I wedged my eyes open and saw Larak lying on the grass in a heap. Durmas and Oskan were pulling him into a prone position.
“Is he alive?” Those were the hardest words I think I have ever uttered. My stomach wasn’t the only thing hurting. I’m not even sure I hurt this much after I took the full blast of that bomb.
A voice spoke urgently in my ear, but the effort it took to figure out who was talking confused the meaning of the words. “Shake it off. Shake it off; don’t let yourself linger like this. Talk to him. Pull him out of this.”
Then I heard Patricia’s voice, her patient voice, the voice that had pulled me through so many dark days. I took a deep breath, and then I took another. I struggled to pull myself upright. My whole body shuddered and swayed, but her strong arms were around me. I looked into her cherished face. She was saying something; what was she saying?
“Look at me, Liam. Take deep breaths.”
Numbly I did as she said. I felt so thirsty. I brought my hand up into my range of view and filled it with a ball of water.
“Yes,” she whispered and I felt her draw away.
I felt so alone without her arms around me, but I needed to dance. I needed a water dance so badly just now; at least a small one. I could handle a small one.
My dance scarcely equaled the word. It was little more than me turning slowly in the middle of a magical fountain that I soaked up hungrily. I’m sure everyone around me got drenched, but I just couldn’t spare the energy to do anything but turn. Other things were happening too, but I didn’t really care, it felt too good to care just now.
When I finished, all too soon, believe me. I opened my eyes and found Patricia. She was standing a few feet away with Lloyd Hanley and Oskan; all of them were dripping but they were smiling too.
Larak and Durmas were nowhere in sight. I brushed water from my face and hair, allowing the rest of me to drip. “Where’s Larak and Durmas? Is Larak alive?”
Oskan smiled and hit me on the shoulder almost sending me from my not-to-steady feet. “Yes, he lives. Master Durmas has taken him and Haines back to the cave. I’m sure he will sleep for some time. Come on; let’s go back to Carm. You should sleep too.”
Sleep sounded so good. I reached for Patricia’s hand but Lloyd’s hand came to rest on her shoulder. “It’s not time for that yet.”
I know I was tired, and I know that I can be a bit grouchy when I’m tired. There must have been something in my face because Oskan stepped between us. “It’s our way, Liam,” he said with a look that told me he was trying to maintain peace. “You must have patience.”
I’m sure I growled, but I turned on my heels and headed back to Carm. I just wish Patricia was at my side instead of Oskan. Hotly, I promised myself that if I ever got her away from that family, I would leave this place and never come back. These old-fashioned ways didn’t affect me much when I was a kid, but this was ridiculous.