A Feverish Lesson

Sigil lay sprawled out on the floor of her small rented room. She had been staring at the ceiling, unmoving, for hours, and had not left the room itself in three days. She had remained undisturbed, ignoring the infrequent knocks at her door. Something in the pit of her stomach was still churning. Her entire body felt disconnected, as though she were cast adrift in some feverish dream state. Nobody had mentioned the possible after effects of drinking the ichor of a blooded monstrosity.

The first time had been easier. Fuelled by the adrenaline of the kill, she had feasted upon the remains of the Awnshelin with reckless abandon, guzzling her fill of the pungent blood. She was rewarded with fire in her veins, a power rising within that made her tingle with anticipation. Revelling in mania and possessed by the desire to feast again, she had set out with her newfound group of companions in search of her next hit.

It was not long before another opportunity presented itself. The party took down a hulking creature deep within the bowels of the world. Several of those present descended upon it as soon as it had hit the ground, tearing into its dying flesh. Laithina, a mad glint shining in her eyes, headed the pack. She ate with a crazed ferocity, and felt the familiar rush of energy that came with the power of the gods. While Laithina basked in the glory of her triumph, Sigil quietly expelled the contents of her stomach. The cavern was spinning, the voices of her companions distant. She tried to stand, but the combination of her trembling limbs and the carpet of entrails at her feet impeded her. Her head was ringing, splitting from within. It was as though someone had chimed a great disharmonic bell. It continued, unceasing, to her present condition on the rough wooden floor of her room.

She couldn’t remember how she had made the return journey to Sabhail. The sound had polarised her into a catatonic state. Any movement she performed felt detached, as though her body no longer belonged to her. Perhaps she had walked back to the town in a trance, it mattered little to her now.

The sun was low in the sky. It cast golden rays through her window and across the floor. Memories of a voice haunted her, a voice she had heard in the back of her mind when she first drank from the Awnshelin. What had it said? The words were slippery, elusive.

‘… perhaps this time…’

She let out a groan, the first sound she had uttered in days. This had happened before, in another time, another world. She turned her head in an attempt to shake off the gnawing thoughts. The room span violently, her stomach sank. Had she learnt nothing? She cursed in frustration, and knew deep in her heart that things would have to change. It was not enough to merely survive in this world, slowly going mad off the nourishment of gods’ blood. No longer the plaything of cosmic forces, no longer would she seek power no matter the cost. Time to change tactics, to play smart instead of fast. She had not survived the chaotic planes to prove herself irrelevant now.

For the first time in days, she felt a sense of clarity. A plan had crystallised in her mind, dispelling the paralytic fever. She needed books, lots of books. Mustering her strength, she pulled herself to her feet and staggered towards the door. The chime of glass marbles rang out in the recesses of her mind.

A Feverish Lesson

Ameshirel: A World Undone BenScerri Vieve