Magic Cleansing Water by John R. Canter

As Tara’s hammer came down on the last demon’s skull, she collapsed down too. The head-cracking strike splattered her with its foul tar-like blood, further drenching her as the hell-smoke rose from it and the other smote fiends. As she sat there panting, breathing in the fumes and covered in grime, Lucius ran up to her from across the volcanic field.

“Are you alright?” he asked. She looked at him, and with smoke trailing into her with each breath, her eyes began to glow red. “This place isn’t safe,” he told her, lending her a hand to help her up. She brushed it aside with a mean scoff.

“Obviously, fool,” she retorted, trying to stand, but fell back in exhaustion. Tara was on her hands and knees now, with Lucius helping her back up and trying to take her away from the toxic corpses. “You mustn’t breathe the air,” he warned, “it is foul and full of raw evil.”

“I don’t need you to coddle me,” she began, eyes glowing red, before a coughing fit stopped her. They walked away from the smoldering demon corpses, Tara spitting up something like blood, black and fiery, from within. Lucius let her sit on a rock while he pulled out a vial of water from his robes. It had a small crystal gemstone hanging from the stopper, and with a short magical prayer he made the decanter shine with light. Pouring some of the water out he began to wash Tara’s face; she rebuked him twice as he tried. “Please – let me help you.”

“I need only catch my breathe a little,” she said angrily, “I do not need battle-grime washed from me like I am some child with a smudge on my cheek.”

Lucius looked her in the eyes. “The demon-stain is not only physical: its poison fouls the mind and soul. So please, trust me.”

Grumbling at first she sat still while he washed her face. Water, clear and shining, did not mix or dim as it was rubbed over her skin, pushing away the blackness. He moved it over her, saying gently a soft prayer as he cleansed her face, her armor, her clothes, at times directly pouring the water over her in a light shower, like a holy baptism. She had closed her red eyes, scowling, as he began to work, but by the time he was done she opened them, her expression having gradually become one of relief, and calm. Her brown eyes looked into his smiling face.

She stood up, rejuvenated. She did not feel that she had been in battle, but as though she had just come refreshed from sound rest, and she was clean all over again as well. What was I so angry about before? she wondered. She looked at Lucius.

“Thank you,” she said, and then began to cough. Lucius shook the decanter back and forth, and heard the shallow sloshing. He offered it to her.

“Enough for one swig,” he said.

She took the decanter, and with a loud cough and smack to her chest, brought up something, and spit. It sizzled and smoked a little where it landed, and Tara cleansed her mouth out with the last of the holy water. She drank it and savored its … not taste, exactly, but quality.

“Better?” Lucius asked her.

She handed the empty vessel back to him with a smile. “Much better,” she said. “Just what I needed, friend”.

I would like to hear from you! Do you like flash fiction? Do you have critiques or suggestions for future stories? I would love to read your feedback and criticisms – just enter your comment in the Leave a Reply section, and I’ll gladly consider them for future posts.

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