The chaos that happened after Oriana fell was a complete blur to Royse. He had stood on the field and grabbed at his hair as he watched Levant, Elidi, and Cetas lift Oriana and rush her towards the castle with Dari leading them along.
Royse looked to his left and saw Minda crying on Tallis’ shoulder as he hugged her, and Laguna was screaming something at Jakob which seemed unnatural. Laguna rarely raised her voice. Runi came alongside her and walked her away, and soon the rest were following him towards the castle.
Royse followed, too, but he took one more look back at the Monarchs. Apinya was holding Jakob and questioning him on what he did, and Hector was looking at his arm which was still grey like stone. Royse didn’t feel sorry at all for using his petrification ability on Jakob. He had been like a wild animal, and Royse was honestly afraid of what these guardians were actually capable of. Maybe humanity had been right to distrust them.
They stayed up all night, because everyone needed to know that Oriana was going to survive. Royse was worried that Levant was straining himself and his power, but he was the only healer they had. Of course Apinya was there to help with her own ancient medical knowledge, and Elidi was also there to help, but Levant was the one doing all the real work.
He startled out of his thoughts and tore his gaze away from the door that Oriana and the others were behind. Tallis was standing over him with dark circles under his eyes.
“It’s almost dawn. I’m gonna go lay down with Minda. She needs some sleep,” he explained. “Do you wanna come, too? Most of these rooms have more than one bed. I don’t want to leave you alone.”
Royse was grateful for the kind offer, Tallis had a good heart, but he just shook his head. “I want to stay and wait,” he said. “You guys go and rest.”
Tallis reached down to ruffle his hair before finally turning and walking down the hallway which was only light by torches. There wasn’t any electricity in this old castle, and it seemed that the Monarchs had no interest in modern day amenities.
Royse heard the door open and he looked up immediately. Elidi stepped out of the room with Levant and she was rubbing his back and whispering to him. Levant looked so pale, all of the warmth of his skin seemed to have drained and the sparkle in his hazel eyes was gone. Royse scrambled to get to his feet, but Levant was already walking down the hallway without a word. That wasn’t like him to not even say something to the friends that were waiting.
“Royse?” Elidi said as she looked at him. “You haven’t gone to sleep, yet?”
“I wanted to hear about Oriana,” Royse said with a small nod, but then he leaned over to watch Levant’s back as he continued down the hall. “Is Lev okay?”
“He’s exhausted,” Elidi said with a small nod. “He needs to rest before he can do anything more, but Oriana is stable right now. I think she’s going to come through.”
“Oh, thank the One,” Royse muttered as he put a hand to his chest.
“I know,” Elidi nodded and wiped her hands on the front of her shirt that clearly had Oriana’s blood on it. “Apinya was very helpful, as well.”
Royse’s dark brown eyes seemed to darken even more. “Do you really think we can trust the Monarchs, though? After that?” he asked.
“I asked Apinya about Jakob. Apparently this is a common reaction from a guardian that is a ‘Twin Soul’,” Elidi explained, but her expression gave away her own uncertainty. “When one twin is threatened, the other can forget any ties they may have with others in order to protect their other half. I don’t think that excuses his behavior, but it seems there’s no reasoning with a Twin Soul during such circumstances. I...don’t know why it didn’t come up before, but I suppose Jakob didn’t think Jeriah was being threatened before, so he had no reaction. Our contract is what unlocked Jakob’s feral nature.”
“Well, the others aren’t twins so I guess that protects us from them in that regard, but if Jakob is capable of this just because he’s a twin...don’t you think the others might have some sort of triggers?” Royse asked.
“I really can’t think about it right now, Royse. I’m sorry,” Elidi said as she put a hand on his shoulder. “I can’t focus on that.”
Royse nodded. He knew it was too overwhelming right now to consider where their alliance with the Monarchs stood.
Cetas ran over at that moment and he hugged Elidi tight and began asking her how she was doing. Royse quietly stepped away from them and then began walking down the hallway that Levant had taken just a few moments ago.
He noticed one door in the hallway was cracked open and he could hear the sound of soft crying coming from within. Royse felt a very protective sense wash over him and he pushed the door open and looked inside.
There he was, crumpled on his bed and sobbing into his pillow. Levant was a soft hearted boy and it wasn’t fair that he had to be so stressed by these circumstances. Well, they were all stressed because Oriana was part of their patchwork family, but Levant always had so much pressure placed on him because of what he was capable of. He was the one who had to keep them all alive by healing their cuts and bruises, but he’d never had to heal something as drastic as what Oriana was dealing with now.
Levant looked over, his face stained with fresh tears and his nose running terribly. Royse hurried over and sat down next to him. He wiped away with tears with his sleeve and then he grabbed a handkerchief from his pocket and held it out to him. Levant blew his nose and then he sighed and laid back down.
“Are you going to be okay?” Royse asked gently.
“I don’t know,” Levant muttered.
“I think after a nap you will be,” Royse suggested. “Do you want me to lay down next to you?”
Levant glanced up at him and seemed uncertain. Royse nodded and stayed seated. He could read Levant’s expressions very well, and he knew there were a lot of traumas in his past that made him uncomfortable with too much intimacy. Royse never pressed him on any of those issues and simply agreed to them. He’d do anything to make Levant feel safe.
“Never mind,” he said. “Just tell me what I can do to make you feel better.”
Levant closed his eyes and shrugged. “I think Oriana is going to be okay,” he said softly. “But her left lung was punctured and it was so hard to heal it. I just...I’m afraid that...it won’t fully heal. What if she has problems breathing?”
“You’ve done everything you can, Lev,” Royse gently stroked his hair to help him go to sleep. “There are some things that your healing abilities can’t fix, but you can’t blame yourself for that.”
“But this is all I have, Royse!” Levant said desperately as he pushed Royse’s hand away and sat up on the bed. “All I am is ‘the healer’. If I can’t do that, then what’s the point?”
Royse was shocked at that exclamation. Did he really think that? He couldn’t believe it. “Levant,” he said as he looked at him directly. “You are so much more than your healing abilities to us. How can you even say that?”
Levant looked down, his brow was furrowed with uncertainty. “All of you can defend and fight, and all I can do is heal and keep everyone happy,” he said. “But I’m not even doing that right now.”
“You’re a human that is allowed to feel a wide variety of emotions,” Royse said as he poked his chest lightly. “And we love you because you are who you are, Levant. We’re not using you. I mean that.”
Levant’s expression softened a little, but he still looked so sad. “I know,” he whispered. “But if I don’t feel useful, then I guess it’s hard for me. I guess...I just tell myself that if I’m not useful, then I don’t belong.”
“Well, that inner voice is a liar,” Royse said. “Come on, lay down. You need your rest.”
Levant nodded and laid back down slowly. “I’m sorry. I shouldn’t burden you with all of that-”
“No, I want to hear what troubles you,” Royse insisted. “Tell me any time you’re struggling, okay?” he smiled a little and then got up to leave, but he felt Levant’s hand grab at his sleeve and he looked back down.
“No, don’t go,” Levant said. His hazel eyes were shining again, as if he might cry more tears. “I won’t be able to go to sleep.”
Royse nodded and slowly sat back down on the bed. “I’ll just sit right here, okay?” he said as he held onto Levant’s hand. Levant nodded and smiled a little. Royse was so grateful to see him smile, even a little bit, because it was too sad to see him so stressed to his limit. Levant would be okay, and Royse would protect him as much as he could. He’d bring him whatever comfort he could.
He deserved that much.