I don’t know how long I slept but it felt like a very long time. I felt like a wet noodle that had been over cooked to the point of almost falling apart. I tried to look around, but my world was still quite dark.
“Master Durmas, he’s awake,” said Patricia from a point near my shoulder.
I turned to the sound and tried to speak, but my voice wouldn’t work.
“Take it easy, Liam,” said Durmas. “You have a lot of healing to do.
I turned my face away from both voices. Healing - I had done all my healing. Who were they kidding?
“Now, now, don’t be that way. Come on, you can do this. Let’s start with your energy. You’ve slept almost seven months and you’re weak.”
Weak is an understatement to say the least. I felt his hands on my shoulders, and then it felt like I was being jump-started. I must have jumped because Patricia let out a small squeak. It lasted for several minutes before I was able to push his hands away. It must have been what he was waiting for because he chuckled softly and left.
Patricia helped me to sit up and then to stand as soon as I felt secure enough to do so. Then she led me away. I don’t know where we were going, but it had to be deeper into the mountains. There was no reason to go outside for whatever was coming next.
A few minutes later, she sat me down on a bench at a wooden table. “I know you’re hungry, so I’ll let you eat free this time,” said Tsan.
“I’m not hungry,” I said in a horse whisper. I felt like I was about two hundred years old.
I felt his weight on the bench beside me. “Liam, you’re badly underweight. You can’t keep starving yourself like this.”
“But I’m not hungry,” I insisted. “I’m not sure I can keep anything down.”
“Here, it’s just a small bowl of stew. Eat as much as you can and then we’ll begin.”
Begin what? Who cared anyway? With Patricia’s help and encouragement, I managed to eat everything in that bowl, but every bite was a struggle.
“Now,” said Tsan as he turned me to face him. “Where shall we start? I think we’ll start with your eyes. He rested his huge hands on either side of my head. “Draw, Liam. Drawing is the most basic instinct you have. Draw from me and make yourself see; make your eyes work again.”
“Draw from you. No, I won’t do that again.”
“Do as I say. Don’t worry; you won’t be depleting me.”
I didn’t want to do this. I was afraid I would have another outburst and I wouldn’t be able to control it. I took a deep breath and reached out – or tried to. There was a tug. I could feel it stir.
“That’s right, come on,” said Tsan.
I tried again and something burst inside me. It was like reliving the explosion all over again. I think I screamed. At least I hope it was only me screaming; I could deal with that. I didn’t want to hurt anyone ever again; not like that. I had to find someplace where I could be safe.
I don’t know how long I was out – probably not all that long. The next thing I became aware of was someone slapping my face. “Come on, Liam. Don’t do this to yourself.”
Someone else’s voice said, “If he doesn’t wake up soon, he’s going to die.”
Die. That sounded like a good idea; I’d be safe then. I tried to turn away from the voices, but I was like a turtle on its back, I couldn’t roll over.
“That’s it, Liam,” said the first voice.
“Draw through him,” said yet another voice.
“Draw through him?” said the first voice.
“Yes, join hands; we’ll make it a circle.”
Then I felt the burning cold rush go through my body. I screamed again, but I think it turned into a yell as the pain became the most exhilarating rush I had ever felt. I reached toward this fiery channel running through my soul. I grabbed it with my whole being, though it was my hands that were the tools; I was so hungry for what it offered. I couldn’t get enough.
I don’t know when it ended. I’m sure I relived the experience in my dreams over and over. Then it occurred to me that I had used my hands. With that fraction of memory came another. I had felt shirts under my hands. I woke almost too fast to remember the dreams. I jumped up and looked around expecting to see bodies strewn around my bed; bodies that were all sucked dry like mummies.
I stood up too fast; I was weak still. I found myself on my hands and knees only seconds after jumping out of bed. My ‘bed’ wasn’t a bed at all; it was the stone altar with the orb hanging over it. The gentle blue glow, slowly fading now, showed no bodies on the floor, for which I was intensely relieved, it also let me see hands, my hands on the ends of my arms. I examined them. They were new and weak like the rest of me, but they were whole and healthy. I could see them. I think I fainted then.