Found – Part Twelve
Parts One Through Eleven can be found on my author’s page.
It wasn’t a good plan. In fact, it wasn’t much of a plan at all. I hadn’t taken any time to design a strategy or consider any outcomes. There wasn’t any time. I ran through the castle corridors, hoping to find a way. The few times I’d been through these halls, I was either unconscious or in too much pain to take in my surroundings. But I couldn’t worry about that now. Someone had noticed my absence, and the alarms echoed all around. The sounds of my escape bounced all over the walls, mocking me. They laughed at my feeble attempt. I knew better than to listen to their jeers. I had to run. Despite the protests of my body, against my better judgment, I ran.
The walls blurred into a sea of red streaked with silver. It was hopeless. I ran in endless circles. My lungs couldn’t hold air anymore. I stopped for a moment—just for a moment, to get some air.
“You seem to have an abundance of energy after your training.” That voice. It hissed and slithered into my soul. I looked up. Standing in a doorway that led to the castle courtyard, and my goal was him.
“You promised you’d behave if I allowed you a name. And yet you’re more rebellious than ever. I’ve been lenient with your punishments. I’ll ensure the message gets across next time.”
“You’ll never touch me again,” I said, unable to hide the quiver in my voice.
“Oh, won’t I?” He asked. He spoke in a pleasant tone, as though he were having a delightful chat about how beautiful the day was. “How brave. We’ll see how brave you are when I’m done with you.”
“You will never touch me again,” I repeated, this time with rage. He was an obstacle—one more obstacle, and then I would be out of this prison. I looked at his cold, dead eyes. They were filled with hate and twisted pride. He came close, reaching his hands out towards me, and I could feel his vile, slimy touch on my skin. “YOU WILL NEVER TOUCH ME AGAIN!”
My eyes flew open, and I was greeted by the warm glow and crackle of a fire and the soft snores of a tired, old man. Calum sat in his chair; his body slumped in a position that couldn’t have been comfortable. I moved to try and wake him, but my limbs were lead.
“Calum,” my voice was hoarse, my throat burned with effort. I cleared my throat and tried again with a little more success. “Calum.”
“What?” he asked, startled out of restless slumber. He straightened up, rubbing the sleep out of his eyes. “Nox!” he exclaimed. “You’re awake! Don’t move, well I supposed you can’t move. Be patient. I’ll be right back.” He dashed off out of my sight. I heard the clinking of glass and the familiar bubbling of liquid.
“How do you know I can’t move?”
“I had to immobilize you. It was the only way I could get you back inside.” Clink clink fizzle. Clink glug glug glug. He maneuvered himself behind and sat me up. “Drink this, and your body will start to wake up.”
I opened my mouth, and he tipped the liquid down my throat. It soothed my ravaged voice, and a wave of cool air overcame me. My arms became lighter, and I was able to support my own weight on them. I moved away from Calum and leaned against my arms.
“Is it ever going to stop?” I asked him, my head low. “Will this be my life?”
“When you find a good healer, it’s possible that you can…”
“Don’t lie to me!” I yelled, looking up at him. His face registered shock, but it melted into a mask of exhaustion and sorrow. The trials of the last few days, trials that I had brought to his life, crashed down on him. He aged right before my eyes. And I knew then what I had to.
“Don’t apologize. Once you’ve finished your training, your Magic will be stronger, and you’ll have more control. But perhaps we could scale back in your training. It seems we have pushed your limits too far. You can rest for a couple of days.”
I spiraled into an ocean of self-loathing. This man was living a peaceful existence until he found me, and I turned his life upside down. I couldn’t do this anymore. I wouldn’t do this anymore.
“Rest sounds like a good idea,” I lied.
“Good,” he said, a smile lighting his face. His genuine joy only made it worse. “I’m going to work on brewing some more potion while you rest.”
“The potion to immobilize me?”
“That should not be necessary anymore. I’ve begun to understand the signs, and it seems that your Affliction is triggered through fear. I’ve been working on a potion that will help to ease the pain associated with the attacks.”
“That will be good. I think I’ll get some rest now.”
“Yes. Do that. I’ll just work on the potion. I’ll sleep after I’m done.”
“Okay. Good night.”
“Good night, Nox.”
I lowered myself onto the bed and turned to face away from him. I pretended to sleep while I listened to the sounds of potion-making, watching the shadows dance on the wall in front of me. Calum’s shadow moved with purpose. Every move was precise and calculated. He was on a mission—on a mission to save me. And now it was my turn to save him. It was the only thing I could do for him—after all he’d done for me—after all I’d put him through.
Calum went to sleep several hours later. He never disturbed me, just continued to work. I waited until I was certain he was sleeping. I crept out of bed and scooped up my walking staff. This is the right thing to do. I snuck around in the firelight, doing my best to be silent. I conjured a sack out of a spare bit of fabric and collected the vials of potion he’d made for me. I found some of my new clothes and packed those as well.
Calum stirred, and I froze. He settled down into slumber.
“Goodbye, Calum,” I whispered. “Thank you.”