50 | Of Waiting Pyres

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I don't know how long I remained in bed after waking from the vision. It could have been hours, days, or weeks. In the grips of mana sickness, I knew little of anything aside from the ache in my head and in my bones. Occasionally I thought I heard Peroth's voice or Amoroth's, or felt Lionel's cold nose on my own, but I couldn't be sure. I couldn't be sure of anything aside from the pain, the weakness, and the absolute certainty that if I ever fell into another vision, I wouldn't be waking up again.

I laid upon my back, my hands on my head with my fingers spread upon my brow and forehead kneading the skin. I felt like I'd been laying in place for quite some time, though I was certain I'd eaten something at some point. Groaning, I dragged my hand upward through my hair and judged the texture of the strands against my fingertips. Wet. My hair was wet. I must have showered. 

What I remembered above everything, what I clung to as I waited for the sickness to ease, were the words of the Baal and the echo of my thoughts concerning that stupid book I'd first held in my house in Verweald. The book itself was of little consequence; the legend was what was important. In the puzzle of my delirium, I couldn't yet see the picture of my solution, but I at least had the pieces flipped over and upright. 


"What is broken cannot be remade...." I muttered as I stared at the ceiling and pulled a strand of damp hair between my fingers. The scent of orchids lay heavy in the room, combined with the smell of dust and old parchment. When did I shower? I must be losing my mind.

A soft knock sounded at the door—and before I could turn the person away, it opened. Anzel stepped inside, and the only thing I could say was, "What in the world are you wearing?"

I recognized the dark gray waistcoat as the one he'd received from Gran Vyus. Over it he had on a black, high-collared, knee-length coat tooled in a material so lustrous it rippled like water in the weak lamplight. His hair was gathered at the nape and kept in place by a platinum clasp, and embroidered leaves flew upward from the cusp of his cuffs and hem as if caught in a wayward breeze. 

In a word, the Vytian prince looked quite regal. He was never slovenly, but he typically dressed casually in open linen waistcoats with mud flecked half way to his elbows. Right now, he was every inch the royal he claimed to be.

Anzel arched a brow as he shoved the door closed with his foot. "What am I wearing? Clothes?"

"Why are you here?" 

He came around the end of the bed and dropped a sizable box on the foot of the mattress. With his other hand he proffered a bottle brimming with silver energy.

My eyes narrowed.

"I overhead Sloth and the other one discussing your health." He sat beside me without prompting, fussing with the tightness of his silk cravat as the bottle landed squarely in my limp palm. "I hoped to spare you from your own stubbornness before the damage becomes lasting."

"I'm not stubborn."

Anzel actually laughed at me, holding his fair hand over his mouth as the masculine peals echoed into the empty parlor. "Just drink it, love."

I did drink it, though not because Anzel told me to. I drank it because my head felt like an orange left too long on the branch, ready to split right down the middle. I sputtered and choked as tears stung in my eyes—but I drank the entire infusion without any other complaints. When the horrid burning in my lungs cleared and stole the fog crippling my mind, I set the bottle aside on the end table and looked over the Vytian once more.

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