Chapter Eight: What Is To Be Will Be
Nathan was still babbling incoherently as he thrashed around on the infirmary bed, the nurses were attempting to retrain him and sedate him all at once.
Nothing that came out of his mouth made sense nor did the ear-piercing wails and screams that reminded Monty of the Dwellers from Mater Arbor, the same empty cries but no less haunting.
Nathan’s eyes were wild as if seeing things that weren’t there, his short nails clawed at whatever was in reach, the commotion drawing the eyes and ears of the few patients around them.
It’s been over an hour of his constant state of paranoia, in which time Monty along with Evan had seen to it that a letter be sent to Solon asking for reinforcements for the task set.
It would most likely be overnight before the letter reached Evangelis but he hoped it’d be sooner as the minutes slowly ticked by and Nathan showed no signs of stopping.
Evan had joined the team of nurses on one side so seeing as the efforts might pay off he joined the other, together they managed to force Nathan’s wrists into the restraints attached to the frame of the bed.
Fraya stood by watching it all somewhat scared, she watched the nurses relax as his body became fully restrained.
What she didn’t expect to see however was Nathan staring right at her, tears falling from his wide, dilated eyes to the pillow’s below, the deranged look muted as childish pleads fell past his lips in whimpers.
She couldn’t make out much of what he was saying apart from the odd help and please.
“How can I help?” she asked trying to get through to his sane side if one even existed.
But Fraya’s words seemed to have sparked something within him as his pupil’s shrunk and the crazed look returned with a burning fire that sent his body into a seizure.
His eyes rolled back into his head and his teeth gritted together and yet she still felt as though he was staring in her direction as she stepped back allowing the nurse's room to take control of the situation.
She, Monty and Evan could do nothing but observe as more brown-black liquid seeped from the deep slashes up Nathan’s arms.
Clearly, something had entered his bloodstream, the veins told them that such as they stood raised under his skin holding the same grotesque discolouration.
Fraya had never heard of any creature or plant that would infect someone so rapidly and aggressively, but she had to find out or they could be looking at more cases and she couldn’t accept seeing her capital under threat.
Looking at the other two who seemed to hold the same determination in their eyes, they filtered from the room into the hallway.
“He’s been poisoned or along the lines of such a thing, it is clear that he is hallucinating and his body is not coping well with fighting off the toxins. I suggest we find the cause, it may help us understand what it is we are dealing with and perhaps if need be, make a cure” Fraya started off looking at the both of them as she spoke.
Monty, who Evan noticed was on the more logical side of thinking replied to Fraya “You want us to go back down there where he was nearly killed?” although no logic was involved in his words simply fear.
“Can you think of another idea? If the healers cannot find a solution to his illness then it is up to us. It is better to get a head start” she argued surprising herself considering how distasteful she found the younger male to be and yet here she was worrying for him, perhaps it was the way he pleaded and begged her, the look of terror in his eyes.
“Can’t you see for yourself what attacked him through his memories?” Evan asked.
“I would but he is in no condition for me to do so, it could make things worse. Besides, we will need a sample of whatever it was to test”
With gazes shared Evan looked to Monty and back to Fraya with a defeated sigh “Hopefully Ida will know how to help us when she shows up.”
“There is more trouble than we originally thought” Nerina stated as she hastily glided towards them.
Fraya, who turned to face her replied first “What do you mean my Lady?”
“Sailor’s and fishermen have spotted odd masses floating near the Maria Porta’s. We were aware of its presence a few days prior, however, it did not seem to be a threat, simply an abnormal growth of seaweed. Although, as of now it has exponentially become a problem, one that has been reported to be causing excessive damage to our vessels”
“Nathan was attacked by what looked like seaweed. But it’s impossible, seaweed doesn’t act like that and it especially doesn’t tear up flesh let alone ships.” Monty added.
Evan looked to Nerina a sudden thought coming to mind “What If it’s because of the stone. When Mayfel went to get the Lamia Rose from the ocean he said he too was attacked by seaweed, as if the stone had influenced the plant life around it as protection”
“It does explain the coral built up around the Lamia Rose. However there is one issue, there would not be any form of sea life within the pool and cavern as it is purified by the soil. There is no possible way for any form of plant life from the ocean to survive and grow there” Nerina said.
“Well I have a solution to your problem” Fraya began, a little smug that she knew something that the Leader of the High Council didn’t “It didn’t grow in the pool or caves, we heard it fall in,” she said
“It is spreading, if it managed to reach the underwater cave system then it has already reached the harbour when the cavern entrances lie” Nerina explained, more worry showing in the aqua twinkle of her eyes.
“If the stone is creating these things, then why are they gathered near the Maria Porta’s? It makes no sense” Monty stated, despair and uneasiness in his own eyes, much of it reflected in Evans too. Fraya could only imagine what her own looked like to them.
Evan who placed a hand on Monty’s shoulder as if to comfort him said “We won’t know until we re-evaluate what is down there, you are right though it doesn’t make much sense. But the stone is the only theory we have right now. Perhaps we should wait for Ida and the others” he suggested, it was a smart idea but Fraya knew they didn’t have time with the way the poison was already wreaking havoc on Nathan’s body.
“We can’t, it could be another hour before our letter gets to Solon and the stone could have created more problems by then.” she said.
Nerina followed up Fraya’s words “I will prepare you all fresh lanterns”
“Could we also have something similar to a jar, to collect samples? It could help us find a solution” Fraya specified.
“Of course, I will not be long”
All three of them watched Nerina exit the corridor through the bottom door, the day was beginning to stretch out past noon and yet it felt as though the day should have ended hours ago, but the sun remained in the sky and the skies a greying blue.
“Do you really think the stone is powerful enough to be able to influence life halfway across the ocean?” Monty asked, his eyes still on the door.
“Ida has always warned us of the power the stones hold and how irresponsible it is to use them. I suppose we are now dealing with the punishments for trying to source its power for the Maria Porta. She was right, it is not safe for the stones to exist in our world, it is too much power and it will destroy us all. It has, afterall, already begun to” Fraya announced, her voice falling soft and quiet.
Evan could sense her uneasiness, he felt it too and was sure Monty could as well, with Nathan in a state of delirium and Nirvariten on the brink of poison there was a lot of weight on their shoulders.
It was up to them to try and save them all, just as it was in the previous battles that so many people in the human cities and fae villages were oblivious to.
It’s not that he wanted recognition or praise for saving them, he just wished people were more aware of the danger they were in.
He wished fae and humans could coexist and work together to fix problems as one alliance, instead of it landing in the hands of people like him who had no authority and a lack of resources to barely scrape by alive.
Even if words of danger did spread to the cities, the leaders and governments would more than likely dismiss it as rumours created by the fae to scare them, or simply crush the whispering words with new ones that held less threat that allowed their rule and control to continue on without hesitation.
It was corrupt and wrong, all of it, he shouldn’t be here and neither should the others.
All they wanted was an alliance like before the Trinity War and yet, they were further away from that reality now than they were a year ago, despite all of the progress they initially made.
And Fraya, she had abandoned her entire life to assist them on a one-off job that turned into a continuous line of duties and tasks, she got tangled in the web of the world like the rest of them, rendered immobile to the events brought on by fate and destiny and forced to watch on with nothing to do other than attempt to fight to survive.
None of it was fair.
“Are you thinking of fighting on Ida’s side against the King and the Leaders of the High Council’s?” Evan asked, doubt in his mind as he waited for her response.
“If it will stop things like this from happening the of course, would you not? If it prevented people from ending up like Nathan and possibly worse then there is not much of a decision to be made. There is no knowing what the other stones could conjure up and we are currently only dealing with one, imagine what our world could end up like if the other three were introduced to their alter.” she said, her deep purple eyes reflecting in the toffee swirls of his own “Ida had it all under control, she was correct in saying we caused an imbalance. Us fae had our powers stripped away because we were unable to listen to the rules, we caused an imbalance then and here we are again. We don’t deserve the stone's powers anymore and other than the portals we have no use for them. They will not bring our elemental powers back and even if they did it would not be the same” she concluded, her tones gradually growing colder as she spoke as if the distaste for her own races mistakes were surfacing.
Silence hung between them, shuffling from the nurses behind the door could be heard, most likely attending to Nathan’s wounds and being.
She wasn’t wrong, Monty and Evan alike knew it but what were they to say in reply.
Evan, about to change the conversation to the task at hand was left at a loss by Monty’s next words, they echoed endlessly through his mind.
“What if the things Bregan had preached were right? What if the fae can’t keep up and start falling behind us humans. The stones could stop that from happening, it would equal out the power so they could hold their own” he had said.
Evan had been too stunned to even begin to think of a response, he truly hoped Monty wasn’t considering Bregan’s validity.
“If I and my people are to die out because of human expansion, the so be it. Life should not be meddled with, if it is the will of the earth for fae to perish the there is nothing that can or should be done. The stones would not help, if anything they would complicate things and hasten the process by bringing another war, It will forever be survival of the fittest” she said firmly. Continuing on she said “Bregan couldn’t see the future any more than you can, fear was his way of controlling people and it could have gotten him the throne had he not died. He was ready to wipe out a whole race, his own race, in an act of so-called mercy, and yet, he couldn’t be sure whether his predictions were true. Not even I can see that far into the future”
“If you both are done with your morbid debate, we should really head into the caves. I don’t fancy the idea of holding it off any longer” Evan spoke up cutting Monty off as he opened his mouth to argue against Fraya.
They could be there forever if those two had their way, but if it cost Nathan his life he wouldn’t forgive them, they had already lost precious minutes and seconds that could have been put to good use but instead were paid to words with no useful conclusion that helped neither their situation nor any other.
The end door clicked closed and Nerina made her way towards them, three lanterns in hand with fresh candles and a velvet pouch also.
“I have what you requested” she announced handing them each a lantern, a box of matches were placed in Evan’s hand and the pouch in Fraya’s a slight clinking noise resonating from within.
“There are vials in the bag for you to use. I wish you luck but I too warn you to be wary on your journey. Do not let your friend’s health weigh on your minds, I shall watch over him in your absence”
“Thank you,” Monty said, bowing his head as if to extenuate his gratitude, as he rose his head his fingers fell into his breast pocket and drew out a folded photograph.
Evan had never seen the item before, he wasn’t aware that Monty was the sentimental type with his usually held glare and firm features. He supposed everyone had a hidden side.
“Please, could you give this to Nathan if he wakes up?” Monty requested holding out the photograph.
Taking the glossy paper between her fingers she assured him she would indeed see it into Nathan’s possession.
“You must now hurry” Nerina urged them.
They obeyed her words and followed their previous steps towards the cave system entrance.
Nerina honoured her word and silently drifted into the medical wing, the hem of her gown draped over the floor behind her as she came to Nathan’s bed.
His arms and legs were restrained despite him looking in no shape to fight back, dark crescents underlining his closed eyes, his skin a deathly pale glow and his wounds bound In fresh medical coverings.
His chest rose and fell in ragged flutters as if obstructed, the poison seemed to be having a much quicker effect on his body than they thought.
Her delicate and steady fingers propped up the photograph against a class of water on the bedside table, a child resembling a youthful Nathan sat in the centre, those she assumed were his parents were stood behind him, grins spread out on their faces as they looked at Nathan and two girls that stood next to him who seemed a little older than he.
They were all gleaming, happiness showing in their eyes true and clear.
It almost seemed like a relic of the past, when life was happier.
Whispering words that roughly translated to rest well child Nerina closed her eyes in silent prayer.
“Ut quietam et puer”