The Counsel of the Uarla
Several days and several nights passed in the goblin city. The first morning, they had awoken to find all of their stolen possessions (save for the horses) stacked neatly near the entrance to their chambers, and breakfast waiting for them on trays atop their nightstands.
Seoc and Simon spent the better part of the first two days asleep, leaving the comfort of their beds only when absolutely necessary. Seymour, meanwhile, took the opportunity to explore the city. He approached the onion-shaped building on multiple occasions, but he did not know enough of the goblin language to convince the guards to let him in to see the Uarla.
On the third day, when his charges were sufficiently rested, Seymour escorted them to a bathhouse so that they could scrub away the last physical traces of Waelyngar. There, a female goblin set about washing and combing the lice out of Simon’s wavy blond hair. She tried to do the same for Seoc, but his hair proved to be too curly and tangled for the comb to manage, so she took a knife and cut off his matted locks within half an inch of his skull. Seymour, thankfully, had avoided catching the infestation from either of them, most likely because the lice did not care for Aechyed blood.
After the humans had bathed, their torn, filthy prison garments were taken for burning, and they dressed in the clean, warm clothing that their relatives had packed into the saddlebags with the provisions. Upon leaving the bathhouse, Seymour took them to an apothecary in search for medicine to cure them of tapeworms and their various other Waelyngar-related ailments. The effects of these herbs confined them both to bed again for another two days, and so Seymour was wandering the city alone once more when the Uarla finally sent for him.
“I come bearing se words of se Uarla,” a messenger hailed him in heavily-accented Murkintsenian. “He ask you to choin him at se dining sis night. Wich you?”
“Of course,” Seymour replied, then, seeing that the goblin had not understood the idiom, clarified. “Yes. I do wish to join him for dinner tonight. Yes.”
He returned to their rooms briefly before nightfall to check in on his charges and to rest for a few minutes. Simon was asleep when Seymour dropped by; Seoc, however, he found sitting up in the bed that they had shared since arriving in the goblin city.
“Are you feeling better?” he asked him.
“A bit,” Seoc replied. “I ha’e more energy. I’m still bluidy sick, though. An’ bored near ta death,” he added, stretching his arms over his head. “Did you see anythin’ interestin’ on yer excursion?”
“Nothing I haven’t described to you before.”
“Describe it again.”
Seymour sat down on the edge of the mattress, frowning. “But why would you want to hear it all again?”
Seoc blinked at him slowly, obscuring his strangely familiar brown eyes behind his long, black lashes. “For the soond o’ yer voice, Sey.”
The Aechyed leaned over and kissed him on the forehead. “I can’t stay for much longer, little fish. I am to dine with the Uarla tonight. If you would like to, I’m sure you would be welcome to join us.”
Seoc shook his head. “No. The mere thought o’ food turns my stomach. I’d best stay here.”
“I’m sorry you have to endure this, Seoc.”
The human shrugged, mumbling, “I ha’e endured much worse than this. I’ll be alright.” He sank back to his pillow, pulling the blankets up to his chin. “When will you be back?”
“I don’t know. Probably late.”
Seoc bobbed his head contemplatively, eyes closed and face relaxed. “Tell me what happens.”
“I will. If not tonight, then tomorrow morning.” He got up, smoothing the blankets over Seoc’s skeletal frame. “Goodnight, little fish. Sleep well.”
“I’ll try,” Seoc replied, his voice muffled by his pillow. “G’night, Sey.”
But Seymour did not leave immediately. Instead, he stood silently by the bedside a while longer, overcome by a strange, hollow sensation that tingled inside him like grief. He did not want to go. All he wanted was to lie down alongside Seoc and hold him in his arms, to lie like that until the world had either ended or saved itself. He cared about nothing else—not right now. Not about making it back to Carviliet, not about the fifty-thousand knamick the mages would be paying him in reward. He did not want to think about the Six. He had grown weary of responsibility.
Sighing deeply, he turned and left to meet with the Uarla.