Mutations

October 13th - Blackthorn Imaginarium - Early Hours

Barnaby walked through he ruins of his once proud theater. The fires had been doused a few hours since but the stench of smoke and charred flesh still hung in the air. Most of the bodies had been removed and his employees were continuing the work of carrying out the ruined chairs and stage props.

His Ashen companion Vallisa stood next to him surveying the damage with pursed lips. She held the purse strings for the troop and would see them on short rations for the next few months as they clawed their way back into the black.

"The evening was a disaster." she commented in her tick Ashen tones, "You will be lucky of the Regent does not blame you personally."

"Fantastic." he replied and not in the tone she had expected, she turned to look at him with a raised eyebrow,

"Fantastic." he repeated, his eyes filled with a glee close to madness.

"I see nothing fantastic here.." she began but he turned and grabbed her shoulders, squeezing almost tight enough to hurt. "Let go." she growled but he ignored her.

"People will talk of last night for a generation. It was unbelievable." He released her and spread his arms wide as if accepting adulation from the empty seat,

"It truly was a show of shows!"

"It was carnage, people died." she said flatly.

"People die every day!" he dismissed he words and snatched at the air, "When we reopen they will come in their droves just to see the place where it all happened."

"Mr Rust Sir?" A voice came from off to the side but he was too far gone into his ravings.

"The crowds will stretch from the East Twins to the Roost and we will make it bigger and better than ever before!"

"Mr Rust Sir!"

Barnaby turned to see Drosni the Dwarf standing nearby, a face near panic.

"What is it Alexander? Hurry up man."

"The mutant sir."

"Yes, yes, he got away," His eyes flashed then in sudden hope, "Have you recaptured him? Found him cowering down below?"

"G..gods no sir."

"Then what man, spit it out."

"It's some of the troop sir, some of them were injured by him and they... they.."

"They are what?"

"They are sick sir, the mutation is contagious it would seem."

"Who?"

"Gullid and few other sir."

"Show me!"

***

The Plague Compound

Tate lay Emily down on a cot in the doctors offices. The man was half asleep having been dragged from his pit in the early hours of the evening. Doctor Ashworth was an associate of the recently disbanded society his father had presided over. Doctors were often needed to produce death certificates or to provide special assistant such as they were now in need of.

Tate also knew that this particular Doctor had an interest in the unusual and macabre and it was clear from the effect that the mutants wounds were having on Emily that this was falling into that category.

The Doctor took blood from her arm and proceeded to run through a series of tests while Tate was instructed to keep Emily comfortable and cool. Her skin felt like it was on fire and her veins stood out as black lines against her skin. After an hour or so he returned with a vial of green liquid.

"This thing that attacked her?" he asked, "It was not a plague victim?"

"I dont think so." Tate replied, "I was deformed and wild, but it want dying. It was fast and strong."

"Very strange, the tests show a bacteria in the blood closely related to the recent plague. It is attacking her body attempting to mutate her cells."

"You have to save her!" Tate raged, "You have to do something! I will pay what ever you want,"

That last line got the Doctors attention and he licked his lips before answering. "What I want is tenure and immunity from the consequences of carrying out my research here for as long as I wish."

"Done." Tate snapped, "I will have papers drawn up in the morning."

"There are risks in this." Ashworth said and Tate cut him off,

"I dont care, just heal her."

"I will do what I can, but you will not like my methods."

"Just do it."

The doctor left the room and returned a moment later with a trolley containing another sleeping woman. She was covered in tatoos and had short dark hair.

"Who is that?" Tate asked.

"Nobody." was the only answer he got as the Ashworth went about setting up the apparatus for a blood transfusion. Once the procedure had begin he set about decanting the green liquid from the large phial he had been carrying into numerous smaller ones. He fitted them into a leather case and placed it on the side next to a stack of papers.

At last the procedure was done and the doctor removed all of the tubes and needles from both women. He took one of the green phials then and placed it to Emilys lips pouring the contents in.

"The transfusion will give her an natural immunity to what is attacking her system and the phial contains a cure I have been working on here at the compound. You were going to the Graymire you say?"

"We were." Tate replied sounding doubtful.

"Good. Do not change your plans. Your friend here will recover enough to travel within the next day or so and the help you need to complete her cure can be found there."

The Doctor packed his paper and the phials into a small leather bag and handed them to Tate. "There is enough there to last a month and the notes allow for the making of more. Should her condition worsen she will require another transfusion from one of the Ashen. It is all in the notes. Present yourself to the Rovers Guild when you get to Graymire and ask for Doctor McFarlane, mention my name and she will take care of you."

"We cant we stay here, you could treat her." Tate protested.

"No." the Doctor replied, "No it would be too dangerous. I need my work to remain unnoticed and you my boy are the son of one of the most powerful men in the city. In Graymire, you are nobody. Go there, do not change your plans and the Guild will take care of her.

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