How to Ride Through A Cold
The day after I snuck out of the castle (To our relief, we made it back before Stahl’s shift ended and didn’t get caught), I honestly felt like I got hit by a pegasus or something. And by the gods- I hated days like these. I spent the entire morning in my room, only groaning out incoherent answers to Floria when she checked up on me. I was lucky I didn’t throw up... yet. I did not want to deal with anything or anyone- especially when it came to food. The very thought of something on my tongue made my stomach jump to its death.
Metaphorically speaking, of course.
I nearly cried when my physician barged in without knocking. Floria probably sent him up the moment he arrived. I could never thank both Grima and Naga enough for blessing me with this man. He was the only legal, well-trained, and well-versed physician in this country that would treat a Plegian like me.
“Uuugghh, Grima above make it stop- pleaaasse,” I muttered, but it sounded more of a crappy, muddled whining. I buried my face into my pillow and let a dumb whimper. I couldn’t help it since I felt uncomfortably warm and freezing cold at the same time, a splitting headache, and my joints were so damn sore- I didn’t want to move at all. I felt a hand pat my hair for a moment.
“I’m not any god, but I have something that will ease it,” said a voice behind me. I unburied my face to look at my physician. The black-haired man stood in front of me, holding a vial of clear liquid in his callous hands. I knew for a fact that the vial did not contain water. He placed a hand on my forehead and immediately frowned, “Tell me exactly how you feel.”
“Great.” Oh sarcasm, my best friend.
My physician, Yuriel, narrowed his eagle-like eyes, “Robin.”
“Moving hurts,” I elaborated, trying not to move my arms. I laid on my stomach, but to be honest, it wasn’t a very comfortable position to be in at the moment. I screwed my eyes shut, “My head’s a terror- and- an-”
I broke off to cough pathetically into my pillow for a few seconds before grinding out the rest of my answer, “and everything huuuuurts.”
“‘Everything’ is too vague for me to decipher, child,” Yuriel said with even tone. I felt his hands ease me to my back and sit me up. I only hissed at the flaring knives that seemed to stab at me at the movement. The world spun as I leaned heavily against him, resisting the urge to throw up. If it were anyone else, I’d be embarrassed to rely on someone so heavily. (The royal family and Frederick did not count, thanks)
“Here- it’s either you take this yourself or I’ll have to force it down your throat.” Yuriel placed the uncorked vial in my hand and urged me to take it. Obviously, he didn’t want to act on his second choice. To be honest, I didn’t want him to either. He always preferred that I took things myself for safety reasons- well, I thought it was. I steeled myself and took it all in one swing.
“By the- it tastes disgusting!” I choked and tried hard not to gag at the horrendous aftertaste. I failed miserably as I fell into a burning coughing fit. My physician patted my back in attempt to ease it.
“You know what they say, ’the bitter the medicine, the better it works.”
“I don’t - *cough* - a-gree! Fu-”
I wanted to cry.
I wanted to throw it back up and never take it again. It certainly wasn’t the first time, but it was just - terrible. I couldn’t even begin to explain what it tasted like because I had nothing as disgusting to compare it with.
At least I took it in one go.
A cup of water was pushed to my hands and I hastily sipped several mouthfuls. It was hard to hold the cup with my trembling hands, even with my physician’s steady grip helping me. Small coughs shook my body as I rested against Yuriel for a moment longer. The damn pain wouldn’t go away and it was too troublesome to move.
“What happened to your hand?”
I opened my eyes to see Yuriel scrutinizing the crappy bandage. Ohhhhh no.
“Ah,” my mouth intelligently supplied. I didn’t bother to elaborate. Gritting my teeth, I scooted away from my physician and grabbed the blankets, effectively throwing the covers over me.
“If this was the cause of your sudden-”
“Just a scratch!”
“All the more reason-”
“Thank you for your servi-” I didn’t get to finish that word as I coughed into my blankets. It was raspy, wet, and absolutely disgusting. My head pounded with every cough and my elbows, wrists, knees- gods, everything seemed to scream at me. There was nothing I could do when the covers were pulled back and Yuriel grabbed my hand in his sturdy grip. A snip of a scissor notified me that the bandages were cut away.
“... are you certain you injured your hand? I see nothing,” came Yuriel’s flat voice. I glanced at my exposed hand. The angry purple marks of creepy eyes were still staring back at me. Confused, I studied Yuriel’s face as he continued his examination.
“Other than a bit of redness, it doesn’t seem like you’re hurt,” he observed, “Did you smack your hand against something?”
He... didn’t see it at all. That or he ignored it completely. I didn’t know which conclusion to settle upon.
“Uhm... yeah. We’ll go with that.” I looked at anything but him to avoid him trying to give me one of those ‘don’t you dare test me’ scowl. Grima knew I had that look burned in my mind. I pulled my hand out of his grip and cringed. My side felt like it cramped. Yuriel sighed and patted my head.
“Rest for now. I’ll send Floria up with some broth in a bit. You’ll need to eat at least some of it or else.” The threat, of course, went unsaid.
“I know what you’re thinking, so no. You’re on bed rest until I clear you. I find you anywhere than in your bed, I’ll tie you to it. I’m not letting you out until your fever is gone,” he said as he crossed my room. I wanted to snap something snarky, but my head was too muddled for anything. Maybe that weird concoction I drank finally kicked in or something. He stopped for a moment to look at me with a small smirk, “And by the way, the pink in your hair looks surprisingly good on you.”
He was gone before my pillow reached his damnable face.
Emmeryn sighed wistfully in her chair, watching the clouds lazily float by. The skies outside were such a lovely blue and the birds chirped happily. The soft breeze that filtered through her room felt refreshing. At the back of her mind, she faintly heard a familiar voice saying, “it’s a fine day to head to the garden with a nice cup of tea, you know.”
She had finished her early morning meetings and silently reminded herself that a certain bird wouldn’t pop in any time soon. It would be nice to be dragged out of her responsibilities for a cup of tea in the garden.
Then again, Floria did stop by to tell her that Robin wasn’t well during breakfast. But what if-
There was a knock at her door that pulled her away from her thoughts, “Yes?”
“Lady Emmeryn, the Physician wishes to speak with you.”
She felt her blood run cold for a second before she shook her head. It wouldn’t do for her to be frightened - it should be nothing to worry about. It was probably just a small report. “Let him in.”
Emmeryn sat up straighter in her chair and placed her hands on her desk. She didn’t have to wait long for her door to open. Yuriel stepped in with a tight smile on his face and bowed politely.
The door was closed behind him and there was a click of a lock.
“Yuriel, I’m glad to see you. Please, sit,” Emmeryn gestured to the empty chair in front of her desk, “I suppose you’ve seen Robin?”
“Yes, my Lady. Did something happen while I was gone? The pink surprised me, but I must say, it looks good on him,” Yuriel answered honestly as he sat, “I wonder what he did to make that happen.”
“That’s the funny thing- he doesn’t know, nor do I, but I find it adorable. Though, jest aside...” She lowered her voice to just above a whisper, “Is he alright?”
“Terrible,” His tone was as low as hers. They both had agreed long ago that it would be better to be cautious when topics about Robin were discussed. They didn’t know who listened in. He sighed and clenched a hand into a fist, “His fever is high and I can tell he’s struggling to stay focused. It sounds as though the liquid in his lungs increased. I gave him a revised version of the current medicine he’s taking, but we’ll have to see how he adjusts to it before I can continue to give it to him.”
“It’s stronger?” Emmeryn asked.
Yuriel gave a brief nod, “Just a bit. I made it with the intention of clearing his lungs, and it should also act as a relaxant. The gods know how much he needs it. For now, it’s best that he sleeps, but his cough is worse than usual. He didn’t leave the castle, did he?”
Emmeryn frowned a little, “Not that I am aware of. He was studying with Ricken all day yesterday.”
“I see. Did he remember to eat the night before?”
“He had a light dinner with me before turning in early,” Emmeryn answered, “He dozed off in the middle of talking.”
“From studying? Hmmm... He probably messed with a bit of magic then.”
She looked at him in the eye, “Please tell me that this is just a passing cold.”
Yuriel leaned back in his chair, “...I’ll be staying here for the next few days, Lady Emmeryn. As long as that child stays in one place like he should, he’ll will recover soon. I’ll make sure of that.”
I constantly told myself that it was just a passing cold; that I’d be fine by the time Chrom would be home.
Yet, even when I told myself that, I definitely was not fine even after a few days. A passing cold did not just take a few days for me. At least my fever broke a while ago. I was finally coherent to think properly.
“Still a bit warm, but you’re not too pale anymore,” Yuriel said as he wiped my arm with a damp towel, almost done with my ‘bath’. I’d do it myself, but my hands couldn’t seem to grip anything properly. The impromptu towel bath I had been subjected to wasn’t terrible. In fact, it was refreshing- embarrassing, but refreshing.
I was too exhausted to give him a verbal answer as I just nodded with a small cough. My throat felt dry and sore, even though I had already drank a whole pitcher of water already. The only saving grace from all of this was the fact that water didn’t taste so terrible anymore. I was pretty sure I looked like a person on the verge of death: thin, pale, and shaking like a damn leaf in the wind. Even Emm had a hard time looking straight at me when she dropped by to visit earlier. Then again, what else was new? My immune system was a shipwreck.
There was a knock at my door before a voice filtered through, “I’ve brought more water, Yuriel!”
I wasn’t surprised to see Stahl walk into my room with a fresh bucket of drawn water in one hand and a small stack of folded towels balanced in another. He gave me a slight smile as he handed the water to Yuriel, “Good to see you up, Robin! Are you feeling better?”
My answer was just a shrug as I pulled my knees up to my chest with one arm wrapping them and my other stretched out. My limbs felt heavy and sore but with the familiar dull ache in my joints I figured that I must be better.
“He should be fine if he rests. Maybe a little walk around the gardens to exercise his muscles,” Yuriel supplied as he began to collect the glass thermometer, the empty vial and whatever else he might’ve used on my nightstand. I wasn’t exactly focused to pay complete attention to it.
“I can accompany him,” Stahl said, nodding to me. I ducked my head slightly to show that I agreed.
“Good. Now, when I say ‘walk’, I mean not wandering too far from the gardens,” he said with a stern look at us both. I immediately buried my face in the crook of my arm to avoid looking at Stahl. Of course, he would figure it out.
I kept my mouth shut as Stahl moved to take over Yuriel’s place on the stool before me.
“Of course, sir,” Stahl answered with his smile still bright. He took up the new towel and wrung it out, taking my outstretched arm in his careful hold. I didn’t stop my sigh of relief as he wiped it down. It felt incredibly soothing after so many days of sweating and nausea.
“Stahl,” Yuriel called, pulling our attention to him as he stopped before the door, “I trust you can take things from here. Remember, Robin should stay warm and comfortable. Only soups and broths until he can stomach a proper meal.”
“I’m ri-ght ’ere...” I croaked, but I went unheard.
“Soups and broths, got it,” Stahl repeated back with a firm nod, “Thanks for everything, Yuriel.”
“Of course. Give your father my thanks; the adjustments worked better than before.” My physician nodded before he left my room in one stride, “I’ll see you both later this week.”
It took me a moment to remember that Stahl’s family ran an apothecary. They have been handling the disgusting, wild medical brews I took ever since I met Stahl as a child. His family was also the reason why Yuriel, a wandering healer, became my physician. It was almost funny how things just led from one thing to another.
“Hey, want to go on that little walk, Robin?”
I pulled myself out of my thoughts and huffed, though it sounded more of a wheeze.
“Hahaha, I guess not. Is there anything that you want right now?” Stahl asked me, wrapping a dry towel around my shoulders. I relished in its comfort. Gods, it was soft.
Shaking my head, I silently thanked him with a light tap on his arm. It didn’t take long for him to rinse and wash out my hair. It was almost upsetting how practiced Stahl’s movements were. It wasn’t like I didn’t appreciate it, but rather the fact that Stahl, a cavalier-in-training, had to take care of a pathetic weakling like me. I was frustrated with myself, but I was ever grateful for Stahl’s big heart.
I was half asleep when he dried my hair. “I thought it would wash out, but I guess the pink is natural.”
Whirling my head, I took in my reflection from the mirror across my room. If anyone were to ask me, I wouldn’t be able to tell you the amount of curses that ran through my head in those few seconds. My reflection looked like a bird slammed against glass: eyes wide, and pink-white hair sticking up in several directions.
“This... this is... so bad...” My voice wavered from the strain of coughing fits I suffered through, but it didn’t hide my disappointment. Instead, it seemed to emphasize it.
Stahl laughed at my reaction and handed me the comb, “Well, I don’t know about you, but I’m hungry. What anything in particular?”
I waved him off as a sign to just get me anything. It might’ve seemed dismissive to anyone else, but he was able to get my message. He only nodded and promised to come back in a few. I noticed a guard standing outside my door for a moment, but I said nothing about it.
The thought of food didn’t sound... appealing, but I knew I haven’t eaten in days. Water wasn’t going to cut it at this point. I sat on the edge of my bed for a little while longer and built up the strength to stand.
My legs trembled as I bumbled over to my windowsill with my blanket cape and curled up on the cushions. I knew that Emm was out on her usual strolls through the city and I was given a room that had a great view of the main street. An exhausted smile lipped at my lips when I caught the Exalt waving to the crowd. It was easy to tell that she smiled with radiance and her people loved her.
From the occasional rock throwing to flowers and cheer, Ylisse had definitely changed over the years. It still wasn’t completely safe for me to walk the streets, or wander the halls of the castle freely yet, but I believed that one day I could. Then again, The destroyed book and the rumors Stahl slipped to me a few days back worried me.
Someone in this castle was probably riled enough to deliberately vandalize a book out of hatred. It wouldn’t be a surprise to me if it was a way to either target me or warn me in such a way. Then again, I had more enemies within these walls than outside.
If those bandits were Plegian soldiers in disguise, then there was no doubt that they were trying to instigate a war. But then... why?
It had only been a few years- no, nearly two decades since the so-called “Holy War”. All I could remember was the fact that the Royal Family of Plegia was in shambles. The last hierophant was most likely to be missing. I knew that I was supposed to be declared dead- even if I was a “Spoil of War” on paper. The Queen... she was murdered, officially ending the war between the countries. I couldn’t even say for sure if our previous king was dead, or just missing, but Emm told me of Gangrel, The Mad King.
The memories were extremely vague at this point, but I didn’t remember meeting him once. It was highly possible that he was someone who fought his way to the top since the war’s end. His title was unsettling, too. I mean, no one would be called the “Mad King” without a damn good reason.
My eyes stung when I closed them, just as I noticed Emm nearing the castle gates. A sudden picture of my sister standing in a river having the time of her life sent a sudden stab of guilt and sadness in my chest. My throat constricted and my chest hurt. We couldn’t protect each other like we promised - no, I couldn’t protect her like I promised.
I reminded myself time and time again that it was Chrom’s father who made my own people suffer - made us suffer, and yet we were like brothers closer than blood. I was stolen away from my old life, and yet, my life here was sheltered. I should hate Ylisse with a passion, but I couldn’t. Emm wasn’t the one who ordered genocide, nor did Chrom or Lissa.
A cough rattled my chest, burning my throat with each one. Picking at the blanket’s edges, my mind struggled to come up with any elaborate plans other than basic facts I already noted to myself. I knew if I couldn’t prevent the war, I had to stop the war dead in its tracks. The trembling in my hands were noticeable now, and I frowned since I couldn’t tell if it was from stress or fear. I hated that my body was no help either.
My illness was practically the bane of my existence, and it ate away at me despite the help of everyone around me.
As Stahl came back with that same bright smile on his face and an actual pot of steaming soup, I boiled everything down to one thing.
Dying or not, I had to stop this war.