A/N: Sorry for missing Whisper for a couple of weeks again. I have arthritis in my neck (I have for several years) and it has been in flare up recently so I’ve been writing less than I like.
Lydia woke to searing pain in her shoulder blades and the sense that her entire body was twisting and melting around her. She whimpered to herself, then gasped in a lungful of whatever gas was surrounding her. It didn’t seem to be air because it had a metallic taste and stung her nose and mouth. She had the distinct sense she shouldn’t be able to breath it and yet she wasn’t suffocating.
“For now, anyway.” The male voice sounded genuinely concerned, and he obviously knew she was awake so there was no use dissembling.
She opened her eyes and immediately wished that she hadn’t. Everything around her seemed twisted and strange like she was seeing it in a fun house mirror and nothing would hold still. Her stomach twisted and she found her herself heaving.
As she finished throwing up she felt gentle hands on her shoulders and found herself staring into a pair of worried gold eyes. Their owner looked familiar but she couldn’t place him; however, unlike everything else he seemed stable.
“Eyes on me, Lydia-ida,” he said. “It’ll help with the dizziness. This isn’t a good place for human eyes.”
Lydia blinked a couple of times as she tried to focus her watering eyes, then realised who he was. She’d seen him with Xantaria the time they’d followed the false Kayleigh.
“You’re Andarian-mirian, right?” she said.
“Ah, you recognise me,” he said. “I thought you might.” He hesitated. “I don’t know what she’s thinking, bringing you here. Does she expect your family and their allies to let this stand? I just hope they get here in time.”
“Here?” Lydia asked. “In time?”
“Kithra,” he said. “And before your changes become irreversible.”
“Changes? Is that why I hurt?”
“Yes,” he said. “Xantaria has put some of her own essence into you to start the process of accommodating you to Kithra. Your body is already changing. The pain is caused by the fact your natural form is resisting the change. If you’re here more than a day or so you’ll be so far into the change to Kithreia you won’t be able to go back. I don’t think you want that.”
“No,” she said. “Can’t you let me go?”
“I wish I could,” he said. “But she’s got me all tied up. I’ll do what I can to ensure you are rescued but I can’t actively help you escape.” He hesitated. “But you saw the void storm, right?” He pushed a short staff that looked like the wand they’d seen his lab into her hands. “Hide this and give it to Darlryan-mirian when they rescue you. He’ll know what to do with it.” His head jerked up. “Quickly, pretend you’re asleep again. She’s coming.”
Lydia slid the staff into one sleeve then curled up and pretended to be asleep like he’d said, just in time. A door burst open and Lydia sensed a furious presence enter the room. She was sure the ruse would discovered but instead she heard Andarian say something in a soothing tone then usher Xantaria from the room.