When they returned to the inn, Lynus wanted to speak with Mahogany about what had occurred. He hadn’t had a chance to properly speak with him since this whole ordeal started and he had questions about the hexes that he hoped Mahogany could answer for him.
After what had just occurred, Axel was so very reluctant to let Lynus out of his sight. Completely and utterly understandable. But Axel needed to speak with Hamza about what happened also. To warn him and the others that the hexers were resorting to cursing physical objects, which in turn have the potential to curse a myriad of people who had the simple misfortunate of coming into contact with said cursed object. The hexers themselves don’t even need to be present for the curse to hurt more people.
Those hexers were either getting crafty or desperate. Both made them unpredictable and dangerous.
With Axel promising to wait just outside of Mahogany’s room, Lynus hurried to the door and knocked lightly.
He had been alarmed to learn that Mahogany had fainted directly in front of Shen a few hours ago. Literally landing right at his feet. He was naturally worried for the hexer’s health because fainting was rarely a good sign. But it reminded him of his previous conversation with Mahogany. And about his ability to see the memories of others. Particularly painful memories. Of life-changing memories.
Had he...witnessed some of Shen’s memories? Was that why he fainted?
There wasn’t very much that Lynus knew of Shen. The ronin was rather tight-lipped about himself in general. That was fine. Really. If he didn’t want to talk about himself then no one had the right to push him. If there was anything to worry about Shen was sure to have said something.
Lynus trusted Shen. Had no reason not to.
The reason why Mahogany fainted at Shen’s feet wasn’t what was concerning him the most at present anyway. Obviously his thoughts and worries were centred on that of those troublesome hexers.
Especially after what just occurred. The hatred and spite he saw in that hexer’s eyes as he glared and spat at him left him shaken. Mahogany had stated that they were driven by their egos. But that kind of hatred for someone else was alarming. Lynus hadn’t done anything to these hexers. Removing their hexes which they unfairly and spitefully placed upon others was all he had done. They were the ones in the wrong. They were the ones hurting people for no reason other than for their own enjoyment.
And yet they seemed to hate him?
He had been around egocentric people before. For eight years to be exact, but this felt…different. Not only did they hate the fact that he was effectively removing their curses they seemed furious by the notion that he had the audacity to do so.
It was honestly baffling.
Lynus shook his head lightly to change his thoughts. He didn’t have time to dwell on the motives and egocentric beliefs of these hexers. He needed to concentrate on their curses for now.
“Mahogany?” Lynus called out as he tapped lightly on the door with his knuckles.
There was the subtle sound of chains rattling before he heard the muffled voice of someone permitting him to enter. So Lynus turned the handle and popped open the door enough to peek his head in. When he saw that Mahogany was sat up in bed, leaning his back against the headboard, he slipped inside and closed the door softly behind him.
“Hamza tells me you fainted,” Lynus said as he paddled across the room to stand next to the bed. “What happened?”
“Hmm, It’s nothing to worry about,” Mahogany replied both airily and nonchalantly as he sat upright in his bed, his hair slightly dishevelled but otherwise he appeared clear-headed and functional. “You know of my ability, don’t you? How I am able to see the memories of others?”
Lynus nodded his head slowly and pressed his lips together tightly.
“That ronin of your guild is quite…” Mahogany murmured as his eyes took on a faraway sheen to them. “Interesting.”
He…probably saw a memory of how Shen acquired that scar of his. The obvious one on his chest. That…was no doubt the result of a life threatening injury.
“Yes, he is,” Lynus replied with a small smile as he lowered himself onto the chair that was pulled toward the bed. “Every one of the guild is.”
“Ah, true,” Mahogany agreed before he flickered his gaze directly upon Lynus. “Especially you.”
“Oh, I don’t know about that,” Lynus immediately replied with a shy smile and a dismissive wave of his hand.
“Hmm…” Mahogany continued to look at him with a purely curious expression on his face for a long, silent movement before he finally tilted his head to the side. “Well now, what brings you to me today? I know it’s not just out of concern for my welfare.”
The smile slipped from Lynus’ lips and he sighed. “Well, yes, that is true. I had another…encounter with a hexer.”
Mahogany immediately righted himself, reacting to the seriousness of the situation. And more likely than not also quite curious that Lynus got away once more without being hexed himself. “Go on.”
Seeing no point in holding any information back, Lynus told Mahogany everything that had happened, from the physical events taking place to the inner knowing’s and realisations he had made himself. He mentioned the knife in great detail because he knew that was where the hex had originated from.
After he had finished explaining, Lynus silently to allow Mahogany to digest the information. And soon a purely curious expression appeared on his face.
“You removed a hex from an object?” he questioned. “How?”
Lynus nervously played with the ends of his sleeves. “I, ah, used a form of refresh on it.”
Mahogany’s brow furrowed slightly. “Please elaborate.”
“It had a…darkness to it,” Lynus replied as he pulled his hands back into his sleeves in a nervous and fidgeting fashion. “Like a dark spot in a person’s aura. I figured that if I could remove a dark spot on a person by using refresh, I could do the same with an object.”
“Really now?” Mahogany murmured as he continued to study Lynus with unblinking eyes. “Fascinating. You’re a very fast learner, aren’t you?”
Lynus shrugged and gave him a small smile. “Well, I guess one has to be in the medical field, right?”
Unexpectedly, Mahogany shook his head and stared directly into his eyes. “There’s more than medical knowledge and skills being used here.”
Lynus felt himself frown and had to fight the urge to sink back into his chair, unnerved by Mahogany’s piercing stare. “What do you mean?”
“Tell me; what do you think is the reason why that curse failed today?”
“B-because of this?” he answered as he motioned to the amazonite stone that rested comfortable against his chest.
However, Mahogany shook his head again while somehow still able to retained eye contact. “It’s not the crystal that is preventing repercussions anymore. It’s you.”
Lynus wrapped his fingers around the gemstone gently. “Does that mean I managed to strengthen my aura?”
“It means that you are now immune to the effects of hexes,” Mahogany answered bluntly.
The grip on the gemstone around his neck abruptly tightened and Lynus gaped at the light-haired hexer. That…couldn’t be right. Sure, he had had a lot of experience dealing with hexes. But it was just yesterday that he had managed to discover a way to prevent the painful repercussions of removing the hexes. How in the world did he manage to gain immunity of them vertically overnight? That didn’t make sense!
“H…How?” Lynus stuttered.
Mahogany appeared absolutely resolute in his answer. “Because of who you are.”
But that didn’t make sense either!
“You’re tired,” Mahogany suddenly said, purposefully interrupting Lynus as he rolled over onto his side and shifted under the blankets. “Get some rest. I, too, desire a bit more rest myself.”
“O-oh, of course,” Lynus mumbled as he quickly pushed himself to his feet and wrapped his arms around himself. “Excuse me.”
He felt alarmingly shaky as he turned in the direction of the door and hurried out. He wasn’t entirely sure what to make of what Mahogany had told him. What he meant. How he could have possibly gain immunity so quickly, if at all. But Mahogany was being…truthful. Not malicious. Not trying to unnerve him. Just…truthful.
But that truth left Lynus feeling a little…unnerved.
… … … … …
Axel folded his arms as he leaned against the wall next to the door that led into Mahogany’s room. He had just finished speaking with Hamza about what had occurred and about what Lynus had told him about a knife, a physical object, being able to house a hex, and allowing for it to in turn curse unsuspecting victims.
Hamza was, of course, displeased to learn of this information. Though he tried to hide it well, Axel could see how worried and stressed he was in regards of the whole situation. He had the ability to dismiss some status ailments, but hexes and curses required more detailed examination and removal.
So he was feeling as helpless and as frustrated as the rest of them. Maybe even more so because he was their leader, the one who had to ensure everyone’s safety. He felt responsible for anything untoward happening to them. And the fact that Lynus had worked himself beyond exhaustion yesterday left him rattled and wholly concerned. He wasn’t the only one, mind. Everyone was greatly worried for Lynus.
And to be perfectly honest they had a lot to worry about with him.
Before Axel’s mind could unhelpfully divulge all of his worries and concerns about Lynus, the door to Mahogany’s room abruptly opened and Lynus stepped out. He appeared flustered and uneasy as he turned and closed the door behind him.
“You ok?” Axel immediately asked as he wrapped his arms around Lynus, frowning when he felt him jump slightly in surprise. Lynus turned to him and immediately settled against his chest, his hands gripping the front of his shirt as a faraway look appeared in his eyes. He didn’t immediately rely so Axel felt his frown deepen as he tightened his arms around him.
“What happened?” he asked with a protective bristle. “You always look so rattle after speaking with Mahogany.”
“No, I’m fine,” Lynus said after a moment. “Mahogany hadn’t said anything malicious, just…baffling, I suppose.”
“What did he say?”
Lynus sighed and rubbed his forehead with his palm tiredly. “Nothing that really makes sense at the moment. I didn’t even manage to ask him anything.”
“You should get some rest,” Axel stated more so than suggested as he raked his fingers comfortingly through Lynus’ hair. “They moved some mattresses into the tearoom. So we can bunker down together.”
Lynus leaned into Axel’s touch and uttered a soft but absolutely exhausted sigh. “Ah. Sounds good.”
Axel wanted nothing more than to wrap Lynus up in his arms and keep him there until this whole…bullshit was over with. Keep him somewhere safe so that he could rest and recover. Keep him all to himself.
But he wasn’t able to do that. The hospital needed him. Explorers needed him. Locals needed him. The guild needed him. Everyone needed him.
Withholding a sigh, Axel simply kept his arms around Lynus and guided him to the tearoom. Everyone had already gathered there. The window curtains had all been pulled closed, but that didn’t stop Tobyn from pacing and peeking out every once in a while. Rahas also lingered near the windows and was symmetrically checking outside also. Macerio was in front of the fireplace with Chi-hung, curled up next to him and napping against him. Jhon sat on the chair close to the fireplace, elbow resting on the arm of the chair to allow for him to rest his chin in his hand. Lirit occupied the other chair as he idly flipped through a book on his lap, his lute close by. Shen sat in the far corner of the room, on the floor in a lotus position with eyes shut and arms folded over his chest in a mediative stance.
Finally Hamza and Cedric sat at the table and chair setting in another corner of the room, pouring over the books they had borrowed from the hospital. Magnus stood with them also, clutching Zanna against his chest as he fidgeted nervously on his feet.
However he looked over in their direction the moment Axel and Lynus stepped into the room. As Axel turned to secure the door behind them, Magnus repositioned Zanna in his arms and hurried over to them.
“L-Lynus?” he stammered with a purely worried look. “You ok?”
Lynus subconsciously straightened his posture and placed a small smile on his lips so not to worry the blond. “Hmm? Ah, I’m fine. Don’t worry. I’m just tired.”
That didn’t come out as convincing as he probably hoped. He sounded more than tired.
Lynus suddenly furrowed his brow slightly and lifted his hands out toward Magnus’ face. “You…?” he murmured before he gently placed his hands on either side of Magnus’ face. “You have a headache, don’t you?”
Magnus blinked before he flushed lightly. “J-just a little one,” he replied softly.
And it was Lynus’ turn not to look all that convinced. He whispered a refresh spell before he smiled again. “Why don’t you rest with me?”
“Ok,” Magnus immediately replied.
Axel just had to smile. He was glad for it also. He was too antsy and restless to be able to rest alongside Lynus like he had wanted. Magnus needed comfort also. “Good. I’ll watch over the both of you.”
“Th-thank you,” Magnus murmured as he looked up at Axel with his bright blue eyes before he allowed Lynus to take him by the hand and lead him over to one of the mattresses they had dragged in a few hours ago.
Axel followed and rested against the window sill. He folded his arms over his chest and watched as Lynus dropped down onto the mattress and Magnus cutely scramble onto it next to him with Zanna. He placed Zanna by the pillows before he laid down himself. Lynus had already rested his head upon one of the pillows and seemed to have fallen into a deep sleep almost instantly.
He truly was beyond exhausted.
Magnus rolled onto his side and looked at Lynus with a slight frown on his lips. He nestled onto the mattresses next to him and closed his eyes in an attempt to rest himself.
And Axel remained where he was to simply watch over the two. Because, for now, that was all he could do. All anyone could do.
The tearoom was unusually and unfairly silent. Only the sound of a few mumbled words from Hamza or Cedric, the sound of the fire crackling and the restless pacing of Tobyn was heard. It was both an comfortable and uncomfortable silence.
Axel had no idea how much time passed as he kept his gaze mostly upon Lynus’ sleeping form, watching as his chest rose and fell as he breathed. Every once in a while he would look up, survey their surroundings to check on the others, and upon seeing that they were his gaze would automatically fall back to Lynus.
As he gazed at him, noting the shadows under his eyes, how his clothes seemed too big, Axel had to grit his teeth in frustration. Lynus looked more…fragile than he usually did.
And it wasn’t fair.
Someone moving to lean against the windowsill next to him caused Axel to lift his head. He turned to see that Jhon was looking at him with a smile on his lips, but a concerned tinge in his eyes.
“Hey,” he said simply.
Axel nodded his head. “Hey.”
“How you doing?” Jhon asked as he nudged him with his shoulder.
Axel felt a wry smile slip across his lips. “Ah, as well as everyone else; frustrated and irritated that I can’t do more.”
Jhon’s smile became strained. “Yeah…” he uttered before his gaze shifted to look down at the mattress and its two sleeping occupants. “How’s Lynus?”
“Sleeping, thankfully,” Axel answered simply as he turned to look down at them as well.
Jhon was silent for a moment before he uttered a small sigh. “He’s lost weight,” he noted.
Axel’s eyes narrowed slightly. “Yeah. Not that he can afford to.”
“At least he’s resting,” Jhon reiterated in a comforting manner as he nudged Axel with his shoulder again. “And so is Magnus. He’s been edgy as well. Unnerved by everything.”
“No surprise,” Axel commented as he tiredly ran a hand over his face, suddenly feeling fatigued himself. “I’m just glad we’re bunkering down together like this.”
Hunkering down and hiding didn’t exactly sit well with Axel, but there was very little else they could do. Stay together, keep a watchful eye out for any suspicious hexers and create more amulets to lessen the chances of hexes taking hold.
But the very second they find a way to go after those hexers, they will.
Axel roughly raked his hands through his hair in a purely agitated manner. “God, I just want to punch these bastards in the face.”
Jhon emitted a laugh that seemed to also release the tension he had been holding and patted him on the shoulder. “Believe me; we all would enjoy watching you do that.”
… … … … …
For the second night in a row Hamza found himself the only one awake as every one of his guild slept as comfortably as they could. Sharing the couches and the mattresses together. Since his return, Lynus had slept soundly, though seemingly not peacefully. His brow would furrow every now and again, and would only smooth out if someone should gently touch him. From Axel running his fingers through his hair to Magnus snuggling up to him in his sleep.
His dreams seemed to be troubling him. Hamza couldn’t help his worry. Lynus had stated that he found a way to prevent the hexes from lashing out at him in return as he removed them. But could they be affecting him in another way? Or were his dreams simply due to the enormous amount of stress he was under?
The soft creaking of the door pulled Hamza out of his thoughts and moved him to his feet in a protective stance. But he relaxed somewhat when he realised that Mahogany had once again graced them with his presence so late at night.
After ensuring that the door closed behind him and spending a moment to survey the room and everyone within, Mahogany turned his attention in Hamza’s direction. His red eyes studied him for a moment before he crossed the floor silently to reach him.
“Ah, still creating amulets, I see,” he said softly as he eyed the abundance of books on the table in front of them.
“It’s really all we can do for the time being,” Hamza replied just as quietly so he wouldn’t disturb his sleeping guildmates.
“Very true,” Mahogany returned as he lifted up an amulet and studied it. “These are sure to draw out those troublesome students. However…”
Hamza truly didn’t like the way he appeared to be frowning. “However?”
Mahogany continued to gaze at the amulet without really looking at it before he shook his head and replaced the piece of jewellery back upon the table carefully. “It appears that the biggest threat to a hexer is someone who can remove their curses. And a hexer’s biggest fear is someone who appears immune entirely.”
“You’re talking about Lynus?” Hamza questioned, though it truly did not sound like a question at all.
“Indeed,” Mahogany murmured as his gaze once more drifted in the direction of where Lynus slept upon the mattress. “He is your greatest asset in this battle. But be careful. Even the Miracle Medic himself has a limit. I do not know what will happen should he exceed it.”
Hamza found his own gaze travelling to where Lynus slept and he felt an uneasy feeling settle in the middle of his chest. “…That troubles me, too.”
If…if anything should happen to Lynus, Hamza feared that his guild would not be able to stand it.