Slumber Page 12

I was too angry to pay attention. I wanted to stamp my foot like a child, my head bursting with the pain of hitting the brick wall she insisted on putting up. “Haydyn, it’s a good idea. But not the best idea. Not the only idea. Surely we can come up with something else. You don’t-”

“Rogan-”

“- know if Andrei of Alvernia is a despicable lout like the rest of the mountain people are supposed to-”

“Rogan-”

“-be. He could be-”

“Rogan!” Haydyn gasped out and fell towards me. My heart flared in panic and I rushed to catch her. As my arms encircled her before she hit the ground, her eyes rolled back in her head and she grew limp, lifeless in my arms.

“Haydyn.” I shook her, a nauseating fear growing in my chest. “Haydyn.” I shook her harder but her eyes wouldn’t open. She was so pale. So deathly pale. I choked on a sob. “Haydyn!” I gasped. “Wake up!” I shook harder, a sob breaking out from the pit of my stomach. “MATAI!” I screamed now. “MATAI!”

Chapter Five

The room was silent. Like death had crept into the palace and snuffed out all the candles, all the cheer, all life. I looked around at my companions and swallowed past the constriction in my throat.

“I’ve called you all here for a reason,” I whispered and cleared my throat to be heard.

After Haydyn had collapsed in my arms, Matai had burst into the room in the company of Wolfe who had stopped outside the suite to enquire after the shouting match going on between Haydyn and I. Unable to rouse Haydyn, I silently made my way through the Palace, terrified of spreading my panic. I quietly ushered Valena and Raj to the suite. When Raj told us gravely he and Valena needed more time to discover Haydyn’s unwaking illness, deep suspicion and fear began to coalesce in my chest, so I sent a messenger out for Vojvoda Jarvis and Grofka Ava. I met them in the grand entranceway and brought them to my suite, where Wolfe and Matai waited.

They paled at the news of Haydyn’s collapse. Outraged to learn it wasn’t the first time. I bore the brunt of the glares.

Finally, Valena called us through to Haydyn’s suite. A passing maid’s eyes widened at the site of our illustrious group going in and I shooed her away with a warning that if she spoke of this to anyone she would be swiftly booted out of the palace. She gulped and nodded, hurrying away. I ignored the reproving look Wolfe threw my way.

Inside we were greeted by a very grave Raj. And then he confirmed our worst fears. Haydyn had fallen ill to the Somna. The rarest of illnesses in Phaedra, the Somna, more colloquially known as the Sleeping Disease, was a mystery to us. No one knew where, why or what caused it. There had been fewer and fewer records of the Somna over the last centuries, but every now and again… it took hold of someone without warning. It caused a growing lethargy that soon caused the victim to fall into a coma-like state. If the victim was lucky enough to have a Dravilec close by, the healer could hold off death by healing the sleeping person from starvation and dehydration. If not, death was inevitable… unless one could find the rare leaves of the Somna Plant, the only cure to the Sleeping Disease. A plant that was said to be extinct now.

I gazed around the Chambers of the Rada at Jarvis, Ava, Matai, Wolfe, Valena and Raj. Only we knew Haydyn was dying. That’s why Phaedra was falling apart. Unbeknownst to her, her magic was waning with her illness.

I thought of my harsh words to Haydyn, the words that had been my last. I flinched and then gritted my teeth. They wouldn’t be my last. Haydyn was not dying. Not while I had breath in my body.

“Someone, command me to seek the Somna plant,” I urged, almost violently.

Wolfe’s eyes widened as everyone shifted, as if waking out of a coma themselves. “Of course,” he whispered, and they all seemed to admonish themselves for not having thought of it before. “Rogan-”

“Not you,” I interrupted. I wouldn’t be ordered to seek anything from another Stovia again. If I hadn’t known any better I would have thought I’d hurt Wolfe’s feelings by the wounded look I received. I ignored him and turned to Jarvis. “Vojvoda.”

He nodded militantly. “Rogan, I want you to seek the Somna Plant.”

Waves crashed over me and I shuddered at the current of energy that dragged on and on. I’d never been hit with my magic like this before, my nerves buzzing and twanging, my muscles twitching. But as I saw the Somna Plant buried in the northern most point of Phaedra, I knew why. I had never had to seek anything so far from me before. “It exists,” I exhaled in relief, my heart in my throat, tears pricking my eyes. I felt them all exhale with me.

“Where?” Matai croaked.

I smirked unhappily at the thought of my journey ahead. “The Pool of Phaedra.”

Ava gasped. “In the Mountains of Alvernia?”

I shrugged. “Is there any other?”

“You’re going to retrieve it, aren’t you?” Jarvis gave me a worried look.

Scornfully, I curled my lip back. How dare he question my honour?! “Of course, I am,” I snapped, my brain whirring with what needed to be done. “We’ll send word ahead to Vojvoda Andrei Rada that I and some of the Royal Guard are coming to visit his province. Let him and everyone else think Haydyn’s sending me to feel out a possible betrothal between her and the Markiz. Everyone knows Haydyn defers to my opinion, so no one will question it. In reality, I will spend only a day or so at Arrana and head into the mountains to retrieve the plant.” I looked around at them all sternly, not taking a moment for a breath. “Back here, Haydyn has decided she would like some peace from palace life. She’s going to stay in her cottage in Land’s End. Only Matai, Raj…” I took a moment to think who would be most trustworthy. “She’ll need a chaperone for appearances sake so we’ll send Seamstress Rowan with you. She can be trusted.” I stared them all down. “No one must know the truth but us and Rowan.”

They all gazed at me like they’d never seen me before. Jarvis gave me what could pass for a warm look as he nodded. “It’s an excellent plan, Rogan.”

“How long will it take you to retrieve the plant?” Valena asked quietly, her fingers worrying the handkerchief in her hand. She hadn’t stopped crying since she’d helped Raj uncover Haydyn’s illness.

Unwillingly I looked to Wolfe. He was the only one who knew the provinces well. He cocked his head to the side thinking about it. “Without interruption? With the Royal Guard-”

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