(Continues from Finding Ilium)
Shadows slide by my cement pallet. My swollen eyes open a crack to let the light shine through and it blinds me. Trying to focus, I struggle to perceive the shadow bending knee, paying a dying king homage.
“Who are you?” I croak but no sound emerges.
My unseen caretaker bathes my brow.
Crinkling paper, a welcome sound, it means word reaches here from somewhere else. Someone close by is remembered by someone on the outside. Is it a missive of hope? Opening my eye, I see a blurry man-shape folding a tan square of paper. Through the bars he passes it to a shadow stalking past.
“Rest my king and take some water. Soon our straits will improve.”
“Why do you care for me?”
“A life saved is a life owed.
allow loyalty to show
gratitude for a life spared
sleep now and know someone cares.”
More paper crackled but my eyes are closing as sleep rose to meet me. Letters glittered on its black tide, memories of letters read and never sent.
A loud crash startled me awake. Darkness weighs upon me, oppressing my sick body. Is this more fever borne-madness? Screams end in gurgles. Metal clangs. Footsteps approach where I lie too weak and ravaged to rise.
Come Mistress Death, give me one last tumble.
I laugh until a hand lands on my mouth muffling my mirth.
“Shhh, you must be quiet,” my unseen savior whispers in my ear.
I nod my agreement and fall back into my bawdy song. My cracked lips form its words but no sound issues.
Come Mistress Death, lie here, we’re all ending.
Come Mistress Death, take me far from trouble.
Come panacea, I dream of ending.
Hands lift me, slide a board under my back and raise me up. Pivoting, my pall bearers head into the darkness, closing the cell door behind them.
A hand squeezed mine. “Stay but a little longer on this side. A ship waits to bear you to Ilium.”
Yes, I am Ilium’s bane and it bides
listening for Apocalypse’s thrum.
The hunt for Ilium continues.
For A Month of Mini Writing Challenges, days 17-20.