“Did she tell if the dreams she had were precognitions?”
I frowned and shook my head. “No. She thought they were more like flashbacks from New Orleans, but I’m not certain she’d tell me if they really were visions.”
Rhea went quiet as she pondered everything. I fidgeted with an anise pod and tried to ignore the acidic guilt churning in my stomach. This was the right thing to do. And Rhea was the right person to go to. If anyone could help Maisie, it was her.
“So the way I see it, we have two issues,” Rhea said finally. “First, we need to figure out how to convince Maisie to sleep again. Then we have to help her connect with the part of her subconscious that produces the prophecies.”
“Can the dream incubation do that?”
“Just a sec.” She pursed her lips and rose from her stool. Turning her back on me, she went to a tall bookcase along the wall. She ran her fingers over the spines of several books before pulling a small green one from the shelf. She opened it and flipped through a few pages.
While she read, I rose and went to the windows overlooking the terrace. Rhea’s workroom was on the side of the building facing the park. It was fully dark by now and the city’s lights dotted the skyline like a swarm of fireflies. Across town, Giguhl was hosting a practice for his Roller Derby team. And farther north, Adam was at the Crossroads meeting with the Pythian Knights to go over security for the Imbolc festival. And I was there, betraying my sister.
The fact that Maisie had been such an evil bitch earlier didn’t matter. I didn’t condone her behavior, of course, but some sick part of me understood. Rhea and Orpheus would never be able to forgive Maisie for feeding from a mage. But they’d never experienced bloodlust. They didn’t know how it made your skin burn and your fangs throb and your mind empty of everything but the need to hunt and consume and kill.
But I’d been there. And I knew that Maisie’s state was as much my fault as her own. If I hadn’t hidden her secrets, if I hadn’t convinced myself that doing nothing was easier than doing what was right, the scene I witnessed earlier never would have happened. So even though it pained me to go behind my sister’s back, I knew that tough love was the only thing that would save my sister from herself.
Behind me, Rhea made a speculative sound. I turned to see her holding up the book. “This describes the ritual.”
A picture on the page showed the Temple at Epidaurus around 450 B.C., which the caption described as the largest of the temples dedicated to the god Asclepius. Looking up from the book, I asked, “Who is Asclepius?”
“He’s the god of medicine and healing. The incubation is a ritual to invite the god into an ill person’s dreams so he can help heal the ailments.”
“Is it dangerous?”
“Not in and of itself, no.” She shook her head. “But if Maisie’s so desperate to stop the dreams that she’s given up sleep, we’re not going to be able to cajole her into it.” Rhea’s face scrunched up like the words she was about to say tasted bitter. “We would have to slip her a sleeping potion.”
My mouth fell open. “You mean drug her?”
“That’s one way to put it. I’d prefer to think of it as hiding something that’s good for her in her food.”
I shot her a disbelieving look. “Rhea, that’s so wrong.”
“What other option do we have? Sit by and watch her waste away? Wait around until Orpheus gets so fed up he has her deposed?”
“Can he do that?”
“Sabina, mages take the Oracle’s prophecies very seriously. He can and would depose her if he felt her lack of prophecy posed a threat to the race.”
“Shit.” I dropped heavily onto the stool. How had this gotten so complicated?
“She won’t ever have to know. In fact… hmm.” Her eyes went all squinty and her lips pressed together like she was hatching a plan. “Here’s an idea. We’ll suggest that she try moving out to the Crossroads until the Imbolc festival. Tell her that maybe a change of scenery and some quiet might help her. We’d need the ley line in the Sacred Grove for the dream incubation anyway.” Rhea started pacing, warming up to her idea as she moved. “We can slip the potion in her food. She’ll sleep through the ritual, so she won’t know we were involved. Hopefully, she’ll wake up with a prophecy and won’t suspect we had a hand in it.”
“What if she refuses to go?”
Rhea stopped pacing and looked up. “Then we’ll have Orpheus make it an order. But hopefully we can convince her without it coming to that.”
I shifted on my seat, not liking this plan at all. We both knew Maisie would refuse. Drugging her was the only option if we wanted to make it happen. But I hated to do it after everything she’d already been put through.
Rhea noticed my discomfort and approached, softening her tone. “Sabina, I know you don’t want to hurt Maisie. Please believe I don’t either. But this is serious. The Council has always relied on the Oracle for guidance. They’ve been sympathetic to Maisie’s issues, but the time’s coming when they’ll grow tired of waiting. Maisie’s pedigree offers her certain protections but that goes only so far. I don’t want to contemplate what will happen to her if she’s stripped of her position.”
I didn’t either. She was already so fragile that something like that would totally leave her shattered. I sighed and brushed flecks of dried herbs off my palms. “Fine. But this is between you and me. You can’t tell Orpheus what I’ve told you.”
“Sabina, I have to.” Rhea looked me in the eye. “Maisie is too important to the entire race to keep him out of this.”
“What if he says no?”
She smiled a small, cunning smile. “You leave Orpheus to me. By the time I’m done with him, he won’t just agree, he’ll give us his blessing.”
I prayed she was right. Because if her potion didn’t help my sister, nothing could.
After I left Rhea to go talk to Orpheus, I was alone and restless. I returned to the apartment, but no one was back yet. Probably for the best, since I wasn’t exactly in the healthiest state of mind.
The normally comfortable space did little to soothe me. I felt itchy and restless. If I stayed there, I’d just end up sitting around and stewing over the Maisie situation. As I paced by the kitchen for the tenth time, my eye caught a Necrospank 5000 T-shirt Erron had given Giguhl the night before. Seeing it brought back the revelations he’d shared.