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Dust and Light VIII – FINAL

A sensation of weightlessness enveloped me, as if I were drifting between the inky blackness of unconsciousness and the faintest glimmer of awareness. The soothing scent of lavender, like a long-forgotten memory from a peaceful dream, gently tickled my nose. Beneath me, the bed was more than just plush; it was like sinking into a fluffy cloud, a contrast to the cold, hard stone floor that still haunted my thoughts. Despite the comforting surroundings, sharp pains still gnawed at my weary body.

I struggled to open my eyes, the effort feeling monumental. Colors and shapes swirled before me, but I could hear voices in the distance. One voice stood out – Rohan’s urgent tone.

His words were dripping with desperation. “I’m losing her.”

Strong yet gentle hands lifted my head, causing a sharp groan of pain to escape my lips. I was too weak to open my eyes fully, but familiar enough with Rohan’s touch to recognize it even in my weakened state.

The glass cup touched my parted lips, cool and smooth against my skin. But before I could even take a sip, a sharp and pungent smell hit me like a punch to the senses. It was a terrible combination of burnt herbs and something sour, causing my stomach to churn and making me recoil in disgust. It overwhelmed the faint scent of lavender, that had been a fragile comfort. I shook my head weakly, the world tilting slightly as I did so. There was no way I could swallow whatever repulsive mixture was in that glass

“Why isn’t she healing?” A concerned feminine voice asked.

“She’s too pale…” Another male voice observed, his words registering somewhere in the recesses of my consciousness.

“The blade…” Rohan’s frustration seeped into his tone. “It was poisoned.”

“Rohan…Maybe it’s too late,” the feminine voice said, tinged with sorrow. “She’s lost too much blood, she’s too weak…she won’t even be able to swallow the liquid.”

“Besides, it might worsen her condition,” another male voice chimed in. “We’ve never witnessed anyone using this potion. It was basically a legend. Maybe it doesn’t even work.”

“We have to try,” Rohan insisted, his voice trembling. “She’s dying…I can’t…” His voice trailed off, choked with emotion.

Once again, the glass brushed against my lips. Ugh! No. I turned my head away.

“Aerin, please,” Rohan’s voice pleaded. “You have to drink.”

“No…” I murmured weakly.

“Come on, princess…” he begged, his voice heavy with anguish. “Drink.”

His words echoed in my mind, each one filled with his desperation. Even though every part of me screamed in protest, I couldn’t ignore the urgency in his tone.

With great reluctance, I opened my mouth a little. Rohan’s hand, trembling slightly, tilted the cup to my lips. I took a small sip, feeling the bitterness hit me like a punch in the gut.

“There, there,” he soothed, his voice rough with worry. “Just a bit more, love. You have to be strong.”

It made me gag, but Rohan’s worried gaze spurred me on, and I swallowed every drop, the bitter aftertaste clinging to my tongue.

“That’s it. Good girl,” he murmured anxiously, his hand tightening around mine.

“Who is she?” One of the male voices asked.

“It doesn’t matter! Just help me- ” Rohan’s words were interrupted by my piercing screams.

My body convulsed and contorted in an unending cycle of torment as I fought to stay conscious, but it felt like I was being torn apart from the inside out.

I felt Rohan’s hand grasp my shoulder, holding me in place, while another pair of male hands joined his, offering support.

“We need to hold her down! The convulsions are getting worse!”  said one of the other males.

“What’s happening to her?” The female voice trembled with fear.

“I don’t know!” Rohan’s voice cracked with desperation, bordering on hysteria.

A scream ripped from my lips, so sharp and so full of torment that it felt like it could shatter glass. It tore from me in a single, agonizing burst, leaving my throat raw and my chest burning. Another scream echoing through the room like a banshee’s wail. A sound so raw and primal it tore a gasp from Rohan’s throat. My body convulsed with the agony, muscles clenching and releasing in a desperate attempt to fight the pain.

“Oh gods, she’s in so much pain! Can’t we do something?” I heard the female say in panic.

“She’s dying! ” the other male stated, his voice tinged with urgency and concern.

A strangled sob escaped my throat as another spasm ripped through me. Tears welled in my eyes, blurring the panicked face of Rohan hovering above me.

The pain was sharper than any blade, each sensation a torment that left me gasping for breath as the frigid grip of death tightened its hold. It was too much—too intense.  I’m dying. This is it. 

Just as I felt myself teetering on the edge of oblivion, I heard Rohan’s voice, clearer than before, cutting through the haze of pain and darkness. ” Aerin…”

 I want to hold on. But it hurts so much… 

My vision quickly became even more blurred, the faces around me fading into darkness. My body felt like it was being ripped apart, piece by piece, every breath a struggle. The world around me started to slip away, the sounds becoming muffled, the pain a distant throb. Is this what death feels like?

The High Lord’s voice pierced the darkness, raw and desperate. “Aerin, please… Come back. I can’t lose you. I—” His voice broke, something I’d never heard before, the sound filled with an emotion that surprised me. “I love you.”

He loves me?  The realization struck me like a bolt of lightning, a flicker of warmth amidst the cold encroaching death. But it was too late. The strength to respond, to reach out to him, was slipping away.

The revelation was shocking, overwhelming, and filled me with a strange, bittersweet warmth. But the darkness was relentless, pulling me deeper. The world grew silent and dark, the last sensation being a gentle brush of Rohan’s hand against my cheek, a touch filled with love and despair. With one final, shuddering breath, I succumbed to the void.

 I love you too, Rohan,  I thought, hoping somehow he could hear me.  I’m sorry… 


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