I sat down on the bed, lying back a few moments later with a pensive expression on my face.

The whole situation was so ridiculous that I could almost laugh out loud at it, but at the same time I was afraid that Sher's knowledge would fail us all and I would end up getting beheaded as some blasphemous charlatan.

That Mary was onto us, I could tell. And if any of the Verisat heard about it they'd blame it all on me, naturally.

I had to keep her from saying anything. How I was going to do that, I had no idea.

So many bloody problems. 

Somehow I managed to doze off for an hour or so, but was rudely awakened by Celeste.

"Mr. Smith, please prepare yourself for our carriage ride." 

I glanced at the window to see a blushing sun peeking just above the horizon. Dawn.

"Where are we going?" I asked, yawning.

"It's time for our royal visit." she replied, throwing a washcloth at me, "And I suggest you clean yourself up."

I did so rather slowly, trying to make my limbs fully conscious.

God, I needed another smoke. Maidie probably wouldn't give me one.

"Quickly," Celeste chided, her dark hair already resting in soft waves down her shoulders, "You're already late."

I was late? She had a lot of nerve saying that, considering she fell asleep on her watch.

"Sorry, mother." I muttered, wiping my face off.

The few hours I'd managed to sleep I'd had strange dreams of red-haired women offering me cigarettes and then laughing at me.

Sure beat nightmares with Mercy in them.

"No time to complain," Celeste chuckled, "We have to leave now."

I threw myself onto my feet and followed her, shaking my head to rid myself of the feeling of having stood too quickly. I'd had more physical activity in the past week than I had in my entire life, and it felt rather odd.

For one thing, I fell asleep whenever I could. Not just the shallow kind of sleep I programmed in my house, but a strange, deep sleep where snippets of uncontrollable visions drifted around me.

It was terrifying but exciting at the same time. 

And even though I hadn't had my dose of maxills in that week the lethargy that came with withdrawal hadn't quite set in yet.

But even then I knew that it was only a matter of a few days before I became a shivering wreck if I didn't get my hands on either maxills or real Devol.

If there was one thing drug companies were good at, it was engineering the perfect addiction.

The Devol Maidie smoked wasn't commercial, that I had been able to tell. It had a distinct taste, likely because she had manufactured and rolled the cigarettes herself. 

Her cigarettes were just as effective when it came to the high, but they lacked certain chemicals that would hold off the symptoms I knew were going to hit soon.

I would probably have to sweat it out. I wasn't looking forwards to it. 

The End

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