Chapter 87: The Touch of Her Hand

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To me, the Eight are quite obviously the personification, an embodiment, per se, of aspects of insanity. If one takes Jeriander's theory of the collective mythos, and views the Eight through a philosophical lens, they appear to draw their sources of power, their respective 'evils,' from a collective mindset that views these things as detrimental.

-The Necromancer's Notes, Folio 44883, Page 2, Philosophy Wing

***

It was getting worse.

Night had fallen. Lord Solstael had left his manor, along with Kyra and a few guards, on Laidu's orders. They were staying at a small, but upscale, inn. It was mostly empty, and the rooms were taken up by Laidu, Kyra, and Lord Solstael, along with two rooms for the three guards.

There was one other person with a room inside the inn, but it didn't sound like it. The voices had multiplied, metastasized, and festered. He couldn't tell where they were, who they were. He could distinguish between the Warden, Rhaem, Kasran, but there were more. All of them sounded like they were yelling, calling out.

He remembered something they said, when he first fought Kazalibad at Baton's Mill. Name me again when you know it. That might keep the madness at bay. The name Rhaedra had provoked a response from that voice, a unified voice. He had said it was the word, but not the thought.

What had he thought about? He tried to remember what had gone through his mind then. He knew several of the translations of the root of that name. Battle-fury. All-consuming rage. Limitless passion. Uncontrollable love. Unshakable courage. He had thought of battle anger before, but courage was surely a name fitting for a dragon, especially a dragon king.

I name you... he began. The voices hushed, waiting in anticipation. They wanted the name, lusted after the name. He could feel their yearning, like the yearning he had for Kyra.

...Rhaedra.

His world exploded.

Pain. All he knew was pain, and every kind of agony, every variation of suffering. It ripped through his body, tore through his mind, clawed at his soul. The inn room, lit by a few candles, was gone. Pain was real, now. Pain was the world he saw. Laidu might have thrashed, might not have. He could have hurt someone, could have hurt himself. He didn't know. He lashed out like a wild animal because it hurt it hurt it hurt it hurt it hurt it hurt make it stop make it stop make it stop make it stop-

"Laidu?" He remembered that voice, somewhere, somwhen. She was important, he knew that much. Remember her. You have to, Laidu, you have to, Rhaem. You remember her.

Kyra.

The name cut through the pain the way a knife cut through skin and flesh. He gasped, puling in air, more air, as much of that as he could, letting it fill his lungs, proof that he was alive. She was there too; he could sense her presence in the room. He felt everything, heard everything, smelled everything. It would have been overwhelming to him if he hadn't just finished experiencing the epitome of agony.

She was there, eyes wide. "Are you alright?" He didn't answer, his mind racing a thousand miles a second, as he took in the room, now that the veil of torturous pain had been lifted from his head. 

The flames flickered in their candles, undisturbed. The bed was left untouched. But the table, right by a pair of upholstered chairs, was reduced to splinters. The surface of it was broken in three places, and the legs of the table were bent beyond repair.

"What happened?" she asked. Laidu stepped back, sinking into a chair, staring at his shaking hands. "Laidu?" Kyra was alarmed now.

"I don't know." Laidu's voice quivered. The other voices hadn't vanished. They'd gotten worse. It hadn't worked, it didn't dispel the voices.

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