‘But Korik doesn’t whimper or cry out. He just lays there sprawled and prone on the floor among the shards of broken glass and that somehow is infinitely worse.’
— Halden, “Broken” They Come at Night
Korik stands beneath the two stars carved into the doorframe as starkly pale as a star himself in the darkened Hall, and for a moment none of us moves. And then Mother Dagrún breaks the silence.
“Hendrika, go pump a bath and light the fire.”
“Me? Why me? Why can’t Halden do it?” she protests.
“Hendrika, please,” Mother pleads.
“Fine,” my younger broodmate huffs, turning on her heel as she stomps off down the hall to the bath.
Mother looks scared. I’ve seen her look worried before, but never scared.
“Mother?” I question as my heart starts to beat a panicked rhythm.
“Halden, if I can’t get him to come willingly you’ll have to carry him. I don’t know what’s happened, but if we don’t get him warmed there’s every chance he’ll perish of hypothermia.”
She looks over at me and her teal eyes are so wide and bright.
I just nod.
Mother makes her way slowly toward him. “Kori, bright star, where have you been? We’ve all been worried.”
He doesn’t answer her. Doesn’t even seem to notice she’s spoken. He just continues to stare straight ahead at something in the distance, barely even breathing.
Mother tries again, this time in Grand Dragotic. «Kori, bright star, where are your clothes?»
She reaches out, gently touching the back of his hand with the tips of her fingers.
He blinks, his storm violet eyes raising to meet hers. But they’re not his eyes. There’s something dead about them. Glassed over and cold like those of a stuffed trophy.
«Your clothes?» she questions again.
Korik still says nothing. He just blinks once before his eyes drift slowly downward as if he just now realized he was missing them.
And it’s then that I notice he isn’t even shivering. He’s stark naked and sopping wet and has been out in this winter storm for feck knows how long and it’s like he’s numb to it all. His lips have damn near turned purple and he doesn’t seem to give a damn.
Mother reaches out to cup his cheek. «Bright star, did someone do this to you?»
Korik flinches violently away from her touch, putting himself out of her reach.
«Kori, I swear I’m not going to hurt you. Please, come back,» she calls out to him.
But he only continues to shake his head slowly from side to side as he backs toward the open doorway.
«Kori, please, come back! No one here will hurt you.»
And that’s when his foot slips on the pool of rainwater he’s tracked in. Kor tumbles backward, instinctively throwing out his arm to catch himself. But it’s a mistake. A horrible one—and his hand goes straight through the pane of glass beside the main doors.
But Korik doesn’t whimper or cry out. He just lays there sprawled and prone on the floor among the shards of broken glass and that somehow is infinitely worse.
“Halden! Help me! The door!” Mother shouts, ripping me from my thoughts.
But Kor doesn’t try to evade us again. Doesn’t try to escape. Doesn’t protest the two of us hauling him off to the bath. It seems, whatever fight he had left shattered along with that window.
Note: dialogue in Guillemets— sideways double chevrons « and » —are in a language other than Dragotic the common Dragokin tongue.
What the hells did Gunther and his horde do to Korik? And is Kor going to be alright?
Find out in the next episode of They Come at Night!