Seoc studied the small, roughly circular bone for a moment or two before pocketing it and turning away from the tomb. It was only then that he noticed Seymour sitting on the ground, legs splayed and face expressionless. The Aechyed was gazing blankly at his own hands, which were covered in blood.
“Sey? What happened?”
“Legitimate question,” said Seymour. “Don’t know.”
Concerned, Seoc crouched down to his level and leaned in with the torch for closer inspection, at which point he saw that the lower half of the Aechyed’s face was likewise smeared and bloody. “Och,” he said, relieved. “It’s just yer nose.”
“Yer nose is bleedin’, Sey.”
“Oh!” Seymour’s face lit up in recognition. “That would explain things.”
Simon’s voice echoed from elsewhere in the tunnel, interrupting their shared epiphany. “Hate to barge in on such a tender moment, but we must be going now. Something’s wrong.”
Seoc nodded. “Right. Sey, can you stand?”
“I think so.” The Aechyed wiped his blood-spattered palms on the inside of his tunic then took Seoc’s proffered hands. “You’re getting stronger, little fish,” he remarked when Seoc managed to pull him to his feet without nearly toppling backwards in the process.
Seoc smiled, but he suspected that his feat had less to do with his own increased strength than it had to do with the considerable amount of weight that Seymour had lost over the past day. He had gone from thin to practically skeletal in the span of a mere twenty-eight hours. Seoc found it frightening.
“When we get oot o’ here,” he said severely, “you are goina get supper an’ go straight ta bed. I never should ha’e brought you doon here in the first place.”
“I’h fihe, li’l fish,” said Seymour unconvincingly, pinching shut his nose to stem the flow of blood, and promptly stumbled into a wall. Seoc caught him by the arm before he could fall to the floor again.
Simon’s shouting resonated about the chamber once more. “Are you two planning to make haste anytime soon?”
Seoc found himself suddenly too exasperated to bother making himself intelligible. “Fer Rez’n’s sak’, Saymon! Gi’e’s a fuckin’ mo’!”
“I do not care if Guy is fucking Mo. Hurry up!”
“I said, GIVE. US. A. FUCKING. MOMENT!”
“Please,” Seymour whimpered. “Don’t yell.”
“Seoc, there aren’t any moments left to give. This is URGENT! We need to get OUT!”
“I’m tryin’ my best, Simon, but it so happens that I ha’e seven fuckin’ feet o’ sick, useless Aechyed hangin’ aboot my neck, sae it’s a bit difficult ta navigate at present! If you would come back an’ help me instead o’ runnin’ ahead, we might be able ta get oot o’ here a wee bit quicker!”
Simon slunk back into view, muttering incomprehensibly under his breath.
“Thank you,” Seoc snarled bitterly. “Noo tak’ his other side, will you?”
“We’re too late,” said Simon, wrapping Seymour’s free arm around his shoulders in such a manner that the Aechyed was supported between the two human men.
“I dinna want ta hear aboot it, Simon.”