Lessons to Learn
Mother Joasia takes care of Sister Adelita's wounds after she gets a little bit too bold on the battlefield. She also teaches her more (ugh) Latin.
"Mater nostra, qui es in caelis... Aaaah! That really stings..."
Adelita was trying her best to sit still, she really was. But Mother Joasia's care was... well, though perhaps not intending to cause harm, it was certainly not gentle. The young nun sucked in a sharp breath, gritting her teeth as hard as she could. The medicine felt like it was burning away all of her flesh.
Mother Joasia didn't stop, just continued her slow, methodical application of medicine and bandages. "Latine loqu." Speak Latin.
"Nnn..." Adelita whimpered, racking her brains for the right words. She didn't wait too long to give up, however. "Didn't I suffer enough tonight?"
"Latine." In Latin.
Adelita huffed, squirming further in her seat as the burning medicine seeped into the place where the demon's claw had cut through her thick leather armor, into her flesh. "Latine loquere nolo!" I don't want to speak Latin! "Fessa sum!" I'm tired!
Mother Joasia continued her work carefully, "Si non finitum opus est, pergere necesse est." If the work is not done, you must continue.
"Rrrrr." Adelita growled, cutting herself off with a wince as Mother Joasia's cloth found a sensitive spot. "Noceo." I do harm.
"Tu cui nocuisti?" Who did you do harm to? "Mihi?" To me?
Adelita jerked in her seat, frustrated. Didn't Mother Joasia understand what she was trying to get at? Why did she have to correct every little word that Adelita said? "Tu me nocuisti!" You did harm me!
"Ego tibi nocuens." I am doing harm to you. ... The calm smile on Mother Joasia's face said she was enjoying this just a little bit. "Sed ego te curans sum." But I am taking care of you.
"Pleeeease. I'm so tired," Adelita whined, giving up entirely on her language lessons. "Can we practice tomorrow?"
"... It is late," Mother Joasia admitted, finally - blessedly - switching to English. She wrapped the bandage tightly around Adelita's chest, and the young girl could feel her ribs squeezing in a little. "You normally wouldn't be allowed to be awake at this hour, were it not for your foolhardy insistence on following me to battle."
Adelita stuck out her tongue, using her free hand to ready three Black Keys and admire them. The foot-long magical blades jutting out from between her fingers vanished as she tucked them away again. "I helped, didn't I?"
"Admittedly, you may very well have saved me an injury, but at the cost of putting your own self at an unreasonable amount of risk." The priestess's voice was harsh, stern, cold. "Had that claw slipped even a few inches, it would have pierced your heart and you would have been dead within seconds. While I can't deny that would save me a huge amount of trouble, I believe the abbess would be unhappy with me."
The little nun's heart sank. For as rude as Mother Joasia was to her, she seemed to be genuinely caring and protective. Or at least self-serving in a way that made her caring and protective. And it was hard to stay mad at someone who was genuinely trying to keep her safe... even if Adelita had her doubts. Often. "I know, but... I can't just stay in the bushes forever! I'm supposed to be learning how to be an exorcist!"
"Then you need to practice more of your Latin. Demons do not respect an exorcist who cannot remember her declensions in the midst of an exorcism." She was examining the wound on Adelita's arm now, tilting it so that she could see it better in the light of the inn room. "There's a few drops of demon blood that splashed into your injury. I'll need to bless the wound before I treat it. Pray with me."
The younger girl took the older woman's outstretched hand, curling her fingers into it. They closed their eyes, and Mother Joasia began chanting a canticle. Adelita didn't recognize it, or know most of the tough Latin words... but Mother Joasia's voice felt strangely calming.
She let the priestess's calm, clear voice wrap around her like a warm hug. Well... warm hug was perhaps too kind a word for a woman who barely showed any affection unless her life depended on it. More like... a refreshing bath. In some cold, pure spring water.
As Mother Joasia's voice finally fell silent, the wounds on Adelita's body began to seal over. The priestess's prayer had healed the child's wounds.
"If you could do that the whole time, why did you make me sit still for all that medicine and stuff?" Adelita asked through a pout. "'Through Goddess, all things are possible', right?"
Mother Joasia stood, gathering the medical supplies. She pointedly ignored the latter question. "It's a lesson you won't soon forget, I expect. And I prefer to handle things with mundane means, in any case."
"Why are you so mad that I came and helped you fight? I don't want to see you get hurt," Adelita said, following suit and helping the priestess gather her supplies.
The way Mother Joasia stopped and turned to face Adelita made her think she was in even more trouble somehow, and she shrank back. The priestess's voice was cold and even. "Sister Palomo. Do you see the way I wield my flails?"
Adelita nodded, her eyes dropping down to the priestess's long sleeves, only the barest tips of her fingers visible beyond them. "You just spin them around, right?"
"Yes. But there is so much more to it than just spinning them around. Matters of timing, speed, force, gyroscopic effects. It appears casual and effortless because I have practiced at it since before your parents brought you sobbing and screaming into this world." Mother Joasia took the bolt of bandage cloth and placed it inside, then closed up the medical kit. "I have made mistakes, I have earned my scars. But I have earned my skill as well, through years of practice."
"I've been practicing a long time too!" Adelita insisted, taking the medical kit from Mother Joasia and carrying it over to their luggage, setting it down inside.
Mother Joasia pulled back the blanket on her bed, ignoring Adelita. "I want to see you live long enough to accumulate scars, make mistakes, earn your skills. The demons we face are not playful sparring partners. They will not hesitate to tear you limb from limb or devour you alive. And that's if you're lucky. The things they can do to you when they're not in the mood for a quick kill would break you. And once again - the abbess would not be happy if I returned you in pieces, be they physical or mental."
"Goddess will protect me!" Adelita insisted, moving beside Mother Joasia and flopping onto her own bed. "I'm not going to fall to them!"
Mother Joasia straightened, turning toward Adelita. "More pious, more faithful, more promising followers of the Christ have died while taking more precautions than you. Our Goddess..." she trailed off, seemingly changing her mind about what she wanted to say. "... Our Goddess may decide you belong by her side instead."
Adelita's spirits deflated, and her shoulders slumped - she couldn't argue with that, and as much as she hated admitting defeat, she also knew when she was beaten. Her imagination began to run away with this thought, envision all sorts of grisly fates demons might visit on her. "... I guess..."
If the priestess had noticed where her mind was wandering, she didn't seem to mind having inspired it. "Change into your night clothes and prepare yourself for sleep. Tomorrow I expect you to do a double-length study session to make up for your delinquency with this one."
"Double. Keep complaining and I'll make it triple. Remember what I said about exorcists who don't know their declensions. And I expect you to be awake at an ordinary time, ready to ride. We have to continue moving toward New York if we're to make it there when we're needed. Do not make me wait for you."
"Yes, Mother..." Adelita headed for her luggage, looking for her sleep clothes. The temptation to play some prank on Mother Joasia to get even for tonight was all too high...