Everin woke up and went through his usual routine. He enjoyed the half-second of bliss before his memories caught up with him. This time, when they hit, they crashed over him like a wave, threatening to drown him. Every sad morning that Everin had ever experienced was nothing compared to this. He was aware of every nuanced feeling of loss, hatred, regret, and sorrow that ran through his consciousness. It was like he’d never known what feeling sad was like before this moment.
The pain was too much to bear. This misery sucked the life from his body. He groaned and screwed his eyes shut even tighter.
Suddenly, there was a cry of “he’s awake!”
Everin heard footsteps running across a wooden floor and felt a hand gently rest on his shoulder.
“Everin, can you hear me?” the voice asked.
Slowly, he forced himself to open his eyes. He saw Cora standing over him, but something was different about her. She had a faint green aura around her figure. Everin wasn’t sure how, but he knew she was scared.
“Cora, you’re glowing,” he said.
Worry lines crossed her face, and the intensity of the light slightly increased.
“That’s what you said earlier, Everin. Are you sure you’re seeing clearly? Here, let me see if this helps.”
She dabbed at his cheeks with a cloth. For the first time, Everin realized that he was crying. He blinked and rubbed his eyes in an effort to clear his vision as Cora wiped the lines of water off his face.
“You’re still glowing,” he said.
“Maybe the water screwed with his brain?” another voice ventured.
Everin turned and saw Ford standing over him on the other side of the bed. Like Cora, Ford had a faint green light surrounding his being.
“You saw what he did to those soldiers. That has to have something to do with what he’s saying,” Cora insisted.
Everin heard a door swing open.
“Ah, he’s awake,” a third voice said. It was familiar, but Everin couldn’t place where he’d heard it before.
Slowly, he pushed himself into a sitting position. At the foot of his bed, he saw Gamah, the healer of Greenshadow Village. He examined his surroundings for the first time. He was in a small room with stone walls. Shelves covered in bandages, jars of ointments, and other medical supplies were lined up to his left. To his right, a large window was cut into the wall. Everin looked outside and saw that the sun was low on the horizon. He also realized that he recognized the view through the window.
“I’m back in Greenshadow Village?” he asked.
“That’s right,” Gamah said. She was an old woman with long, gray hair and had served as the village healer for as long as Everin could remember. She also had an aura about her. It was a soft green with touches of blue mixed in.
“You have your friends to thank for that,” she continued. “If not for Cora and Ford, you’d probably be dead.”
Everin looked over at Cora.
“What happened?” he asked.
“After you fought off the soldiers, you blacked out. Ford carried you to the nearest path, and we followed it until we ran into some traveling merchants. They let us ride in an empty cart and carried us to Greenshadow Village. We arrived last night, and Gamah let us stay here.”
“You mean it’s the morning?” Everin asked.
Cora nodded. “Everin?” she asked, her tone deadly serious. He saw the green aura around her flare even stronger.
“What happened back there? It looked like green lightning was coming out of your hands.”
Everin closed his eyes and put a hand to his face. “Honestly, I don’t know,” he said. “I woke up back there because I sensed your fear. I opened my eyes, and I saw it.”
“You saw our fear?” Ford asked.
Everin nodded. “It looked like this intense green aura around both of your bodies. I’m not exactly sure how to describe what happened next, but I used it. I absorbed the green energy from both of you and released it through my hands.” He turned to look at his friend.
“Cora, I don’t know how else to explain it, but I think I can see people’s suffering. And I think I can control it.”
Cora shook her head in disbelief. “So, when you said I was glowing…”
“I was seeing your fear.”
“Hmm, are you sure that he didn’t hit his head on the way here?” Gamah interrupted their conversation.
“I know it’s crazy, but I don’t know how else to explain what I’m sensing,” Everin replied. “I can see your suffering right now.”
“My suffering?” Gamah asked. “What does it look like?”
Everin studied the energy radiating from the woman’s body. “Well, it’s mostly a gentle green. I guess that’s your fear about what’s happened to me. And there’s also traces of blue. You’re overcoming a sadness right now.”
Gamah’s eyes widened. “I lost a patient last week. They were sick with an infection that I couldn’t figure out how to treat, but there’s no way he could have known that,” she told Cora and Ford. Everin saw her eyes begin to glisten with a layer of water, and the blue energy started to intensify around Gamah’s figure.
“Don’t be sad,” he said. “Here, let me help you.”
Instinctively, he reached a hand forward. Tendrils of the blue light began to leave her body, reaching for Everin’s outstretched digits. Soon, all the blue energy had poured itself out of Gamah’s body and into Everin’s own. As the threads of blue energy swirled up and down Everin’s arm, sadness hit him like a physical blow to his face. A sharp feeling of loss overcame him. He sniffled and blinked hard several times in an effort to fight back stinging tears.
“Everin, are you alright?” Cora asked. The three of them watched Everin struggle, unable to see the azure energy clinging to his body.
Everin struggled to free himself from this painful energy that added itself onto the sorrow that had gripped him that morning. He opened his palm and focused on expelling the power, pushing it down the length of his arm.
Cora and Ford gasped as a glowing blue ring formed just above Everin’s open palm. He exhaled as he pushed the energy from his body. A short beam of blue light fired itself upward from Everin’s palm. It blasted into the thatched roof, punching a hole the size of Everin’s fist through the ceiling. Bits of straw drifted down onto the group.
Everin groaned. “I’m sorry. I didn’t realize that would happen.”
Gamah looked at him with a combination of awe and shock. Her mouth was agape, but the corners were twitched upward in a slight, disbelieving grin.
“My sadness. It’s gone,” she said.
“You mean Everin made your sadness go away?” Cora asked, incredulous.
Everin shook his head. “No. I didn’t make it go away. I took it from her – just like what I did earlier with the energy from your fear. I absorbed it, experienced all her feelings of loss and regret, and then released it as energy. I don’t know how I knew to do it, I just did.”
“So, you experienced her pain for her?” Cora asked him.
“Only her sadness,” Everin added. “She’s still scared about what’s happened to me, so she has some green aura left. And I can’t make her forget about her patient. Her mind is already starting to generate more blue energy. All I did was provide temporary relief.”
“At the cost of your own well-being,” Gamah added. Her concerned expression had returned. “Please, Everin, don’t do that again. I appreciate your trying to help, but this pain is something I need to work through on my own.”
Everin nodded. “Okay. I’m sorry.”
Letting Gamah’s sorrow flow through him had taken more out of Everin than he’d expected. He felt both his physical and mental energy draining.
“Can I go back to sleep?” he asked.
Cora shook her head. “Everin, we can’t stay here. You stunned those soldiers, but you didn’t kill them. They’re probably close to rejoining the royal procession as we speak. Once they’re reunited with whoever was giving them orders, they’ll report that we attacked them and deserted.”
“You know what the penalty for desertion is, right?” Ford asked.
Everin groaned and let his head tilt back into the wall behind him. “Argh, I hate myself. I get every single person who cares about me killed.”
“Hey,” Cora grabbed his arm. Everin looked to her and saw her staring intently into his eyes.
“We’re not going to die. I don’t care if we have to hide until the war’s over. We’re not going to just sit here and get arrested. And Everin?”
“This situation isn’t your fault, so don’t talk about it like it is. I know this isn’t time to bring it up, but I’ve been studying you for the past year. I don’t know exactly what happened on the night your parents died, but I know that you blame yourself for it. Everin, don’t blame yourself for this too. It isn’t your fault.”
Slowly Everin nodded, his cheeks burned with emotions that he couldn’t identify even with his new insight.
“Cora makes a good point,” Ford added. “If we stay here, they’re going to come for us to put us on trial.”
“So, we’re going to run?” Everin asked.
Cora nodded. “For now, until we have a better understanding of the situation. Gamah has agreed not to tell anyone that we returned to the village.”
Everin looked to Gamah, and she nodded. “I’m no friend of King Valen. I think he stopped being worthy to rule the second he began sacrificing the lives of children for the sake of increasing his power.”
Everin nodded gratefully and looked back to Cora and Ford. “If our visit here is a secret, does that mean you won’t see your families?”
Cora shut her eyes for a moment and quickly shook her head. “It’s too easy for word of our visit to get out, and then they might torture Gamah or our parents or even Crista for information of our whereabouts.” Cora’s green aura had been steadily fading as Everin had demonstrated that he was healthy. However, sorrowful blue energy began to cloud around her figure now.
The new instinct that Everin had gained told him to reach out his hand and absorb the blue aura, but he held himself back. Instead, he placed his hand on top of hers.
“I’m sorry,” he said.
“Thanks.” She gave him a weak smile.
“Do you three know where you’re going to go?” Gamah asked.
Ford reached into his pocket and withdrew a folded piece of paper. “This was the set of instructions given to the soldiers who took us to the ruins. It also provides instructions on where Everin was to be taken next. It might not be the safest place, but I’ll bet its where the answers are.”
Ford handed the paper to Everin, who carefully unfolded it. At the top of the page was a detailed map of Allomoria. Beneath the figure was a set of written instructions. Everin skimmed the writing.
“Bring Everin Thornwood to the specified ruins. Send two expendables in with him to ensure his safe return. Do not go into the forest yourself. Ensure that he enters the pool inside the ruins by instructing him to retrieve a metal rod from the water. Make sure that he gets in the water – this part is crucial. Execute Everin’s companions when he returns. Bring him directly to me at the royal castle in Doronhine.”
Everin froze when he read the last two lines of writing at the bottom of the page. For a second, his heart stopped beating. Time stopped flowing. All that existed in that moment was Everin, the words on the bottom of the page, and his memories of the worst night of his life.
Follow these instructions with all due haste and discretion. Good luck.
Next chapter: https://sorrowandlove.home.blog/chapter-8-everin/