They’d been working for days now, rapidly nearing on a week, to save Nhulynolyn, to keep him from succumbing to his injuries. Nearly a week and there had been moments when the terminology close call was far too real for his comfort. He may not have had that much time to get to know the Other but he had shared enough memories with Rhyshladlyn, however brief they had been, to know who Nhulynolyn was, to understand that the loss of that life would have been a travesty nearly as great as the Worlds’ loss of the Grey Qishir.
“You’re lucky they don’t snap at you for being creepy.”
He looked over his shoulder at Eiod who was striding down the hallway with a tray of food and drinks. His friend looked worse for wear, long black hair frizzed and half curling around his face, barely held back in the braid Thae’a had helped him put it in days ago when he had refused to take a break long enough to wash it let alone his body. “What if they need me and I am not there? No. I will not risk it. I owe Rhyshladlyn too much to let there be any chance that I could have kept Nhulynolyn alive and failed because I had taken time for myself.” It had been a noble act albeit a stupid one in his opinion. But Eiod hadn’t budged on it so eventually the Dreamweaver had offered to braid his hair and left it at that.
“You look like shit, my friend,” he grinned when Eiod gave him a flat stare before rolling his eyes. “And I’m not just standing here watching like some lech,” he added, stepping aside so Eiod could walk into the room and set the tray down on a small table just inside the door. “I have been helpful on the occasion.”
“Yes, you have. For which I have been very grateful,” Alaïs said with a smile as she stepped away from the bed and shook her hands out and stretched her neck until it popped. “Oh is that food?” she asked, catching sight of Eiod. “Please tell me that’s food.”
“You’re the first Dhaoine I’ve known who can stand to actually eat while in sight of such unpleasantness, my Lord Queen,” Eiod replied gold eyes soft as he turned and presented the tray with a flourish that was far more dramatic than it needed to be.
Jerald snorted as Alaïs smirked and shook her head, crossing the room to survey the options. She made a soft happy sound before plucking up a roll and stuffing the entire thing into her mouth in one go. Thayne’s laughter was high and clear, startlingly happy in a room that had seen nothing but tension and worry and fear for the last week. But it was entirely at her Companion’s expense not that Alaïs seemed to care or notice.
“After spending several hundred years with my sire, nothing is too horrific that one cannot eat,” the Sinner said around her mouthful of roll. She picked up another one and shook it at Thayne. “Want one, babe?”
“No, I’m good,” the Eighth Qishir answered without looking up from the long line of stitches she was currently working on that curled around Nhulynolyn’s left hip. “Save me one, though, I’ll definitely have one when I reach a stopping point.”
“Az?” Alaïs asked.
“If there is one with honey on it, yes. Otherwise I, too, will wait,” the Anglëtinean didn’t even break stride as he hovered one glowing hand over a severe bone break. As the muscle and bone and ligaments reknitted and reformed, Azriel closed the skin with needle and thread with his other hand so that the wound could finish healing properly. He made it look seamless and easy though all of them in the room knew that it wasn’t.
“That is most impressive,” Jerald said before he could stop himself. Everyone but Azriel glanced at him, even the Healer who had been working on patching up the lung that was still far too visible and far too flat. “I mean…” he fought not to blush, “that Azriel can Heal with one hand and stitch with the other, almost in tandem.”
The Anglëtinean smirked but didn’t look up from his task until he was done.
“I’ve had far too much practice, Jerald,” he said. “Unfortunately.”
“No, definitely fortunately, at least in this instance,” Alaïs said as she pushed another roll into her mouth and tossed one that shimmered with cinnamon honey through the air at Azriel who caught it easily. At the Anglëtinean’s raised eyebrow she swallowed quickly and elaborated, “Half the reason we’ve kept him alive is because you have the practice at Healing and stitching wounds as you go. Otherwise we’d have never been able to keep him alive this long.”
“She has a point,” Thayne shrugged when Azriel turned narrowed eyes to her. “It’s the truth. I know you have this weird thing about being complimented, Uncle, but just accept it this time instead of arguing.”
Azriel rolled his eyes and ate his roll without further comment. Eiod handed Thayne and the Healer mugs with water and a couple sandwiches with meats and cheeses while Alaïs and Azriel munched on rolls. He waved Eiod off when his friend offered the tray to him with a soft, “I ate at daybreak.”
For several minutes they all ate and drank in silence, taking a much needed break from the seemingly endless work to keep Nhulynolyn alive though Jerald doubted that he was even remotely near the brink of death at this point, not anymore at least. Sure the Other still had several open wounds, still had a partially collapsed lung, several broken bones, and at least two joints that still needed to be reset several more times before they were certain that everything would heal correctly. But for all that, the Otherborn was as stable as they could get him.
They had gotten very lucky that Rhyshladlyn had been able to somehow override the power of the collar and get a host of Otherborn to the cabin to help them. Lucky that the worst injuries had been sustained by Nhulynolyn who had pushed Azriel out of the way of two beasts that had tried to flank him, taking the blows that would have crippled the Anglëtinean at best, killed him at worst. As it was, the attack had only been partially thwarted for Azriel had ended up with two severely broken legs that had healed out of joint and with clean breaks in several areas because the Anglëtinean had crawled through a raging battle for their lives to get to Nhulynolyn. Had foregone Healing himself knowing that in doing so he risked never regaining use of his legs. Resetting those had been a nightmare if only because Azriel had refused to allow them to touch him, had demanded, ordered, that they help Nhulynolyn first. Not that it really mattered in the end; they’d had more than enough people to do both and that was the only thing that had silenced Azriel long enough to get him helped and healed up.
But even then, that hadn’t been the end of it. Not really.
Azriel rose shakily to his feet, one hand gripping the cane he’d have to use for the next couple of days yet until his legs were strong enough to support his full weight and made for the door. Jerald stepped out of the way with a nod. He didn’t offer to help him, didn’t offer to do anything, just moved. He knew what it was like to be injured in such a manner and still have duties that needed attending to. Knew that there were some things one needed to do on their own. Knew even moreso the fear that this time the damage would be permanent.
For even though Dhaoine could survive anything short of a heart or brain wound, and for some like his kind a wound to the Self, there was a time limit before the damage became permanent.
“I’m going to go check on Bayls,” Azriel called over his shoulder though he didn’t need to. He had only left Nhulynolyn’s bedside to check on the Other’s mate, use the bathroom, and clean himself. Other than that, he had lived at Nhulynolyn’s bedside, even napped in a chair in the room so that at least one of them were always there. Much like Eiod, Azriel had refused to take chances. The only reason he’d even begun leaving to relieve himself and shower was because had yelled at him that if he was going to be “up my ass like a blind midwife Healer who can’t find the right hole, you better sure as shit be taking care of yourself, too.”
“I’ll accompany you,” Eiod said, gathering up the tray and the now empty plates and glasses before slipping through the door behind Azriel. “I promised to help Tee clean the kitchen anyway so she can work on doing the laundry.”
He watched the two of them walk down the hallway, talking in low tones not that it mattered for nearly everyone in both Courts had hearing good enough to know what they were saying within a hundred feet.
“Any word from or about Relyt yet?” Azriel asked.
Eiod shook his head, “Not that I’ve heard though there was some noise about the Grand Palace going on full lockdown and Sheieh being seen hauling ass out the front doors.”
“Not yet. But I’m working on it.”
“Hey, Jerry,” Alaïs called, “I could use your steady hands in here, please.”
“Coming,” he answered with one last long look at Azriel and Eiod’s retreating backs, wishing he could follow them and hear the rest of that conversation.
But he didn’t argue with Alaïs, didn’t think too much on how he wanted to know more about what the Grey Companion and his friend were talking about. Because death may not be waiting on the next breath but they weren’t safe from it either. Not by a long shot.