Chapter 46: The Illness

It was as though the writing was only visible to the elf. Of course, she knew that none of them would be able to read the Elven tongue (she herself barely could), but it seemed, at that time, that not evenMainecould see the writing on the page. If Aliryia hadn’t been so distracted, she might have noticedMaine’s awkwardness to reveal the book’s message; but, unfortunately, the elf had more pressing matters.

Her head rang and seemed to burn with some metaphysical fire. Aliryia glided off her usual path to the nearby bathroom. She wandered over to the plain glass mirror above one of the white porcelain sinks, despising the youthful, tired face she saw before her. As the fire in Aliryia’s mind increased, she placed her forehead onto the cold mirror, slowly sliding it down onto the even cooler sink.

After a minute of holding herself there, Aliryia raised her head and twisted the cap of the cold tap, letting the icy water rush through her fingers, before she splashed it upon her face. The liquid tingled as it ran over the slice on the edge of her palm, painless, yet something odd, a sensory experience that should never have been.

She looked back up at the dreary reflection in the mirror: limp hair, curls in need of a clean, a complicated complexion, and wearied eyes from the lack of a good night’s sleep. It was then that the young elf knew.

She saw, in the madness of her mind, what was wrong. It might not have been that which the wind had been warning her of, but there was something that she had overlooked. She had fallen prey to the illness. When and whether she would recover was relative, but the signs were clear, it seemed. First it started with impaired, or unusual, judgement, then a lack of bodily healing, and the final sign was a mind full of impossible images, which Aliryia had discovered in the form of the book.

Aliryia closed her eyes to take away the vision of her misshapen face, but took a hand up to feel the skin of her cheek. It was slightly warmer than expected, as though the pulse burning in her head was actually running through her bloodstream, attacking cells as a human virus would. The illness wasn’t a virus or a bacterium as such, but some elves called it a state of being, a way of life that other elves fell into; though yet more called it a natural progression in life that all elves went through, even young infants, but most recovered. ‘Madness’ her mother had once said.

That memories tinged with the knowledge caused a silvery droplet to roll down Aliryia’s cheek. She opened her eyes and furiously brushed it away. What could she do? Aliryia knew not of any medicines, nor would she interrupt anymore with the course of nature. If only there was someone with whom she could share this knowledge…

However, aside from the wonders of dreaming, there was not much more that she could do.

Tiptoeing out of the bathroom carefully, she snuck back to her bedroom, aware that Elorrie was still not around. Time had passed, but Aliryia was not at all certain whether it had been enough for dinner and dessert to be finished by now.

Amongst the violet room she stood, gazing around at the place she called home. The window was still ajar, and the cooling heat of a summer evening crept in from the expanse of garden. Aliryia crossed the space in two strides, her dress flapping about her ankles, and pushed open the remainder of the window, looking out into the coming night, piercing white stars starting to fade into existence.

She yawned, lifting one of her little hands up to gracefully cover the gape of her mouth, and then she withdrew from the window, moving slowly, without purpose, and as if she were a ghost, to her bed, robed in purple too.

Without undressing, she lay herself down upon the top quilt, tilted her body to the wall, and placed her hands under her head, thinking. It was that way for Aliryia, her mind was always thinking…

It was safe to say that she’d never try and sneak out under the cover of her invisibility again. This was all punishment for stealing the dress, she assumed. And there it was…something was eating away inside her. Was it worry? Guilt, perhaps? Would she have to tell someone her crime? Aliryia did not want to do anything like that.

Aliryia sighed. Maybe, at this time of night, her imagination was just playing tricks on her. Maybe it would all be better when she awoke.

The End

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