1: Casualties of War

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Light and dark, two sides of the same coin and all Fitz could see when he opened his eyes again, a painful breath shuddering through his ribs. He was in his bed, the canopy drawn back like the curtains, and morning light illuminated the room, showing that everything was as it was before the attack... at least, everything he could see with one eye. Confused, he ran his hand over the lid of the eye filled with darkness, feeling the ridge of a long scar. Fitz traced the length of it, running his finger eye at an angle down from just above his eyebrow -- almost reaching  the growing creases in his forehead -- down to the middle of his cheek.

"Fitz, my son, are you alright?" his father asked worriedly, comfortingly stroking his hair with a firm, calming hand.

Panic welling in his throat, Fitz met his father's eyes with his one, his unscarred eyelid wide open with fearful uncertainty. "I... I... Am I okay?"

"Would you like a mirror?" asked Elwin, who was smiling at him sympathetically from across the room as he waited patiently, meaning the physician understood something he didn't quite yet. Something that wasn't good.

Fitz nodded and accepted the hand mirror, completely unprepared for the horror that would wash over him when he saw the glistening and concise pink scar flowing over his left eyelid, leaving his eyeball white and milky instead of his usual teal. His heart was pounding loudly now, so loud that he didn't hear Elwin speak at first.

"-but the cut was too deep. We did all we could," the physician said grimly, clasping his hands in front of him.

"What?" he whispered, trying to wrap his head around what he was being told.

From the corner of his vision, Fitz saw Alden's face pinch with worry, "Fitz? I know it's hard to take in, but-"

"I can't see... I can't see." Fitz hadn't realized he was hyperventilating until he looked down at himself to see his chest rising and falling rapidly in rhythm with the intensifying tingling sensation growing in his hands and ribs.

"In one eye, yes," Alden took Fitz's head in his hands, tears in his eyes. "But you still have one good eye."

"The shock is to be expected," assured Elwin, "but he needs to breathe normally or he'll pass out again."

"Did you hear that, Fitz?" Alden asked in a level voice. "We need you to try and take deep breaths. You're okay. We don't love you any less, and we're going to help you get through it."

But Fitz couldn't calm down. The world was a blur, and everything was suddenly overwhelming. The thin layer of dust hovering in the air. The shadows of the room creeping in on him like walls. The soft silk sheets of the bed slipping from his fingers as he tried to grab hold of them in a feeble attempt to anchor himself somehow. His father's voice, sounding as though Fitz was submerged deep under water and the only thing he could see was his father's wave-distorted figure calling out to him. It was as if everything was drowning him and he couldn't come up for air.

"Why don't you give him a few more moonlark tears?" Alden suggested. "They have calming properties, right?"

Elwin hummed in thought, the sound throbbing in Fitz's ear, "Moonlark tears are for mental healing. I already gave him some to heal the mental exertion, but a few more couldn't hurt. They should keep him from this turning into a physical problem where he'd be in medical shock."

"Whatever it takes," the king replied decisively, not taking his eyes off his son as Elwin grabbed a tiny vial from the nightstand.

When the cool, sweet liquid poured down the back of Fitz's through, he shivered, but slowly he felt the pulsing in his chest slow down and the pressure building in his head ease enough to swim to the surface of all the sensations going on around him. Alden held his hand tighter, and eventually, Fitz broke through the surface of the water to join the real world again. When he was breathing normally again, Fitz sat up and wrapped his arms around his father's shoulders, feeling like a little boy again as Alden hugged him back tightly.

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