After nearly a month of journeying through harsh terrain, the party arrives at Shamballah.
After Ollie decks Travis Morgan and just barely avoids getting skewered by Tara's guards for his trouble, the questions are asked; where is the nearest exit out of here and can you magic up some medicine for Mia.
The good news is that the scribes and healers of Shamballah - having access to the ancient powers of Atlantis - know something about HIV. They call it "The Wasting Plague", but the symptoms are the same. What is more amazing is that they have actually devised a cure for the condition.
Naturally, there is bad news too. Quite a lot of it...
1. The Wasting Plague is now so rare that they don't bother to keep the potion/vaccine that cures it handy.
2. The key ingredient of the cure is a flower of a particular species of plant.
3. This particular plant is found only in the darkest part of The Shadow Forest.
Jennifer Morgan is able to weave a spell of stasis around Mia, giving the rest of the team what they need most; time. But even with that problem out of the way, they still need an expert woodsman and survivalist to lead the way into the Shadow Forest. And it would take a trained botanist to distinguish this one flowering plant out of all the others, based on the vague descriptions in the notes of the ancient Atlanteans.
Good thing Oliver Queen and Dinah Lance are there, eh?
Recovering the plant is a tricky business, what with the usual dangers of Skartaris on the way to The Shadow Forest. And then The Shadow Forest has its' own dangers, what with the near-total darkness, cannibalistic natives and man-eating plants.
And then... there's the other, less physical problems once the plant is actually found. Namely... they're sitting on a cure for HIV - what do they do with it? Or more accurately, what CAN they do with it?
Dinah is the first to point out that the plant isn't easy to get by any stretch of the imagination and that as best she can tell, there's not really a way to synthesize or cultivate the plant outside of Skartaris. So mounting regular expeditions from the outside world to gather up however little is left isn't practical, even if you ignore the complications in getting into/out of Skartaris in the first place. So as much as she'd love the credit for "discovering" this amazing plant, she doesn't see how it is practical to reveal the secret to the world.
Connor agrees with Dinah in principle, noting that there's also the issue of just what will happen to Skartaris as a result of the outside world becoming informed of the place. Specifically, what happens when some big business finds out about The Cure and they start rushing in trying to lay a claim on The Shadow Forest. Sure, it is a dangerous inhospitable realm... but everything has its' place and reason for being and even if the rules of Skartaris would allow this sort of thing to happen (they might not - magical realms are funny that way), there are a lot of peaceful natives who would be displaced along with the dinosaurs, cannibals and bad stuff.
Zinda? She's all for loading up a cart full of flowers and giving it the old college try. She's not much for Connor's talk about balance (cute as he is when he gets all serious) and as for Dinah saying it can't be done... well, no harm in trying right?
Mia? She appreciates what Connor and Dinah are saying... but honestly, she can't see how she can do this for herself and not at least make the attempt to bring The Cure to the outside world. Maybe this is how it is supposed to happen? Maybe this is how Skartaris gets dragged into the real world?
Ollie? Well, he sees the wisdom of both paths. Sitting on the cure for a major illness doesn't sit right with him for a lot of reasons. But he trusts Dinah's judgement on how feasible it is and agrees with Connor's points on how they can't foresee the consequences of the outside's world effect on Skartaris, or vice versa.
What do they decide? Good question. Why don't you tell me in the comments? ;)
Either way - with a sample brought home or everyone deciding to leave well enough alone - everyone makes it home okay... just a few days after they left thanks to the wacky way time works in Skartaris.
Mia astounds her doctors with a miracle that is written off as a false positive the first time she was tested.
And on a quiet night a few weeks later when everyone else is on patrol or being babysat elsewhere... Dinah does show Ollie an outfit that Queen Tara had made special for her.
Dinah: "Me Jane. You Tarzan. You never speak of this to ANYONE."
Ollie: "As Mel Brooks said, It's good to be da King of the Jungle."