I drifted on a sea of pain and fever. There were times when I could hear and even understand the doctor’s voice, and sometimes I heard a girl’s voice, I liked her voice; listening to it soothed my soul, but what good was I to her? I’d never see her face; I couldn’t even touch her hair. I never spoke to her.
I must have been able to open the emperor’s door because he came to see me once. He asked where Haines had taken his wife. “Where did they go, Liam?”
All I could muster was a single word. “Safe.” Haines loved her, he would keep her safe, or die trying, but he wouldn’t be able to keep her from the emperor forever, not with the kind of power the emperor could bring to the chase.
“Safe? How can you say they’re safe? Haines has taken Heather and the girls. Where did they go? How did they leave here?”
I didn’t answer the emperor. I didn’t have the answers. I pictured them crowding into the lighter and taking off, but I wasn’t too sure the guards would have let the empress and her daughters leave. Then again, the place would have been in chaos and it would have been easy for Haines to divert the attention of the guards. I turned away and allowed myself to drift as another wave of pain crashed over me.
I’m certain I must have been delirious a good deal of the time, and because of that, I have no idea how much time passed. It had to have been a long time though.
“Liam, we’re going to move you. We’re taking you back to the city, to the palace. My office is better equipped than we are here.”
“The girl comes too,” I said. I wanted her there. I didn’t even know her name.
“The girl? Patricia? Yes, she’s coming too.”
Patricia, her name was Patricia. I must remember that. I’d add her name to my fevered dreams.
The transition was incredibly painful. The tiny vibrations of the lift jangled every raw nerve in my body and there must have been billions. I was raving by the time we reached our destination and the motion stopped. I wished for my magic to work like I had become accustomed to. I wanted it to take away my pain. I would have been happy for only a little cushion. I wanted to go home. I wanted to crawl into a hole there and lick my wounds in peace. I wanted to crawl into some dark corner and die.
In my delirium I must have spoken some of my desires aloud and I must have said it often enough to reach the emperor’s ear at least once. Who knows, he may have been considering it all along.
Finally, my fever broke and my body began to heal, but I still had no energy; then again, it probably wasn’t my energy that was lacking. I had no motivation, no enthusiasm, no appetite, nothing.
If it weren’t for Patricia, who was there every day, almost all day long, I’m not sure I would have done as well as I did. She fed me my meals and insisted that I eat all of it. She got me out of bed and made me walk around to get my strength back. She changed my bandages every day and best of all she talked to me. Somehow, she kept up a cheerful chatter single-handedly. I wasn’t any help since I didn’t contribute anything.
The doctor came in every morning, while my bandages were being changed, to check my progress. He always said I was doing fine, but I knew I wasn’t. My magic was still there. I could see after a fashion. The fireflies still swarmed around me and I recognized many of them, but I had no control. It was probably the same amount of magic that had kept me alive, just enough and no more; I’m sure I wouldn’t have survived the blast or the recovery without it. It felt as if my basilisk was cowering in a dark corner and wouldn’t come out. I wanted to be cowering right along with him. I wanted to go home. I was becoming convinced that I needed to go home very badly.