Chapter 28 - Close to Death

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Kastali Dun

Saffra finished her chanting as chaos continued to reign around her. She looked up, only now taking note of her surroundings. The fight continued with Claire nowhere in sight. Her stomach sank further. Had she failed not one, but two tonight?

"Saffra! Get him out of here!" She heard Bedelth's voice like a distant echo. "We will keep the Vodar occupied. Go!"

"Can you walk?" she asked her beloved Dax, who continued to moan in agony with unseeing eyes that stared blankly at the ceiling. "Dax! Can you walk?" she repeated. He nodded but otherwise appeared delirious. "I've got to get you out of here," she muttered, desperate to get him to safety.

As she helped him to his feet, she draped his arm over her shoulder and hobbled to the room's exit. "Watch yourself," came a shout behind her. Verath jumped before her, blocking an oncoming blow that would have surely finished her. The Vodar wraith screamed like a furious wind as its progress was hindered. She stepped around Verath and the Vodar, nearly dragging Dax with her. He did little to help, sending them both stumbling for the door.

The moment she was free of the tower, she found Desaree and Jocelyn huddling against the opposite wall of the corridor. "We decided to wait out here," they explained. They rushed to Saffra's aid, helping her to support Dax's weight as they moved away from the tower. "But where is Claire," cried Desaree looking back over her shoulder. "We cannot leave without Claire!" Her voice was hysterical.

"I must get Dax to Marcel! If I do not take him now, he will die. My magic cannot keep him safe. The poison is spreading."

"But, Claire..." Desaree looked over her shoulder as if Claire might burst through the tower door  at any moment. "We cannot leave her. What if..."

"You must stay and ensure that she is okay. Jocelyn will help me bring Dax to safety."

"Yes, Desaree. You must stay. I will help Lady Saffra," said Jocelyn, echoing Saffra's words.

"Take care of yourself, Desaree, and do not do anything rash. I would...I cannot bear the thought of you or Claire hurt. Bring her to safety—you must."

Desaree nodded then gave them a final apologetic look before retreating back towards the king's tower door. As Saffra moved away with Dax and Jocelyn, she caught a final glimpse of Desaree peeking through the door. Claire's fate (and Desaree's too) was now in the hands of the Mother. Asjaa would see them to safety—surely.

When they reached the grand Mage's quarters, Marcel opened the door looking quite surprised.

"The Vodar!" Saffra cried. Marcel took but a moment to assess the damage done to Daxton's side before ushering them to a nearby chamber where they laid Daxton's body across a bed. Marcel began immediately muttering an incantation. Then he turned to them, barked several commands, none of which were heard by Saffra as she gazed desperately at her beloved. She was vaguely aware of Jocelyn rushing away and returning shortly thereafter with several supplies.

It all seemed so dream-like. At some point during Marcel's chanting, she felt Jocelyn's arms on her shoulders, ushering her to a nearby chair where she sat in shock, watching Marcel do his work. She could have helped him; she could have joined her magic with his, but he never asked. He knew as well as she that she was in no fit state to do anything.

When the fog of her mind cleared, Saffra found Marcell crouched before her looking more exhausted than she had ever seen him. He took her chin in his fingers, which were blackened from various amounts of ash, to lift her face towards his. His eyes assessed hers. "I think you will be okay," he said at last.

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