Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Day Seven-Twenty-Three: Problems on Problems

When it rains it pours. Misfortune always brings a bedmate. Woe likes to breed. When shit stinks, it stinks.

Today was not a good day. It wasn't as bad as yesterday, but it was bad enough.

I've made some tacit reference to this throughout the journey, but Grylock... Grylock's condition is steadily worsening. When we set out from Pubton he was a healthy, albeit cranky and bent, old man; now... now he's doing rather shitty. And it's not from any visible wound I can see.

When we were first captured in Rodentia, he acquired a bit of a cough. I figured the cough was part of some small sickness he picked up in the dungeons, but it lingered. Soon he was hacking up phlegm, and in the last four weeks or so there's been more or more blood mixed into the phlegm. He runs out of steam much faster than he used to, which makes me wish we'd brought his stupid boar mount, and today... today we took turns carrying him on our shoulders.

He puked in my hair. I'm pretty sure he saved it just for me. An insult, yes, but even more worrying, as the puke was speckled with blood as well. I won't even comment on the pained noises he made when he wandered off to use the toilet.

Suffice it to say that we didn't get very far today. Even though he wasn't expending much energy, Grylock demanded an extended break. Told us to keep searching for Plato and the rat, true, but... we didn't wanna leave him alone. Nor did the prospect of splitting up in this place appeal to a single one of us.

"He smells funny," Celine commented to me in a quiet moment. She didn't need to tell me who she meant. "Like dad's toilet after a bad meal. I do not relish such smells, Mud. Is he dy- "

"SHH!" I slapped my hand over her mouth, peering back over my shoulder. We were in a ramshackle apartment on the first floor of a large, squat building, and I'd left Grylock on a soft heap of sand in the opposite room. His ear twitched once, but he gave no other indication that he was awake.

Celine pushed my hand away and lowered her voice to a whisper. "I don't think it matters, Mud. The goblin is not a fool. Surely he knows that he is dying."

"Yes, well..." Sighing, I sat quietly on the floor. Somewhere above us, Logan and Jeffrey spoke to one another in low tones. I couldn't make out what they were saying. "No point talkin' 'bout it unless he wants to talk about it. And we don't know he's dying, okay? Probably just... picked up a bug, or... something."

Celine is not an empathetic girl. She doesn't really offer condolences. Truth be told I find her even weirder than Eve, my own daughter, and when you look at the surface person Eve is pretty strange. Takes a lot to outdo her. So when Celine did offer condolences, I was more distressed than relieved.

Celine patted my arm. "There there, Mud. Everyone has to die. He's old. It's his time, that's all. You shouldn't try to lie about such things. To Grylock or yourself. That will only make the inevitable parting more difficult."

I shook my head and said nothing. In time, Celine floated away to do whatever she does when she's alone. Not a clue what that might be. Maybe she thinks of more ways to be weird. I remained seated on the ground, chewing absently on one of the few pieces of jerky to survive the coyote attack in the desert.

Grylock began to cough. I covered my head with my sleeping bag and tried to think of home. But all I could picture was a world of spectral rats, and I wondered if they were passing unseen through my body as I shuddered.


Dragomir the Wanderer

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