ZERO: PREPARING TO DESTROY YOURSELF

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It hurts to die. Light, flashing. Burning. Taking away and then, like an oversight, giving back pain beyond magnitude. It kills you, funnily enough, like that of a loved ones death. Her eyes opened up to death and tears fell out as destruction laid ruin to her soul. She found herself sobbing out darkness. Hands touched and covered her. Comfort. Comfort in a world of evil and in a world where nothing good could ever happen.

    "Shh," he whispered. His rough hands were familiar. She found herself melting into him. "Shh, don't speak."

    Tears streamed down. She'd missed his voice. God, how she'd missed it. His cheek pressed up against hers, close in ways she never wanted to forget. Bostrim. Just his name filled her soul with a presence that she couldn't name.

    Minutes passed with their embrace.

    No words were spoken because none were needed. Friendship as deep as theirs needed nothing but the other to allow themselves to be completed. Nothing to separate them, no awkwardness at her lack of clothing or between anything they could ever say to one another. Mirianette's body felt older than a 100 year old sages'. She could hardly move aside from her head. Everything was tough, broken, stiffer than anything she'd ever experienced. Only a month had passed and she couldn't remember anything from it, as though her mind was as old as her body felt.

    "What day is it now?" she asked, trying to steady herself. It didn't work.

    "The forty-third of summer."

    "Three days then."

    Bostrim didn't respond. Mirianette wasn't awake much and she knew it, because every time she awoke from sleep it was days past. Three days since I last saw him. What's happened now? Her body was still healing, but they feared that she would never heal enough. Her chest, or what lay open to his eyes, was still covered in the dark purple and browns of the darker magic. The browns mixed in with her skin, but the yellows that accompanied them didn't. The green of infection had ran itself off less than a week prior to her waking.

    He coughed into his hands and rubbed them against his leg. Times were different, and by the way he held himself she knew that something drastic had changed. Not only had he suddenly begun to get taller—almost as though overnight—his face was changing right before her eyes. His soft jawline was getting stronger and his scrawny muscles were growing as he worked more. The town needed to be rebuilt and since his uncle was dead Leunk and Bostrim had to work to get food and shelter. Times had definitely changed.

    "There's talk of sending you ta Nilvath's Cathedral, all way in Rufella."

    "Rufella?"

    That was a new one. Luistia and Amelia, the princess, had been working up ways for her to heal faster, but that'd never come up before. Nilvath's Cathedral was known for its famous healing and their spiritualness. There, everyone was religious or they didn't live in the Kingdom. In Gardelle people believed whatever they wanted, which only served to give mixed opinions on everything. It worked...for the most part.

    "Yeah," he said. A cough settled through him before he spoke again, "I think it's a good idea. Ya need ta get out of Gardelle. It's hurtin' ya."

    "It's not-"

    "You haven't healed." She couldn't deny it. "Ya hardly awake, and it's killin' me ta see you like this, Mirian. The gang be hardly survivin' without you, and Leunk isn't good a boss."

    Time stood silent—as did she. Her thoughts swirled around in delightful colors. Brights, darks, all alike, mixing and crafting new words and bubbles for her to connect onto. It was a new thing she'd been doing more often than not recently, and for the life of her she didn't know why. Since the incident, Mirian wasn't the same. No way to move, no way to do anything, she was just there. Healing.

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