Sighing heavily, Fiona sat down upon one of the unoccupied infirmary beds and watched as her brother tended to the merman. She considered leaving, but she too could sense that there was something badly amiss, and after all, there was safety in numbers. Anyway, she didn’t want to let Seoc out of her sight again. She didn’t know exactly what had happened when she had left him alone in his bedroom, but she could tell that it had been something terrifying.
The situation here in the infirmary, though, was decidedly uncomfortable for someone in her position. Seoc had turned a cold shoulder on her. Simon, on the other hand, was staring at her so openly that it was starting to make her nervous.
“It’s just you two, now,” he was saying, his eyes still fixed upon her even though his statement was addressed to both her and her brother. “I know what’s happening here, and Raif knows, too. I’m sure Seymour knows, and Henry as well. Isn’t that right, Seymour?”
“Yes.” The merman’s voice was a tremulous rasp.
Seoc turned to glare at his former cellmate. “Dinna make him talk, man! He needs ta sleep!”
Simon continued as if uninterrupted. “Well, it’s about time the MacInnes siblings were led out of the dark, don’t you think? I would have thought you would have told Seoc by now.”
The merman grimaced in pain. “I didn’t want…I didn’t want him to think I was mad.”
“Hush, Sey.” Seoc looked back at the other man, his gaze even icier than before. “Simon, will you please do me a favor an’ shut yer fuckin’ face?”
“He has to know eventually, doesn’t he?”
Seymour shrugged. “I suppose.”
“Can this no’ wait for another time?” Seoc demanded. “You ha’ already graced us with yer theories aboot the power o’ mere ideas ta ring bells an’ raise the dead! Can you just shut up an’ let the man sleep?”
“He is no’ a man.”
“Did I ask for yer opinion, Fiona?!”
“’Tis a fact, no’ an opinion.”
Seymour waved his hand in the air to silence them. “Please. There’s really no need to argue over me. Let Simon say what he has to say, little fish. A few extra moments of wakefulness won’t hurt me.”
“Thank you, Seymour.” Simon snapped his fingers at his side, summoning Raif out from under the bed. “What I have been trying to say is this: everything bad that has happened today has one cause, and one cause alone. Snake.”
“The voice in yer head?”
“It isn’t just in my head, Seoc. It’s a—”
“Parasite,” Seymour contributed in his hoarse voice. “A worm that feeds off of fear, capable of infecting hundreds of victims simultaneously and manipulating them to its will. Those who attempt resist it are often driven to madness or suicide. Although a good enough actor may manage to convince it that he has gone mad in order to—”
Simon jumped quickly back in to the conversation. “The point is that it is evil, and it wants to destroy our world. We—the five of us here and Henry—are tasked with stopping it.”
Seoc furrowed his brow. “Why us?”
“Ask Moriba,” said Seymour.
“Moriba? The Second Queen of Time? But she’s a myth!”
Seymour smiled grimly. “Well, then a myth bit you on the neck this afternoon and drank your blood, little fish.”
Even Simon was surprised by this revelation. “The Lady of Waelyngar was Moriba?”
“Plenty of blood and suffering for her to feed upon beneath the city that once bore her name. In fact, I’m willing to wager that Waelyngar Penitentiary would not exist if not for her—and even if it did, neither of you would have ended up there. It wasn’t fate that put you in the same cell. But I suppose in Her Majesty’s eyes, the ends justify the means.” The merman struggled into a sitting position. “I’d like some of that medication now, Seoc. My poor feverish head feels fit to burst.”