Watching Alma leave, Dion turns back to the Oracle. He can hear her heavy, labored breathing as she floats at the edge of the pool. Getting a better read of the surroundings, he determines that the pool in which she currently lies is too large and connected to too many others for a filtering to be effective. A nearby side pool, connected only to the one in which she currently lies, is a better choice.
Walking between the pools on a narrow ledge separating them, he takes care not to make contact with the water. Now at the other side, the god crouches and reaches out, his hand barely clearing the smooth surface. Closing his eyes, he concentrates on the water and begins recalling the spell of cleansing. A hundred heartbeats is all it takes for the first layer of spell to take effect, the separation process beginning to create areas in the pool where impurities are magically forced from the water.
Now, he sets the second spell, the creation of a limited void. Similar in nature to the spell he created to entrap the demon dogs, this spell is limited and heavily bound in focus. A small, dark hole opens below the surface of his outstretched hand, the water forbidden at this point from entering by a barrier around it. Dion concentrates hard, creating two paths for the hole, one “exit” nexus meant to return clean water into the pool, the other trapped permanently within the void to contain the polluting elements.
Finally, he combines the two spells using the same method that got him honors at the Academy. Now the barrier is dropped, the purification occurring at the entrance of the hole, with the purified water being routed to the closed loop and returned to the other side of the pool. He already feels the impurities, the “taint” as Alma called it, being torn from the water and lost to the void via the other path.
Perspiration dripping down his face, he pulls his hand back from the water’s surface, and rocks back on his heels. The first of what he estimates of a needed set of three completed, he picks a second point, one close to where the pool joins the larger one in which the Oracle currently resides, he begins the process again.
After the third implementation, Dion, feeling drained magically, stands and crosses back to where the Oracle is still lying unconscious. Reaching down, he places an arm under the Oracle’s shoulder, and putting his arm under the water, reaches underneath to lift the Oracle from the larger pool. The water’s contact again bites him, trying to rob his life-force. Ignoring the discomfort, he lifts the Oracle from her resting spot. With her long, muscular tail, she weighs more than he had expected, but she rouses slightly, and instead of limp, dead weight, she unconsciously clings to him, wrapping her arms around his shoulders. Pausing momentarily to catch his breath, he becomes more aware of the feel of her in his arms, her soft yet chilly skin, the spined forearms, and her firm breasts, pressed against his chest, catching slightly on his now-wet shirt. Blaming his previous exertions for his lagging strength, yet also suspicious of the malevolent effects of the tainted water, he carries her to the smaller pool, her tail dragging along behind him as he staggers.
Settling her into the water between the strategically-placed, purified water nexuses, he sits down on the edge beside her to rest. Looking at the Oracle, he laughs softly. “Here I’ve carried a half-naked female to a bed I’ve prepared, and all I get is wet clothes.” Shaking his head, he adds. “My skill must be going rusty in this forgotten neighborhood. Well, at least there won’t be another father looking for my head.” Suddenly, his brows knit slightly as he recalls the lineages of Archons, relaxing slightly as he determines that he is safe in this case.
Wiping the sweat off of his forehead, Dion slides backwards, easing himself against a stalagmite for support. Refocusing towards the Oracle, who already is beginning to breathe easier, he mutters, “At least she’s something worth looking at while I wait.”
His self-amusement complete, he finally closes his eyes and dozes off into much-needed sleep.