"Gods," said the sailor. Seveth couldn't see what kind of face the man was making, since he was currently a little preoccupied with the act of heaving up a lung, but he could more or less imagine it.
"Thank you," he said breathlessly, between one convulsive fit of retching and the next. "Alas, I find it--- hrugh--- doesn't do me much good now."
"Well, at least you had the sense to do it over the edge of the ship," said the sailor. "I'll get a cloth and some water. You wait here."
"Aye-aye," said Seveth weakly. As if he could go anywhere in the state he was in. When he was done--- or rather, when the fit of puking was done with him--- he collapsed onto the deck, panting for breath. The sailor was nowhere in sight, but maybe it had only been a few minutes, though it felt like it had been longer to him.
For a moment, Seveth struggled to place the voice. For a moment he thought it might have been Ichaival. It was ridiculous, of course; as soon as he caught himself, he wondered that he could even think such a thing. Ichaival's words had never been spoken aloud.
It was only the tone that was familiar.
"Ahhh," said Seveth. "My dear old friend. Abandoned me in my time of need, only to return to have your fun while I'm down, hmm?"
"It really is incredible to see you like this," said the cat. "If I didn't know better, I might have said your acting skills had improved beyond all expectation."
"Mmm." Seveth was pretty sure that wasn't a compliment, but the ability to make a clever comeback was fast slipping away from him. His whole body felt heavy, weighed down even more by the exertion of throwing up.
A bare floor wasn't usually his idea of comfortable, but it was unfathomably difficult to get up right this minute. "I think," he said, "I'll just take... a little nap... right here."
The last thing he remembered was seeing the cat standing over him, green eyes peering into his own.
"You're awake," said Roku.
He didn't answer, sitting up silently and taking stock of his surroundings. They were what he remembered: a small cabin on a ship, a cot, a tiny table and an even smaller wash basin. As far as he knew, nothing had been moved, though there wasn't much to move to begin with.
Easing his aching body out of bed, he made his way to it, pouring water out of a pitcher and washing his face. The cold woke him up a little, and he took a mouthful to rinse the taste out of his mouth before spitting into the chamber pot.
Out of the tiny mirror hanging on the wall, he could see the cat still watching him. Wordlessly, he arched a brow.
The cat's tail twitched. "How much of yesterday do you remember?" said Roku, in a strangely guarded tone.
"What is there to remember?" he said. "I woke. You said I should eat. I didn't feel like eating. Then you told me to rest and so I went back to sleep." He didn't know whether his waking moments were even fit to be called 'days' anymore, though the cat must have been living the full measure of them. As far as he could tell, the only one who had been struck with this strange weakness was himself.
"I see," said Roku. Something in the cat's tone gave him pause, and he stilled, waiting. After a moment, the cat raised his head once more. "Well, in that case, I'm afraid I have some bad news for you."
Here the cat paused, as though trying to find the right words. A paw came up to fuss at his collar, and when he next spoke, the words were in Xin. "When I last spoke with you, you were... not yourself. I'm afraid the node you swallowed may have been carrying a hitchhiker of sorts."
San turned, staring at Roku. After a moment, his eyes narrowed. "You mean," he said, "possession."
"Yes, I'm afraid so." The cat's gaze was steady. Roku teased sometimes, or spoke in the sly and indirect way of felines, but there was no hint of that in his manner now.
Cold dread coalesced in the pit of San's gut. Possession. The idea loomed before him, a bogeyman from childhood, the constant warnings of the dangers of magic and nodes. 'The souls of the damned permeate these items of power, and too close an association might make one susceptible to their whispers.'
But the nodes of the Watchful Ones were supposedly safe; and their training, their loyalty, the strength and sanctity of their souls purified by the rigors of their training, all that was meant to hold them against the dangers of being consumed.
It hadn't been enough after all.
The cat had asked after his recollections. The dread seized him anew as he thought back to all the gaps in his memories, minutes and hours that he had been losing for months now. "What," he said, but the word caught in his throat. "What did I do?"
The cat's tail twitched. "You may rest easy," he said. "You did little more than act a fool. I monitored you, but for the moment I believe there is no cause for extreme alarm. The... occupant introduced himself as 'Seveth'. Based on his words, he is--- or was--- a foreigner. His accent was not one I recognized, and he spoke of Xinzhou as a distant nation, barely known to him."
He could be lying, San thought, but didn't say. Roku ought to know that just as well as he did, and if the cat seemed convinced, that was something, at least.
Licking a paw, Roku went on. "I am no great expert on such cases, but I think the fact that you have regained control is promising. This Seveth hasn't wholly overridden your consciousness."
San said nothing. There was something unreal about the news. He recognized the signs of shock from experience, and knew that there would be little sense on trying to sort out his thoughts until the idea had a chance to sink in.
For now, he turned his thoughts to more practical considerations.
"Tell Rei to be careful," he said. There was no need to ask the cat to monitor him; Roku knew what had to be done to ensure their interests. As for what they would do when they reached their destination... There was little they could do to plan for that without knowing where they were going first.
And if all else failed and they had to cut their losses... Roku had been with the Watchful Ones longer than San himself. It was a cold comfort, but San had known little enough else, these past dozen years.
The cat flicked one of his ears. "I'll keep you updated on the situation. For now, you should preserve your strength." By which he meant that San should eat and rest, preferably in that order.
San sighed, and reached for the door. He knew Roku had the right of it, but eating felt like a futile effort at this point, when he was certain that he was only going to throw it back up again.
He greeted the woman in the galley with a wordless nod, and she handed him a bowl of thin gruel with a huff. It tasted like ash on his tongue, but he ate it spoonful by steady spoonful.
By some miracle, it stayed down, and for a moment he stood on deck, his hands on the railing, watching the clouds roll by over the endless expanse of waves. He thought, without meaning to, about the sensation of being himself in his own body: the steady awareness of each sensation, each ache; the buzz of consciousness within.
He thought of Robin, of Pan, of his sister. Elementals all of them, their nodes resting in their chest, in true center, a little right of the heart. The place he knew to gut a corpse to retrieve them when he brought down a rogue mage for the state.
How certain had they been that they were still themselves? They had known the risk, all of them, just as surely as he had.
His thoughts drifted, most of them unpleasant, but eventually, weariness overtook him. Eventually, San went back into the hold, to his cot, to let oblivion take him where it would.
Jack: Thanks for the notice!
May 28, 2020 10:05:26 GMT -6
Darky: Heads up: there's a chance you might notice Trepuldra images having loading issues on June 3rd, for about 3h. No need to panic, Veebimajutus just notified there's going to be some scheduled maintenance, is all x3
May 28, 2020 10:05:06 GMT -6
Fiera Ferella: right??? i was really hoping i could find one of those pachee before the season was out.
May 26, 2020 18:51:32 GMT -6
Fanged: Oh wow that's an awesome garden find FF
May 26, 2020 18:13:26 GMT -6
Riku: Oh how perfect! I woke up wanting to post (unexpected, but yay) and saw I had a reply. <3 Meant to be.
May 26, 2020 6:40:43 GMT -6
Twilight-Claw: I really, really love all the updates that have come~! <3
May 24, 2020 2:12:37 GMT -6
Fiera Ferella: np!!! I hope y'all like it!
May 23, 2020 13:45:06 GMT -6
Riku: What an awesome update, staff! Thanks for that! <3
May 23, 2020 12:06:52 GMT -6
Jack: All have been found!
May 23, 2020 9:53:27 GMT -6
Jack: Might want to be on the lookout for anything... odd
May 22, 2020 23:51:22 GMT -6
Fiera Ferella: Yeah it’s definitely a coincidence but wow did it work out well for us! XD
May 22, 2020 6:43:27 GMT -6
Silver: I'm pretty sure that was just a coincidence, but it sure feels lucky!
May 22, 2020 2:07:09 GMT -6
Riku: So did you guys make this hosting switch perfectly RIGHT before pb broke? >.< Thaz crazy. It’s a huge relief and I’m very glad we’ve come to this. <3
May 22, 2020 1:41:01 GMT -6
Fiera Ferella: It’s free up to a certain number of GB, which we haven’t hit yet.
May 21, 2020 6:46:33 GMT -6
Twilight-Claw: Is the site that is going to be used to host all those images also the type you'd need to pay for? (definitely noticed the broken images yeah. Photobucket feels like it is standing on its last legs. X3 )
May 21, 2020 0:13:57 GMT -6
Morgan: I'm just kinda nervous about them going down before things get moved over completely. It's prolly nothing to be worried about though. :3
May 20, 2020 22:13:15 GMT -6
Fiera Ferella: Thank goodness we're moving out of there? XD
May 20, 2020 21:59:22 GMT -6
Renathan: Ugh, photobucket has the images broke again. x3
May 20, 2020 21:18:53 GMT -6