[A/N: If you have already read my other stories, welcome back!
If you haven't read my first story about Myria LeJean titled "From Dust to Flesh" then please con- *hrkch*
Greetinth. Thith ith your friendly Crocodile God, Offler. I'm afraid I have been forthed to temporarily take pothethion of the author in order to bring you a very important commandment, ath the pathetic mortal ith far too nithe about it.
Haven't read "From Dutht to Fleth" yet? Then THTOP reading right thith moment, or I thall curth you mightily with hard water thtainth, clogged pipeth, and you don't even want to think about a thwim in any riverth. Get me? And now back our regular programming. ALL HAIL ME!
*cough sputter* Oh geez. sorry about that! You do one little summoning... anyway. Offler (may his tail never fall off) is right, if pushy. If you haven't already, please read "From Dust to Flesh" first, this story will not make as much sense and will contain spoilers for that story. You can get to that story quickly by clicking on my profile link above.
And of course, I do not own any of Pratchett's world or characters. Enjoy!]
Chapter 1 - Reality Bites
In the midst of the hustle and bustle of Ankh Morpork, there is a soft silence.
Small Gods cemetery has long been the final rest of those not wealthy enough to afford a more respectable repose, or of those perhaps unwilling to commit to one of the more prominent gods. It's no wonder that it also happens to be the final post for many members of the City Watch, so to speak; men and women who have seen far too much to have much faith in anything, and make far too little money to afford better.
Perhaps it isn't a coincidence that this quiet corner most favored by the lowly watchmen, was also the recent scene of much excitement. The perpetrators of all this do-ish-ness are now respectively in various states of pain, empathy and grudging sympathy.
The pain resides firmly in the ribcage of one Jonathon Knäcke, who until recently was possessed of a complete set of ribs and a sturdy, if somewhat commonplace, sternum. That is until he was struck by the noble and damn-fool idea of playing the hero by using his chest as a shield to save his lady-love. As a result, he discovered that while love may be stronger than oak, when struck by the heavy and unnaturally speeding Weapon of Crass Destruction called The Poker, it is bound to come out second-best.
Having cracked several ribs, torn various cartilages, and bruised a few internal organs in the bargain, he can hopefully be forgiven if he is not his usual expressive self.
"Gnagghahg!" is the closest approximation to the sound he made as he writhed about on the lush grass, as one of the other two seemed intent on pressing and poking about his body's most painful injuries.
"I am sorry Jonathon! Truly! But I must understand what exactly is damaged if I am to help!" This exclamation came from the second participant. Lady Myria LeJean had only recently become acquainted with the concept of empathy (and in fact had not had any emotions whatsoever only a few months prior), and was finding it distracting and difficult to deal with.
She was also wracked with another emotion. She knew that Jonathon's current condition was due to his saving her own life. And watching him suffer so, it was becoming more clear to her what she had managed to avoid due to his sacrifice and it was causing a troubling mix of emotions that included relief and gratitude that he had saved her, sadness and concern for him, and surprisingly what she was deciding was a strange sort of irritated guilt. This, she decided, would bear further evaluation when she had a quiet moment to reflect.
And so we come to the third of the trio. Lady Susan Sto Helit.
"This is ridiculous." Susan crossed her arms and frowned. "I've seen your Auditor cousins create bodies from scratch, surely this should be child's play for you to mend? It is not as if he is seriously wounded."
Susan appeared to be successfully fighting off an acute attack of sympathy. And she had seen far too much death (as well as Death) in her lifetime to be very good at bedside manner.
"Not ser- ahh!" Jonathon gasped as Myria's probing fingers found another way to show that love does, indeed, hurt like the dickens at times.
"Fine," Susan continued, her eyes rolling and mouth a hardened line, "I'm sure it feels serious to Mr. Knäcke, but my question still stands." In addition to not being the most sympathetic person in the world, Susan also had the complete inability to be distracted from a point of inquiry. This particular skill was honed by spending most of her time as a teacher of very young children.
"I am sure that I can." Myria pulled her hands away and sat back on her heels. "That is, I feel that should be able to do so." She shook her head slightly side to side. "I do not believe I am answering your question."
Susan raised her eyebrows. "No you aren't, and extra credit for admitting it."
"Perhaps…" Myria hesitated again, chewing her lower lip. "Perhaps I fear that I will make a mistake and do something to damage him further?"
Susan snorted. "You are asking my opinion? I'm sure you best know your own mind."
"No… I suppose it would make no sense to ask your opinion. You are not as informed as I in this matter."
The last comment was slightly irritating, even if true. Susan had become used to knowing more than most people around her, and the alternative rankled a bit. "You don't have to put it that way, but yes you're probably right." She paused as Jonathon moaned again. "Regardless, either you need to do something quickly, or we need to find a physicker for him. We can't move him like this, he'll be screaming the entire way."
"I believe it would be more dire than that. He has several fractured ribs that could break fully were we to attempt his transport, and I believe they could puncture something necessary for his vitality." Susan rolled her eyes, wondering how many years it would take before Myria learned to ease up a bit on the vocabulary. "I will try again," Myria continued, took a deep breath, brought her hands back to Jonathon's ribcage and closed her eyes.
She could feel, in a strange visceral way, the damaged tissue and cracked ribs beneath her fingers, and intuitively she understood what it should feel like undamaged. She looked into the darkness behind the eyes and found she could build a picture, in her head, of what these things should look like. She could see how the torn muscle and cartilage, the fractured bone should fit back together.
All that was required was for her to, as she had so many times before, will reality to adjust slightly to her desire, and remake itself as she wished. The seductive ease of doing things like this was part of her being, and also had gotten her into trouble several times thus far.
Unfortunately, just when the need was greatest, reality seemed to be a bit fed up with her at the moment. Instead of behaving itself, it was acting like a four year old, hanging onto the hypothetical doorframe of the washroom of existence, and absolutely refusing to be dragged to the soapy bath of eternity.
In other words, reality was having none of her tinkering. Susan had said she should know her own mind best in this. But now it seemed perhaps not.
Frustrated, Myria drove herself more deeply into the darkness, pushed harder against that resistance with an effort that was almost painful… the moment stretched out. Time itself seemed to slow to a crawl and her thoughts felt like they were swimming through treacle… until suddenly the resistance broke, and she heard a corresponding gasp from Jonathon. In her mind's eye, she saw muscle fibers knit, tears in cartilage disappear, and cracks in bone seal. Not all the damage, but enough that she could hear his breathing ease. She had done enough.
Unfortunately the strain seemed to have left her with a slight feeling of discomfort behind her eyes that seemed to be slowly reaching towards the back of her skull. Regardless, she let her breath out with a gasp, and opened her eyes to see Susan glancing back and forth between her and Jonathon with some concern.
She turned her eyes to Jonathon's face. "Is that better?"
He took a tentative deep breath, grimaced, and let some of it out before answering. "Definitely. It still hurts, but I feel like I can breathe without screaming now. Gods you are a wonder, Myria. Thank you."
Myria frowned "I…" She winced and frowned a bit deeper as the sound of her own voice triggered a twinge somewhere in the interior of her skull, and continued. "I am not sure thanks are necessary. You would not have been harmed had you not been attempting to save me."
Susan cleared her throat. "Myria, that seemed to take some effort on your part. Are you alright?"
Myria rubbed her hand across the back of her head, but could feel no outward sign of any damage. "My head hurts somewhat. It seems to keep time with my circulatory system's function." She dropped her hand. "It is not pleasant."
Susan seemed slightly relieved, perhaps even a little amused. "It's called a headache Myria, humans get them all the time. Usually it means you have exerted yourself or spent one too many minutes in the company of someone unpleasant." She lifted one corner of her mouth a bit more. "I'm not sure what it would mean for you, considering present company."
"Perhaps I am becoming more human than before. The process was… difficult. I have never had a head ache before."
"Well I suppose you have to take the bad with the good. We can get some willowbark tea for you once we have Mr. Knacke home. " She considered. "Or perhaps you could use the same trick to get rid of it now?"
Myria considered trying, but shook the thought away, which action seemed only to worsen the sensation. Trying to make reality jump to her own tune was what brought this head ache on in the first place. She suspected trying to make it go away using the same method that caused it would not have the desired result. "No. No I do not believe that would be advisable."
"Fine then. Let's get Mr. Knäcke to his bed so he can finish healing up. I suspect you both will have a lot to deal with in the next few days, if the manner of the City Watch was anything to go by."
Between the two of them, with only a little complaining and sobbing from Jonathon, a little grumbling from Susan, and a Myria preoccupied with her new human 'affliction', they managed to prop Jonathon up and assist him out of Small Gods Cemetery where they could flag down a coach to take them all to the Bakery on Body Street where, hopefully, a bed and some willowbark tea would follow in short order. Several days of bed rest for Jonathon would be a treat as well.
Unfortunately, it seemed that reality, or perhaps fate, had other ideas.
 And cheek. And diaphragm. Though at least for the moment, the pain of having a semi-petrified hand breaking his cheekbone had been far buried under the much greater pain of cracked ribs.
 Much less graveside manner.
 For a teacher, the survival value of that kind of mental focus can't be overestimated. According to Bob's Theory of Devolution, the survival rate of a teacher of youngsters is inversely proportional to how easily distracted said teacher is. For example, one who misses the presence of a tack in ones chair has a career expectancy measured in weeks. Not noticing that one of the little scamps has put Doctore Wholesome's Alle Naturale Purgative in one's coffee provides a more dramatic problem to deal with.
[A/N: In case you weren't aware, authors just *LIVE* for feedback. Sure, we can see how many people view the stuff we write, but we have no idea whether they actually like it. So take pity on me and either send me a Private Message (PM) or write a public review and let me know what you thought, what you liked or didn't like. Thanks!]