Aubellard Apothecary1 Intas 2719
Anna frowned at the feeling that she spoke monite through a wall, her words echoing back at her instead of being heard by the mona.
Eventually, the mona responded, but the sensation was slow and reluctant, as if it didn't want to help her. What's going on? the exhausted apothecary wondered for a split moment, before refocusing on her spell. One could not question themselves while working with the mona.
Anna had forgotten an important feature of the mona. She assumed that the mona wanted to save people as much as she did, that it cared about the people on Vita. Of course, it didn't. The mona was completely amoral and neutral, only caring whether the person interacting with it did so with respect and honor. That respect and honor included the caster not pushing themselves far past their limits before reaching out to the mona. The mona knew that you couldn't truly respect it, one of the Great Forces of the universe, if you didn't respect something that was as small in the grand scheme of the universe as your body.
Anna bit back a whimper as her face became a bonfire, the nerves in her teeth feeling like hot glass was being poured on them. The flames moved up, filling her sinuses with lava.
That's when Anna knew she was fucked. She couldn't brail the spell. She suspected that whatever was coming would be so much worse if she did. All she could do was continue the spell and hope the backlash wasn't too severe.
The pain moved down her body in a heartbeat, the aching in each joint becoming the sting of a thousand bees. The pot fell as her hands seized in pain, and Anna followed the now-broken pot to the floor a second later.
Then all was black.
When Anna woke up, Desdemona was crouched down beside her, taking her pulse. "What in the hell happened?" her apprentice asked, her eyes wide and scared. "I can't feel the mona. What did you do?" Her voice was near hysterical. The girl had never experienced the aftereffects of a backlash before and the sudden aching in her body and disappearance of the mona had deeply frightened her.
Anna tried to speak, but her throat felt as if it was being scraped with broken glass when she tried and she couldn't get enough air in to speak. She started coughing, the cough a high-pitched whoop as she gasped for air. Once the coughing fit passed, she mimed writing. After a minute, Des figured out what she meant and hurried off to get a pencil and notepad.
When she came back, Anna had managed to prop herself up against the wall, but just barely. Anna took the pencil and notepad from Desdemona gratefully and started writing, her usually graceful handwriting a harsh scribble as her hands protested holding the pencil. "Backlash. Damage?"
"Oh clocking hell, Anna," Des moaned, reaching up to rub the bridge of her nose. "We lost a couple shelves of potions. And I feel like someone beat me with a sledgehammer." She gave Anna a heated glare.
Anna looked sheepish for a moment before another coughing fit overtook her.
"Fuck, Anna," Des swore as she realized that the backlash had resulted in Anna's immune system finally losing to the disease that had been ravaging the Stacks. "You are going upstairs and resting," the woman said as she bent down and helped Anna up.
Another coughing fit struck Anna, and she nearly fainted from the lack of air.
"Shit. Should I get an ambulance?" Desdemona asked as she held Anna up and thumped her back.
Anna shook her head frantically. She knew that the hospital would look down on her if they found out she had experienced a backlash. And only a backlash could explain how Anna had gone from "exhausted, but well" to "severely ill with whooping cough" overnight.
Desdemona sighed in frustration. "Well, I am calling my family doctor. She'll keep this quiet," Desdemona said, her tone of voice clearly one of someone who would listen to no argument against what she had decided. Lucky for her, Anna didn't have the ability to argue right at that moment.
The two of them made their painstaking way upstairs, each step taking what felt like an eternity. Anna was covered in sweat by the time they entered her bedroom and so weak that Des barely had to push her to sit down on the bed.
Desdemona felt Anna's forehead and sighed. "You're burning up. Dammit, Anna, you are so reckless," the younger woman said as Anna moved to lay down on the bed.
Anna closed her eyes as Desdemona left the bedroom and heard the girl banging around in the kitchen. She drifted off after a few moments, though her body shivered as if she had been dunked in polar waters.
The rest of the day was spent in a daze. Anna heard Des talking to another woman at one point. Des woke her up and gave her a dose of expectorant and some aspirin before letting Anna sleep.
When Desdemona woke her up again, the light had changed, indicating that it was early afternoon. "I'm going to stay here. Dr. Long said that you might still need to go to the hospital and, if I rest, I should be okay. Lucky for me, you have a nice couch," she said as she fed Anna some broth. "Shop's staying closed until you're out of the woods."
Anna let out a rickety sigh, knowing that it was best that the store stay closed, but upset that she had caused this situation. After Desdemona had fed her a bowl of broth, Anna fell into a light, restless sleep.
The next few days passed in a fog. Desdemona stayed good to her word, taking care of Anna when she wasn't making up new stock for the shop or resting. Desdemona enlisted one of her servants to take care of Anna during the night, saying that Anna needed a nanny to make sure she didn't go down and start making potions. Anna couldn't blame the woman for her sass. Anna was grateful for the apprentice's care and made a mental note to give her a huge bonus for what she was doing while Anna convalesced.
It was half a week before Anna even had the strength to sit up in bed for more than the time it took to drink a cup of broth. By the end of the week, Anna was able to stand up long enough to make it to the bathroom on her own and Des reopened the shop. It was another 5 days before she was able to make it downstairs, though Desdemona had chased her right back upstairs when she saw Anna poking at the ingredients in the stock room, the younger woman threatening to tie her down if she didn't rest.
Two weeks after the backlash, Desdemona came up to Anna's apartment. Anna was looking through one of her surgical textbooks, working on the lesson plan for her next class, even if she didn't know when that was. She had sent messages to the hospital, letting them know that she was ill and would have to take a leave for a few weeks. The letter of acknowledgement from the hospital was couched in such a way that she knew the administration was not amused with the fact that Anna couldn't come in to work.
"I took the liberty of contacting your brother and arranging for you to take a month off and go visit him. The Mugroba winter will be much better than this ridiculous winter." Desdemona announced as she stood in the doorway, her arms crossed and her face determined.
"But what about the shop?" Anna asked, her gravelly voice full of alarm. "And my hospital work?"
"Oh, for clock's sake. Didn't you say I was ready to run a shop by myself? I can do that for a month. I know you're antsy. If you don't get out of this clocking city for a while, you'll be pushing yourself full throttle again and I will not let that happen. I may just be your apprentice, but someone must take care of you if you won't. And the hospital will understand. It's not like you've ever taken leave since you started working there."
Anna sighed and leaned back in her chair. "Fine. I won't argue," she said, her voice sulky and displeased. "Did you tell Demkaih the reason why I'm visiting?
"Good. I didn't want to just tie you up and drop you off at the airship dock," Desdemona said with a thin smile. "I just told him you had a severe case of whooping cough. He doesn't need to know about the backlash unless you tell him."
"You know you need this," Des continued, her tone of voice softening some. "You're lucky it wasn't worse. I know you have this burning need to save everyone, but you can't save anyone if you destroy yourself."
Anna sighed again, closing her eyes. "I know, I know," she said, her voice soft and scratchy. "When does the airship leave?"
"Later tonight. You can pack, take a bath, and have a good dinner before you go," Desdemona said, relieved that Anna had seen reason. Anna had a good heart, but Desdemona knew that the apothecary/surgeon/professor was burning the candle at both ends. The problem with doing that was that you became nothing but ashes entirely too quickly.
Des turned and headed downstairs and Anna started getting ready for her trip. By the time 24 o'clock came around and Des came up to say that Anna had to leave to go to the airship dock, the Mugrobi woman was ready to go. Des had called a carriage for Anna and gave Anna a big hug before she left the store. "Trust me. You need this. The shop will be here when you get back," Des said, trying to soothe Anna's obvious nervousness about leaving Brunnhold. "And if the hospital raises a fit, they're bloody idiots. You've worked yourself to the bone for them."
Anna rolled her eyes and gave Des a tired smile. "I said I'm going," she laughed, before leaving the shop and getting into the carriage. She closed her eyes, trying to focus on the fact that she was going home for a bit, rather than the circumstances that lead to that visit.