Chapter 8, Part II
Everyone had their heads bowed after Didra pronounced him dead. The room was silent, save for my loud weeping. Cegil continued to hold me back to prevent me from reaching my mate, but soon my legs buckled and I began to sink to the ground with his aid.
This was too cruel! Satel was so full of life and all he wanted was to achieve his ideal dream of a settlement of his own, with me by his side- he didn’t deserve to die, not like this! But now he’s gone- just like the Wise Man, and it hurt so much that I felt like I would never recover. …I just wanted to give up and die with him.
“Do not grieve yet, young one- he still has five minutes before he cannot revive himself,” Makhis’ra informed me, seeking to bring me some hope and comfort. I had heard that all living creatures could still be revived after death, so long as it was accomplished before all organs shut down. That’s right… and I had forgotten, falucite had a special ability too- they could send shockwaves crashing through their body to restart the heart.
All because Satel wasn’t breathing didn’t mean he couldn’t draw in air again if his body could stabilize after a self kick-start. But I wasn’t sure if I could handle another disappointment after all of the hope I’d been trying to maintain- and Didra didn’t seem to share the elder’s sentiment.
“We can wait another five minutes, but I am not so certain that his organs have regenerated enough to sustain him,” she said while shaking her head sadly.
But no sooner than after her words had left her mouth, I glanced up when I thought I heard a soft grunt from Satel. My eyes widened when I noticed him jerking slightly, with a pained scowl on his face. Then his back arched up violently into the air s if he’d just had a seizure- it lasted only a second, and then he was back in the bed and breathing again, though shallowly. I couldn’t move for a second as I stared at him in disbelief- was I seeing things? Did he actually make it?
Didra had noticed his movement from the corner of her eye, and she whirled around in shock to stare at him. She then grabbed for his wrist again and muttered, “Maker… he really managed to come back.”
“So he’s going to be okay?” I found myself asking in a shaky tone. I found myself hoping once again, but this time I felt as if it was really going to stay. By the sound of it, he just accomplished a miracle and I couldn’t help but think he was trying to defy the odds for us- for me.
“The fact that he is running a fever is a good sign, but I cannot say for certain that he will survive until it breaks. However, I do believe his chances have increased to about seventy percent now,” the medic replied, earning a few more choked sobs from me.
I hated that I was still crying after hearing such encouraging news, but I couldn’t help it. I was so relieved that he had come back to me- seventy percent was infinitely better than five. I used Cegil’s limbs to help pull myself up and began praying again, thinking that maybe one of the immortals happened to be actually listening this time.
It felt like several minutes had passed before Didra requested that someone retrieve a wet rag so that she could drape it on his forehead. His fever was raging so badly that it was threatening to destroy his recovering body. But he was still breathing- and his body began to turn and thrash as his mind apparently schemed up some phantoms to taunt him.
I had managed to sneak in a few more paces closer to his bedside before Cegil caught on and dug his fingers into the back neckline of my blouse. He chose to let me remain where I was, but his grip on me threatened to yank me back if I tried to take one more step. I decided that I was as close as I was going to get and clasped my hands together as I prayed harder.
There was a troubled look on Satel’s features at first, then he began muttering quietly in his sleep. “Dantia… sorry… death… my fault.”
At first I thought he was talking about me, but soon I realized that he didn’t like referring to me by that name. I could practically feel Cegil’s body tense and knew that the platinum blond was talking about his daughter. It took me a moment to piece together his words, but it sounded as if he was admitting that he was somehow at fault for Dantia’s death.
“Satel always blamed himself for Dantia leaving the homestead, but we know it is not true. He may have given her the idea, but…” Garroe began when he noticed the look on his brother’s face. I had to wonder what Cegil was feeling to know Satel was involved- and why did my mate think he was at fault if no one else thought he was to blame? And why, for that matter, did no one ever bring it up before? It must’ve been kept a secret, for whatever reason, since the giant man behind me was clearly stunned.
I felt his hand relax and heard him release his breath, defeated. “If Dantia was anything like her mother, then I would not be surprised to learn that she decided to leave on her own. She would have likely left without any influence. But why did he never tell me this?”
“He was afraid that you would never forgive him,” Garroe answered, further proving how much Satel believed he was at fault. I had to wonder why no one else brought it up? Did they simply forget? Or were they respecting Satel’s privacy and believed that he needed to confront Cegil on his own?
“What have I ever done to earn such respect and love from them both? I was barely in their lives,” the tall man muttered after yet another sigh, this one wistful.
From what I understood, he had to leave both Dantia and Satel when they were still toddlers. His daughter somehow grew up loving him despite his absence- and Satel believed that Cegil was the only one who really supported him, even though he only had met him once at Dantia’s funeral.
Of course, Garroe was speaking a lot on Satel’s behalf to have him excused from any potential ire. Maybe he had been the one that had told them the real truth about Cegil and how he was a good man. Come to think of it, someone had to raise them when Cegil and their parents were gone. However, Garroe didn’t answer his brother’s question, choosing to let the giant figure it out for himself- or perhaps he didn’t want to say anything so that Cegil wouldn’t feel obligated to thank and praise him for what he had done.
The room was cast in silence again as we waited for a change in Satel’s condition. It felt like another hour had passed before beads of sweat began to form on his brow.
“…His body is stabilizing and his fever is beginning to break. I believe it is over now- he will live,” Didra announced, sounding very relieved to say it. There was a small grin on her face as she carefully wiped away the streams of sweat as they trickled down his face.
“Thank Elit,” I breathed out, truly grateful that he was going to get better. After hearing that surviving Cyirlie’s poison was very rare, I knew that I needed to take advantage of the fact that he was spared- I wasn’t going to let him out of my sight ever again! I wasn’t sure if that was really possible, given the fact that he still had his own life away from me during the day, but I wasn’t going to let that stop me. He could just teleport away if he really needed to, I suppose.
Still, he had given me quite a scare- one that reminded me that life, no matter how strong the person, was limited and fragile. The worst part about it was that I was completely helpless should something like this happen again. I had no ability to heal him, nor did I have the power to prevent anyone from attacking him. But I had to be careful- I knew he was still a strong and powerful man who could take care of himself. I couldn’t start fretting over every little thing just because he encountered the one creature that he had no chance in beating.
The hand that had been trying to hold me back now moved to rest on my shoulder in a supporting manner before the man attached to it stood behind me.
“How much longer before he awakens?” Cegil inquired with curiosity. I had to wonder if he was asking on my behalf or if he just really wanted to speak with the platinum blond. I wouldn’t be surprised or begrudge him if it were the latter.
“He is likely tired, so he may sleep through the night and awaken in the morning.”
I easily caught on the word ‘may’- it was still daylight and we were just entering late afternoon. There was a good chance that he could awaken earlier than what she suggested. Didra soon continued after glancing around at the other relieved faces of the clan.
“I will schedule a better time for everyone to visit him tomorrow, but for now, we should leave him to his rest,” the shrew woman announced to the room, returning to her usual professional (and evil) demeanor. She then turned to Cegil with a light smirk. “I will leave it to you to cleanse him of the surface venom so that his mate may touch him again. Cujol and I will change his bed sheets as you do so.”
After a second urging from Makhis’ra, the other members of the clan left one by one until only the immediate family was left. Everyone began doing their appointed tasks while Garroe, Maetira, and I stood back. Garroe had recently cleaned up so he could hold his falcie, so he had to remain venom free or else I would have to hold Aared again. As for Maetira… she probably wouldn’t do anything even if asked to.
Cegil had no trouble carrying the unconscious falucite to the adjacent bathroom with his magicks, and proceeded to undress him and cleanse his skin with manipulated water. I only stood near the door, watching him take care of his younger brother from afar. I couldn’t believe Satel could actually sleep through that- or maybe he didn’t have a choice, he could be deeply unconscious.
Maetira soon left the room upon realizing that she was lacking her crystal ball. The news of her brother close to his death had shocked her enough to forget her very important accessory. I thought I heard her mutter something about receiving a reading, but I was too focused on my mate to really think on it.
I was somewhat interested to know that Cujol and Didra knew how to make a bed, even though it was done through their magicks. They had so many servants to do the little things for them, that I was under the impression that they might’ve lost basic skills because of disuse.
Of course, they couldn’t have the servants touching the sheets because of any venom that might’ve soaked into them- and Didra seemed to be very knowledgeable with women’s work due to her being a doctor and a mother. I suppose my real shock was seeing Cujol do anything.
“Tia, I need your assistance,” Cegil called out to me with no trace of urgency in his tone. Curious, I strode into the bathroom to see the odd sight of Satel floating upright with no clothes on. His eyes were still closed and his head was bowed forward, proving that he was still sleeping.
The bathroom was much smaller than the one in the chambers I shared with Satel- the bathtub was an ordinary one that was above ground, and was only big enough for one person. It sat at the very end of the room in the opposite corner as the toilet and the basin.
“It was difficult removing his clothing and I can only imagine putting on a fresh set would be just as challenging. Could you please dress him? He should be safe for you to touch now,” the lavender haired man explained when I looked at him curiously.
There was a new set of white pajamas waiting for me on the basin. I nodded and walked over to them to find the pants. Since Satel had completely sweated through the other set, Cegil had had a hard time removing them on his own, and had sent them off with the bed sheets. I had no issue with dressing my mate, as I have seen him naked many times before… but it did feel a little awkward with Cegil in the room.
It was also a little strange to dress a floating body, but at least it did make the task a little easier since I didn’t have to hold him up or anything. He was still asleep by the time I was done buttoning his shirt, and he didn’t even respond when I took the opportunity to cup his cheek. I wasn’t sure why I was hoping he would- it wasn’t like I had some kind of miracle touch.
Cegil cleared his throat to get my attention. I could tell that he wanted to take Satel back to bed and I backed away so he could do so. It hadn’t occurred to me that he could’ve been straining his powers to keep him afloat like that. I followed the two out as he carried the blond to the bed and settled him down on the center of the comfy-looking sheets.
Since the guest room was a little smaller than our chambers, the bed was only half the size of the one I was used to. But there was still more than enough room for two, and I had to climb up to tuck him in and arrange the pillows behind his head to give him more comfort.
“I will trust that you should be able to handle everything now. I will visit again in the morning to check his health,” Didra informed me after he was completely settled. Now that I was able to care for him without having to worry about poisons, we could finally be left alone.
Cujol was the first to go, followed by Garroe, Didra, and their child. It wasn’t until they were gone when it really sank into my mind how much of a family community we were. They all worked together to help me and Satel, without expecting some kind of compensation in return.
Cegil lingered a little longer, wanting to make sure that I would truly be okay, before I was able to convince him to go back to his work. It wasn’t that I didn’t want his support right then- I just wanted some time to myself to process the last few hours and truly come to terms with the fact that I had faced the very real possibility of losing my mate today. I used to see humans surviving from serious injuries, so when Satel had died for nearly a minute, it had really shook me up and made me realize just how easily death could claim someone’s life.
When Cegil finally relented and left, I turned back to Satel and played with the strands of his hair. Everything had happened so fast- I didn’t see any of this coming, and there was a chance it could happen all over again. Satel was lucky this time, but would he be the next? I didn’t want to risk it should the opportunity to test it arise.
I now understood why Satel had made those ‘tactical retreats’. He wasn’t running away in fear- he was just trying to stay away from fights he knew he couldn’t win. But if I happened to be involved, then he’d do anything in his power to protect me. I needed to convince him that staying by my side would be better protection rather than facing the danger alone. At least then I could share in the risk if he should be attacked again, not that I’d tell him that.
I eventually lay down beside him and positioned myself on my side so I could continue to watch over him. All I could do was gently caress his face and wait for him to awaken…
After about an hour or so, the dinner bell rang out, but I stayed put. There was no point in attending dinner without my mate, but I knew I was going to get hungry sooner or later. Thankfully, Cegil had stopped by Lioa’s kitchen and informed her of the situation. She came by several minutes later with a tray holding two warm bowls of seaweed stew.
I was vaguely reminded of the time I had fallen gravely ill- it’d happened only weeks after first mating with Satel. I developed what almost seemed to be a full body rash and had a severe fever that was only cooled by salt- or saltwater dwelling items. Didra suspected that I had contracted ‘Seafarer’s Madness’ after being exposed to so much seawater after the tidal wave, but I never had the problem before when I had first left the coast seven years prior.
Seafarer’s Madness was a disease that only bothered seafarers that moved inland. The only thing that could cure it was sea air and seawater- anything that originated from the coast or the ocean. That’s why Lioa made me seaweed stew back then- it was the only thing I could eat, and it helped me to feel better for a short while.
Actually, there was technically no ‘cure’- and most seafarers had the disease without ever knowing it. So long as one stayed by the ocean, no symptoms should manifest. This was considered a way to keep seafarers from straying into Kajros’ territory, but there was no proof that it was a machination of the gods. Of course, I still had no clue how I suddenly contracted it then and not before when I was younger.
The only reason I was free from that little curse was because Didra suggested that I should mate with Satel again and receive more hormones from him. At the time, I was still trying to get used to the new life and we had only mated once. He had been waiting for me to make the next move, but he’d had to take control for the purpose of helping me. The next morning, I was completely immune to human diseases and my skin was clear again.
I gratefully ate my bowl of seaweed stew since I did love the taste of it. I used to hate seaweed when I was little, but now I couldn’t get enough of it- maybe it was a lingering side effect of the disease. It was basically a bean-paste broth with seaweed, scallops, and a smelly green stock vegetable known as an imai- all were products of the sea (or at least grown near the coast).
When I was done, I fished out the scallops in Satel’s broth since I knew he wouldn’t want to eat them. Even sea critter meat was considered dessert to him, and he didn’t like sweets mixed with his meal. He was very strict in keeping dinner and dessert separate, as he was as weight conscious as the rest of his kind- Maker knows why. Lioa watched as I ate and even offered to feed Satel for me should he awaken, but I insisted that I wanted to do it. He had taken very good care of me when I was sick, so I wanted to return the favor- as rare as it was for him to get sick, this was probably my only chance to repay him.
But through the course of supper and the conversation that took place after, he still wasn’t showing sighs of stirring. It seemed he was really going to sleep through the night.
“Tia, are you feeling okay? You don’t look so well,” the matronly woman soon commented as she reached out to feel my forehead.
“I’m probably just tired. A lot has happened today,” I replied after shaking my head to dislodge her hand. I didn’t really feel terrible, but I was exhausted now that my body was climbing down from the adrenaline and drama that’d happened earlier.
Lioa didn’t appear very convinced, but she didn’t press further. Instead, she gathered up the bowls and prepared to leave. “I will keep the stew over a low flame in the kitchen, so if he should awaken later, or if you want a midnight snack, it will be warm and ready.”
“Okay. Thank you,” I replied with a nod. Lioa was actually a very cautious person when it came to leaving stoves on in the kitchen, but since she had access to very reliable source, we wouldn’t have to worry about any accidental fires.
Servants had to rely on their own ability to make fire in the kitchens, but Cegil volunteered lighting the stove with his magicks to make her work easier. The magick fires allowed her to step away for long hours since falucite magicks were very controlled. Usually he would extinguish it by the end of the night, so he could start it again in the morning, but I suppose she was going to ask him to leave it burning for tonight.
I had yet to hear a good reason as to why he offered to do this everyday, instead of leaving it burning indefinitely. I simply assumed that it was his way of giving the chef a thoughtful gift- and an excuse to spend more time with her. The thought always made me smile…
The woman hesitated before deciding to leave- it was like she was too worried to leave me alone. When she reached the door, she paused again and faced me. “I will send for Cegil- at the very least, allow him to procure some nightwear for you.”
I didn’t get the chance to say anything when she suddenly rushed out. Her departure had me a little concerned. What was that about? Curious, I felt my forehead to check for a fever and then rolled my neck and other joints to see if I was stiff or in pain. I didn’t feel particularly bad, just tired. I had to wonder what she was so worried about… did I look that bad to her?
It didn’t take very long for Cegil to reappear with a simple chiffon yellow nightgown in tow. Considering that I was still in the walking suit I had put on earlier for my date with Satel, and the fact that I had no access to my chambers, I didn’t have anything to sleep in or groom myself with come morning. I suppose all of that will be addressed tomorrow, but for now, at least I had a nightgown.
Cegil was also expressing a similar look of concern when he laid eyes on me- and that disturbed me further.
“Do I look like I’m about to die?” I nearly snapped, wanting some answers about his and Lioa’s strange behavior. The large man crossed the room and gently cradled my chin in his humongous hand. He tilted my head up to better examine me, then shook his head before he backed away.
“Lioa thought she had seen darkening patches on your skin and wanted me to confirm that. It is very faint, but it may just be scars from your old illness- what she had seen might have simply been the trick of the waning light,” he answered with a lighter expression on his face. He seemed satisfied that I wasn’t coming down with anything and that made me relax.
Ever since I had been cured of my Seafarer’s Madness, I had a few darkened patches left behind from the severe areas where the rash had attacked my skin. It had long since faded to the point where one had to really look for them to notice though. I glanced over to the wide single window on the outer wall and found that it was sunset now. Since the guest room was located on a lower floor than where my bedchamber was, it was getting darker faster than what I was used to. I suppose in the right light my splotches would be more noticeable- it was an honest mistake.
“Why didn’t she say anything? She just ran off acting as if there was something seriously wrong with me,” I commented with some amusement. Now that I knew what her problem was, her reaction was a little funny.
“She did not wish to alarm you until she was certain of what she had seen,” he answered before he placed the nightgown on the end of the bed for me. “However, you do seem tired, so I could see why she would be concerned. Would you like me to stay and watch over Satel while you get some rest?”
I was a little surprised that he would offer. Used to, he would watch over me when I slept, but that was back when we were traveling and shared rooms. …Now it just seemed odd to go back to those old days. I was too used to sleeping with Satel and because of that, I had no intention of sleeping anywhere else. Surely Cegil would’ve felt awkward to watch the two of us sleep even if we weren’t going to do anything.
“No, it’s okay. Didra seems to think he’ll recover and I’ll be by his side when he awakens. It should be fine,” I reassured him, only to have him cast a look of doubt.
“Even so, I will be in the next room over, so call for me if you need my assistance in anything.”
“Why?” I questioned with a raised eyebrow. Since when did he not trust me to take care of Satel?
“I mean no offense, but once you fall asleep, it is very difficult to awaken you until morning. Should Satel come around during that time, then someone will need to see to his needs,” he pointed out before adding, “Furthermore, I would like to speak with Satel as soon as possible.”
I conceded upon hearing that last bit. I suddenly understood that he wanted to confront Satel about his guilt in regards to Dantia- it had nothing… okay, not much to do with me. At least he was offering to stay in the next room rather than sit in the corner all night. I just hoped that he planned on getting some sleep. I’d hate to see him too tired to do anything tomorrow.
“Okay, fine- just don’t stay up too late waiting,” I told him with a teasing grin. He didn’t have anything to counter with that, choosing to accept the fact that I wasn’t going to stop him.
Cegil stayed with me a little longer to just talk and keep me company before he decided to retire in the next room. It was completely dark outside when I dressed for bed and climbed under the covers next to Satel. I had no control over the lights, so all I had was moonlight to help me find my way and check up on him. I could’ve asked Cegil to do something before he had left, but I figured there was no point if I was going to sleep soon.
Satel was still in a deep slumber, but he did appear much healthier than before. I could sleep easy knowing that he wasn’t going to pass on during the night, though I still wished he had woken up earlier so I could talk to him. I supposed I could wait until morning…
I ended up falling asleep with my head against his chest and my arms wrapped around him. Since my fretting over him most of the day really did tire me out, I had no trouble relaxing and passing out within minutes.
…But it seemed that I wasn’t going to have a restful night. Sometime later, that recurring dream came back to me. Unlike the others that I vaguely remembered, this one was a little different- and too real for my liking. I was usually swimming underwater and staring up at the moon, but this time I was swimming at the surface. The breeze felt very cool against my wet skin and I could swear I smelled salt in the air.
The only thing that was the same was that my head was craned up to gaze upon Elit. For some reason, I was singing- and I had no clue what I was saying. Some strange language poured from my mouth as if I was fluent in it. I had no clue what I was doing or why- but I felt as if I had to finish the unknown melody before I could do anything else.
I wasn’t sure how long it took me to finish, but no sooner than after the last note escaped me, I detected something in the corner of my eyes. I frantically turned my head to find a graceful white sea dragon gliding low just above the surface of the water. The beast was very long and beautiful with a black mane lining its back and dark grey talons at the end of short legs. The creature entranced me until I noticed that it was heading in my direction.
Suddenly, fear filled me and I started to swim away in a desperate attempt to get out of its path.
“Cursed wretch! Ah’ll eat ye whole!”
I could barely register the fact that I recognized that coarse feminine tone- I was more concerned at the fact that her jaw was opened, revealing a set of very sharp and glistening fangs. I let out a scream as she closed in on me with the intent to carry out her threat.
I awakened with a short scream and felt the arms that were supporting me up tense in shock. As more of my awareness came to me, I soon realized that something was very off. I wasn’t in bed anymore- instead, I was in Satel’s arms about halfway between the bed and the window, and he was facing the bed.
I wasn’t even sure where to focus my attentions on- the fact that Satel was finally awake, or that we were out of bed and he was carrying me in his arms. Even in the backlight of the moon, I could see he was just as stunned as I was, but I wasn’t sure why. Was it because I screamed out? Or was he also clueless as to how we ended up like this?
Suddenly, the lights in the room came on before Cegil burst inside through the door. “I heard a scream. Is everything alright?”
Soon his eyes widened upon seeing us, but his astonishment seemed to be more focused on me rather than Satel. I had on the same face as the men as my eyes wandered from Satel to Cegil, then back again.
What in five hells is going on here!?