2 months later
I was sick with a strong fever, resting in the windowsill of my top level. I was covered in a thick blanket around my shoulders, my cheeks too pink, my body trembling with the chills.
It wasn’t a common cold, this sickness. It was something else entirely. I had been feeling weak since the morning Zarcar left, ill the day after that and every day onward… even worse.
Most would be worried that this kind of sickness meant certain death. However, I knew it wasn’t to do with health, but rather magic.
Andoll had been dropping off these strange roots every morning at the base of my tower, sometimes talking to herself and smiling, sometimes snarling at me.
I had thrown out every single one out of the window, cursing flames upon it. I didn’t trust her. Then, she started dropping the roots off outside my bedroom door! Every single morning for the past 2 months! So, at this stage, I had concluded that Andoll had forced this state upon me.
After eight weeks of being looked after by maids at random, irregular intervals, and lying in bed – I felt like I had been wasting away. I also felt quite delirious.
Each day I prayed Zarcar would return early and fix me. When I felt the moon give me the idea that he would be exactly two months, no longer, no less; I then prayed Lixar would come up and help.
But, low and behold – these were the two most boring and simultaneously horrible months of my life.
The Immortal King Rey did not approach me. Not once. Lixar – well, I watched him take his suitcase from the tower and not come back.
As far as I knew, he abandoned this whole Venatores group thing, and ran while he had the chance.
What did I get? Andoll’s roots and maids who refused to speak more than a few words at a time to me. While that kind of social isolation might drive someone insane, I didn’t mind the quiet part. Or the stuck in the tower part.
I just wanted this damn sickness to end. One more moment of feeling like this and my guts would surely start melting and my brain would fall out of my nostrils, liquefied.
I groan as I lean against the cold bricks of the tower window, gazing out over Swendula and the calm streets.
After Rey’s impressive introduction and the slightly violent ‘awakening’ of me; the monster did not return. The demon dragon inside didn’t stir.
I was just sick. My face was pale, my hair was a knotted mess, un-brushed for weeks, my lips were cracked and my patience was waning.
Zarcar would be here any second. It was the day of his return. When he fixed me, everything would be fine.
I eventually doze off thinking about him and with my high fever, my dreams are shockingly dark – even though everything around me is deceptively calm.
I dream of running down streets, red faces, blood tinted grass and broken buildings all around as I search for the deranged lunatics in my nightmare scape. I would kill them all and laugh while doing it. I was pretty sure it was all still, somehow, connected to Andoll. Perhaps I was turning into her deranged self!
My nightmare only sucks me in for a few minutes before I awaken to find my body falling out of the window sill. I screech in alarm as I free fall for but a moment, my hands grabbing for the vines – I grab them tight. I kick the restrictive blanket off me and it falls to the bottom of the tower. I try to haul myself back up but I’m too weak.
My crinkled silver dress, tickles my sensitive skin as the wind gets up the bottom of it. My fingers fumble for the window sill and I fight to get back my breath.
I nearly died!
I nearly –
I watch as a strong hand glides over the sill and wraps around my wrist, tugging me up in one strong pull – I feel as if I must be the weight of a feather as my feet hit the cold stones and I squat, ready to pounce into Zarcar’s arms.
I go to grin deliriously –
Except it’s not Zarcar.
It’s a complete stranger!
And far too handsome of a stranger to be seeing me in this state.
Some inner part of me rages. How dare he!
“Who are you? Get of my tower! You weren’t invited!” I jump off to the cold stone floor and glare up at this strong and strangely familiar soldier – who did he think he was, smirking at me like that?
With his luscious black hair and bright brown and green eyes, hazel, in fact.
And very much humoured.
And that smirk.
I know that moon forsaken smirk!
“Moon goddess…” I whisper, “You are… three times the size…” I slap Lixar’s hand away as he reaches out to fix me, or touch me, or something.
“You look shocking, Chyronex,” Lixar points out, “…and piss weak.”
“I’m sick!” I try to snarl but I end up feeling faint so I sit back on the windowsill for a moment and huff in a breath as Lix turns from me, his eyes searching.
I am so confused, staring at this man.
Lix is the same height as Zar, but now he is the same width too. He’s all filled out, you can see his cheeky cheeks and his devastatingly handsome twinkling eyes.
He was a mischief maker, this one. It’s the only thought I have, from my intuition, as Lix sighs, looking at a shrivelled up root on the floor by my bedchamber door.
“Have you not been eating any of these?” Lix goes to pick it up, a sword swinging at his belt; he’s wearing a fairly new uniform. Important. Distinguished. He had never run away – he had been settling in.
“Why would I eat cursed roots?” I ask, forcing myself to stand. I stumble past him to my bedchamber door, “Go away, I do not wish to see you,” I fumble with the doorknob a few times. I rattle the damn thing until it opens and then I stumble in to fall by the fire, swooning as I do so. I can hear him trailing me in, and I add “Oh, how I have missed your dear face, Lixar! I am faint with overwhelming joy by your sudden presence…!” I roll onto my back and see his boots right next to my head a moment later. I look right up at the giant man and scoff, “You. Can. Go. Away. Now. Stupid. Handsome. Ha! Idiot.”
“Eat it,” Lix drops the root on my face and it bounces off my nose.
I reach up a hand and grab one of his shoe laces – untying his boot with one tug.
“Nope,” I murmur and close my eyes as he stands back to fix what I’ve done, “Why should I?”
“You’ve been awakened and won’t feel better until you make your first kill – or you can eat that root once a day and you’ll be fine,” Lixar explains. I hear the bed groan and I open one eye to see him sitting on the end of the unmade mess.
I pick up the damn root and start chewing on it.
“Why…idn’t…u…ell…e…dis…ooner?” I talk with my mouth full, eating it with quick bites.
“I told you I wouldn’t come back to train you until I was ready. I couldn’t have you keep staring at me in the state I was in,” Lixar explains, casually enough.
I swallow all of the root and wait. Seconds later…
“…I just spent two months feeling like I was seconds from dying…” I murmur to myself, “And now I’m perfectly fine?” I sit up quick, my fever gone, my skin no longer clammy, my mind cleared and my body alert.
I blink at the door and don’t dare turn my head back to Lix.
I just fell on the rug and swooned at him. It was a joke while I was delirious. But it was a little bit over dramatic. Just a little tad too dramatic.
I gulp slowly, the embarrassment hitting me quick.
“Is your mind clearing…?” Lix asks from the corner of my eye… with a new hint to his tone… complete smugness.
I turn my head to him slowly and my eyes widen as I finally see him.
Before it was a haze across my eyes. A film across my mind. Like I was in a partial dream state. Now he was even clearer!
Lix… was quite… how could I put it?
“My, my,” I drawl, inspecting him from his boots to the top of his head, “You are quite…”
“Drop dead gorgeous? Oh, I know, I know,” Lix jumps right onto it, “It’s too much to handle for most female company. I didn’t expect anything less of a reaction from you,” Lix finishes for me, lightening his tone, a hand on his chest.
He passes me a wink I couldn’t have expected to be any less sexy from the monster of a man sitting on my bed, cousin to my long-lost lover who was still yet to return.
“When did you appear exactly?” I ask, my fingers curling in the rug as I do not remember him approaching.
“Oh. You were napping, sweetheart,” Lix explains, “So I pushed you.”
He pushed me out the window.
Lixar is serious.
I jump to my feet in a flurry. I pull at my hair’s knots, my hands nervous as I fumble with the mess while simultaneously trying to flatten and straighten my dirty crumpled dress.
“I’ll have you know, two can play at that game,” I growl under my breath.
Lix’s delighted smile drops for a moment.
“…what… game… are you referring to, exactly?” Lix asks, playfully, raising a brow – like a man flirting with a woman who he knows wants him.
Not that’s what I wanted – I mean –
“Why did you come here?” I snap, finally deciding to hold my fists at my sides so I stopped looking like a frightened nervous maiden staring at a handsome man for the first time, “To push me out a window? Is that why you came?”
“Zarcar just entered the city grounds, actually, and I came to tell you,” Lixar speaks innocently.
“Well, you’ve said it,” I snap, too quickly, “Now leave.”
Lixar jumps to his feet, patting on his thighs, he pretends to fake an interest in what my bedchamber looks like. Clothes thrown from my draw, my fireplace awkwardly aligned with logs of wood and a not very fresh smell coming from the chamber pot I had requested, which was at the side of my bed.
Sucking in a breath, I waltz to the door and decide to open it for him.
“I don’t think so,” Lix slides up to my side, lightning fast, and puts a hand over the top of my head, slamming the slightly ajar door back shut, “First things first. I have to get you spruced up and I didn’t expect you to look so… dead.”
“Excuse me?” I stand back from his heat, which radiated off him just like his cockiness. I felt like I was talking to an entirely different person.
“The Immortal King will be here soon,” Lix explains, eyeing me taking steps away from him like it’s the funniest thing in the world that I am acting weary of him now, “We have ten minutes, actually. Rey is going to welcome Zarcar back, ask him of his findings – and to probably assess the state you’re in.”
“I at least need a good hour bath to scrub off this filth!” I snap, holding up my hands, “Ten minutes? What can I do in ten minutes? My hair isn’t even combed!”
Lix opens his mouth with an idea, raising a hand now veiny and full of flesh – no longer just a skeletal frame wrapped in weathered skin.
“I’m going to need a bucket,” Lix whispers to me mischievously, winking before opening the door and bounding out with his idea, “Get undressed, quick!” he calls out in the corridor as he runs to fetch his water.
I blush bright red, even though he isn’t there.
I – I… had to listen.
Unfortunately, I cannot protest.
I gulp, basking in my discomfort for what was to come in the next ten minutes – and then I run to the wardrobe, I throw a brush on the bed and try to find a clean dress.
This wasn’t going to be awkward at all!