Chapter Twenty-Four, Part Two: Alkahest and AzothMature

But he can smell it. 

Grey. Heavy. Lying on top of them, settling over them, invisible, like a smallpox blanket wet with blood. So much. How many has that man made her kill? It’s like a thick fog above their heads, all those deaths on her non-existent conscience. If he had been her parent, this wouldn’t have happened. Although, perhaps it might have, if he’s honest with himself. 

She pulls him to a stop; he feels a rush of air push him to his feet, ending his momentum. 

Her hands press his against something low. 

It’s icy, he can feel the chill before his fingers actually touch the thing. 

Its contours suggest a square- he can’t tell with the blindfold, but he doesn’t mind. He’s not her lover, only a visitor. Those ways are for the loyal and hooded young prince of her future, not the romantic leave-early magician of her past. 

Absently he wonders who her parents were as his thoughts drift again to the suggestion of paintings on the rough cave walls. 

Who or what had they been meant to depict? 

 Ah well, he thinks, and he reaches to touch the sides of what he knows must be a box, to test a theory. No, not a theory, more a wartime hypothesis. Stupid Time Lord, you’re with a girl. You’re bound to save her life sometime to-day. Selfish. Selfish. Selfish. 

Her hand is on his. 

His fingers stretch into the suddenly warm sand around the box… there are wood slats… wet…old. They give like termite-ridden planks when he presses. He is a Time Lord; his finesse is like no other’s, the barest brush of grains on rotten wood, but still… why? Why is the wood so… 

"Flamina," he says thickly. His throat feels full of molten lead. Even his mouth is burning.

The End

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