The light that broke through my window was what finally stirred me awake, somewhat at least. I could barely open my eyes, let alone think a coherent thought. It was all a blurry mess of images and sounds. I woke up to a series of figures standing before me.
“How long will he be out?”
“Hard to say, could be days or maybe even weeks.”
“Are you sure you can’t save it?”
“Impossible at this point, he’s lucky enough to be alive. On top of that, we need to be pumping him with magic every few hours.”
“But he’s going to be fine, right?” That was Daniel’s voice, despite barely being able to see anything I stirred in my restrained state and tried to reach out to him. I immediately felt a swarm of hands push me down and restrain me, I had neither the strength nor the sense to resist them.
“How is he awake?!”
“Probably because he doesn’t have a heart.” That was Slim. “Increase the dosage, we can’t have him waking up in the middle of it all.” I suddenly felt a small hand rubbing the top of my head.
“It’s alright, big guy,” Said Daniel. “Take it easy, go back to sleep.” I suddenly felt a prick on my left arm, and I faded back into darkness. I felt as if I was swimming in a sea of thick mist, my movements felt sluggish, my mind was in a haze. Suddenly the mist began the wither away, slowly fading as my senses began to return. Everything came at me in violent speeds. The fight against Salus, his betrayal, how Daniel and I barely made it out. I needed to get back to the real world, I needed to wake up. But something was keeping me rooted into this state. As my senses returned I became more and more self conscious. I could see myself in this state of unconsciousness.
My body felt as if it was in shambles, every single movement sent a wave of agony through me. I gaze down at my bare body, gashes and wounds were all over me. Countless holes from where Salus had impaled me, one massive hole was at the center of my chest. I moved my hands towards the wound, but only one hand obeyed my commands. What was wrong with my right arm? I screamed once I glanced at the raw stump that used to be my sword arm. I fell to my knees as I felt the full impact of it all. I held myself up with my only arm, trying to recover, but the panic was sinking in. I was reduced to a wailing and whimpering cub as I tried to process everything.
A hollow feeling festered within me, as I layed on the barren floor, beaten and broken. Focusing on what was gone, on what I couldn’t get back.
“Someone help me,” I whispered to myself. “I don’t want this, this is all a dream. This isn’t happening…”
“Denial won’t help you, my son.” The voice was enough to make me stop sobbing, I pushed myself up and forced my gaze to meet Fumus. A stoic look was on his face as he looked down at me. My face began to twist into a snarl, my emotions all boiling up into rage.
“You…” I snarled as I got back on my feet and marched over to him.
“You’re upset,” Said Fumus. “I understa—” I didn’t let him finish his sentence, I simply balled my only fist and charged it into his face. He stumbled backwards but quickly regained his composure, as if he barely felt it. “Feel free to take out your frustrations on me if it makes you feel better. But we both know that I’m not really here.”
I threw another punch, knowing very well that I was striking at a projection. It didn’t matter to me at this point. The image of Fumus showed no signs of damage, but I continued to wail at him. Clawing and punching him with my only arm. Sometimes I would forget that I no longer had a right arm and I would flail at him with nothing.
“I NEVER ASKED FOR THIS!” I roared as I dug my claws into my Sire’s chest. “I NEVER ASKED TO BE A HEARTLESS, TO BE A FREAK. I DIDN’T WANT ANY OF THIS!” I could feel my strikes weakening, slowly my punches and slams were reduced to simple jabs. And like always, Fumus was not react to it, even when I was breaking down once again and hanging on to his body. “I never wanted to leave the citadel,” I said as I leaned in to the taller charr. “Why did I have to be born like this?”
“This is the hand we are dealt with, my son,” said Fumus as I felt his hand on my head. “We don’t have the answers, and even if you recover everything you’ve lost, I can’t guarantee that everything will be explained. But are you going to let that stop you?” I looked into the charr’s lifeless eyes, hollow and void of emotion, it was not the Fumus I knew. I could see a shade of blue emanating from within his eyes. I fell back to my knees as I pushed aside the illusion. I had calmed down now, the pain wasn’t as intense as it once was, and I could clearly remember everyone that was waiting for me to wake up. I lingered for a bit, in the white abyss that was this facet of my mind.
How easy would it be if I just ended it here, if I hadn’t had survived the encounter and were allowed to fade to the mists. Part of me wanted to move on, the temptation of finally receiving some rest from it all. From the fringe, from making sure I wouldn’t go insane. I’ve had more adventure than most would receive in a lifetime. What I would give to be free from this burden, but then again the answer to that is simple. All I had to do was simply fade, but did I truly want to? Do I want to leave everyone behind, start over and see where the mists would take me?
“No,” I said to myself as I got back up on my feet. “I still have something to fight for.” I felt myself returning, to my body, to the waking world, and then I woke up.
My eyes slowly pried open and revealed to me a sunlit, room. It was simply decorate, quite a bit of white sheets were draped about. I could see a table at the end of the room, several bottles and rags were on it, some were stained with blood. I looked down at myself resting on a plush bed with several quilts resting on my bandaged body. I noticed the especially large one at the center of my chest, I moved my hands towards it to realize that only one obeyed my commands, for the other one was gone. I looked at the bandages that covered where most of my shoulder used to be, part of me was hoping that the dream was just that, a dream. Fortunately the previous shock made me partially numb to it all. I saw something stir by my lap, and found Daniel, asleep and resting his head on my bedside.
I looked at the human’s face, there were bags under his eyes from exhaustion, it had looked like he had been here for a while, maybe even a day or two. I pushed myself with my only arm so I could sit up, doing my best to not wake Daniel in the process. It was painful, I could feel my body throb with pain, but it was a dull pain. Obviously I was filled up with so much anesthetic that I should probably be screaming in agony had it not been for it. It took me some time but I was able to get to a more comfortable position. Daniel was still asleep, I spent quite a bit of time staring at him, wondering exactly how long he had been waiting. Was he worried for me the entire time?
I reached over to the human and brushed the hair off of his face, sweeping my fingers over his scalp. The human stirred, as much as I didn’t want him to wake up, I was not about to allow him to sleep in such an uncomfortable position.
“Daniel,” I said, I cleared my throat after realizing my voice was coming out a bit horse. I placed my hand by the human’s shoulder and shook him gently. “Daniel, wake up.” The human’s eyes woke up to me smiling at him, a look of alarm immediately dawned on his face.
“A-Anavari!” he said nearly charging in but restraining himself after remembering I was in shambles. He stood there, his eyes watering but his alarm quickly turned into relief. I acted on my own desires, I reached over to the human and pulled him in by the waist. I drew him in and met my lips with his. The human tensed up and froze in place, but not pushing me away nor objecting with his body. When I pulled back there was a look of disbelief along with a noticeable blush on his face.
“What was that?” was all he said.
“Something I’ve been wanting to do for a while,” I said with a sheepish smile. The human drew closer, climbing onto the bed. There was nervousness in his eyes but it did not stop him. He kissed me and I pulled him in closer. We remained as such for a long moment, eventually having to separate ourselves to take a breath of air. I rested my forehead against his as we both shared a chuckle. Our disbelief over the situation was mutual, we didn’t say it outloud but we knew each other well enough to know it. It was difficult to register all the overwhelming emotions I felt at that moment, all I wanted was to keep him close in my embrace. The fact that he shared my feelings made me forget about everything else for just a brief moment. It was just him and I, and for now that was all that mattered to me. I pushed my larger frame a bit closer to the edge of the bed to make room for Daniel. He laid besides me and I wrapped my arm around him, he was careful to not touch any of my injured areas as he sunk into my embrace. He fell asleep almost immediately, it took me a little while longer to drift off, something told me that I had been unconscious for quite some time, and more rest was the last thing I wanted. Instead I took an hour, or maybe two to stare out at the window in the room. It overlooked the city, and I could tell that I was still in Divinity’s Reach. Eventually I did feel my body begging for more rest, I glanced down at the human in my arms and allowed myself to drift into my dreams.
Daniel and I woke up the next day. Daniel greeted me with a peck on the cheek and the widest smile I had seen on him in a long time. Things started looking like they were going back to normal, despite everything that had changed. He left briefly to get us some food, apparently there were people outside, and once they say him leave the room a few rushed in. The midnight black hair was instantly recognizable, the woman next to serenity I did not know. A norn woman with dark brown hair looked down at me with disbelief. Serenity on the other hand rushed in to me and embraced me, a groan of pain escaped me as I felt pressure on my wounds. She immediately apologized as she wiped away the tears from her eyes. Once Daniel had returned with food, we all took this time to briefly talk about what had happened. Well, I did at least.
While everyone was having a lighthearted conversation, dancing around the obvious. I interrupted them and said, “So how long have I been out?” The room fell silent, the norn woman looked at me with disbelief once again, I was unsure if she was looking at me with a sense of intrigue or disgust on top of all that. Was me being alive that unbelievable? I felt Daniel’s hand on mine and I gently squeeze his in return.
“Two weeks,” said Daniel. My eyes widened.
“That long?” I asked.
“We were beginning to wonder if you would ever wake up,” said Serenity Solemnly.
“The problem was keeping you stable.” chimed in the norn woman. “Your…special trait made if difficult to keep you alive, but you wouldn’t be here right now if not for it.” The norn averted her iron gaze from me.
“This is Astrid by the way,” said Daniel gesturing to the norn. “She was the doctor that was keeping a close eye on you.”
“I see,” I said. “Thank you, Astrid.” I squeezed Daniel’s hand a little tighter. Astrid did not look back at me, but I could tell that it was not out of spite at least. I finally glanced down at the bandages around my right side. “And this?” I noticed Daniel draw into my and hug my left arm affectionately. Serenity fought back a sob. Astrid chimed in, unfazed by the situation.
“Frostbite,” she said. “On top of being drained of blood and torn up by shards of ice, but frostbite was what made it impossible to save. It was already too late for it by the time Slim brought you to me. There was nothing I could do, it was either let you die or get rid of the arm.”
“Slim is making arrangements for a prosthetic though!” offered Daniel. “he said something about moving it with your brainwaves.”
“Like those remote controlled golem suits?” I asked. Daniel nodded, I considered the possibility for a moment. “Well I suppose it wouldn’t hurt.” Daniel seemed relieved that I was willing to go through getting a fake arm for myself. The area still throbbed occasionally, and I felt a pit in my stomach whenever I would try and move what wasn’t there. I kept a brave face for my friends however. After a bit more dancing around more subjects, I released a relaxed sigh and addressed the group.
“Can I have a moment alone with Daniel?” I said suddenly. The human looked at me with a reddening face.
“Oh!” Serenity glanced between Daniel and I, I believed she was growing to understand what was going on. Then again I wasn’t making much of an effort to make it private. Once they had left the room and closed the door, I look at the human with a smile.
“What’s up?” said Daniel as he sat on the bed with me and scooted closer. I did my best to move my legs to give him more room, but they felt very sluggish. I was still recovering all my senses.
“We really need to talk,” I said taking the human’s hand and holding it gently. “About my…condition.” Daniel immediately became serious, he nodded at me.
“I’m all ears.”
“It’s not just about that,” I added. “There are a few other things I need to tell you about myself. I plan on telling Slim all of this, most of this anyway, but I wanted to tell you first.” Daniel remained Silent, listening attentively. “I wasn’t exactly keeping information from you when it concerns the fact that I’m a heartless,” the human tilted his head. “Because prior to the time where I woke up after being impaled, I didn’t even know.” This time he raised an eyebrow.
“You’re gonna have to explain how that makes sense, big guy.” said Daniel. “How exactly were you not aware that you were missing your heart?” I began to tell Daniel about my missing memories, how I was slowly recovering them, how the spell on my mind forced me to overlook certain things about myself in order to not trigger any memories too soon. I also mentioned what could happen if I tried to force the memories back. I left out that it was Garfas who had mentioned all of this to me. It was probably for the best that he reveal himself until he says it’s fine, less doing so would prematurely trigger more memories. I could Daniel’s concern growing as I explained, but overall he remained composed and focused.
“So you scrambled your memories,” summarized Daniel. “And if you try to remember too soon, bad things happen… how bad are we talking about?”
“Remember when I lost it in that one fight against the fringe?” I said. “And when I lost it again when I was fighting Salus?”
“Okay,” nodded the human. “But you’ll get everything back eventually?”
“I would assume so,” I said. “As we speak I’m recalling more and more of the specifics of being a heartless.” Daniel glanced to the center of my chest.
“How does it work?” He asked.
“There’s a node of magic at the very spot where my heart should be,” I began. “This node feeds off my own energy, but it takes very little to sustain itself, the fact that I’m a necromancer helps too. Some arteries were removed as well, replaced by channels sustained by the node. These channels along with the node regulate my blood flow and pressure. I’d go deeper but I think it would only confuse you.” Daniel nodded as he looked as if he was struggling to keep up as it is.
“Why would you have your heart taken out though?” asked the human.
“I’ve been like this ever since I was a cub,” I said. “It was probably removed shortly after I was born. When my Sire found out about he kept quiet, he told me to never mention it to anyone either. One day however I was feeling dizzy all the time, I was barely learning necromancy and figured that maybe the magic was tampering with the node in my chest. A charr mesmer I knew back in the citadel, Mara, was who was helping me learn about magic. In the end I told her about my condition, she was supportive about it and helped me better control my own energy so that my node and necromancy would work together instead of being in a constant state of conflict.”
“So you have a hold of it now?” asked Daniel. I nodded in response. He smiled his wide grin, the one I had missed for so long. “Don’t worry big guy, I’ll help you through this. And maybe once you get everything back, we can figure out why the Fringe wants you so badly.” I froze. It wasn’t over, not even close. The Fringe was still looking for me, and they knew where to look even. The only thing that stood between me and them were the Secros. And there was still one more spy amongst our group, and it was my job to find them.
“Have there been any more attacks on the Secros?” I asked. Daniel’s eyes looked away from mine.
“Dozens,” he said. I felt a pit at the bottom of my stomach. “They’ve become more aggressive ever since they know that you’re the one they’re looking for. There’s been word of some people wanting to hand you over to them, but thankfully Slim has been adamant about not betraying one of our own.” I was alarmed to hear that there were more attacks because of me, but it was a relief to hear that at least Slim was on my side. “We’ll get through it, big guy.” I leaned in my forehead against the Human’s and drew him closer to me. It still felt unusual to hold him in such a way. But I liked it.
“So…” said Daniel with a bit of playfulness in his voice. “About us.”
“I believe that is a topic for another day,” I shrugged. “We should just enjoy the moment don’t you think?” Daniel laughed at my response.
“I’ll take it for now, big guy.”
“You keep calling me big guy,” I pointed out. “You do realized I’m quite short compared to most charr right?”
“Still tall for a human,” reasoned Daniel. I ruffled the human’s hair and we both enjoyed the moment between us. For that moment everything seemed alright. It was true that I needed to talk to Slim about everything, I needed to confront other Secros that wanted me gone, and the Fringe was an ever present threat. I knew I wasn’t alone in this however, and I needed to keep fighting for everyone. I needed to set things right.