She passed me the die and I looked down at it where it sat on my palm. It felt warm, warmer than my hand and the room anyway.
Then an idea struck me. “Could you make it glow when I touch it? It doesn’t have to be much—ideally about as much as it would when the uh… donor comes near.”
Amy scowled. “Now? If you’d asked me before, it would have been easy, but now I’d either have to undo it and remake it—and believe me, you can’t guess how hard that would be—or…”
Her voice trailed off and she stared at me. “Of course that only applies to normal people. For you, it will be easy. Hold out your hand—not the one with the die.”
I held it out.
“Now,” she said, “Close your eyes.”
“Excellent. Now, this might hurt a little…”
Even as she said, “a little,” I felt a stab of pain in my hand, followed by her hand grabbing mine, covering my palm, and turning both of our hands sideways. Warm blood dripped between them.
Opening my eyes, I found that she’d moved our hands over the die and saw blood dripping on the die and only the die. None of it reached my hand.
Then she let go and I looked down at my hand, finding no sign of blood on it. The only remnant of what happened was a pink line on my palm that matched a second pink line that she’d added to hers.
“I’m pretty sure this violates everything Stapledon ever taught us about wound care.”
Amy rolled her eyes.
I kept on going. “But thanks. I’m pretty sure you said that you couldn’t heal people, though. All I remember you being able to do is heal yourself by taking other people’s life force. Samita was the one who had those bandages that kept things from getting worse, but didn’t make them better.”
Amy nodded. “That’s right, but you’re an exception now. There’s some of my soul, life force, or whatever that used to be yours. All I did just now was close a small hole. If any healing took place, it was because some of your life’s energy got back to where it was supposed to be.”
She looked into my eyes, scowling. “Don’t ever do that again.”
“I won’t. We already talked about this.”
Shaking her head. “I know, but I’m not sure that I believe you.”
I thought back to the day she’d been hurt and was dying after we’d fought and killed The Thing That Eats, one of her alter ego’s traditional foes. I’d stabbed myself with her spear, thinking that it might transfer enough of my life over to her that she’d live and I’d be able to stop it before it drained me of everything.
It turned out that the spear was a greedy little magical artifact and only intervention by Lee, my fighting teacher, had stopped it in time.
“Anyway,” Amy continued, “the die will glow if you touch it now.”
She wasn’t wrong. Even as she’d started speaking the die had begun to glow, starting with a small glow in the middle and then spreading to every facet of the twenty-sider.
I put it on the counter and the glow faded.
“Huh. That’s exactly what I was hoping it would do. I probably should have asked you to make it so that I could control the glow from a distance, but this will work.”
“Good,” Amy said, “because the way I did it doesn’t have much to do with your wishes. It’s a spell that one Bloodmaiden created to identify Lee’s people if they happened to visit our kingdom.”
That made a kind of sense. Another of Lee’s people had told me I looked like one of their young—not physically, but to some sense that I don’t have. I could see why they might want to be warned when someone of his level of power visited. Bearing in mind that he was billions of years old and had bodies in an infinity of different universes, it was also reasonable to wonder what they thought they could do if he or his people chose to visit.
Touching the die with my finger, I watched as it began to glow again. “Why did that Bloodmaiden want to know?”
Amy sat back on her stool and held up her hands. “I don’t know. The previous Bloodmaidens are all there, but they don’t tell me everything. They know we’re friends. They know you’re connected with Lee and if they don’t want something to get back to him, they won’t tell me.”
I thought back to the fight with The Thing That Eats. Thanks to an accidental connection between Lee, myself, and Amy’s magic, I’d been able to use some of Lee’s power to help Amy kill it. That in turn had led to me going to space with Lee, which he’d used to accomplish several different things he couldn’t have done alone as easily.
I placed my arm on the counter and leaned into it. “Do you ever feel like we’re pawns in a game of cosmic chess?”
Amy sighed. “Often, but I’m descended from generations of heroes, sorcerers, kings, and queens and it’s not unusual for us to think we’re more important than we are.”
I looked down at the red die. “I’m pretty sure that I’m a pawn in a larger game that Lee’s playing and I think I know the end goal. What I’m wondering is if what we’re doing right now somehow fits into it.”
Amy closed her eyes for a few seconds. When she opened them, she said, “The previous Bloodmaidens won’t say a thing. Personally, I’m assuming that means yes, but we won’t figure it out tonight.”