Found – Part Twenty-One
Weak from the healing session, Cyrus carried me back to my room. He grumbled aloud that I was too light, and that he hoped a few good meals would see to that—every pair of eyes on us as he ascended the stairs.
“Dasha, what happened?” A patron asked, breaking the thick silence. Cyrus stopped at the top of the stairs and lingered to hear her answer.
“That is not my business to tell.”
“Well, are we going to meet him?” A large rush of voices began to clamor at once, demanding answers and spewing opinions. Cyrus’s arms tightened around me.
“Hey, that is enough!” Dasha yelled. “He is a newcomer here just like you all once were! Don’t forget what you’ve all escaped from. You will meet him when he is good and ready! You just leave him alone. Now clear out. Breakfast was over an hour ago. I’m closing up until lunch!” Dasha shooed everyone away. A few delayed their exit.
“Do you need anything before you go?” Dasha asked, her voice impatient.
“Will he be all right? It didn’t appear he was long for this world.” Someone asked. A few other voices chimed in with concern.
“Don’t say such things! He’ll be fine. The best we can do is give him space and time to heal. Now go on. I’ll see you all for lunch.” The patrons left, and Dasha began to clean the dining hall.
Cyrus continued towards my room and stopped at the door.
“Put me down,” I said. “I can manage the rest of the way.”
“How will you walk without your staff?”
“I can go short distances without it.” No, you can’t.
“And how will you retrieve it from downstairs?”
“I can summon it.” No, you can’t.
“You’re willing to expose yourself?”
“I’m not trying to hide that I’m Magical.” You are a little bit.
“You’ve not told anyone about it.” I couldn’t tell if he was stating this with concern or irritation.
“No one has asked,” I said through gritted teeth both from pain and aggravation.
“Do you have the strength to summon it?” He was mocking me.
“Put me down, and I’ll show you.”
Cyrus scoffed but set me down. My legs began to buckle underneath me and braced myself with the wall.
“You don’t look steady,” he teased.
I ignored him. Holding on to the wall with my left arm, I held out my right arm. My staff was back in Dasha’s room somewhere. Wooden beams, people, space, emotions, doubts, all obstacles between it and me. Beyond the din, I could detect the familiar warmth of my staff, smell the wood, and sense the pulse of the amber glow at its crown. I closed my eyes and Saw the staff disappear from Dasha’s room, and rematerialize in my grasp.
“Nox,” Cyrus spoke in a warning tone. “You’ve made your point. But stop now. You’re too weak for this.”
“No, I’m not,” I pushed the words out, strength seeping from my body as I concentrated every fiber into summoning the staff. My hand began to tremble. It was becoming difficult to hold my arm up, and edges of my vision blurred. But I would do this.
Please, I called out to it. I need you.
“Stop!” Cyrus yelled. He reached out towards me.
“Don’t touch me!” I yelled back. Cyrus recoiled. My fingertips were tingling. Whether from weakness or Magic, I didn’t know. At the moment when I knew I had no more to give, an oppressive heat overtook my arm, and my staff appeared in my grasp. All at once, I felt the air leave my body.
Dasha exclaimed from below. I leaned my body weight against the staff. Its warmth seemed to embrace me. I did it. The world was frozen around me. Cyrus watched me with wide eyes, and Dasha was immobilized, hands covering her mouth, stifling a gasp.
“Help me get inside,” I said to Cyrus.
“R..Right,” he stuttered, thawing from his spot and springing to life. He went around me and opened the door. Heavy into my staff, I limped across the threshold, determined to make it in under my own power. Each step was a battle, as my legs wanted nothing to do with movement. Well, too bad, I told them. Cyrus hovered around me, waiting to catch me if I fell. After an eternity, I made it to my bed and let my body crash into soft blankets and pillows, my staff still in my hand.
From one bed to another? How can you expect to escape me? His voice tormented me from within.
Cyrus produced a small vial of potion from within his pocket. It was full of a thin blue liquid.
“You’ve been left weakened from…everything that happened before. And I’ll admit I was rougher with you than I should have been.
“I thought that was meant to be a healing session,” I lashed out.
“Indeed it was, but you are Cursed and Afflicted, remember? That does make things quite a bit more difficult. I had hoped to resort to this. This potion is disastrous to make, and its side effects are devastating if not administered properly. However, a few drops of it, and you will be at full strength in the morning.”
“As full as the Affliction and Curse will allow you. You’ll be able to walk and be free of most of your pain. Now open your mouth.”
“Is it safe?”
“If you do exactly as I say, then yes.”
I opened my mouth, and Cyrus dropped the liquid on my tongue. It tasted ghastly, and I began to gag.
“I was afraid it might be. The flavor differs from person to person. The worse their condition, the worse it tastes.”
“Shouldn’t it be the other way around?”
“Why? The potion has to work harder for you. Despicable taste is a small price to pay for real relief.”
“Can I have some water to wash it down?”
“Nothing to eat or drink until sunrise. After the potion is administered, it must be the only thing to enter your system. And you mustn’t summon anymore Magic until the potion has taken effect. Any strain while the potion is working could kill you.”
“Ah, well…Potion making is a volatile practice that yields volatile results.” Cyrus covered me with a blanket. “Shall I leave the staff with you?”
“Lean it against the window,” I instructed.
“Will it allow me to touch it?”
“What does that mean? Why wouldn’t it?”
“Extraordinary. You truly don’t understand the basics of Magic, do you?”
“I had a unique Magical education.”
Cyrus furrowed his brow, his expression dark and angry. His moods seemed impulsive, much like his potions. Were all Healers like this?
“I’ll leave it beside you then. There’s no need to get into this now. Here are some final instructions, and then I shall take my leave. When you wake in the morning, be sure to cleanse yourself thoroughly. Should there be any poison of infection in your body, the potion will push it out through your skin. This must be done within a few minutes after rising. You must eat a large meal. Trust me; you’ll want it. And about your Affliction…that potion you spoke of, bring it to my apothecary. I will examine the contents and see about making you something stronger. Understood?”
“Bathe, eat, bring potion. Yes.”
“Good. I’ll leave you be then.” Cyrus left. Within seconds, exhaustion, or the potion, began to pull me underneath its depths. However, voices outside my door dragged my attention away from slumber.
“How is he?” Dasha’s voice was full of worry and anger.
“He…I…Dasha, I’ve never seen such damage in one person.”
“I don’t know how he’s alive.”
I don’t either.