he whispered hoarsely. “I’m…right here.” She nodded and squeezed his hand.

“Hannibal,” Harry insisted. “What the bloody hell happened in here? Answer me!”

“What…time is…it?” Hannibal asked.

“It’s four in the morning,” Nathanael said.

“How could someone have gotten in here without someone knowing?” Ned asked. “It doesn’t make any sense.”

Hannibal lay there for a few moments without saying anything as he composed himself. “The dream,” he finally wheezed. “It had to…have been that…nightmare.” He heaved and a small amount of blood rose to be caught in the handkerchief. Once the pain let up, Hannibal declared, “No one…of this Earth came in here…and did this to us, Ned. We were attacked…by the Black Prince himself…in our dreams. Selina and I…shared this dream…and we both…were hit really hard by him. He tried to kill…us using a psychic…assault. It’s a…method of attack…I’m familiar with…from my past.”

Harry frowned deeply. “You’re sure?” he asked.

“It was…him, the Black Prince…no question,” Hannibal wheezed between the shots of pain.

“You’re kidding? Incredible!” Arabella exclaimed. “But since it’s obvious that you two look like you’ve been on the losing end of whatever happened, maybe we should do a closer examination like Nathanael suggested. You may have additional injuries you don’t know about.”

Hannibal nodded and whispered hoarsely, “Look at…Selina first. She took…the brunt of it.”

“Very well,” Arabella agreed. “We’ll examine Selina first.” She looked down at Selina and said, “We’re going to roll you on your back, Selina. Just relax. It’s going to be okay.”

“Okay,” Selina whispered shallowly.

“Nathanael, help me,” Arabella ordered. She and Nathanael gently rolled Selina on her back, eliciting an excruciating cry of pain as Selina settled on her back. “Now for the examination; everyone except Harry and Nathanael should step outside…NOW,” Arabella insisted. “I’ll call when we’re done.” Everyone except Harry and Nathanael stepped out, closing the door behind them. Arabella then checked Selina’s pulse, breathing, and eyes a second time, finding her vitals weak, but stable as Nathanael told her earlier. “Selina, we need to take your nightgown off. Is that okay?” she asked Selina.

“Mmmm hmmm,” Selina mumbled in pain.

“Help me, Nathanael,” Arabella ordered as she started taking off Selina’s nightgown. “Hold her up and be very gentle. We don’t want those broken ribs to puncture anything vital.”

“Right,” Nathanael stated, gently sitting Selina up as Arabella pulled the nightgown off.

Selina bawled in agonizing pain as they sat her up and removed the nightgown, leaving her in only a pair of black panties. A gasp escaped their lips as they first saw the terrible scars and then noticed her whole torso from her shoulders to her hips black from the bruising. Even her neck and face was bruising deeply. Her left leg just above the knee lay swollen and heavily bruised. Hannibal’s face fell with great concern when he saw her condition. Harry’s eyes opened wide as he saw Selina’s bare scarred chest blackened from the bruising. A terribly concerned look crossed his face as he saw the injury. Then he suddenly became incredibly embarrassed and turned away, face getting red.

Hannibal saw Harry’s reaction and chuckled very briefly because of the pain. When the pain let up, he said shallowly, “She’s…very beautiful…isn’t she, bud?”

“I…,” Harry stammered.

“Don’t…worry about it,” Hannibal replied softly, beckoning him with his hand. “You don’t have…to be embarrassed. Selina doesn’t…mind. She sees you…as a brother, don’t you honey?”

Selina managed a smile and a nod as Arabella and Nathanael gently laid her down, letting her rest before doing anything else. She saw Harry’s embarrassment when he nervously glanced in her direction. After a small cough that set her lungs on fire and brought blood up, she weakly raised her hand and whispered, “Harry…my dear friend. Do not be …embarrassed to see me…like this. You’re…my friend. Besides…this is a…special case. You’re…my dear brother...so don’t worry about…it. I’m…glad you’re…here.”

“Don’t talk, princess,” Nathanael warned. “It may aggravate your injuries.” Selina nodded and fell silent as Arabella began to prod her chest and sides gently. Selina cried out in pain as she did it.

“Nathanael…how did she get these scars?” Arabella asked while examining Selina.

“She received those scars in a Zoarian raid on our ship when she was a teenager,” Nathanael reported. “The Zoarian captain tried to gut her when she killed members of his squad. I almost lost her that day.”

“Oh,” Arabella answered, continuing with her examination. “Okay. I just didn’t expect to see such scars on her, just as I didn’t expect to see these injuries.”

“She doesn’t advertise her scars,” Nathanael stated as Selina groaned from Arabella’s probing. “It’s not something she’s comfortable sharing with just anyone.”

“I can see why,” Arabella answered.

Harry sighed as he looked at Hannibal, who reached out to take his hand. “It’s okay, bud,” Hannibal rattled hoarsely.

Harry’s embarrassment began to wane as he looked at Arabella and Nathanael examining Selina. This was a special case, just as she said and he was her friend, deeply concerned for her especially upon seeing the scars. But as he looked at her, his own thoughts moved to that of Mary. Even though he was in excruciating pain, Hannibal could sense this and added, “You miss her, don’t you? You…miss Mary.”

Harry nodded silently, saying after a few moments, “Yes, just seeing Selina like this reminded me of the day they attacked Mary. God, I miss her so much.”

“I know you…do,” Hannibal replied after a surge of pain smashed into his skull.

“What we told Selina goes for you too, son,” Nathanael gently rebuked Hannibal. “Don’t talk too much. We don’t know the extent of your injuries either.” Hannibal smiled and gave Nathanael a thumbs-up, causing him to grin. Hannibal’s spirit hadn’t been broken by the incident.

After a few moments of examination, Arabella said, “Nathanael is right, Selina. You have a number of broken ribs. Don’t move or speak if you can help it for now. Fortunately, they haven’t punctured your lungs yet. But from the blood and bruising I’m seeing here, your lungs and maybe stomach or liver may be damaged. I really can’t tell at this point. Your left leg is also broken too just above the knee. Nathanael, we’re definitely going to need the first-aid kit you brought from Tiamat, some splints, and a wrap for her ribs. The damage to her is extensive.”

“I’ll get the kit,” Harry volunteered. Then to Hannibal, he said, “I’ll be right back, bud.” Hannibal nodded and waved him away. Harry left the room, on a mission, informing everyone gathered at the door what the prognosis was for the moment.

“Nathanael, we need to set Selina on her side but she needs to be braced from the back until we can wrap her ribs. Help me,” Arabella ordered. Instantly, Nathanael moved around and they carefully rolled Selina on her side facing Hannibal. She groaned as the pain flared again, tears flowing freely. Nathanael placed several pillows against her back so she could lean on them. A relieved sigh escaped Selina’s lips as she settled into position. “Is that better, sweetie?” Arabella asked Selina.

“Yes, thank you,” Selina whispered as Nathanael put a pillow under her head, and then covered her up to her neck with the blanket. “Thanks dad,” she wheezed through a surge of pain.

“You’re welcome, princess,” Nathanael replied while kneeling beside her, stroking her head gently. He suddenly looked toward the door and asked, “They’re really concerned for them. Can they come back in now, Arabella?”

Arabella turned to Selina and she nodded, whispering, “Yes, they can come in as long as I remain covered up.”

Arabella smiled, covering Selina up to the shoulders with the blanket. “Okay,” Arabella agreed. “I just didn’t want them to see you without your nightgown on. It’s just not proper. They can come in now, Nathanael.”

“You guys can come back in now!” Nathanael shouted to the door and everyone poured in, making a circle around the bed as Arabella moved to Hannibal.

“Just don’t get in the way and be quiet,” Arabella ordered.

“Is Selina going to be all right?” Thomas asked with great concern.

“Yes, she is,” Arabella replied as she moved into position to examine Hannibal. “Now be quiet so I can work.” She looked Hannibal in the eye, saying, “Your turn, Hannibal.” He submitted to the exam and just like Selina, he groaned as Arabella prodded his chest and back. Every time she did, a flash of intense pain would run up and down his spine. Everyone looked on in silence as she checked him.

When Arabella started to unbutton his pajama shirt, Ned asked, “You want us to leave again?”

“No,” Arabella replied as she unbuttoned Hannibal’s shirt. “Just stay out of the way.” Looking Hannibal in the face, she said, “I need to see your chest, Hannibal. What I’m feeling here doesn’t feel right and I want to see if you are bruised as badly as Selina.”

“Okay,” Hannibal wheezed as Arabella unbuttoned the shirt. When she opened the shirt up, there were gasps of astonishment. Hannibal saw their reaction and whispered, “What?”

“Look at yourself,” Arabella said softly as Nathanael finished removing Hannibal’s pajama shirt. “It looks like someone squeezed you like a rag doll.”

Hannibal managed to look at his chest and he moaned in astonishment, “Holy cow! So that’s why…I’m in so much…pain.”

Just then, Harry burst in the room, announcing, “Here’s the first aid kit, Arabella.”

“Good,” Arabella replied, “just wait a minute while I check Hannibal.”

At that moment, Harry saw how bad Hannibal’s injuries were and cried, “Holy shit! That demon prick really got you good, didn’t he?”

Hannibal nodded as he growled through another flash of pain.

Arabella looked at his badly bruised chest very closely. She prodded and immediately found he had broken ribs. Nathanael looked at Harry and ordered, “Go get Nicodemus, Joshua, and Drew. There’s something afoot here that they should know about.”

“And make sure they bring some splints and chest raps,” Arabella added. “We’re going to have to wrap both of them so their broken ribs and legs don’t move until they’re healed.”

“Right,” Harry replied as he handed the first-aid kit to Nathanael. Then to Ned, he said, “Come on. Let’s go get Nicodemus and the others, Ned.” Ned nodded and they left the room.

“You’ve six broken ribs,” Arabella stated. “Could you please tell me how both of you broke your ribs and legs while asleep?”

Hannibal shook his head. “I don’t know,” he admitted, “though this does seem…very familiar. When I was…being delivered from the demons…all those years ago, the devils…would do things like this…to me. The only thing…I can think of is that we were…attacked while we were asleep…and vulnerable.”

Nathanael rubbed his chin and said, “Hmmm…you said you had a dream where the Black Prince attacked you and Selina. Tell us about the dream, but take your time. You don’t want to aggravate your injuries by talking too much. Maybe it will shed some light on these mysterious injuries.” He then opened up the first aid kit and took a quick inventory of its contents, finding enough disks to treat both of them…a total of sixteen.

“You guys…better sit down for…this one is…a doozy,” Hannibal wheezed as he looked at Selina. Arabella shifted her position and sat next to Selina with Nathanael, gently rubbing her shoulder to try to relax her. “Good idea, Nathanael,” Hannibal stated softly, seeing Nathanael inventorying the kit. “Are there enough disks…to treat both of us?”

“Yes,” Nathanael replied. “But it will be a bit slower to heal with it working on two people at the same time.”

“Can’t be helped,” Hannibal growled as a new surge of pain tormented him. “Just do it.”

“Could you guys turn around while I place the disks on my daughter?” Nathanael asked. Arabella looked at them harshly and their audience turned around, facing away from the bed.

“Go ahead, Nathanael,” Arabella stated as her hawk eye watched the group.

Nathanael pushed the blanket back and quickly placed eight of the disks on Selina’s chest, back, and leg, causing her to flinch each time he placed the disk. Once finished, he covered her up to the shoulder with the blanket, touching her on the head, saying, “All done, sweetie.”

Selina smiled in relief, whispering, “Thanks dad.”

“Okay…you can look now,” Arabella called out.

Everyone turned around and looked, seeing Nathanael moving to Hannibal to put the remaining disks on him. In moments, he had set the disks on Hannibal in the same places he did on Selina and closed the top of the kit. The crystal in the box and those on the disks glowed strongly. An eerie melody started to come out of the box and the crystals pulsed in resonance with them. “That should do it. Is it working yet?” Nathanael asked Hannibal.

“Yes, it is,” Hannibal replied with a relieved tone. “It seems to be dulling the pain some, making it tolerable.”

“What about you, princess?” he asked Selina as he sat down at her head, stroking her hair softly.

“Yes,” she whispered sleepily, the kit already sedating her.

“So what about the dream?” Jonathan asked.

“Oh, yes, the dream,” Hannibal said softly, feeling the sedating power of the kit too.

“Try to keep it brief,” Nathanael warned. “Like I said, a lot of talking may damage you even further. Plus, the kit may want to put you to sleep to help speed the healing process.”

“Yes, I understand,” Hannibal replied. “As you know, Selina and I are telepathically fused…and on occasion, we share the same dream…at the same time. It has happened…one time before. Tonight, it happened…again.”

As he spoke, Harry and Ned returned with Nicodemus, Joshua, and Drew, who brought splints and chest wraps for Hannibal and Selina per Arabella’s request. Hannibal saw them come in and relief swept over his face as Nicodemus entered the room. Nicodemus saw the severe bruising on Hannibal’s chest and back and cried, “Dear God! You were attacked! Are you all right?”

Hannibal nodded painfully as he breathed softly, “Yeah. I won’t be pretty, but I’ll live.”

“Are they stable, Dr. Bishop?” Drew asked, seeing her sitting on the bed with Nathanael as he tinkered with the first-aid kit from Tiamat.

“Yes, Doctor…they’re stable for the moment,” Arabella replied. “But they have been seriously injured, as you can see. Both of them have broken ribs, a broken leg, and other internal injuries.”

May I?” Drew asked. “I’ve seen this before when the Emperor launches a psychic attack on us.”

“You think this is supernatural?” Arabella asked.

“Absolutely,” Drew stated. “They were okay when they went to bed after the banquet and no one got past the guards. This has the Emperor’s fingerprints all over it.”

“It was supernatural, Arabella,” Hannibal wheezed. “It was…the Black Prince. Let him...take a look. You’ve done…all you…can.”

Arabella shuffled aside as Drew handed the medical supplies to Joshua before removing his shoes and crawling on the bed next to Hannibal.

“I don’t know what happened here, but your cry was heard throughout the keep,” Joshua stated. “Both Nicodemus and I were awakened by it. It sounded like someone was being murdered in here.”

“Ugh…that’s not…far from the truth,” Hannibal growled as Drew started probing his chest. “I haven’t…been hit this bad…in years.”

“Hmmm,” Drew murmured. “He broke a bunch of your ribs, didn’t he?”

“Yup,” Hannibal murmured. “You’ve seen…this type of attack before?”

“Yes,” Drew stated. “There isn’t much we can do for these kinds of wounds. Most of the time a person attacked like this by the Emperor or his Cadre die within hours of receiving them. But you seem to be stabilizing, which is unusual. About all we can do is wrap your ribs, put a splint on that leg, and then let you soak in the tub like before. It can heal internal injuries as well as external ones.”

“That’s very good to know,” Arabella stated. “I would strongly recommend they use the tub as soon as possible.”

“My thoughts exactly,” Drew stated. “But before we let them do that, it’s imperative that we hear from them how this attack occurred. If they tell us about the incident, then we have a better chance of countering any curse the Emperor or his Cadre may have put on them.”

“Drew’s correct,” Nicodemus stated. “You need to tell us what happened and who attacked you.”

“I was…about to do…that,” Hannibal replied sleepily. “We had a dream…Selina and I, the same dream…at the same time because of our…fused telepathic link. In the dream, we were at this massive mountain fortress…in the middle of a desert with a multitude that was…apparently fleeing the wrath of the Emperor. The fortress was enormous, more than five times…the size of this one. The first thing I noticed…was the sky. There was a sun in it along with…a great red planet with a cloud of debris with it. Then I looked to the…southeast and saw a cloud of dust rising.” Hannibal continued painfully and sleepily, taking his time telling the dream to everyone. Gasps of astonishment rose from everyone as he told the dream. Nicodemus listened intensely and after Hannibal finished telling the dream, a profound silence settled over the group for almost two minutes.

Finally, Nicodemus spoke, saying, “You’ve had your first direct encounter with the Emperor’s spirit. This was more than just a dream since both of you have the physical repercussions of the wounds in the dream. This is a very disturbing development. We must be on our guard. The Emperor is definitely on the move now. You’re his enemy. He has revealed his essence to you so there will be no confusion as to whom you’re dealing with. As you heard, this is not the first time this sort of thing has happened here. He attacks like this on a regular basis. It is usually directed at those he deems to be the greatest threat to him. I personally have had as many as ten of these kinds of attacks since the mantle of prophet was put upon me by the Ancient of Days. These attacks are usually a precursor of a physical attack.”

Hannibal suddenly understood, whispering, “Yes, I…understand now. When I would…be given a mark as…an assassin, I would summon a demon and…send it to attack the mark as a precursor to…the physical elimination of the mark. The demon would…lower the mark’s guard, making my job easier. Now if this…is the case, we should be extra careful and…watchful for anything out…of the ordinary.” He began to nod off a little, slowly losing the fight with the sedation power of the first-aid kit.

“Yes,” Joshua agreed. “Every time there has been an attack like this before, it was shortly followed by an offensive by the Emperor to cull an area. It happened when he attacked Khitia.”

“But this case is different,” Nicodemus cautioned. “In previous cases, these attacks have been done by his minions, not by the Emperor himself. Since it appears the Emperor is directly involved in this attack, we’re in very grave danger and must be ready for anything.”

“Yes,” Nathanael agreed. “We must be alert. I believe this was a warning to us by the Almighty. He has allowed this attack to occur to warn us of impending peril.”

“We’re indeed fortunate that the Ancient of Days has allowed us this warning,” Nicodemus declared. “I must pray and seek His face for clearance as to when the main assault is to occur. In the meantime, everyone should go back to bed and get some rest. Hannibal, you and Selina should make use of the bath as the doctors suggested. You’re well aware of its healing capabilities because of the last time you used it. I’ll let the elders know what is going on. Nathanael, Arabella, and Dr. Drew will stay here to assist them. Okay people, let’s go.”

Nicodemus went to the door and opened it as Nathanael immediately went to the bath and began to draw the water. Everyone else except Arabella and Drew filed out. As Nicodemus was about to leave, Nathanael came out of the bath and asked, “I had a crazy thought, Nicodemus. Maybe we should put them in the tub together?”

Nicodemus considered it for a moment and replied, “Do it. They can draw strength from each other like they did the last time. Just put them in just like they are. Don’t worry about undressing them. They can do that when they are capable if they want.”

Nathanael nodded and Hannibal agreed very sleepily, “Yes, I agree. The tub is more than big enough for both of us and she is in no condition to sit up by herself. The Black Prince nearly killed her as well as me; however, she took the worst of it.”

“So be it,” Nicodemus replied. I’ll check in on you in a couple of hours.” He promptly left, closing the door behind him, leaving Arabella, Drew, and Nathanael with them.

Once they were alone, Arabella said as she gently rubbed Selina’s shoulder and back, “I’ve never treated a cat before.”

Selina flashed a weak, sleepy smile at her, saying, “You did…good, Arabella. Thank you.”

“You’re welcome, sweetie,” Arabella replied with a smile on her face and in her heart.

“We should wrap their ribs and brace their broken legs before we put them in the tub,” Drew stated.

“Is it okay to get the wrap and splints wet?” Nathanael asked.

“Of course,” Drew said with a smile. “These wraps are made for this type of thing. They will not stretch when wet or shrink when they dry. My patients have bathed in the healing waters many times with such bandages on. It’s perfectly okay.”

“Then let’s get to it,” Arabella stated. “I suggest we first set and immobilize their broken legs so when we move them to wrap their ribs, it won’t cause undue distress to them. They’re in enough pain as it is.”

“Good call, Dr. Bishop,” Drew stated.

“Please…call me Arabella,” Arabella stated as she, Nathanael, and Drew gathered around Hannibal. “Hannibal…we need to set your leg.”

Hannibal nodded sleepily. “Go ahead, Arabella,” he murmured. “It has to be done.”

“Wait,” Nathanael intruded. “Let’s remove the disks on his leg first.” Arabella nodded as Nathanael opened the first-aid kit, breaking the healing cycle of the machine.

“What’s that?” Drew asked as Nathanael removed the two disks from Hannibal’s leg, setting them aside.

As he reached under the blanket and removed the two disks on Selina’s leg, Nathanael stated, “It’s a portable healing machine we brought from Tiamat. I brought it in case we encountered difficulties that we couldn’t deal with normal first-aid. It’s actually a very versatile little machine. It can heal just about anything.” He set the two disks on Selina’s leg aside and closed the top, reactivating the machine. “There…now we can do what needs to be done,” he reported, moving back into position.

“Interesting,” Drew stated. “I’d like to know more about this little machine when we have the time.”

“Sure,” Nathanael replied, kneeling down beside Hannibal.

“Drew, help me hold his leg while Nathanael sets the leg,” Arabella stated as she carefully grabbed Hannibal’s leg above the break. Drew nodded, helping her immobilize the leg.

Nathanael gently latched on to Hannibal’s leg at the knee. “On three, Hannibal,” Nathanael instructed. “Three!” He snatched Hannibal’s leg and they heard the bones crackling as they realigned. Hannibal howled in agony for a few moments, the pain having driven away the sedation of the first-aid kit.

“Are you okay?” Arabella asked, putting her hand on his forehead.

“I’ll be okay once the pain lets up,” Hannibal wheezed, gritting his teeth. “Finish what you started.”

“Damn…the bath, I forgot about it!” Nathanael blurted out, sprinting to the bath and the sound of running water ceased. He came back out and announced, “That was close. It almost ran over. But the bath is ready. I hope you like it hot because it is.”

“That’s good,” Hannibal moaned as Arabella and Drew fastened the strange-looking splint on his bare leg. It consisted of two flat metal bars two feet long with a third, slightly curved flat bar that fit snugly behind the knee. Several odd straps connected the bars. Arabella and Drew put the splints on Hannibal’s leg, pulling the straps tight. Hannibal groaned as they tightened the straps.

“Now, let’s wrap the leg,” Drew stated, pulling what appeared to be a long elastic wrap from the supplies. In moments, they secured the splint with the wrap, effectively immobilizing Hannibal’s leg. “Good,” Drew chimed. “How does it feel?”

“Better,” Hannibal replied softly as the first-aid kit continued to dull his pain. “It’s not throbbing as much and seems to be going numb.”

“That’s to be expected. It’s a pretty bad break,” Arabella stated as Nathanael put the two disks back on Hannibal’s leg. The two disks adhered to the wrap on his leg, making him flinch when they made contact. “Now for your ribs,” Arabella stated. “Should we remove the disks, Nathanael?”

“No,” Nathanael stated. “I removed the disks from his leg because of the splint. But the ribs are a different story. We’re not putting a solid brace on them. We can just put the wrap over the disks. Besides, it’s better that the disks have solid skin contact to maximize their effectiveness.”

“All right,” Arabella stated. “Nathanael, you help Hannibal sit up while Drew and I wrap his ribs.”

Nathanael nodded, moving into position. “This is going to hurt, son,” he stated. “But it must be done.”

“Do it,” Hannibal growled as a fresh surge of pain smashed into his skull. “I’ll live.”

Nathanael, Arabella, and Drew gently sat Hannibal up, making his squall in agony. Once sitting up, Nathanael braced Hannibal while Arabella and Drew wrapped Hannibal’s blackened scarred chest and back with the chest bandage.

“Looks like you’re just as beat up on the back too,” Arabella observed as they quickly, but gently secured Hannibal’s ribs. “I can’t get over how a dream did this to you and Selina.”

“Psychic attacks can be…just as damaging…physically as a physical…attack,” Hannibal wheezed. “You’ll eventually…understand.” He groaned as Arabella and Drew pulled the wrap tight and fastened it.

“There,” Drew stated, patting Hannibal on his bruised shoulder. “That should make breathing a little easier.”

After a few breaths, Hannibal noticed breathing became a bit easier as the pain subsided. “Thank you, doctors,” he murmured as Nathanael propped him up on some pillows.

“Now just relax, son,” Nathanael ordered. “We’ll help Selina and then get you both to the tub.”

Hannibal smiled wearily through the pain, giving a thumbs-up. “Be careful with her,” he murmured. “She’s very fragile right now.”

“We intend to,” Drew stated. Turning to Selina, he asked her, “Miss Selina…would you give me permission to help treat you?”

Selina nodded sleepily. “Okay,” she whispered. “I trust…you. You’re…a good man, Drew.”

Nathanael moved into position as Arabella pulled the blanket off Selina. When Drew saw the damage and scars on Selina’s chest, his eyes grew wide. “Whoa,” he murmured. “You’re cut up like Hannibal. How’d that happen?”

“Another time,” Nathanael ordered. “For now, just know that when she was a teenager, she was attacked and mauled by the enemies of the Kaitian Empire. She almost died from it.”

“People,” Arabella insisted. “We have to treat her now. Let’s start with the leg like we did for Hannibal.”

“Right,” Drew stated.

For twenty minutes, they worked on Selina, who was almost unconscious. She’d shriek and moan in pain when they’d make the necessary treatments. Hannibal watched as they bound her broken left leg, putting the disks from the first-aid kit back on the leg before wrapping her chest with the chest bandage. He flinched when Selina cried out in pain, feeling her pain. Finally, they finished and propped Selina up on pillows like Hannibal. She moaned softly in relief once they stopped treating her.

“How’s that, sweetie,” Arabella asked.

A weary smile crossed Selina’s lips. “Thank you,” she whispered. “I can breathe a little better now. God, I’m tired.”

“You did well, Miss Selina,” Drew commended, patting her on the hand. “I’m impressed. Now rest for a little bit.”

“Okay,” Selina murmured wearily.

“Arabella,” Drew stated. “They should make use of the tub for several hours. Only the healing properties of the tub and water can help them now.”

“We’ll make sure they do,” Arabella stated as she got off the bed, followed by Drew.

“Good,” Drew replied. “I’ll report to Nicodemus about their condition. If you need me, you know where to find me.”

“I do,” Arabella stated. “Now go and get some sleep. It’s almost 6:00 am.”

Drew smiled and shook Arabella’s hand, walking out without another word.

Nathanael saw her sigh deeply. “It’s going to be okay,” he reassured Arabella. “They’re stable and I’m sure between the first-aid kit, the healing properties of the tub, and the Lord, Hannibal and Selina will be up and around before you know it.”

“I hope so,” Arabella stated glumly. “I’ve never dealt with this kind of thing before. Who could believe a demon monster could attack and physically injure them in their dreams. My mind can’t comprehend it.” She sighed deeply, obviously troubled by the implications of Hannibal’s and Selina’s injuries. “If that demon could do that to them then what keeps him from attacking us like this? I’m really scared by this,” she admitted.

Nathanael got off the bed and put his arm around Arabella. Before he could speak, Hannibal called out weakly, “I know this…scares you, Arabella. But you mustn’t let it get…to you. The Lord is why the Black Prince…doesn’t attack you. This is…apparently a fight…between him and me. The Lord isn’t letting it go…beyond me or Selina. If I can…keep him focused on me, then he…won’t try this shit…on you.”

“But how can you fight something like this?” Arabella asked. “It makes me afraid to even go to sleep.”

“I can’t answer…that,” Hannibal admitted. “But you must…have faith in…the Lord. I do. Besides, that bastard is…going to regret having…done this to us. He hurt Selina and now has to answer…to me for that. I’m going to…get him for this.”

“You’d better leave that justice to the Lord, son,” Nathanael warned. “Getting revenge is how you got snared by those dark powers to begin with. Let the Lord handle it. He’s not going to let this go unchallenged. That strange face you told us about at the end of the dream should convince you of that.”

“You’re right,” Hannibal admitted. “Thanks…for reminding me.”

“Think nothing of it,” Nathanael stated. “Now, are you ready for the bath?”

“Yeah,” Hannibal wheezed through a shot of pain. “Maybe…the tub will get rid of…this terrible pain.”

“Check the tub, Arabella,” Nathanael called out as he knelt on the bed to pick up Hannibal. “See if the water is still good and hot.”

“Right,” Arabella replied, sprinting to the bathroom.

“Let’s get you to the tub,” Nathanael stated in a fatherly manner, gently scooping Hannibal up as if he were his own son.

Hannibal groaned as he settled into Nathanael’s massive arms. “Damn, this hurts!” he hissed through the terrible haze of pain that surged from being picked up.

“It’ll only last for few moments,” Nathanael purred, moving quickly to the bathroom. “Is it ready, Arabella?”

“Yes, Nathanael,” Arabella replied, turning away from the tub. “It’s hot, but not scalding. Put him in slowly.” She immediately saw Hannibal’s left ankle swelled up and deeply bruised. “Wait before you put him in,” Arabella stated. “I want to look at that left ankle. It doesn’t look right.”

“No can do,” Nathanael stated. “He needs to get into the water right now to take the pressure off of his ribs.”

“Okay,” Arabella agreed. “I’ll check it after you sit him down.”

Kneeling down beside the tub, Nathanael gently lowered Hannibal into the steaming water, propping him up against the back of the tub. “There you are,” he said softly, trying to hide his emotions as he wiped the blood from Hannibal’s mouth. “You’re going to be fine, son. You’ll see.”

Hannibal grabbed Nathanael’s arm as he knelt beside the tub, looking the giant cat in the eye. “Thanks, dad; I love you,” he murmured in a semi-delusional state from the pain.

“I love you too, son,” Nathanael replied as a tear began to form in his eye. “I’ll be right back with Selina.”

Hannibal nodded and Nathanael went back to the bed to get Selina, who was unable to even sit up. Immediately, the bath began to work its healing magic on Hannibal. Almost immediately, the tenseness in his muscles began to subside and he started to relax, the sedation of the first-aid kit kicking in again as he relaxed.

Arabella knelt down beside the tub and asked, “Is that better?”

“Yeah,” Hannibal murmured. “My ribs and back are not protesting…as loudly now. Did you want to look at my…ankle?”

“Yes,” Arabella replied, plunging her hands into the very hot water. “I’m going to pick up your left leg so I can examine your left ankle. Just relax and let your leg flex normally. Let me know when it hurts.” Hannibal nodded as Arabella slowly lifted his left leg, flexing the knee as she did until the ankle was just under the surface of the water. “Okay so far?” she asked. Hannibal gave her a thumbs-up. “I’m going to examine it now,” she stated. “Let me know if it hurts.” Arabella started probing the swollen ankle and Hannibal flinched. “That hurts?” she asked.

“Yeah,” Hannibal replied. “It felt like it was on fire when you pressed on it. Now, it’s practically numb. I can’t feel it at all.” Hannibal suddenly flinched with a deep groan as Selina bawled in pain when Nathanael scooped her up. “Hurry up,” he called out to Nathanael. “She’s on fire and so am I!”

Arabella continued to examine Hannibal’s ankle as Nathanael rushed in to the right side of the tub. “Just a little longer, princess,” Nathanael said softly as he lowered her into the steaming bath next to Hannibal. As soon as she settled in beside Hannibal, who put his arm around her to stabilize her, Selina stopped moaning and let out a sigh of great relief. Nathanael touched her on the head with a worried smile on his lips. “I’ll be right back,” he said, quickly leaving. Moments later, he returned with the first-aid kit, sitting it on the sink counter before squatting down next to Selina outside the tub. He sighed deeply and said, “It’ll be all right, princess. I’m here for both of you.”

“So am I,” Arabella chimed in as she lowered Hannibal’s injured left ankle gently to the bottom of the tub.

“How’s the ankle?” Nathanael asked.

“Numb as a post,” Hannibal admitted.

“It’s not broken from what I could see,” Arabella reported. “But it is severely sprained. I don’t see how we missed it earlier.”

“Probably because of that giant handprint on Hannibal’s chest,” Nathanael suggested. “It’s such a large injury we didn’t think to check his ankles. Maybe you should check the other ankle too?”

“Good idea,” Arabella agreed. “But I can’t lift that one up because of the fractured femur. I’ll just check it where it is.” She again plunged her hands into the water, using her sense of touch more than sight to examine Hannibal’s right ankle. Not once did he squall in pain. “It feels okay,” she declared. “But once they get out of the tub, I’ll check it again just to be safe.”

“That’s fine,” Hannibal murmured sleepily. “I can’t tell you anything about that ankle because I literally cannot move it.”

“Don’t worry about it,” Arabella reassured him. “I’m sure it’s okay. But you should know that with a broken right leg and a severely sprained left ankle, you’re going to be down for a while.”

A pained look crossed Hannibal’s face, not one born of physical agony. “I…know,” he said softly.

“Don’t let it get you down, son,” Nathanael instructed in a fatherly tone. “This is just a temporary setback. You’ll be up and around before you realize it.”

“He’s right,” Arabella agreed. “Between this tub and the first-aid kit, you’ll probably be dancing a gig in a few days.”

Hannibal cackled painfully. “Please don’t make me laugh,” he begged. “It hurts when I laugh.”

“Good,” Arabella chimed. “That means you haven’t given up. Just have faith, Hannibal. Everything will be okay. Now let me check Selina’s legs to make sure she doesn’t have a similar problem.”

“Okay,” Selina whispered shallowly.

Nathanael moved out of the way, letting Arabella kneel beside Selina. One at a time, Arabella checked Selina’s ankles, legs, and good knee. “Can you feel anything I’m doing?” Arabella asked as she examined Selina’s legs in the water.

“I can feel some pressure…and a tingling where you’re…touching me,” Selina reported groggily, “but nothing really…painful.”

“That’s good,” Arabella replied in a pleased tone, pulling her hands out of the water. “It seems you didn’t sprain or break anything else other than that leg. But I can see some minor bruising so your legs may be sore for a while.”

Selina nodded sleepily without answering…too tired to speak.

Arabella shook the water from her hands while standing and retrieving a towel from the shelves by the sink. After drying her hands and arms, Arabella said in a puzzled tone, “What I can’t figure is why Hannibal’s legs were so messed up and Selina’s wasn’t.”

“Probably because she…wasn’t thrown…around like I was,” Hannibal returned between the surges of pain, his face a mix of pain, sorrow, and angst.

Arabella noticed Hannibal’s sullen, down look. She smiled sweetly and patted him on the shoulder gently. “Buck up, Hannibal,” she chimed. “You weren’t killed by whatever hit you and I’m sure that if your dream is right, he’s probably livid that he didn’t kill you. You beat him at his own game.”

“You sure did, son,” Nathanael agreed. “Now don’t be so down. You’ll be back up on your feet before you know it. Are you going to be all right now?”

Hannibal glanced at Selina with a weak smile, saying, “Yes, I believe…we will.”

“Good…good,” Nathanael crowed. “We’ll be right out here if you need us.”

“Could you…turn on the jets, dad,” Selina asked, pointing to the button for the jets. “It helped…accelerate the healing last…time.”

“Of course,” Nathanael replied, turning on the jets in the tub. The water began bubbling a swirling around Hannibal and Selina.

“Oh, I didn’t know about that,” Arabella chimed. “That’ll definitely help them. It’ll promote blood flow and speed up the healing process.”

“That’s what…we found out…last time,” Hannibal wheezed. “Hopefully, it’ll work…again.”

“We can only hope,” Nathanael stated. “Arabella and I will be right out here if you need us.”

Hannibal nodded and Nathanael and Arabella left the room, leaving the door open so they could keep an eye of them. “You go get some rest, Arabella,” Nathanael ordered. “I’ll stay and watch. When they’re ready to come out, I’ll come get you.”

“Okay,” Arabella acquiesced. “You let me know when they are ready to get out. I need to make sure their injuries are healing properly once they’re out of the tub.”

“Right,” Nathanael replied. “I’ll let you know.” Arabella nodded and went back to her quarters next door. Nathanael walked over to the bed, lying down across the foot of it, sighing as he pondered the newest and strangest turn of events yet.

Slowly, the strange tub did its healing work, enhancing the little first-aid kit’s healing properties. Hannibal and Selina relaxed and the pain slowly began to drain away as the water swirled around them. Hannibal looked Selina in the eye and admitted, “This is a very strange turn of events. Not once did I think the Black Prince would mug us in our sleep. It was a cowardly act.”

Selina coughed with pain, spitting some blood out on the floor. “Mugged is an understatement,” she murmured. “That asshole ran us over with a bus.”

“Indeed,” Hannibal agreed sleepily. “Let’s not let him run over us like that again.”

“Amen,” Selina replied, fighting the combined sedating powers of the first-aid kit and the tub. She leaned against Hannibal’s shoulder as they lay in the water up to their shoulders.

Hannibal slowly reached across his chest with his left hand and wiped Selina’s face with it. “They say that cats hate water,” he whispered in her ear. “I, however, know that to be a lie because all big cats love water. But you know something; you really look good when you’re wet.”

She smiled and whispered, “Thank you, honey. So do you.”

Hannibal smiled and kissed her on the temple. “Don’t worry, we’ll be all right,” he said to her, just so she could hear it. Within ten minutes of Nathanael and Arabella stepping out of the bathroom, they were asleep.

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