There is a long bout of silence. The only sound is that of steady, controlled breathing. Not even Oshu is making noise. When he speaks, his voice is raw and thick.
“That… was number three… Four if you count last night.” An exhausted sigh that borders on defeat. “Thank the Gods, the Loa, the Titans the – the whoever. Whoever is responsible for amazingness that is Jiira… Without her wards – I mean. I assume they’re hers… My brain is… fuzzy right now.” Another long silence.
“Without them I don’t know where I would be… No. No that’s a lie. I know exactly where I’d be. Because this happens every year around this time.”
“I hate this… but it’s the worst she can do. If I can handle this… I can handle anything.” There’s a shift of a body on blankets, the whimper of the worg puppy. A soft sound of water and then long, sustained drinking. He finally comes up for air with a gasp.
“Light I’m glad I was smart enough to bring up some buckets… I’ll move them back down when I can walk again… no one will miss them for a few hours… I don’t know why I’m recording this. Maybe Vyn will find it useful. Maybe… it’ll make it easier to talk to someone about what’s going on if I start with this…”
“I’d better start from the beginning, but I’m not sure I have the energy to. I’ll try. So… The short version is… Four or five years ago, I screwed up. Badly. My family – I don’t want to get into all that right now. It’s taking a lot of effort just to talk. But. I screwed up. I almost got some of my siblings killed, I almost got my father killed. My mother was so enraged, she caught me by the hair – and then by the soul. She… I cut my hair with my athame to get loose but… I had to tear my soul in half to break the rest of her grip. Perks of not completely failing at the fel arts…”
“Anyhow. She kept that shard and I’ve been suffering for it ever since. See, it’s connected to me still, I don’t know the science behind it, but anything she does to it, I feel. Vyn somehow managed to get a piece of the piece back – Fel how many pieces is it in now? Ugh… Anyhow, he likes to heal the shard he has in his free time… It… It feels really good when he does. Like… Like everything is going to be okay.”
“But when she gets it… …It used to be a lot more frequent. A bad day or I didn’t hide well enough from her, she’d burn it. It’s…. It’s awful. It feels like you’re melting from the inside out. Everything is on fire, I swear to the Light sometimes I can feel my skin blister and crack and I feel like if I exhale I’ll breathe dragon flame. Every time I hope this will be the time when I black out. It never is. Every time I wonder if this is the time that will kill me.”
“It also never is.”
“I’m so tired… But like I said… Jiira’s wards… They can’t block all of it… But they make it more bearable. I’m so glad I’m.. I’m glad I live alone. I feel bad enough that Oshu had to be here for it. She won’t leave my side – like, literally. She is wedged against me. It’s making it hard to get to the water…” Another shift, another long, sustained drink.
“Heh… Just once I’d like to exhale steam, I think I’d feel justified being so fucking thirsty then. Anyhow. So it’s been three times today, and one last night. There are only two days in the year that I can rely on like clockwork. The first is the day of my exile. I… calendars aren’t really high priority for me, but I know it’s between the Harvest Feast and Winterveil. I remember because it was the first time I was truly hungry. You never really forget that. It burns into your brain.”
“The second always seems to be around nowish. I made note of the date this time. Nineteenth day of Fifth-Month. I… Have a theory as to why it’s always now. The exile date, that makes sense. It’s the day I failed. And it’s the day I escaped. Of course she’ll celebrate her rage that day. But today… That has to be another day we share together. One that’s important and specific to just us…”
“I have my theory. It sounds stupid to say out loud though. Who doesn’t know the day they’re born? I mean. It was never a big deal growing up. It was mentioned distractedly, if at all. I mean… It’s just a day. And I’m an elf, I’m supposed to get hundreds of these. So… It doesn’t matter. Not really. But… It answers a question. And gives me an idea of when to be wary.”
“Ugh… I wish Vyn would hurry up… I hope he hasn’t forgotten about me since I’ve been here… Out of sight, out of mind.”
“Fuck this day has been depressing. Let’s talk about something good… Val bought me food last night – just out of the blue. It was amazing. Some purple stuff, a big sandwich dripping with cheese and heavy with meat. And smorcs. Some punk tried to take one and I almost shanked him with my fork. Jaxkol doesn’t share food…”
“I don’t know why she did it. Maybe she doesn’t need a reason. Maybe she just wanted to be nice… Maybe one day I’ll stop second-guessing everyone’s intentions… I hope she understands how kind that was…”
“I miss Pryn. I haven’t gotten a crystal from her in a few days. I wonder if that means that that Kyr dude has gotten onto her about recording them or something. Or maybe her patrols are taking her further out and she can’t get back to the fort in time. Or maybe she’s just having such a good time she doesn’t have any spare time for me.”
“I choose to believe it’s one of those. She’s fine. And she’s safe.”
“I’m so tired… I thought I heard Ticker and Izzy a little bit ago, which means both that he’s up and probably downstairs and… that this room isn’t as quiet as I would like. I hope I don’t make too much noise. It’s hard to tell.”
“I’m going to take a nap… And then see if I have the energy to go downstairs and see my bro.”
A shuffle, a click. End transmission