As soon as my body hits the floor I can feel the exhaustion leave me, but I instantly become aware of a presence in the room. Sareanne enters and gasps. Then I hear Tuug growl and whine. I sense someone or something hovering over me and I hear the low words of Sareanne’s protection, but not before I feel the sharp bite of something on my arm.
I cry out in pain and pull my arm away from the biter. I feel the circle of protection spread around all of us and hear the cry of pain from the animal. I can only assume it is Tuug’s brother, maybe another tarrange being changed back into a tarrange. I don’t listen for long as I experience a severe burning sensation in my arm where the bite is.
I feel as though my arm is being singed off. I glance down and see the scaly marks that must have bubbled up when the animal bit me and then I notice the steam or smoke coming from the marks. I put my arm back on the ground and try to focus on something else.
Using what little energy I had gained from entering the room I pulled myself into a sitting position and slid over until I was leaning against something. I look over to where Sareanne is standing next to Tuug and then I see the animal that bit me. It looked like another tarrange, but different somehow. It was much larger than Tuug and its coloring was like a burnt orange.
It was yowling in pain as the protection finished its changing process. Tuug went over and gently licked the other animal’s shoulder and face, purring all the while. The other tarrange’s cries lessened slowly until it was a quiet whimper. The pain in my arm had also lessened and I looked down to assess the damage.
I could see the bite clearly now. The scaly marks had disappeared leaving seven while puncture wounds that were still bleeding. Sareanne sank exhausted to the floor as the protective circle completed.
“Are you okay?” I ask.
“I’m all right. It just wears me out when there is more involved than just the room,” she replies. She looks over and notices my arm. “You’re bleeding.”
She moves to get up but I stop her. “I’m okay. They aren’t deep.”
I get to my feet slowly and go searching for something to wrap around the bite wound. The second tarrange is laying quietly next to Tuug and they both are purring contentedly.
“Is that also a tarrange?” I ask. It was so much larger than Tuug.
“Yes, that’s Jiun. She and Tuug are mates,” Sareanne replies. “They are happy to be together again.”
“She is so large,” I comment.
“The females usually are.” She motions to the bathing area of the room. “There should be a jar with orange ointment in it by the bath. Bring it over and I’ll wrap your arm.”
I find a strip of cloth and the ointment and take it over to where Sareanne is sitting. She spreads a generous amount of the ointment on the wound and I instantly feel the pain lessen. She then wraps my arm with the cloth.
“What’s in the ointment?” I ask curiously.
“Orange seed, grape seed and a special herb we used to grow in the courtyard,” she replies.
“Do you think it will scar?” I ask wondering how I am going to explain the marks on my arm to my roommates.
“Probably. I’m sorry about the burning. It was the only way I could counteract Jiun’s venom.”
“It’s all right. I guess I have a small taste of what it was like for you when you stuck your hand in the circle,” I say carefully.
She nods thoughtfully.
“I guess we have some time to rest and search the room,” I add.
“Until tomorrow at dawn,” Sareanne says walking to the window.
I join her and look down at the empty courtyard and invisible village. I wonder just how we are possibly going to break this curse.