Excalibur ~ World from Ashes

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Chapter 27

I woke up with a pounding headache and immediately wanted to go back to sleep. How is it that I always end up waking up like this? Why can’t I wake up to something nice like lying in a warm bed with Tristan? I sighed and felt a cold hand against my skin. Turning, I looked over to the one who was touching me. I grinned a bit as I noticed Kilia was the one brushing my hair aside. She didn’t smile at me though, only frowned heavily and I swallowed dryly.

“I… always seem to end up here, don’t I? I’m sorry,” I said softly.

A hand squeezed mine and I turned to my right side. Tristan was leaning against the bed, fear in his eyes as he gazed at me. Lifting my hand, he pressed his lips against the back of my palm heavily. I felt a strange twist in my chest, a burn in my eyes as I watched him. For the first time, I stared at Tristan as he cried.

“T-Tristan?”

He shook his head and refused to answer or say anything, instead Kilia did it for him, “We’re worried, Valkyrie. Excalibur is… it’s,” she choked on her words a bit and I was stunned. My chest was tight as I looked between the two of them. At least she wasn’t crying, but it was bad enough that Tristan was as he held my hand. I could feel his trembling through his hands and it only solidified my own fears and pains.

“It’s destroying your body, Valkyrie. Every time you use it, it’s eating you away, like acid. Breaking your body down bit by bit. I… I don’t know,” she shook her head a bit, “I don’t know if I can stop it.”

“S-serious… it’s really…” I breathed the words, hardly forming them at all.

I turned to look at Tristan who had opened his eyes and was gazing at me through the tears that flooded them. The hazel color was darker than usual, the eyes reddened from crying. My chest fluttered, my breathing slower as I lay there. I was in shock, probably just as badly as Tristan was. I’m… dying? Excalibur is killing me… Oh, God. It took a moment, but I felt my eyes growing moist, and with a trembling breath the first set of tears ran down my face as I gazed at Tristan. He shook his head, eyebrows curling up slightly in a pained expression as he reached out and took my head in his fingers.

He bowed his head down against my good shoulder, his other hand intertwining the fingers with mine. I leaned into him, my face buried in his soft caramel locks as I cried with him. It was horrible, the feeling that spread through me. I didn’t know what to do and I was even more disturbed by the fact that Kilia wasn’t sure she could do anything for me. Reaching out with my other arm, I felt tight bandages across my chest and was reminded of the bullet wounds, given to me by none other than Ahmeil. My heart jumped in my throat and I pulled away from Tristan a little bit, anger now replacing my sorrow.

Kilia’s hand moved and gently touched my shoulder, “Hey, don’t move too much. You’re lucky that Alik didn’t hit anything vital, but you can’t be reopening your wounds.”

I paused, confusion flooding my body. Alik? No, no, no… No. It was Ahmeil. Ahmeil had shot me! Ahmeil shot me!! I turned to Kilia, eyes wide. Why had she said Alik? My heart pounded hard in my chest as I lay there, watching her as she turned away to roll over to her computer after patting my shoulder gently. Each breath was painful as it left my throat in short bursts of hyperventilation.

“A-Alik…” I breathed, confused at the situation.

“My apologies, I lost you and couldn’t find you until after the fight,” it was Ahmeil’s voice and I couldn’t believe what I was hearing.

Lying bitch! Lies! What the fuck are you on about! I almost screamed as I stared at her in disbelief. She was leaning against the wall and I hadn’t noticed her until she spoke right then. My heart seized, tightening painfully in my chest. For a long while I just lay there, struggling to breathe and wrap my head around the fact that she had essentially lied to everyone. Tristan shifted against me, pulling his head up and kissing my cheek then my forehead.

“We found you unconscious on the ground with Ahmeil. We were caught with a group of Titan that Alik had probably sent to distract us. Alik got away, Ahmeil chased him off before he could do anything else to you.”

My mouth opened and closed. I didn’t know what to say. Hell, I didn’t know how to say it. In my mind, I replayed the scenario. Ahmeil had clearly walked up behind me and shot me, then threatened my life in exchange for Excalibur. I wondered briefly if she’d taken it already and grit my teeth together tightly. I hope it kills you more painfully than it kills me, fucking bitch!

As I thought about what I could say, I also thought about how Ahmeil would react. If I said that she had been the one to shoot me, there was nothing to prove it. There was also the fact that she was indeed still armed with her guns, and she could easily shoot all three of us in that room without a second thought and none of us would be able to do anything about it. Although I doubted she would shoot Tristan. How she would get out of that though… I wasn’t sure. Still, the main problem was my proving she had shot me and not Alik. Without that, I had no grounds to say that it wasn’t true.

“Thank you,” I said, nearly hissing the words though as I tried to keep my rage from my voice.

Ahmeil tilted her head a bit, her gray eye narrowing slightly at me as her lips turned into a small frown, barely noticeable unless one was really paying attention to her, which I was. All the while I swore up and down that I was going to get her back for everything that she’d done to me up to that point. Ahmeil didn’t say anything in return but crossed her arms and shifted her weight as she leaned against the wall.

Tristan’s hand brushed through my hair gingerly, the touch that was usually calming only did so much for me as I lay there. My pissed off emotions raged underneath my skin, boiling to such a point that I thought I would break. I cried harder, which Tristan thought was because of the current situation of Excalibur killing me. I wasn’t crying because of that anymore. No, I was crying because my anger had to be kept back, held in until I could figure a way to expose her. Or maybe I would get lucky and she would do it herself.

I was still confused as to what she thought the ‘sickness’ was that plagued Tristan. He wasn’t sick at all. I didn’t understand where she was coming from at all. After a while, I felt as if I’d exhausted myself beyond repair and let my head fall against Tristan’s arm as he stroked my head. I blinked slowly, staring at the blankets instead of giving the death stare to Ahmeil.

I heard Kilia’s chair and turned to look at her as she rolled over to me again. Reaching out she took my other hand that wasn’t being held tightly by Tristan, “I want you to know that I am going to do everything in my power to help you, Valkyrie. I will do what it takes to combat Excalibur’s side effects. I’m not giving up on you at all, all right?”

Her declaration was warming to say the least and I couldn’t help but smile brightly at her through my tears, “Thank you Kilia. You don’t have to do this, you know.”

“No, I will do it,” she responded with a heavy tone, thick with determination, “Don’t think for a minute that I’m abandoning you in anyway. In the meantime, don’t use Excalibur for any reason.”

I nodded slowly, “All right. I won’t. I promise I won’t.”

Kilia gave a slight nod at that and patted my hand gently. Rolling away on her chair, she grabbed a few things from the medicine cabinet and came back to me. She handed me a white pill and a cup of water, a blue pill waiting in her hand, “Take that. It’s Ibuprophen, this one is for the wounds, a simple anti-biotic to keep from infection happening. It’ll make you sleepy, so once you take it I want you to stay in bed for the rest of the day. I’ve already sewn up the wounds; they’re going to take a while to heal though, okay?”

I agreed with her and took the pills that she wanted me to, swallowing them down with the water easily enough. Settling against the pillows, I rested my body against the bed, feeling the toll of the fight and Excalibur. What had been a slightly strange experience when I first got the drug injected into me, had turned into dread. I was afraid of the drug, afraid that it was going to kill me far sooner than I wanted to die. To make matters worse, there was no time limit; there was no estimation of how much time I had left. Kilia said she was going to do her best, and she wasn’t going to give up. I knew she wouldn’t, but… did she have enough time?

I sighed a bit, “Well… at least we know one thing for sure,” I said softly.

“What’s that?” Tristan asked, his voice hoarse a bit.

I couldn’t help the grin that began to spread along my lips as I turned my gaze to Ahmeil, “Anyone that takes Excalibur is going to have on hell of a ride waiting for them.”

***

Because I wasn’t allowed to use Excalibur, that meant I couldn’t heal my wounds any more. So I was stuck in the bed for about four days straight, which nearly drove me nuts. Even so, it kept Kilia very busy. She took blood from me often, keeping tabs on how much Excalibur was affecting me and also doing several strange tests that I couldn’t quite follow. She had three vials of the green liquid that was the drug from the case that we’d brought her a while back. I didn’t ask her how the research was going, I supposed I was a bit too afraid of the answer.

On the fourth day, Kilia allowed me out of the bed after my complaining of being stuck in one spot drove her nuts. I grinned at her as I stood up and started to leave after dressing myself in some clean clothes. She caught my grin and rolled her eyes. Though, as she turned back to her work, I swore I caught a small smile on her lips. Standing there, I watched her for a moment before I simply walked over and gave her a tight hug from behind.

“Thanks,” I whispered in her ear and then turned and left the room.

Moving down the halls I wanted to go see Tristan. It wasn’t like I hadn’t seen him at all as he visited me every day for the past four days. Hell, he’d been in the medical room not but a few hours before I finally convinced Kilia to let me leave. No, what I wanted was to be held by him because the whole idea of dying was really making me depressed and out of it. I didn’t want to die, not just yet. I was only twenty-two for crying out loud! I hadn’t even had my birthday yet!

Grinding my teeth, I tried to reign in my emotions as I walked down the hall at a brisk pace. Every step was closer to my goal of seeing Tristan, being held by him. I wanted nothing more than to kiss him, touch him and make love with him. It was something I needed, a solid, comfortable touch. Something I could hold onto for a while. I quickened my pace as I thought about everything I wanted to do to him, and everything I wanted him to do to me in return.

As I opened the door to the main hallway, there was someone standing there and that someone grabbed me roughly by my shoulder and pushed me back into the hall that I was trying to leave. I found myself slammed up against the wall heavily and I winced. Looking up, I took a sharp breath as the gray eye belonging to Ahmeil glared at me. After my shock faded away, I returned her cold stare.

“What the fuck do you want?” I hissed.

“I should think you know.”

I scoffed, “No, I don’t. Enlighten me, you fucking backstabbing bitch!” I tried to shove her off, but she moved her hand to press down into the wounds and I immediately stopped moving, wincing in pain and trying not to undo Kilia’s work.

“Use Excalibur. Die a little faster.”

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