Chapter Nineteen

The light hurt.  A lot.

Hariel opened his eyes.  That hurt worse.  It felt like he had sand in them, and he wiped away the tears that flowed from his protesting eyes.  His hand came back smeared pink.


“You’ve been asleep for quite some time now.  You had to be, to become accustomed to the changes in your body.”

Hariel blinked.

“You’re not seeing properly yet.  You will soon enough.  However, you’ll find your tactile sense will serve you just as well to understand what’s going on.   Mind you’re careful about your wrists…”

Hariel closed his bleeding eyes and ran his hands over his wrists.  There were swellings at the base of each wrist, near the heel of the palm.  He touched one hesitantly.

Out of the corner of his eye, he watched as a three inch long spur unsheathed itself from each hand.  This was new, he didn’t come equipped with that before, he thought.  He felt down his forearms, mindful of the spurs.  They were hard, rough, almost scaly.  They also had to be at least a half-inch bigger than when he had last seen himself.

“Yes, you’re growing new structures.  This is aether poisoning-not death, but rebirth!”

Hariel forced open his eyes.  While things were still blurry and pinkish-tinged, he could see the person standing in front of him was garbed as a Professor.  He was outside, the sun was shining and he was stripped to the waist.  A cursory examination of his chest refealed more toughened tissue over his vitals, and his back had two small protuberances.   They itched.

“More change is coming.  Others weren’t strong enough, but we knew we had chosen correctly with you…”

Hariel had always believed that aether poisoning was a choking death, not this freakishness.  Why had he been so furious before?  Was that the aether too?  Irian was a decent guy, even if he stuck to himself too much.  He couldn’t remember much past being angry with him…

The Professor turned to walk away. 

“Are you just going to leave me like this?”

“What, and risk you envenoming a student?  You know what they’re told.  In fact, we told them you expired in the healer’s chambers.   Irian is gone.  There is no reason for you to stay here.   Go, and make what life for yourself you can.   I’m sure you’ll meet… others like yourself.”

“But this is my home!”


At that, he tossed Hariel a heavy Damascus steel blade, and a wallet of food.   As an afterthought, he pitched a canteen to him, as well.

“Control your emotions, and you may remain like that forever.   Get out of control, and nobody knows where the changes stop.  Mind you don’t stab yourself.”

Hariel was in disbelief.   He was being thrown out of Sanctuary, had developed what appeared to be venomous barbs, and he felt… not himself.  It was very disconcerting.  He was having trouble seeing again.  He closed his eyes.

“You need to rest again.  You’re not used to the changes.  Maybe tonight.  You’re safe here.  In the morning, be gone or I’ll see to it you’re made so.”

Hariel barely heard the last, as he fell into the clutches of unconsciousness.

Published in: on May 1, 2009 at 12:50 pm  Leave a Comment  

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