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[personal profile] brokenworld01
So, um, don't take this as promising anything. It's just that I had some inspiration and some time and finally dragged a few words together. Rough content is rough. I haven't even re-read it properly. But there you go. Getting the words out.

This follows Ch. 7 almost directly.


When Prince Rajesh had collapsed in the mud and lain still and silent as a dead thing while long minutes passed, Yosh finally moved from his hiding place. Kneeling beside his young ward, Yosh cradled the boy's head in his hands.

"My darling Prince," he whispered, but the words that followed were in no language the Prince - nor any but a handful of the Castle's residents - would recognize. Beneath his palm, where it rested on the Prince's forehead, skin that had been clammy grew hot and dry.

Rajesh moaned, long and low, in the hollow space between thunder and lightning.

Rising, Yosh left the Prince in the rain.

~~~

Three days the Prince lay gripped by fever despite the best efforts of all his attendants. (All his attendants save one, that is, for Yosh had taken to his bed shortly before the Prince had been found, claiming the infirmities of age.) For three days, Yaone watched, silent.

On the fourth day, Gyuokomen-Kusho herself swept into the room, appearing more annoyed than concerned. The doctors and chemists alike confessed their attempts and professed their bafflement with his lack of response to their varied treatments. None could speak to the cause. She dismissed them all with a flick of manicured fingers.

Standing beside the bed, she laid her hand on Rajesh's forehead. "What is this nonsense, my son?"

Vines crept out from beneath the collar the Prince always wore; the collar that none - save Gyuokomen-Kusho herself - could remove. Yaone stifled the small sound that tried to escape her at the sight of the green tendrils flickering up Rajesh's chin, toward the woman's fingers.

Moving her hand to the collar, Gyuokomen-Kusho murmured something. She tightened her grip. The vines jerked and writhed. Rajesh's breathing grew labored as the collar tightened. By the time the vines had vanished and Gyuokomen-Kusho finally released him, the collar lay tight against his skin, and he drew shallow gasps of air.

"You," Gyuokomen-kusho said, not looking at her. "You are a chemist."

"Yes," Yaone replied.

"Heal him."

Yaone regarded her incredulously. "I... could kill him."

Gyuokomen-Kusho flicked a glance at her. "You could. And there are any number of things I could do to you in return. I would enjoy them far more than you would enjoy poisoning my son, I am certain."

The woman was right, Yaone knew. She could not bring herself to hate Rajesh, even knowing his lineage, even knowing....

She inclined her head. Gyuokomen-Kusho swept out of the room.

Preparing the medicine was not difficult, with the servants now willing to bring the ingredients and follow her instructions. A poultice for his chest, another for his head, and a drink to cool the insides.

She waited patiently by his bedside for the fever to break, deliberately thinking of nothing to avoid thinking of the vines on his neck.

There had been a youkai, once, with vines wreathing his body.

Prince Kougaiji had told her of the carnage they'd found. Of the words whispered by the mad youkai, once prince of the centipede clan. And of the discarded silver limiters once worn by a man she'd known but briefly.

Rajesh stirred, his head moving slightly before he opened his eyes. For a moment - for one heart-stopping, breath-taking moment - they were clear and green and lucid. There was recognition in their depths. His lips moved as he held her gaze.

"...Yaone?"

"Hakkai-dono?" The name slipped free, though she hadn't meant to, though she knew it was wrong, and impossible.

He smiled at her. The worry lines - too-old for his young face - eased from his brow.

She turned away for a moment, adding more of a certain herb to the cup she had waiting. "Drink this," she murmured, helping him prop himself up enough to do so.

It would make him forget. Make the moment seem a fever dream.

And when he had slipped back into an easier sleep, she made a drink for herself.

She could not bear this knowledge, with no way to act upon it. Better to let it go. Better to forget.

Let it lie as hope in a dream.
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brokenworld01

August 2011

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