His fists loosened as his hands started hurting so much that he couldn't hold them anymore. Arms, torso, up to the neck, everything except the heart-region was filling up with the darkness. His breath got labored. The lungs didn't want to work properly. Every breath hit off a new wave of pain. But there was still so much darkness. He wasn't sure if he could store it all. It was the worth of several fields after all. From the beginning, he had been playing with fire. Yet, if he made it, it would be worth it all. He was sure the rumor of the darkness and an whole army vanishing was enough that that old man couldn't ignore him anymore. So he had started his crazy plan despite risking his life.
Slowly, the darkness crept onto his face. His sight got blurry, before everything drowned in pain and darkness. He wasn't unconsciousness, though. The darkness only robbed him of every sense: hearing, seeing, smell, and touch. Only pain remained.
Finally, everything was successfully absorbed inside him. He won. The darkness was under control again. But he payed a big price for that.
He didn't feel it when he fell to the ground. Amidst a wide field with nothing but earth and stone, there where two lonely bodies. Both of them were looking like they would die soon. The first had missing legs and blood flowing out of the stumps. Though he was unconscious, his white fingers were still clutched around a sword hilt.
The second body seemed to be unhurt at first glance. At least, he had all his limbs. Looking closer, however, wherever his skin was seen through the clothing, it was riddled with black veins. If someone knew the man, they wouldn't recognize him. Somehow, his hair and eyes had turned an unfathomable black. Though the eyes were open and didn't blink, one could tell by that motionless stare that he didn't see anything anymore. The only thing to distinguish him and a corpse was the nearly unnoticeable up and down of his chest.
When Sam hurried over, tears fell from his eyes. "Milord, milord, why must you do this to yourself?", he muttered sadly. Sometimes he wondered if Nathaniel wasn't too ambitious. However, he understood his reasons, too.
Sam told a few waiting guards to bring the earl back to the mansion as fast as possible. Albeit a bit unwillingly, he let another batch of guards give the Renat army's commander first aid and follow behind.
Katherine and Hazel were peacefully playing with the black rabbit Froseti, when a servant sprinted to their side. With raging breath he told her upon halting: "Poison - earl - get Lady Balder!"
"What?", Katherine asked intrigued, and slowly put Froseti down. She hadn't understood much out of the message.
The servant gulped once and took a deep breath before repeating: "The poison is active again. The earl demanded to get Lady Balder there. Please hurry!"
Worried, Katherine got to her feet. As much as she thought the poison shouldn't be violent anymore after being greatly reduced, the anxious state of the servant told her that something was wrong big time. If his brother died, how could she explain it to the earl? "Bring me there!"
Both girls followed closely behind the servant, running through the corridors of the mansion until they reached the infirmary. The door was highly guarded, but when they saw Katherine nearing, they didn't stop her. Hazel and the servant though had to stay outside. Katherine slowed down a bit to catch her breath, before opening the door.
Inside were only the doctor, Sam, and the patient. When Katherine went over to the bed, she gasped. "What the hell happened?! How did he end up like this?"
Mind me, the last treatment wasn't too long ago and he had looked much better after this. He had even been awake. Now, however, he looked worse than ever. She even doubted it was the same person for a second, though his hair color was still the same blonde.
Like the times before, they had remove the shirt to let her see the extend and not make mistakes in her treatment. Everywhere she looked on this gorgeous white skin, where black veins. The once free heart area was getting smaller and smaller.
Unknown to everyone, even the little bit of consciousness the darkness had left was panicking. It didn't want it's host to die, but the black veins were caused by it's dead remnants, so neither it nor the earl could control it anymore. It was the counterpart of squeezing it to make it small again. It would always cause these dead poison fragments to appear. They blogged the host's bodily functions and made him unable to move or speak. The only lucky thing was, that they moved very slowly compared to the living darkness.
Since the earl was missing, Katherine glared angrily at Sam. "You should have called me much sooner! And what is this quack still doing here? You should have at least found a poison expert while he was recuperating!" she pointed at the doctor.
Before anyone could reply, she demanded: "Now get out of the way!"
She felt like the deterioration of the patient's state was a personal assault to her. She should have looked for him more often. Now she felt bad for being glad that the earl didn't force her to treat the patient completely.
Surprised by her outburst, Sam stepped aside instinctively. The doctor felt a vein on his temple pulse in anger. Quack! How was he a quack? He was the best poison master in the Icelands! Still he could do nothing but be insulted by a little girl just because her magic did what was impossible for him! However, for the sake of the earl, he put his grudges aside and stepped out of the way of this infuriating girl.
After scrutinizing the patient from bottom to top, noticing his blackened lips and clawed, motionless fingers, she grabbed for his arm.
"STOP!", Sam suddenly cried out in a panic, startling her. How could he forget! It had to be because of the Lady's ramble! "You need to wear the gloves!"
Gloves couldn't really stop the earl's ability, but at least one would hopefully see when something was wrong before one's hands were affected. Furthermore, the earl once mentioned that his magic preferred to eat living things, not dead leather. Naturally, Sam didn't know that the living darkness was concerned with other things just now.
Katherine furrowed her brows, irritated. "How can you still think about my purity when there is someone dying here?!"
Sam squirmed. If it was just that easy! But he had the strict order to not let her know the truth. Still, he couldn't let the only salvation of his lord die because of carelessness. "Milady, please put them on! His lordship will be angry with me otherwise."
Katherine squinted her eyes. What was so important about wearing gloves? However, she didn't have the time to find out. "Fine then."
While putting them on, she noticed something out of the corner of her eyes. Or to be precise, the lack of something. "He stopped breathing!"
In that moment where a life was at risk, everything seemed to slow down in front of her eyes. If the patient died now, she would lose everything, the trust of the earl, her new home, and whatever he wanted to take from her after that. But all that didn't concern her, when her hands slammed down onto the patients chest. The only thing on her mind was saving a life. As long as she was in charge, she would never let her patient die. And she had been in such a situation once.
The man in front of her suddenly turned into a little boy in her eyes.