Chapter Twenty-Six (Incomplete)
Well, it serves him right for eavesdropping.
‘Learn anything interesting or should I talk louder next time?’
There is a little colour on Derek’s cheeks as he stands, moving to the side of the hallway to let me pass. I was going to the cafeteria with Blaine but my mind has reminded me of something far more important. I need Ira.
‘The old man who was with me, I’d like to see him.’
‘He’s in the infirmary. He hasn’t woken up yet, but Mags says he’s getting stronger.’
‘I’d still like to see him.’
Blaine frowns but wisely stays silent, not arguing with me about my change of plans and further avoidance of food.
‘Follow us,’ says Anya, pointing down the hall.
The new facility is an ant’s nest of hallways, twists and turns. I’ll need to use my power to navigate these halls if I have any intention of getting around unescorted. It takes almost ten minutes for us to get to the infirmary, but it is easily recognisable by the warm afterglow of healing magic.
Mags lights up when she sees me, running over to us and taking my hand in hers.
‘It is so good to see you up and about, Dear. How do you feel, any serious pain?’
‘No, I’m fine. I need to see Ira, please.’
I added the ‘please’ at the last moment, remembering my manners and softening my words from and a demand to a strong request. I think.
‘Is that his name? I haven’t been able to wake him. The poor man has been so tormented for so long that I think his body may have given up. Even now he is a rather delicate state.’
She led us down a hallway as she spoke and to a large room with a line of people standing around Ira’s bed.
Ira’s frail body gently rests against a pillow that is barely dented by the miniscule weight of him.
I watch from the doorway as the line of people place their hands against his wiry frame and send the healing energy through his body that is supposed to be helping him, but he doesn’t seem to be responding. His body is free of his bruises and injuries, but hs life essence dindles.
I whisper the words, sadness at Ira’s condition stealing my volume, but they hear me and sadly file out of the room. Some of them place their hands on me in a show of sympathy and I let them, not having the energy to protest their touching.
I know Blaine and the others are still in the doorway, but it doesn’t bother me.
The walk to Ira’s bedside feels more like a funeral march than a visit, but I make it and gently sit on the edge of his bed. I take his hand in mine, his skin cold and clammy against my palm.
‘Don’t give up yet, okay? They had you for centuries, you could have given up long ago. Don’t slip away now that you’re free. Live to see the new world, Ira.’
I barely feel it, his grip so weak, but he lightly squeezes my fingers.
He squeeses my hand again, harder this time, and that as permission. I send energy through my hands and into Ira, a soft glow spreading through his veins and lighting his skin in map more beautiful to me than the finest art.
Life spreads through his body, colour returning and his hands no longer cold. His body rebuilds itself before my eyes, muscle repairing and growing until the old man I knew as Ira becomes a young man who appears no older than thirty.
His eyelids open in a sudden flicker, glowing violet eyes meeting mine.
I can’t contain my grin as Ira sits himself up against the headboard, placing a small kiss on my forehead as he sits up.
‘Thank you,’ he whispers, glancing toward the door with a slight frown. ‘And who do we have here.’
I wave everyone through the door, and they stand on the other side of the bed, Blaine standing at the foot of the bed just behind me.
‘Well, you actually know them, at least by reputation. This is Derek, Anya and Olilver,’ I say, each of them smiling in welcome as I say their names. ‘And this is Blaine, he’s new but he seems decent enough.’
Blaine grunts and Ira narrows his eyes, taking him in and assessing him.
‘His spirit is free, so I’ll agree with his decency. Now, how did they find us?’
‘I pushed myself well beyond my limits and forced our location into Derek’s mind.’
Ira laughs and most of the tension leaves the room.
‘And here I though you’d just teleported us right here. Did she tell you how she got us out?’ He grins wide as they shake their heads. ‘She blew a hole straight to the surface from a mile underground, flew us several miles across the glaciers and then crafted a boat out of ice that she powered with water magic until we got to the mainland! It was quite the adventure if I may say so myself.’
The gasps and stares cause Ira to double over with laughter, smacking his palm against his thigh.
Mags rushes through the door, the laughter and the sounds of smacking probably worrying her and stops dead in her tracks.
Tears fall to Mags’ chin as she rushes to the bed and throws herself at Ira.
‘You were dead. They said you were dead. I didn’t recognise you…’
Mags continues to babble in her shock as Ira runs his hands over her back and hugs her tight, soothing her and whispering that it’s okay.
We all took our cue and backed away from the bed, letting them have their reunion and supressing our intense curiosity about how they know each other.
I know for a fact that Ira has been imprisoned for at least two hundred years, as many as four hundred wouldn’t be a surprise to me. It would be easy to assume a romantic connection, but they aren’t holding each other as lovers. My guess is sampling or close friends, but I can wait until they reconnect to ask my questions.