Upvotes, comments, and resteems welcome. Let me know what you think! And if you enjoyed "Carea's Song," please check out my other stories set in the same universe: In the Days of the Witch-Queens and Irula's Apprentice.)
Carea opened her mouth, but for a frightening moment nothing came to her. Then the perfect song came to mind. The story of Estraal and Narula. Rivals become friends, union out of conflict. She felt her voice shake at first, but the longer she sang, the stronger it grew.
As she sang, she reached out with her mind and will. She pictured Rufeo the first evening they had met. She thought of their life together, his gentle strength and biting humor. She pictured him performing and full of life. She pictured even the suffering in his voice as he talked of the apprentice who had betrayed him.
She thought of Rufeo and all he was to her. And then she opened her eyes and looked at his wounds. Her song wavered, but only for a moment. Then she began to wipe the wounds from existence, one by one. Time ran in reverse. Blood flowed into the lion's chest. Lung tissue and muscles knit itself back together. Skin and fur healed, without seam or scar.
A chill wracked Carea's body, but still she sang on. It was a dream, wish fulfillment. It had to be. It was impossible that her song was doing this. But it was a beautiful dream, so she sang on. Her teeth chattered as the wounds each closed. Rufeo's breathing became more even and regular.
Her body felt numb. She was so tired, but she could not stop. Had she missed any of his injuries? She examined him further as feet sounded on the cobbles. She did not stop her song, but her claws came out, just in case.
It was the Cohort solider, with two females behind him, both clad in the pure white robes of a shamaness. To Carea's surprise, on was but a summer or two younger than she was, and her fur was as white as her robes.
The older lioness looked at Rufeo and then at Carea. "You have done well, cub. We will take care of him from here."
Carea nodded, but she did not stop singing until she came to a break point in the tale. She managed to get to her feet, every limb stiff. The young shamaness held her paw and, noticing how cold she was, took off her own robe and draped it over Carea's shoulders.
The older shamaness placed a small flask under Rufeo's ose, and the lion's muzzle wrinkled. He had a hard time sitting up, and the soldier was there in an instant to help him to his feet.
"I've got you."
There was a tenderness in the young male's voice that Carea hadn't expected. Rufeo's ears twitched. The next word he spoke was so soft that Carea hardly heard it.
"I heard you had a new apprentice, Master, and I had to see." He looked over at Carea. "She is far more worthy of you than I ever was."
Tears streamed down Rufeo's face as he embraced the younger lion. "I thought I would never hear your voice again." He turned to the older shamaness. "Thank you, Milady, for saving my life that I might have this miracle tonight."
The shmaness's golden eyes sparkled in the starlight. "Your kind words are misdirected, good sir. It is not I you have to thank, but your young apprentice. She is a spellsinger, and a powerful one too, unless I miss my guess."
Rufeo turned toward Carea. Some of her chill left her to see that look on his face, but she did not know what to say.
"I... I could not bear to see you die... I didn't know I could do that..."
"An evening for surprises, then. Surprises and miracles."
The older shamaness cleared her throat. "There is a house of our Guild nearby. I would like to examine you there, Master Sylvan. And question your apprentice. I or one of my sisters will buy her contract from you."
Carea felt her breath catch in her throat, but Rufeo only nodded. As they turned to leave, she heard him mutter something under his breath. "The double price..." She touched the lion's shoulder. Then she hastened to pick up the lute bag and Rufeo's staff. The party walked down the street at a slow pace.
"Don't worry," the white lioness whispered into Carea's ear as they walked. "Lady Piri is a kind and gentle mistress. My name is Tessa. If you apprentice to her, we'll be sisters."
Carea smiled at the warmth in Tessa's words. "I think I would like that."
"And when Lady Piri has trained you, you can sing what you want whenever you want."
Carea looked to where Rufeo walked between the solider and the shamaness. Her smile deepened. "I would like that too. I would like that very much."