February 15th, 2013 | Published in Dragon Wars
Anthony looked even more exhausted than Sarah had when he opened the door to his room. Andrew had intended to give the man a tongue lashing at the very least but when he saw his grey skin, shaking hands and sunken eyes he found that he couldn’t. Behind him he heard Lyrrekka gasp and she pushed past Andrew to Anthony’s side.
“I thought Collette had dealt with all the microbes?” She took him by the arm and guided him to sit on the bed.
“She did,” he said. “And Sarah healed all the damage. But I’ve got more of the venom in my system than she did. Even knowing the problem I can’t keep on top of it and Sarah needed her strength for herself and Selene.”
“You told her not to worry about you?” Lyrrekka made a tutting sound and thrust the flask of antidote at him. “You’d better hurry and take this.”
He took the flask and shook it. “Has Selene had her dose yet?”
“No, but we’ll have more by morning,” Lyrrekka said. “I sent an imp to Ystelyan after Sal had her dose.”
“Give this to Selene then,” he said. “I’ll survive until morning.”
“I’m not sure about that,â€ Sonia said. â€œI don’t think you realise how quickly your condition is degenerating. I’ve been helping Sal with Selene’s treatment and she’s doing a lot better than you are right now.” She scowled into space. “But why is your condition worsening so quickly? It was all very subtle bef-” She broke off and her eyes widened. “The microbes don’t just produce the venom; they suppress its effects so it works faster without them. But why?”
“We’ll worry about that later,” Lyrrekka said. “Take the bloody antidote, Anthony. We’ll keep Selene stable until we get more.” Anthony shook his head stubbornly and she sighed. “Come on, we’ll go and see her and you can see she’s in a better state than you.”
Selene was sleeping on her side when the small group slipped into her room. She stirred briefly as they entered but didn’t wake. In the light from the hallway, Andrew could see that she did indeed look in a better state than her father and was sleeping peacefully. Sonia bent over her and laid a hand on her forehead.
“She’s doing fine,” she said. “See?” She broadcast an image that Andrew found incomprehensible into their minds.
“What’s that?” he asked.
“Selene’s brain at a very fine level.” Anthony was holding on to the dressing table for support. “There doesn’t seem to be much damage.”
“There isn’t,” Sonia said. “We’ve been patching her up every couple of hours. Karen and I were good enough to keep on top of it once Sarah fixed the worst of it. Now you’ve seen that she’ll be fine, take the damned antidote. She needs you well.”
“I-” He looked conflicted. “It doesn’t feel right getting well at my daughter’s expense.”
“I know,” Sonia said. “I’d feel the same, but it’s not at her expense. You’ll both be fine this way. I’m not sure that you will if you wait.”
He stared at her for a long moment, then looked down at his daughter again before nodding. “Okay.” He took the flask from Lyrrekka again and raised it to his lips but he was shaking so badly it slipped from his hand. Lyrrekka managed to catch it before it spilled everywhere and held it up for him to drink. After he’d taken several swallows, he gave her a weak smile.
“Thanks.” He hesitated. “I guess you were right. I wouldn’t have held out until morning.”
“I know,” Lyrrekka said. “But you’ll be okay now – as soon as the damage is healed, anyway. Sal’s asleep so Sonia will patch you up enough to sleep safely. The rest can be sorted in the morning.”
“Sleep sounds good,” he agreed. He bent over and kissed his daughter’s forehead before turning to go back to his room. As he reached the door he froze. “Wait, has anyone checked if Mel is infected as well? She seemed fine but she’s been nudging me for a while to help me keep control.”
“Of course we have,” Sonia said soothingly. “Melanie is fine. It seems it requires deeper contact than a nudge – my guess is that you’d worked up some wards for Selene because she was having mood swings and were infected while you were putting them in.”
“Yes, I did do that,” he said. “She was behaving really oddly and asked me to after she tried to hit Mel. I thought it was puberty.”
“It was the venom, probably,” Sonia said. “Let’s go back to your room and fix you up so you can get some sleep.”
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