The long night should have come to an end when dawn arrived. Diffused sunlight should have flooded Westguard and warmed the evacuated city.
Should have, yet it did not.
Instead, the sun hid behind thick layers of what appeared to be clouds if a person didn’t look too closely at them or think too much about them. Reminiscent of a mid-Cylus trial, an ethereal blue dimness barely revealed the city walls and narrow alleys. It was, however, more illumination than had been offered in the pitch-black night. For that, Llyr felt grateful.
He hadn’t slept. Not a single wink, even after the bath he’d shared with Mister Kiwi. Even if he had tried to settle himself, it would have reminded him of the dreamless disconnect from Emea. It wasn’t only avoidance of this fact that kept the silvery biqaj from lying down, but during one of the dark hours, Hazel coughed… and coughed… and she couldn’t stop.
His daughter, adopted nearly Ymiden’s entire worth of trials ago, had fallen ill with something
. The island girl already struggled with the inland air and differences in atmosphere. He’d tried to keep her away from others, separated from potential carriers, but… Lisirra’s plagues spread through air, through water, through every which way it seemed, and to try and avoid it all seemed an impossible task. It had been fate and luck that had kept the group healthy so far… and it seemed his luck had run out. Perhaps he’d spent it, he considered, on something of an unworthy nature.
So Llyr separated Hazel from the other children. He set her in a room on her own, though he remained with her, and cared for her through the coughs and then the retching and then the feverish chills. By the time morning came, she had thankfully fallen into a light slumber with brief chokes of phlegm in her lungs.
It was likely he would contract whatever it was. He hoped the other children would not, however… and hope was all he could do.
Llyr left the room, to search for Kiwi as the man was the only other adult who could potentially help with matters. If the dreamwalker had not arrived like he did, a couple trials before… he wasn’t certain what he might’ve done. He needed
Kiwi and so he searched for the porcelain doll-like man with panic in his step, in a rush to locate him. The house felt larger than it did before, more empty with every room he glanced inside - only to find it lonely and quiet and dark like the others except the couple which harbored the children inside. The thought crossed his mind that, perhaps, the man had left him.
This before he heard the sound of one-sided arguing outside.
He didn’t understand the language as he listened through the door, but the louder, clearly female voice was very much upset - perhaps angry? - at the calm and quiet one that undoubtedly belonged to Kiwi. Impossible to determine what Kiwi was saying and only able to interpret the blatant emotion in the woman’s, he glanced to see if there were a window nearby.
The first floor wasn’t incredibly spacious nor grand in design, but windows seemed to be a commodity the family had been able to afford. Llyr carefully approached the window, and ran his fingers along the frame to find a latch so he might open it and listen closer. No such latch existed, so he peeked past a curtain in hope to not be seen.
Kiwi, as always, stood rigid and correct, his arms folded and back mostly to Llyr, not that he needed to see the other’s man’s face to know exactly the sort of expressions he was making - or the lack thereof. The woman was older, hair wrapped up tightly into a dark but greying bun, dress rumpled and eyes reddened and wide. Before he could hear much else, he felt something soft and furry bump against his ankle; the sudden sensation startled him forward, hands hitting the glass of the window with a loud thump
as he frantically glanced towards the floor, only to find that it had been the hem of the drape.
The sound had been loud enough to draw the attention of both parties who turned to stare at him, the woman seemingly even angrier than before with widened eyes and a rising flush in her cheeks. She shouted something that Llyr was almost positive was a swear - or a curse - and swung her hand at Kiwi. He stepped to the side, avoiding the slap and replying in what was no doubt a calm and infuriatingly rational way. The woman seemed to pause for a moment before her lips moved but voice was too low to even pick out the emotion behind.
She glanced one last time at Llyr, her clear brown eyes swimming with anger, pain, fear… and something he was almost certain was sadness. Without saying anything more, she pulled her worn scarf up and around her face, wrapped it around her head, and hurried away. Kiwi remained outside for a bit, watching her leave in a manner not dissimilar to how a hound might make certain an intruder was truly and genuinely gone. When he seemed satisfied, he turned, not bothering to glance in Llyr’s direction, and stepped back into the house.
“Mister Kiwi,” greeted Llyr as soon as the other man had shut the door behind him.
“Mister Magpie,” he returned, pausing to offer a polite nod of acknowledgement.
“Was that someone you knew?” asked the biqaj.
Kiwi blinked once. “She is now,” he answered. He had a tiresome habit of answering generic questions with generic answers, something Llyr endured regardless.
Llyr waited for a few trills, and when no further explanation followed as Kiwi opened up the chest that contained the remainder of the family’s clothes they’d left behind, he asked, “And… what did she want?”
He drew out a pale colored scarf, one that had seen better days but not yet ragged from use nor nibbled at by moths. “She demanded you vacate this place,” he replied simply, unbothered by the implications.
“What?” replied Llyr without pause. “Why didn’t you come get me?”
Kiwi turned, brow furrowed. “Should I have done so?”
“Yes,” answered Llyr in a raised voice. He looked over toward the window, the irises of his eyes turning periwinkle in hue.
“My apologies,” Kiwi offered. Llyr was never certain whether he meant it when he said things like that or not, but it was marginally better than him arguing. Maybe. “In the future, I will fetch you regarding such matters, should they arise again.” He neatly set the scarf over his shoulders, grey-green eyes scanning the room as he spoke.
“And what did you tell her?” he asked, his voice quieting again as he seemed to calm. He looked over, and momentarily admired the scarf on the other mage.
“Many things she chose to ignore,” Kiwi replied, eyes narrowing in thought as he stared at the kitchen cupboards. “But at the mention of your… children,” he continued, gliding across the floor then setting out opening drawers and doors and rummaging about within them. He turned, stare locking with Llyr’s for a moment. “She left without further argument.” He returned his attention to a particular drawer, calmly drawing out a wide-bladed cleaver, inspecting it, then exchanging it for a smaller, shorter knife that he slid into his back pocket.
Llyr returned to the window, glancing outside, then returning his gaze to look at Kiwi. What exactly had
the man said… he worried slightly about it. If the woman had a proper claim to the house, there were plenty of others to take. They didn’t need to remain in this particular one. Yet, he didn’t share this or chide the other man. It was easier to stay where they were, for the time being. So, instead, he said, “Well… thank you, Kiwi, for handling it.”
“Of course,” he nodded, scarf now warped around his mouth, obscuring his words. He paced back to the door and pulled it open once more.
“Uh… Kiwi, where are you going?” asked Llyr, following after him and going next to the door.
“To inspect the city,” he replied.
Llyr remembered why he’d been searching for Kiwi in the first place before he’d gotten distracted by the woman outside. He ran a hand over his hair, nudging his bangs aside, then he nodded. “I’ll go with you. I need to find herbs for Hazel, if I can. It looked like whoever had this house before had taken all their tinctures and likewise with them when they left.”
Which made sense. Tinctures and herbs were likely one of the most beneficial things to pack when evacuating from an immortal who flung plague around.
He paused, considering.“Very well.” With a nod towards Llyr’s casual state of dress, he added, “When you are ready.”