Continued from 9/366 – Night Terrors
Morn and Celeste moved around her house back toward the front with the guard close behind. Screams of both the living and the undead could still be heard from other buildings in the surrounding neighborhood. With each one, Morn felt a jolt of adrenaline course through him as though one may come barreling around the corner at any moment.
“You two stay here,” the Guard said as Morn and Celeste reached the door, “I’ll be back as soon as I can to check on you.”
“What’s your name?” Celeste asked.
“Herana L’Gran,” she replied.
“Thank you for saving us,” Celeste said.
Without another word, Herana turned and ran off in the direction of the latest scream. Even with the heavy armor and massive weapon, Morn was impressed at the grace she moved.
Celeste grabbed Morn by the hand and led him into the living room, closing the door behind her. She sheathed her dagger at her thigh and moved Morn to the couch in the middle of the room. When he bent to sit, pain shot through his side where the zombie had hit him.
“Easy now,” Celeste said, pulling the short sword gently from his hand. “Let’s take a look at that.”
“I’ll be fine,” Morn protested as Celeste pulled his shirt up.
“Oh, gods,” Celeste said, taking a step back.
“What?” Morn said, pulling his shirt up, careful not to move in a way that would cause more pain. When he looked down, he could see the dark purple swollen area on his side that covered more than half of the area. “No wonder it hurts so much.”
“I’ve never seen a bruise like that before,” Celeste said, “Even my dad doesn’t get bruises like that when he comes back from training.”
With the loss of excitement, Morn could feel the pain escalating. The pain was coming in sharp spikes in time with the throbbing he now noticed from his side. “Do you have a salve here, or something cold?”
“I can check,” Celeste said, “I’ll be back in a minute.”
“Okay,” Morn said as Celeste ran into the kitchen.
Morn lay back, feeling like sleeping more than usual once again. He noticed that when he blinked, it took just a little longer each time to open his eyes again. The pain in his side was subsiding the longer it took for him to open his eyes.
“Celeste?” Morn called out.
“What happened?” she replied as she sprinted back into the room. Her face grew slack when she looked at him. “You don’t look so good.”
Morn lifted his head off the back of the couch and blinked a few times at her. “I’m really tired.”
His words came out slurred. He could hear them, they didn’t sound right. He tried to say something else, but he felt the room spin, and his head fell back as the darkness took him once again.
Morn could feel the dark cold swirling around him again.
How did I get here? He thought.
He closed his eyes when he remembered what Master Scaine had told him.
“Master Scaine?” he called out.
Morn focused on where his feet were. He could feel the stone under them. He slid them cautiously along.
“-his fault.” Morn heard a voice echo through the room.
“Hello?” he called again. He knew the voice but couldn’t place it. “Who’s there?”
“He’s a child. He’s hardly responsible,” another voice echoed, this one wasn’t familiar.
“-our efforts weren’t enough,” yet another voice chimed in.
“Is he going to be alright?” This voice Morn recognized. It was Jaque.
“I don’t know,” Celeste said.
“Jaque! Celeste! Where are you?” Morn screamed. His heart pounded in his chest as he stepped forward.
He felt the ground give out from under him, and he was falling. The darkness had won. He had never said he was sorry for breaking the gargoyle. He had never told his dad about it. What about Master Scaine? What had he wanted? He didn’t even get to say goodbye to Jaque or Celeste. He was going to die now.
A sudden flash of bright light cut through the dark. The shape of a bird made of pure light filled his vision as it dove toward him, talons extended. He expected pain when they closed around him, but instead, it was only warmth and comfort. It was safety and life. He suddenly inhaled, not realizing that he had been holding his breath.
“That’s it,” a familiar voice came to him, Cleric Josten. “He’ll be alright now.”
Morn’s eyes opened slowly. He was in a bed, but not his own. Sun shone through the window on him. He could feel the warmth of it on his legs. It was nice compared to the cold darkness he had felt before. His body felt weak.
“There he is,” Cleric Josten said, “You’re going to need some serious rest after that injury. I healed it as much as I could right now, but you’ll likely have to come back in a day or two. The worst is over for now, provided you don’t pull any more stunts.”
“What happened?” Morn croaked. He was thirsty. Very thirsty. “Water, please.”
A cup appeared in front of him, and he drank deeply of the cold liquid.
“Celeste saved your life,” Master Scaine said from just out of view.
Morn turned his head. Around him were several people. Jaque, Celeste, Cleric Josten, and Master Scaine stood on one side of the room. On the other stood Mayor Kipperling, looking at him unapprovingly. High Wizard Goddard was there as well. If his lips were pressed any more firmly together, Morn was convinced they would merge and eliminate the wizard’s ability to speak.
“Your ribs were broken when the zombie hit you,” Celeste said, “you passed out on my couch and wouldn’t wake up. I had to go get help-”
“You’ve been out for four days now,” Jaque said, “Cleric Josten has been slowly healing you every day since. Trying to get you to a place where you could recover.”
“It was close,” Cleric Josten said.
“Wait,” Morn said, taking everyone in once again, “Where’s my father?”
He had wanted an answer, but the look between Jaque and Celeste told him everything he needed to know. There was more speaking, but Morn didn’t hear it. He knew it was Master Scaine talking, then the mayor. He felt Celeste’s hand on his arm, it was warm and comforting, and was pulled away too soon.
A moment later, he was alone in the room. His eyes unfocused and unseeing while his mind went through every interaction he’d had with his father since his mother died. None of it mattered anymore. It was all his own doing. He would never get to apologize for hating his father so much without just cause. He would never get to hug him again. Nor would he ever get to cover him with a blanket when he’d fallen asleep in the chair again.
The tears came on their own, or maybe they were already there. Morn closed his eyes again and wished his nightmare would end. He let the anguish take him. The darkness wasn’t a dream, it was his life. He knew it now. The unseeing, all-encompassing cold that would inevitably kill him. Nothing would ever be the same again.
Continued 11/366 – Conversations