"You heard nothing last night?"
Sean's head shake deepened the puzzle. He didn't like me,but he loved all his livestock and tended his animals with the same devotion helavished on his wife and child.
My gaze swung back to Sullivan. I couldn't believe this monster that usuallyruled the corral had stood quietly while a predator fed.
Though I had no desire to crouch on the ground next to thebeast, I needed to touch the legs. Bending low, I laid hands on the rightforeleg and stroked down, brushing across the seeping wounds.
"Alrighty then," I murmured as I watched the cuts scab over.Inelegant though it was, I crawled around Sullivan, attending each leg. By thetime I returned to the foreleg, the scabs had dried and flaked off, leavingpink scars.
"It can't be anything he ate. His feed's not been changedand he's either been in the barn or the corral where there's no weeds to eat."Sean's voice was gruff. He stared hardat me, letting me know without begging, how important the bull was.
Trying not to see the desperation in his silent plea, Icontinued my examination, stroking the muscled shoulder and following a vein upthe thick neck to the bovine jaw.
Instead of the steady sound of a healthy heart, the bull'spulse stuttered and beat in a sluggish rhythm. Not expecting much to happen inthe way of healing, I settled both thumbs side by side on the vein, focusingwhatever drib of power I might have on that spot.
I can't describe what happened next, other than to say Ibecame a conduit, pumping magic through my thumbs into the bull. I stared atthe connection and watched the white haze buzzing around the beast graduallychange to gray. When it finally dispersed altogether, the connection ended, andmy hands dropped to my sides.
"That's all I can do." I closed my eyes, tottering on myfeet as I shook my head to clear it. When I opened my eyes again, it was to seethe recovered animal trotting across the barn lot.
Paddy grabbed up Myrtle and the boy and whirled them around,dancing an Irish jig. Watching them, I paid no mind to the bull until I heardSullivan snort. A quick glance his way confirmed he had his head down, pawingthe ground in a challenge. Being both sapped of energy and bloated with magic,at first, I ignored the creature.
"Maggie, move," Myrtle shrieked when the beast began agallop across the lot.I stumbled backward and fell, landing on my rear in thedust. I had no chance of reaching the fence before the bull reached me.
Myrtleshouted at Paddy to do something and to his credit, he picked up a pitchfork. Whether it was to be used on his bull or me, I didn't waitto find out.
Drawing on the power I'd just harvested from the healing, Icast a protection spell to create a shield between me and the ungrateful beast.But instead of shaping itself into a wall, magic zinged from me and smacked thebull a forceful blow. Sullivan fell to his front knees. A patch of hair on hisright shoulder appeared singed while another spot burst into flame.
"Well isn't that grand? The animal seems to be feelingfrisky again." Myrtle remained positive, ignoring my misfired spell, whilePaddy glared threats at me and beat out the blaze dancing on his prize bovine'sshoulder.
"'Tis true yer a jinx." He pointed at the scorched patch ofhair still smoldering. "You fix one thing and break two more. Ye've put a devilmark on my Aberdeen-Angus."