53rd Zi'Da 718
As the days wore on, Nzi felt less bothered by the cold that pervaded the north. At first he attributed his newfound resistance to the temperature to time spent acclimating himself to his surroundings. Although he'd been sick with both whooping cough and whatever he'd contracted from that dirty hamper, he didn't feel the chill. After a while, his sickness progressed to a hacking cough, to where he had to bring up phlegm. That was the stage, he realized, the blessing of disease was leaving him. It almost made him sad.
The egg trembled inside him, as his sickness grew weaker with each passing trial. Perhaps that was the source of his newfound resistance. It reverberated throughout his being, perhaps taking the chill onto itself? He couldn't say. All he could tell was that he wasn't even bothered by the cold. Even so, as the cold sank into his bones, he could feel a different sensation. That of his movements becoming slower. He felt as if every arm and limb movement was moving through syrup when the cold got to its most oppressive lows.
Nevertheless, his tasks as a slave would not wait. He went about his laundry duties. Orderlies and nurses brought down hampers full of dirtied linens and clothes, filthy discarded bandages, and other assorted waste associated with the treatment of injury and disease. He entered a sort of trance as he went about these duties.
At times, he experimented with his torpor, to see how deep within the restful state he could go while still performing his tasks. Most of the duties they set him to were mind-numbing and simple. Dip this garment in such a fluid, splash this fluid on that bandage. Move and replace. Stitch the tear in this or that garment, weave a twine to repair another patient's robe. All very boring stuff.
He found it easier to maintain torpor during the most repetitive of tasks. His eyes half-lidded while he went through the motions, counting up from nothing, and resetting whenever a thought came unbidden to his mind.
If he intended to escape his fate as a slave, it would have to begin with evading the detection of the thought police. So he became the keeper of his own thoughts. Partitioning would wait for another day, when he was more advanced in his ability to segregate his thoughts from conscious to subconscious. In the meantime, he swatted those thoughts that occurred to him in the moment, going about his tasks on autopilot for the most part.
His hands worked quickly over the linens, cleaning them with a simple washboard. He focused on the sound as he counted up. Numbering the amount of strokes of wet and soapy linens against the washboard. Swish swash, drip drip and wring dry. He hung it on a line when he was done, and repeated the process. It would be enough to drive most men of more than average intelligence mad with boredom, but for Nzi there was something to be said of simple, peaceful tasks that could be done without much thought.
He looked at the diseased materials as they washed off each garment, lamenting their loss. There would be another day for experimentation. For now he had to keep his low profile, having managed to evade suspicion of his fellow slaves since the last instance where he'd ventured from their quarters of a night.
As he stared at the dying organic matter in the wash water, he was compelled to reach out to it. He stuck his hand in the warmish water, bringing the dirtied materials to his nose and sniffing once more of Lisirra's rotten essence. Ahhh...
The sense of smell was returning to him presently. It was fascinating to Nzi how a cold could so drastically alter the smells and taste of things around him. It wouldn't be too long before it returned entirely, and he got a true sense of what the diseased matter smelled like. Perhaps Lisirra would bless him again before Cylus?
"Snap out of it!"
Said a fellow slave from behind him. "Faster! We've got loads of more laundry items coming in and I don't want to catch you slacking."
Nzi bent forward, shielding his head with his arms in mock cowardice. "Yes yes!"
He managed in heavily accented common. "I clean good!"
He continued his meditative state while exiting his state of torpor. Zero, one, two. He wondered, no that wasn't right. Must clip the thoughts in the bud. Zero, one, two, three, four, another trace of thought, a daydream of a time when he might be free of Viden. A momentary glimpse of the Plaguelands, before he stifled that dream with the oppressive march of numbers up from his thought process.
Within a few breaks the tasks were done, and the slaves were allowed to laze for a few bits of time.
Nzi went over to eat his meager porridge that they granted them for nourishment. To him, it was ambrosia. All it lacked was perhaps some cloying sweet honey. But he found he needed less in the way of food since taking on the blessing of Yithnai. It excited him, enough to break himself out of his meditative trance. But everytime he broke his trance, he reentered it, determined to improve his skill at controlling his own thoughts.
He finished the meal, and then looked to the other slaves gathered there. He let a small smirk cross his face, as an instinct occurred to him. His nose buzzed with the lingering remnants of the cold that was in the process of healing.
The couple of slaves he approached were chatting, "I heard one of the doctors talking about their patient... Said one of them were cured in the night all of a sudden."
The other slave merely shrugged, and then cast a glance toward Nzi as he swiftly approached. Before they could so much as move aside, he sneezed in her face, as forcefully as he could. And it was a real sneeze. As the diseased aspiration exited his nose and mouth, he willed the carried disease within him to take up residence within the slave woman.
Before she could react, he bowed to her, "Pardon."
He said in common, and swiftly made his way out of the eating area before they could throw more than one bowl at his head.