The pain was slowly receding until it was no longer there. He could feel again. A mist had been lifted from his mind and clarity returned full force. He opened his eyes and looked up into the night sky. He remembered being trapped by Moriah with certainty, but the rest was like a bad dream. He had seen Aliana in a cave lined with purple. He broke off a shard of glass and then told her to run. She didn’t want to go, but he made her. If she stayed then she would have died. He watched her running until his view was blocked by the avalanche of black stone and purple dust. She was fast, she would make it he hoped.
He closed his eyes once more and he got strange flashes. Moriah holding his hands and whispering plans of destruction in his ears. His father being speared by a pillar of stone. Garians and Arnayans fighting together against monsters of stone. A volcano erupting. Him stilling it. Aliana clothed in an aura of red, his beautiful red angel. He then remembered her stabbing him and him doing the same. He remembered her dying words as she whispered them in his ear. I love you Milos. Then there was silence.
He opened his eyes once more and sat up straight. He looked around him. He was in a well-furnished room lying in a bed. His bed. So it was a dream then. “A dream.” he whispered. He must have changed his mind then about going to Evan. But then, he remembered going and shaking the walls down... His head was pounding as he tried to make sense of his memories.
“No, not a dream Your Majesty. It all happened.” he looked to the left to find the speaker. It was the river wraith Huma whom he had met on his way to Evan. “You were used by Moriah to commit regicide, destroy a two-nation army and stabbed your wife while she saved your life. I am afraid it is not a dream.”
“Aliana!” he stood out of the bed quickly. “Where is she?” This cannot be true. He wouldn’t... Not to the only woman he ever loved and who loved him. No! She can’t be de... He wouldn’t say it, nor think it. The gods cannot be that unkind. “Where is she?” he repeated.
“In the infirmary.” he replied.
She was alive then. “I have to see her.” he said flying out of the bed. His headache worsened but he didn’t care. He tore through his door and then dashed to the second floor finding the infirmary burst in startling a number of the servants. All the beds were empty and one of the nurses seemed to remaking one of the cots closest to the window, while another was piling dirty bandages in a tray.
“Where is she?” he bellowed and when no one answered. He shouted the same question. “Where is my wife!” he could see the terror printed on the servants faces but none of them answered. It was a masculine voice behind him that responded.
“She is gone Your Majesty.” he turned to see Lord Doranand of Whitby standing at the door. He looked better than the last time they spoke. So he didn’t leave then. His hand was resting carefully on the hilt of his sword as he watched him carefully.
“Gone?” the worst had happened. He killed his wife. He killed her. His breaths came in short rasps as a new kind of pain threatened to tear him apart. “No, gods no.” he shook his head as his rasps morphed into ragged sobs. He flung himself on the ground and screamed.
Strong arms grabbed him around the chest and pinned him to the ground. He didn’t try to resist. But the sobbing continued.
“Gods help me,” said Doranand. “She is alive.” he said, but the words didn’t mean anything to him. It was after he repeated it that he stopped screaming. “Milos she is alive. When I said she was gone, I meant that she was carried from the infirmary and back to her room.”
“Well gods damn you Whitby! Why didn’t you say that instead!” he felt the hole in his chest closing up. “You made me think that she was dead.” he said shaking off the lordling and standing to face him.
“That was intentional. I wanted to see if you were well...yourself once more.” he replied.
“You might not remember much, but Moriah changed you into someone else. Someone who was cold enough to drive a knife into his wife’s stomach. I had to make sure that you weren’t that person anymore. I had to make sure that my queen’s life was not in danger.”
“She is the queen of Arnay now and Garion, as both your fathers are gone, Your Majesty.” Majesty not Highness, which meant that he was King of Garion. His father was dead, he couldn’t even begin to process that now. He just needed to see Aliana.
“And is it safe for me to visit now?” he whispered almost inaudibly.
“You are you again, so I believe so.” he said seriously.
“Take me to her.” he said hoarsely and he followed the Arnayan earl to the third floor. He didn’t know how he had missed them before. The line of Arnayan and Garian soldiers flanking the hall and another group standing at the door further down from his.
Doranand opened the door and he followed him inside. This was his parents’ room, but with his father gone, it was his. He pushed the thought away zooming in on his wife who was motionless in the middle of the bed. On one side was his mother and the other, a short blonde who was plumping the pillows behind her back. He saw the palace physician Creous speaking to another man with an Arnayan accent, another doctor he supposed.
All activity halted as he entered the room and walked over to the bed. He drew close to her and tentatively brushed the stray strands of hair away from her face and then outlined her lips with his fingers. She was so pale and so still. If it wasn’t for the slight movement in her chest he would think her dead.
He dropped a kiss on her forehead and then buried his face in her neck. “Aliana, please get well. I am so sorry to have done this to you. Please do not die. I don’t think that I could live much longer if you did. I love you so much. Just please, don’t leave me alone.” he whispered in her ear not knowing whether or not she could hear.
“She will be fine. She is strong.” said his mother who touched him on his shoulder. He looked up and saw tears running down her face. He had hurt her as well. Gods. He lifted his head from Aliana and faced his mother.
“I am sorry.” he said.
“It is alright.” she said hugging him fiercely.
“Will she really be alright?” he looked back at Aliana. She looked anything but strong now. Fragile was never a word he would have used to describe her before, but now she looked beyond breakable.
“She will fight for both her life and her baby’s, the same way she fought for you son.” she said smoothing his hair back.
“Baby?” he said shocked.
His mother’s mouth twitched upwards. “Yes, the river wraith still scents it within her, so we know that it is still alive.” Holy hell, he was to be a father!
“But can she maintain a pregnancy now that she is hurt?”
The doctor answered. “It is still an early pregnancy and the little that we manage to feed her will be enough to sustain her and the baby for now.” said the palace physician.
“But,” chirped in the Arnayan, “if she doesn’t wake soon or if infection sets in, there might be nothing more that we can do for either of them.”
“She will soon wake, Your Majesty.” says the woman on the other side of the bed. Who had her hands clasped around Aliana’s. “I am Lania,” she said by way of introduction.
“Her handmaid from Arnay.” her brows lifted in surprise at his knowledge. “I followed her around a lot in her palace.” he explained and he gave her a slight smile.
“I think that we have done all we could here. My son will want to be alone with his wife.” said Minerva getting up.
Lania frowned and looked at him warily. She didn’t trust him yet. He didn’t trust himself either. “Probably not completely alone. Lania could stay close at hand in case we need anything.” the frown disappeared.
“Very well then.” said his mother. “But you don’t beat yourself up too much Milos. You are not totally to blame.” she sighed.
“But I own a big share of it.” she smiled sadly down on him and touched his face.
“No son, you don’t. But we will talk later.” she said following the physicians out of the room. Lania got up from around the bed and found a chair at the other end of the chamber. She took up a piece of tapestry and began passing the needle through. Milos didn’t think that the design could look any form of good as her eyes were fixed on them.
He lay down beside her, taking her hand in his. He watched every shallow breath counting and praying that each wasn’t to be her last. The undulations of her chest were quite hypnotic and very soon he fell asleep beside her.