The Rod of Asclepius

Introduction:

I was thinking about symbols one day, and the image of the commonly used symbol for the medical profession came to mind. Known as the Rod of Asclepius, it's a staff with a snake coiled about it, which looks rather like something that an elder member of the house of Slytherin might have in his or her possession. The idea of a medical doctor with a sorcerer's ability came to mind, and what surgeon better to possess such latent powers than the greatest one in all Manga and Anime, Tezuka Osmau's Dr. Black Jack.

Chapter I

Serverus Snape took his position as the head of Slytherin House seriously. He was responsible for the health and well being of the students who resided in the dormitories belonging to the great house. It was also his responsibility to insure that his students kept up the good name and tradition of the institution to which they now belonged. Naturally there was some rough horsing around among the members of the house, not to mention between those of Slytherin and the members of the houses of less noble lineage on the Hogwart campus. To a certain extent Snape let such incidents slide under the rug, but eventually he had to draw the line somewhere.

Three of his students were particularly troublesome at times, especially when they came into contact with members of the others houses. Vincent Crabbe, and Gregory Goyle were not the brightest of students, but when egged along by Draco Malfoy they could manage to get themselves in quite a bit of trouble. So when he was awakened from a deep sleep in the middle of the night by the incessant pounding of the heavy bronze knocker on the door of his quarters he wasn't surprised to find both Crabbe and Goyle standing there, their skin as white as if they had just seen a ghost.

Serverus unlatched the heavy wooden door to his apartment, and pulled on the ring shaped handle to open the door. Dressed in his nightgown and leather slippers, and holding a tallow candle in a silver holder, Snape opened the door, which creaked and groaned as the centuries old iron hinges slowly moved.

"To what do I owe your presence at my door at this late hour?" He said staring down at the two students.

"It's master Malfoy." Crabbe stammered. "He's taken ill quite suddenly."

"I think he might be dying, or maybe he's already dead." Goyle said, breaking into tears of fear.

Snape recalled the events of the day during his potions class. Malfoy Draco had been anything but ill, he had demonstrated extreme skill and knowledge during the lecture, and had put in a masterful performance during the laboratory portion of the class. Goyle and Crabbe on the other hand, and caused a minor explosion and made a huge mess. They had stayed after class to repair the laboratory room from the damage they had caused.

Serverus reluctantly put on a robe and motioned for the students to lead the way back to their dormitory at the other end of the floor. Snape grabbed a large cloth bag containing his potions kit and his wand, and followed the two boys. Malfoy was lying in his bed with his mouth open, some drool dribbling from his lips. His skin had a bluish-green tint to it. Snape picked up a small mirror from a night stand and held it near the boy's face. He could make out the slight fogging of the glass by Malfoy's shallow breathing. The professor felt Draco's wrist for a pulse, and seemed to show a sign of relief when he found one.

"He's hardly dead," Snape said, "But his malady appears to be caused by a spell or potion unknown to me. Have you been experimenting with an advanced bit of conjuring?" The professor demanded.

"NO, not us!" the two boys cried out in unison.

Snape looked around the room. "Is this Malfoy's desk?" he asked pointing to a large heavy oak desk near the window not far from Malfoy's bed.

"Yes." Crabbe answered.

Serverus carefully inspected the contents lying on the surface of the desk. There were quite a few textbooks stacked neatly at the back of the desk, though the thin layer of dust on them indicated that they had not been referenced recently. A small porcelain mortar contained a small amount of a damp powder. Judging by the amount of moisture in it, Snape realized that it had been prepared no later than the latter part of the previous day. A small black iron cauldron sat on the bench on top of a stand to hold it above the flame of an alcohol burner. There was a small quantity of a thick dark liquid in the bottom of the vessel.

Finally, Snape found the the clue he had been looking for. Slipped between two of the books piled up at the edge of the desk was a piece of dark parchment with a ragged edge. It apparently had been torn from the bindings of a book. Written in an alphabet of runes that the professor was familiar with, the text was actually composed in old Latin. It seemed to be the recipe for a spell and a potion, the purpose of which he was not familiar.

"I'll keep this for now." Snape said, folding the old paper and putting it into the pocket of his robe.

Snape opened his bag and searched though the multiple vials until he found what he was looking for. He pointed toward the common area of the dormitory and asked for one of the boys to pour him a small glass of water from the pitcher standing there. Into the glass he mixed a powder and held it to Malfoy's lips as he lifted the boys head. He managed to get the unconscious lad to swallow some of the potion by reflex. Snape gently repositioned the ill student in the bed so as to be more comfortable, and covered him with several heavy blankets.

"Keep an eye on him." the professor said. "We will call for a healer in the morning if my elixir hasn't revived him by then."

Snape returned to his apartment. He prepared a short note for Draco's father Lucius, informing him of his son's illness. He opened the window and gave a low whistle. There was a fluttering of wings, and a large horned owl flew into the room and perched itself on Serverus's shoulder. Snape held the rolled up note and the bird took it into its beak.

"Deliver this note to Lucius Malfoy, and be quick about it!" Snape uttered.

The owl left his shoulder and flapped out into the night. Snape closed the window and returned to his bed, but knew that he would get little sleep until the matter was cleared up.


Pinoko watched from the window facing the driveway leading up to the house and clinic.

"Who is that creepy old man in the wheelchair?" she asked.

"He is probably the patient that we are expecting." Dr. Black Jack told her.

Pinoko watched as the cloth covered wooden wheelchair was pushed up the driveway by a young woman in her early twenties. Parked in the driveway was a beautifully restored 1936 Rolls Royce Phantom III V12 powered automobile. Dr. Black Jack opened the door just as the wheelchair reached the porch.

"Welcome to my clinic," the doctor said.

"Thank you," the old man voiced weakly. "My name is Augustus Slytherin." The old man motioned to his companion to wheel him into the room next to the fireplace where the glowing embers still crackled."

"I can get you an heating blanket if you are cold." The doctor said.

"Thank you, but that won't be necessary," the man said. "It's warm in this room and the numb feeling will soon pass."

Dr. Black Jack noticed the staff that the man had laid across his lap. It appeared to be made of a dark hard wood, possibly ebony, and was capped by an ivory and gold grip. Carved into the wood was the image of a snake, curled around the staff.

"I see you are admiring my walking stick." The old man said.

"Yes, are you a physician?" Black Jack asked. "The cane appears to be a close copy of the rod of Asclepius."

"Yes, I've been told that before. Actually, while it does bear some resemblance to the medical emblem, this staff is actually one of the many emblems from my family's history." He explained.

"Very interesting," the doctor replied. "Well, let's get down to business, I assume you require me to examine you."

"Ellen, would you please give the doctor my medical charts and such?" Augustus asked.

The young woman handed Black Jack a parcel wrapped in brown paper and tied with thick twine.
"This contains the results of the various medical exams that Mr. Slytherin has already had." She said. "You will of course want to examine him for yourself, but these records should give you an idea of what you will be looking for."

The doctor took the parcel to his desk at the other end of the room and unwrapped it. There were several x-ray images which he snapped into the viewers behind him and turned on the lights. Standing next to the x-ray viewers he compared the notes in the reports to the images on the plates. Dr. Black Jack wasted no time, he laid the reports down on his desk and walked back to where the patient was sitting.

"You should have come to me sooner." He said. "Your disease is in a very advanced stage. There is very little I can do for you, I'm afraid. I'm a surgeon not a sorcerer."

"Come here." the man said. "Closer please, bend down and let me see your hands."

Kuro Hazama stood next to the wheelchair and stooped down. He placed his hands in the old man's lap. Augustus took the doctor's hands and carefully examined them with his. He had a delicate touch and a highly developed sense of feel.

"Years ago, I had the power to heal myself." He said. "Age and disease have weakened my powers of concentration, so I now have to rely on doctors to do for me what I once could do for myself. I can feel in your hands that you have abilities that you have not yet taped into. I trust these hands. Please treat me."

"I'm afraid that is impossible." the doctor said.

"Is it a matter of your fee?" Augustus asked, motioning to the woman.

Ellen placed a heavy carpet bag at the doctors feet. "This should cover your fee."

Black Jack bent down and opened the bag. He reached inside and withdrew a handful of old gold coins and examined them carefully.

"I'm not familiar with this currency." He said.

"That doesn't matter." the old man laughed. "Those coins were struck by an ancient civilization now long gone. The metal that they are minted from is 23 carat gold. I think you can easily calculate the worth of the metal from today's exchange rates."

Black Jack nodded. "The coins will more than cover your fee." he said. "However I never take any money from a patient that I have not been able to heal. You would require many surgeries, chemotherapy and radiation treatments, and probably transplants to effect a cure. I don't think your body would be able to stand the ordeal."

"There are certain rare herbs, roots, and extracts that can be used to brew some medical potions that you may not be familiar with," the old man said. "I can provide you with them. These remedies have the ability to extend the stamina of a weak patient so he may survive the unsurvivable."

"What you are suggesting borders on witchcraft." Black Jack said.

"You are obviously unaware of certain advanced technologies that my family has been in possession of for centuries," Slytherin said. "To any backward civilization, such advanced technology would seem to be magic, wouldn't it?"