He didn’t respond. He sat there, holding his head.
“Are you okay?”
He lifted his head slightly, glanced at me from the corner of his eye, and then put his head back in his hands. I sat there, staring at the building ahead of me, not looking at anything in particular and listening to the assistant work behind me.
“I don’t know”, he finally said. I looked at him and saw that he was now looking forward, his eyes slightly glazed over. “My head hurts”.
“Oh”, I responded, not really sure what to say. I looked back at the assistant in concern. She was busy, so I turned my attention back to Thunder. “Do you need anything?”
He shook his head.
“Can I ask what happened?”, I asked.
He glanced at me for a moment and then nodded. “The girls and I were curious about what Prophet had said and we wanted to know more. When father had asked me to help Prophet settle in for the night, the girls volunteered to help. While we got him ready, Catherine asked Prophet how he knew that those things were going to happen. How was he sure? He looked us over a little bit and finally said ‘Let me show you something’. He walked over to his bag and…”
He stopped, confused.
“Well he. I think he…”
His head fell into his hands and he groaned in frustration.
“It’s okay”, I said, putting my hand on his shoulder. “Just relax”.
“He pulled something out. I can’t remember what it was though”, he blurted out, shaking his head. “Catherine went to take a closer look. Maybe touched it, I don’t know. And next thing I know, I’m being thrown through the door by an explosion. Catherine was thrown through the wall, landing in a heap a few feet from me. I think Seraphina was knocked out, but I don’t remember what happened to her. I don’t…”
He stopped, looking up and glancing at the inn. He looked concerned, or confused maybe. Without warning he jumped to his feet, startling the assistant behind him. She started to yell in protest, which quickly switched to alarm when Thunder stumbled. His legs crumbled beneath him and he keeled forward, eyes completely glazed over. He probably would have face planted into the dirt if I hadn’t thrown myself forward to catch him. The assistant behind me called for help and he was carried away on another stretcher, in the same direction that the rest of the Drakes had gone. Feeling stunned, and a little tired, I headed back to my home.
So, Thunder and his sisters ended up being put in the city hospital?
What happened after that?
Nothing good. Thunder and Catherine ended up being unconscious for a long time. Seraphina also passed out somewhere along the way to the hospital, poor girl, and all three of them were being watched over. Mr. Drake ended up closing the inn, planning to reopen once repairs had been made. It’s a shame though because those doors would never been opened again.
[she grabs a cracker from the table and offers it to the crow, who snatches it up]
The plague hit a few days later.
The plague, huh?
Oh yeah. Hit the city hard, I’ll tell you what. Almost the entire city shut down from the effects of it. People were collapsing in the streets, writhing in pain. The city hospital ended up being filled to the max, so the local priests opened up the chapel as an expansion space. When that got full, the city lord insisted that those who were sick needed to stay in their homes. If possible, a runner should be sent to inform the city doctor.
How many people got the plague then?
Well, not as many as it could have been. People started taking precautions after the initial wave, but I think the numbers still ended up in the hundreds. Don’t quote me on that though because I really don’t know.
Did you get it?
You bet I did. Worst thing I have ever experienced. My head felt like it was going to split down the middle. It hurt to think, cry, even sleep.
What other symptoms did you have?
That’s it. Just the head pain. Severe head pain.
Nothing else? Nothing in the rest of your body?
Well I was bedridden and weak for a while, but that’s it. And if you are thinking that my symptoms were different from other people’s symptoms, you would be correct. It hit my father and he ended up having massive chest pain. It hit my sister too and her body ended up being… well, swollen. Really swollen.
Were they okay?
[a long pause. She shuffles in her seat, eyes on the ground. The tabby cat senses the changes of mood and jumps onto Raven’s lap. She starts to pet it]
No. Both of them passed away at the peak of the sickness. My father had a heart attack, I think. My sister suffocated. And just like that, it was only me.
You survived, obviously.
Yeah, I did. By the time I got up from my bed my sister and father had been taken away. My mother had passed away when I was young, so I was all alone.
What did you do?
I isolated myself from the outside world. For a little while, I just sat on my bed and cried. Eventually that ran dry, so I got myself up and made some food. I slowly gulped down the soup before finally deciding that I wanted to clean the house. Doing these tasks helped me keep my mind off of the real world, keeping my hands busy and my mind clear. I believe I was in the process of sweeping the living room floor when I heard the strangest thing.
There were tiny voices, whispering back and forth at each other. I froze mid-sweep, listening intently. The voices stopped. I listened for a second before deciding that it was probably nothing. As I started my sweeping again, I heard them again. I froze again, and the voices quickly followed.
“Who’s there?”, I whispered, frozen in place. My eyes swept the little room and I analyzed any possible hiding place for intruders. When nothing happened I repeated the question, a little louder this time. It was then that out of the corner of my eye, I saw movement. My head whipped in that direction, broom raised in a defensive position, and I found myself looking at a mouse.