Part 3: Play Me Backwards
I sit back down and stare at my plate. I don't have an appetite now...well, that's a lie. I'm still hungry, I just don't feel like eating. The elves are still staring at me occasionally. I can feel their gaze on my skin, little pinpricks of curiosity and wonder and irritation. I ignore them and stare at the bird leg on my plate.
I've never been on a Dreamlily delirium high before. Heard too many scary things about it to really be interested. I excuse myself and wander back towards the room I woke in. Perhaps I can save myself from going mad. The painkiller may still be there.
It's not. It's gone. My heart falls a little. Boil and damn.
There's my cap though, laying on the bed, leaving a bloody smear. I put the cap on. Ick.
What's that sound? I think I hear weeping. It's coming from one of the adjoining rooms. I cautiously head over and peek in. There's a girl. She's one of the elves. She sobs quietly on the bed, dressed in a loose robe. I come close, then immediately regret it. There is a trail of blood from her lowers, staining the bedsheet crimson.
"Hey, to you need me to get help?" I ask. she whispers something.
She says it again. It sounds like "Please...my baby..."
I start backing away "Um...I'll just go get someone to help."
She looks at me. She has no eyes--they've been gouged out. Blood rolls like tears.
"Please don't let them kill my baby," She whimpers.
I don't know if there's a scream in my body frantic enough to convey my shock and horror. So I let them all out, just to be safe.
It doesn't take long for someone to come running to find out what's going on. By then I've gone cowering in a corner. She asks what's wrong. I try to tell her about the bleeding, eyeless elf on the bed, but it comes out as gibberish. I point, but the girl's vanished. So, after several dozen deep breaths, I calm down and begin cursing Lord Dythanus. The woman who came at my screams tries to calm me down.
I AM calm. Perfectly fine! Just boiling mad. But that's all just the Dreamlily, right? I look at the elf woman. She seems distracted and sad. And familiar. She was the girl who brought me the painkiller before. If she had no eyes...an unholy chill settles in my spine.
"Hey...you don't happen to have kids, do you?" She looks startled.
"Why do you ask?" she says, quietly.
"Just...making conversation. To calm my nerves. You know."
"Oh.” She's quiet for a while, then she actually meets my eyes. She hesitates. “No.” she says finally.
She doesn't seem to want to talk about it further, so I don't push. I'm not sure I really want to know. The hallucination said...No. The dreamlily is kicking in. And maybe the Shadows are hijacking my drug trip to show me nightmares.
Tonight is going to suck.
I think about trying to escape, but Lord Dythanus is right. I really DON'T want to be out in the streets tonight, not like this. I won't know what dangers are real, which are fabricated by The Shadows, and which are just in my head. I remember Eric said that the last exile was found dead after scrawling strange runes on a wall in his blood. Someone high on dreamlily would do that. That means Lord Dythanus has done this before, to other Exiles. I wonder what he wants with me that would have him go to all this trouble.
Another servant enters. I suddenly realize the elf nurse left, and I never noticed. "Lord Dythanus requests your presence in the grand hall, sir." he says. Great. I follow the servant back to the hall of glass and porcelain.
Lord Dythanus is standing now, juggling three colorful balls. "Why, hello there, Gaven! A pleasure to see you again. Do you juggle?" He grins and tosses one of the balls at me.
I let it fall. "I'm not playing your games, Dythanus. Let's get this over with. What do you want with me? I'm not in the mood for clowns.”
"Ever to the point.” he sighs. “ Tomorrow, I will have a job for you. But tonight? I want you to relax tonight. Enjoy yourself. We are off to Le Cirque!"
A circus? In Miir?
"And if I decide not to attend?"
"Oh, I'm afraid that's out of the question. Unless you prefer the night air?"