selfcontained short story) and had a few other things in life come up. Chapter 4 is about half way done, but I need to rework that short story first. Anyway, I hope you enjoy this next chapter.
Previous: Chapter 2
Chapter 3 (Anything to help)
My jaw dropped, and I shook my head. I had to be mishearing.
Igu had been my best friend since I could remember. She couldn’t be on the verge of dying.
The expansive living room contracted around me, couches and fireplace vanishing as I found myself short of breath. Sulfur and the stench of death filled my nose. There was a distant scream. This couldn’t be happening. This—
Aiga snapped her long, slender fingers in front of my face and the smell vanished. The scream disappeared. The room returned to normal.
I shook my head, and despite being so close to Aiga and alone for the first time since I became an adult, I slipped past her and rushed down the hall.
The primary care room at the end of the hall was only big enough for a few shelves and four beds. Herbs and power guidebooks crowded both shelves in the back of the room while the beeping machine next to the leftmost bed bound Igu’s arms. His other three friends lay unmoving in their beds, but their chests rose and fell in a steady rhythm. Unlike Igu.
Something caught in my throat, choking me. Swallowing over and over didn’t help, so I approached Igu and dropped to my knees beside her bed. The sharp pain jarred my hips, but it allowed me to gulp down my nerves. “What. What’s going on?”
Barges buzzed in his glass container, which only then did I realize I still held, my knuckles white.
Four other buzzes joined it like a mining group digging a new shaft.
Do you know what’s wrong? I asked Barges through our mental connection.
“Now you want to talk to me?”
“Just answer the question!”
“It’s hard to say,” Aiga said, stepping into the room. “Usually, when someone breaks containment, their soul crystal shatters or they die. At the very least, they are unconscious for a few days like those three.” She gestured to my other friends with a flick of her wrist. “Igu stopped breathing just as you and the other three started screaming and thrashing about.”
“Life bringer,” Barges said, just above a whisper. “Eco saver.”
My brow wrinkled. “What?”
“She just stopped breathing,” Aiga said, answering a question not meant for her.
“I got that, but why?” Not sure if I should tell her I was already speaking with Barges, I decided
“I got that, but why?” Not sure if I should tell her I was already speaking with Barges, I decided to follow up on the questions. “Did she cause all of us pain?”
Aiga framed her mouth with her fingers. “I’m not sure.”
For some reason, it felt like she was lying to him, but that didn’t matter. I reached up, and after dropping the glass case that held Barges, I clutched Igu’s hand between mine. “Is there anything I can do to help her?”
“If you could bring her to a water or earth healer. As a psychic healer, I’ve done all I can.”
“What about Paster? It’s only a day’s ride—”
“We’ve already sent riders there, to Nokiit and to Feerstor in the south. The riders sent to Nokiit should get back tomorrow, and Paster’s healer has a fire soul crystal.”
My stomach twisted into a mining tunnel, winding deeper into my body and making me want to throw up. “So.” I swallowed. “So, there’s nothing I can do but wait?”
“I’m afraid if we wait, Igu won’t make it. I don’t think she will survive much past second sunrise tomorrow.”
I shot to my feet still holding Igu’s hand. My best friend, even though she was a girl, was dying. I couldn’t let this happen. No matter what. Gritting my teeth, I let go of Igu and snatched up Barges’s case then stomped over to Aiga. “There has to be something.”
Aiga’s lips twitched as if she were about to smile. “Convince the mayor to send an expedition into the Gyutrop Forest to the west to find the Fevered Five.”
I gasped. “But. But. The Fevered Five are murderers. Terrorists.”
“Which is why the mayor shot down my request. I wanted to offer them temporary money as well as temporary asylum, which would allow them to come and go as they please and use the main trade routes without fear of having the Regime’s Forces come down on them. I also have some info the Kude would want.”
Was Kude one of the Fevered Five? I didn’t know any of their names, but if Aiga said so, it was probably true.
“Just as long as they saved Igu’s life.” Aiga took a deep breath. “With a psychic scout leading the group, offering the incentives through telepathic messages and scanning for life, they could find the Fevered Five within the day.”
I nodded. “Okay. I’ll do it.” For the second time in the same day, I slipped past Aiga and ran down the hall. Intent on convincing the mayor to let five notorious terrorists into the village.
Next: Chapter 4