Though he had been healed, Seymour’s body did not take the stress well, and he fell ill. For a week he was confined to bed with what the Alt-Mage suspected was pneumonia.
“Having your lungs filled up with blood couldn’t have done them any good,” he reasoned.
He felt about as powerful as a wet dishrag, and it was not a pleasant sensation. In addition, he had a fever and a foul-sounding, painful cough that would not go away. He wanted desperately to get up and get to work on the Snake problem, but he did not have enough energy to move. He scarcely had enough to think.
To make matters worse, Seoc could seldom come to see him. Seymour suspected that his uncle had assigned him menial chores with this specific result in mind, and it frustrated Seymour more than his illness did. He wanted to like Alt-Mage MacQuarrie, thought he was probably a better man than most, but his stubbornness was not making it easy.
Seoc had unearthed his soul for him, reminded him what he really was. Now he was left alone to wallow in it.
Fiona, Seoc’s sister, was his primary caretaker. She was a nice girl, and she was quite a bit like her brother, personality-wise. Her voice, though higher, was even similar to his; it had the same patterns and inflection. If he closed his eyes and listened to her, he could imagine what Seoc would have sounded like as a child. Sometimes she read to him, sometimes she talked, sometimes she sat in silence and left him to his thoughts, but she never badgered him.
This was not the case for the other two women that filled in for her from time to time. One of them was a mage, one of them was not, but neither wanted to look after an Aechyed. They both referred to him as “merman” and avoided touching him at all costs. Once, one of them refused even to hand him his chamber pot when he needed it, leaving him no option but to wet the bed. Then he had been forced to lie in it until Fiona had come back, an hour later.
“It’s a brute, an animal,” the woman had reported loudly upon Fiona’s return. “Can’t even control its own bodily functions! What am I supposed to do about that?”
“You could try treatin’ him humanely,” Fiona had replied dryly.
When the other woman had gone, Fiona had set about changing his sheets and cleaning him up.
“You are no’ a brute,” she had assured him, her voice tight.
There had been tears in her eyes.
Sometimes, late on the nights when Fiona was watching him, she would help Seoc slip in to visit him. Normally, both he and Seoc wouldn’t be energetic enough to interact much, or even talk, but Seoc would climb into his bed and lie beside him for a while, an arm about Seymour’s torso and his head resting over Seymour’s heart. Fiona would sit by in her customary armchair, knitting, as they both fell asleep, and would stay alert until just before dawn, at which point she would rouse Seoc before he could be missed.
They had successfully completed this evasion twice before something went wrong.