The Next Morning

Ever so subtly, the dark of night turned into a fresh, new morning. Alexander, who had taken turns with Annalise to keep an eye on Adrian, was awoken by a tap on his shoulder. Still groggy from the sleep, Alexander turned and saw that Ivan, the little servant boy, was holding a small vial of red liquid.

"Doctor said to make Adrian drink this," Ivan said, his voice small.

Annalise, who had been staying awake while Alexander had taken his turn sleeping, reached out for the vial and pulled the cork from it. "Here, Adrian," she said, rousing Adrian softly from his slumber.

It took Alexander and Annalise no small amount of effort to wake the knight, and when Adrian finally opened his eyes, it was apparent that he felt no better than he had before he'd fallen asleep.

"Sleep usually improves one's health," Annalise mused.

For some reason, Annalise's comment caused a burst of worry in Alexander's heart. Shrugging it away, he assisted Annalise in administering the medication Ivan had delivered.

Turning to Ivan, Alexander nodded. "Thank-you. You may leave."

For a long moment, Ivan simply stood and stared at Adrian, his eyes filled with something that Alexander couldn't interpret. Finally, he nodded back, performed a perfunctory bow, and left the room.

Adrian pulled a face as he swallowed the last of the medicine. "Tastes worse than usual," he said, though speaking still required quite a bit of effort. He frowned. "I thought I told you to leave," he said in a voice gruff with effort.

"You ought to know better than that," Annalise said with a wobbly smile.

There was a knock on the sickroom door. Alexander waited as one of the attendants opened the door, letting in a messenger.

"Your Highness."

Alexander waved away the cordial words. "Yes?" he commanded, though not unkindly.

"I've a letter for you."

The End

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