Chapter 14

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There was a bandage over his eyes as he woke up. He could feel the soft linen obstructing his view and it took him a moment to remember why it was there in the first place. He felt for the knot at the back of his head to untwine the fabric, but the soft touch of a hand on his arm made him jump in surprise instead.

"Sorry, it's only me."

"Alaya?"

"Yes."

He went back to fumbling with the fabric, when Alaya interrupted him again. "You should probably leave that on a bit longer."

"What happened to my eyes?"

There was silence and he pictured Alaya trying to come up with the best euphemism to tell him he had gone blind or damaged his eyes in some other way in the black goo.

"We don't know."

"You don't ..."

"There have only been two accounts of people coming out of the cauldron before and none of them have presented any symptoms like you."

There was a strange comfort in knowing he wasn't the only one who had survived the cauldron, although he now felt the urge to find out who the other two were. As the new investigation and research opportunity took shape in his mind, he realised there were more pressing matters at hand for the time being.

"So, what am I supposed to do now?"

"Our exams showed that there is nothing physically wrong with your eyes."

"But ... but they hurt and I couldn't see anything other than bright shapes. I wasn't imagining that, was I?"

"No, most likely not. We suspect it was the first manifestation of your powers ..."

"Hold on! Powers? As in, I-got-magic-now-powers?"

"Yes."

"That's awesome!" His memory of the cauldron was dark and cold. It had been a test of survival, one he had barely passed at that. He had a feeling that this, just like his trials, would forever be part of his being now. The stuff his nightmares were made of, the thoughts that kept circling back and robbed him of sleep. However, in that very instant, he could not hold back the childlike joy that built up in him at the thought of having his own superpowers from now on.

"Don't get too excited! We don't even know what they are yet."

"Then it's time to find out!" Throwing all caution in the wind and ignoring Alaya's plea to leave on the bandages a while longer, Dyson simply ripped them off and immediately got blinded by the bright light in the room. Alaya hurried to the window and drew the curtains, to make it easier on his vision, but Dyson was able to recover quickly either way. He looked around, taking in his surroundings. "I don't think anything's changed."

"Are you sure?"

"Yes, I am sure! Everything looks exactly the same." Disappointment washed over him. Of course, it would have been too good to be true to actually get something useful out of his trauma.

"Let me just get the healer to check again."

Alaya went off and left Dyson to his own devices. He spotted a neatly folded outfit on a chair next to his bed and jumped at the prospect to finally wear some regular clothes again. They were less extravagant than the embroidered ones he had worn for the ceremony, but of similar quality. The shirt and pants fitted him loosely and gave him enough freedom to move quickly. There were also some new shoes made of dark brown leather prepared for him and, to no one's surprise, they were exactly his size. Tired of always having to wait for others to tell him what he could or couldn't do, he decided to test his new freedom as a Velcry.

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