"What now?" said Euric, to his cousin Bulgar and Fridok who stood idly nearby. They were soldiers who suddenly found themselves without their commander. It was an honest question for Euric to ask, and Fridok was thinking the same thing. After all, the Son was the only one who knew the lay of the land and what dangers might lurk around every corner, and he had already put significant distance between himself and the others as he carried Gailavira's unconscious body back to the City. Bulgar shrugged, offering no solutions. Fridok wanted to follow the Son, and thought very much borrowing one of the horses to ride off and catch up to him. At least that would put some distance in between him and Alaric, so he could focus on the things that really mattered.
Time and space shattered in a blast, as if He had been hit by one of the war machines of old that had seemingly been forgotten in the time and place where He now found himself. Father... Where have you gone? The time before His exile was out of reach to Him, and this new world He had awoken to find was barely reminiscent of the world where He had spent the entirety of His life. As His thoughts meandered and splintered into a thousand directions, He allowed them to do so with nothing but the passionate pleading of an unfamiliar feminine voice to underscore the deconstruction and reconstruction of his thoughts. Where was I? A vision of the Eternal Flame still blazing atop the Pearly Stair after millennia of decay came to the forefront of the theater of his mind. The Pearly Stair.
He could faintly hear the sounds of someone calling to Him, commanding Him. It was a voice that He hardly knew, feminine, not a part of his core memory before the Exilium. Should He obey? By what right did that voice have to command Him? His thoughts were disjointed, broken, confused. There was so much that had happened in his exile, so many years that were lost to Him. Even His Father was missing in this broken version of their world. Why were the Gifts taken from the people? Why were His brethren subjected to such an impossibly cruel fate? Why had God forsaken mankind?
Wake up. Gailavira lay the damp cloth across the forehead of the Son, wiping away the sweat beads that continued to coalesce there. She had already administered to thousands of mortal patients in her second life, prior to meeting the Son. She had only lived one actual life, of course, but she called the time spent after the death of her child and husband her second life because of how drastically different it was from the time when they were still alive. She had become something new, something worthy based upon her own merit, and her value was now derived from her dedication to saving lives. Still, there were times when she could not save her patients. Those were the times that bore the greatest burden upon her.
Art was pulled back to consciousness abruptly by the overpowering aroma of something repulsive. Opening his eyes, he was met immediately by the source of the smell. Face to face with a corpse lying on its side next to him, Art tried and failed to rise from his position. He quickly realized that he was somewhere on the bottom of a pile of corpses, some fresh, some rather far along on the pathway to rot. A newly appreciated claustrophobia overtook Art him as he pressed violently against body parts trying to unbury himself from the pile. He pushed against one corpse that looked the least decomposed, but quickly found it to be rather rigid and immovable. It wasn't until he pressed his hand firmly against a cold, worm-infested body that he managed to make some progress in escaping the heap of corpses in which he was lumped.