Seymour stared upwards toward the ceiling for a while, counting bricks to distract himself from the pain. It wasn’t as torturous as it had been before—the comfort of Seoc’s proximity seemed to have eased it—but it was still all he could do not to whimper and writhe in agony. Soon he had to shut his eyes once more, before the flickering torchlight could compound with the searing pain and the nauseating smell of his own cooked flesh to make him vomit. Being sick would only make his situation worse.
“Seoc…” he moaned.
“What is it, Sey?” Seoc responded, adjusting himself against Seymour’s side so he had a hand free to stroke the Aechyed’s hair.
“Should I go for help?”
“No. Stay. Don’t let me go. Please don’t let me go!”
“Shhh,” Seoc hushed him, holding him securely. “Dinna worry. I shall no’ let go o’ y—” He broke off suddenly and his tone shifted. “What are you doin’ here? Leave us alone!”
It was Henry’s voice that answered. “My brother sent me. To heal him.”
Seoc was silent, but Seymour could feel him practically radiating skepticism.
“Let him, Seoc,” Seymour rasped. “He won’t harm me.”
Reluctantly, Seoc detached himself from the injured Aechyed and kneeled beside him, allowing the mage access to his wounds. Seymour kept his eyes shut, but still he sensed the way in which Henry stood over him, studying him, his sense of obligation to his brother wrestling against his fear—or was it hatred?—of his brother’s rescuer.
“Cut off his tunic,” Henry ordered Seoc.
Seymour noted the silence of Seoc’s hesitation, followed by the unenthusiastic drawing of a knife from a leather scabbard. Carefully, Seoc did as he had been told, cutting Seymour’s tunic along the seams and then peeling it off of him, as gently as he could in the places that his blood or the heat had affixed it to his skin. When the task was finished, Seymour perceived that Henry crouched on his other side, and that Seoc drew back a bit in reaction. Blindly, only able to bend his arm at the elbow, he searched the floor for Seoc’s hand again and found it a little over a foot away.
Had his eyes been open, he may have had time to brace himself, but as it was, he had been expecting Henry to give some sort of preamble. But Henry did not, and the sudden shock of magic running into his body through the burns on his skin was enough to make his heart skip a beat.
The sensation was mildly unpleasant at first, a tingling sort of numbness that spread icily from the wound on his abdomen and outward, and from his shoulder and down his arm. Then the chill intensified, growing to a dull ache, and then to frigid agony. It was worse than the burns—far worse. A tortured scream escaped his throat—no, was torn from him, seeming to rip the lining of his windpipe on its way out—and his body convulsed, as if trying to shake off the pain. But Henry pinned him down, one hand planted upon each of his burns, his sharp knees digging into Seymour’s thighs.
And then, as suddenly as it had begun, it was over and he was free. Eyes still closed, he brought a hand up to investigate his shoulder. It was strangely cold to the touch, and he felt the distinct ridges of scar tissue, but it did not hurt. The same was true of the wound on his ribcage.
“Thank you, Henry,” he whispered, opening his eyes.
Henry, who was now slumped against the wall, his skin glistening with sweat, his face an unhealthy greyish color in the wavering orange torchlight, did not respond verbally. He did shoot him a withering glare, however.
How gracious, Seymour thought, but he said nothing.