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Edith still looked pale but her eyes were aglow. At first she attempted a smile, but faded once Clara came into focus.
“That’s not what you said when I found you,” Clara teased.
Edith looked torn as though her mind were struggling to make sense of the situation. Clearly she remembered things differently.
To distract herself, Edith looked towards her leg. What had been a hive of infection and infestation was now mostly healed. The new skin was pink, a miracle if she had been sent to any other medical facility.
Above the bed Clara saw that mechanical monstrosity of Georgian origin. She had never seen it in action, but the results were always spectacular. It was said that given enough time the machine could reattach or even regrow limbs.
“It wasn’t Angela,” Edith said and promptly burst into tears.
The Reverend Mother pulled Clara out of the room. Between the two girls, she had managed to connect the dots.
“Angela was a ginger,” Augustine said. “How could you have possibly known,” she asked.
Clara gulped hard before she said, “She came to the bistro and informed me that there had been an incident Reverend Mother.”
“She’s been dead for over a decade,” The Reverend Mother said.
“I did not know that at the time,” Clara replied.
Clara described the situation in detail including any odd statements made. The Reverend Mother listened intently, but showed no signs of surprise.
“So the attacks may have continued unopposed had you not been warned child,” the Reverend Mother asked.
Clara simply nodded, there was nothing more to add. Still she hoped there would be no repercussions for her omission. After all she had failed to report the apparition.
“Those two were thick as thieves growing up,” Augustine said. “Inseparable and their friendship had all the markings of one that would last a lifetime,” she added.
“Was that how Edith managed to send out her plea for help,” Clara asked.
Clara wondered how powerful such a bond needed to be to wake the dead.
“Edith withdrew from the world after the accident and devoted herself to her studies,” the Reverend Mother said.
They both paused when Edith went silent. Until that moment she had been sobbing uncontrollably, audible even through the door. The nun must have given her a sedative.
“I never thought I’d see her embrace life again, or at least until you showed up,” the Reverend Mother said. “I think she saw your penchant for mischief and felt that spark in her soul reignite.”
Clara smiled, in a world where death followed her, it was great to know that she could occasionally improve the life of others. The fact that it was someone she revered made it all the sweeter.
“I’ve made a decision,” the Reverend Mother said.
“Yes Reverend Mother,” Clara asked.
“Your time at the Tower as an acolyte is over Child,” Augustine said.
“I thought—,” Clara said but was cut off when Augustine raised her hand to interrupt.
“You’ve been ready for a couple of years now child,” the Reverend Mother said. “We don’t typically send hunters out at your age. We were waiting until you were old enough to travel freely,” she added.
Clara’s early exposure to death had accelerated her development. The price paid for her prodigious rise had indeed been heavy.
“Edith was reaching out to you for help,” Augustine said. “She had faith that you would come through for her. Those are the signs of a great partnership,” she added.
“Really Reverend Mother,” Clara asked.
Those words were not faint praise coming from her. Clara felt her heart overflow with pride, she took a deep breath to keep her emotions in check. Betraying her emotions now would do little to show that she was ready.
“Really child,” Augustine said. “Now let Edith rest before you tell her the news,” she added before walking away.
The life of the Reverend Mother was indeed busy. Clara silently thanked the woman for giving her any time at all.
She would wait by the door until Edith was ready to leave. Freed from her academic responsibilities, she was free to let her mind wander.
“How much could she accomplish with support from Edith,” Clara asked.
Clara had to admit it, she liked where her mind was headed.