Chapter Sixteen

on January 8, 2010 in Evermist

© 2010, Patrick Hester.  All Rights Reserved

Chapter Sixteen

Eli lay in his bunk, a bandage wound tightly around his head.  Everything was a jumble in his mind.  Narut sat on the edge of the bed with a cup of something foul smelling that the medic had ordered Eli to drink twice a day for the next week.

“Putting it off longer isn’t going to make it taste any better,” Narut laughed.  “In fact, I think it gets stronger the longer it sits.  Like peppers.”

Eli groaned, then took the cup and drained it without a second thought.  He used to watch his little sister pin his little brother in the garden, then make him eat dirt.  He imagined even that tasted better than this.

“What will happen to them?” he wheezed.  It was burning on the way down.  He shuddered.

“Probably execution.  Or just send them to Evermist and let the island take care of them, I don’t know,” Narut sighed.  “If that happens, we will have to watch for them.”  He stood up and stretched.  “You recognized him?” he asked.

Eli nodded, remembering, then saw stars and doubled over.  “I did,” he squeaked when he could catch a breath again.  Headaches, they told him?  He’d never had a headache so bad his stomach turned queasy.  How hard had they hit him?

“Someone paid them,” Narut said.  “Paid them a lot.  To kill you,” he added.  “Any ideas who would want you dead?”

Eli lay back, trying to breathe.  His head hurt, his eyes hurt when he opened them and, for some reason, it even hurt a little to breathe, but there was a warmth spreading through him thanks to the medicine and that made him want to close his eyes and go to sleep.  But he needed to be awake for just a little longer.  His memory was more than a little foggy and that could be due to the combination of too much of that dark beer and the blows to the head.  Still, he was not so far gone that he’d forgotten Fesh’s warnings and there was only one person he could think of who might want him dead so much that they would hire assassins.  He trusted Narut enough to tell him the truth of it.

“My father,” he said after a long silence.  Narut whistled through is teeth.

“A very strange family, my friend.  You actually believe he would try to kill his son?  You think he’d go that far, with Evermist looming on the horizon?”

“I don’t know,” Eli muttered, trying not to shake his head.  He suddenly worried over Millie.  He’d written a letter to be delivered to his mother and left it with her.  In it, he’d asked a lot of questions, some of them very difficult to even think about.  She promised she would not deliver it herself, but what if she had?  What if his father learned of her and decided she was the perfect weapon to use against him?  He burned even thinking about that.

“You can send her a letter, warning her,” Narut said, and Eli realized he’d spoken his thoughts about Millie out loud.  “Adia will carry it for you, I’m sure she will.”

“Thank you,” he said.  “He really doesn’t want me coming back from Evermist.  I told you that.  I’m a disappointment to him.  I wasn’t the child he wanted me to be, the person he wanted me to be.  Everything he wanted for me, I failed or refused.  In the end, I suppose I had one last chance to redeem myself in his eyes, and I failed even that.  It’s the only thing I can think of, the only reason for any of this.  He can’t forgive me for failing him.”

“What was it?  This last thing?” Narut asked.

Eli didn’t answer.  He turned to the wall, sleep whispering to him now, his body relaxing, the pain dulling.  He didn’t want to talk about this anymore, didn’t want to believe what he’d come to believe, but it was the only thing he could think of that made any sort of sense.

Weeks before his conscription, weeks before any of this had started, his father dragged him away from the Tower of Valles, face flushed red, anger raging in his eyes.  He told him that day that he’d failed him for the last time, and that night he’d been strapped til his father’s arm could no longer lift the strip of leather.

All because of something he had absolutely no control over.

The Magistrate alone could choose his Apprentice.

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