Before the Storm – Episode 13

(This is the current week’s episode that was late because Episode 12 was pushed back.  Enjoy.)

Tempest sickness is said to be like a coma to some.  Most people who black out from it, just don’t wake up.  Many of us wake up only to wait to die, some of us wake up wanting to die.  Tempest sickness of the most severe is probably the most painful thing a human being can experience and live to tell about it.  I was told once that nearly a 3rd of all those suffering severe tempest sickness are euthanized.  If it doesn’t kill you, it’s guaranteed to cause you unbearable pain, and perhaps cause irreparable damage to your body.  But, before you wake, it’s been said to be the most peaceful sleep you could ever have.  Hallucinations so real you’d think they were real.  Some people come back and are just not the same.  The things you see, and experience in that prolonged near death state are said to be life altering.  But I didn’t see anything.  I just felt blackness, nothingness.  Occasionally I’d see a light, or feel pressure or cold.  But my mind was filled with emptiness.  In this state, I could not tell how it arrived, nor how to escape it.  It just felt like a thin veneer of consciousness painted against the blackness.

I just laid there in the blackness, with no thought, but subtle awareness.  I felt impaled against it.  Twisted in it.  Sensations made no sense.  It was far more empty that even my earlier near death experience.  In the darkness I could feel a hand.  I had no idea how long I’d been sleeping.  I felt as though I was in a dark cave, plunging in and out of the water… Between life, and death.  Something was holding me back.  Every once in a while I could feel light flowing into my body like wispy mist.  Even the echoes in my mind were stifled some how.  A cave with no reverberation, and a seemingly bottomless body of water that represented the void in consciousness.  But that hand…  It kept coming back.  When it touched me, light flowed into me.  I felt a faint memory tugging at me, and a transient sorrow in its grasp.  But I couldn’t quite remember why it was there.  It was just a glowing hand in the reservoir of the ocean of my mind.  A perpetual starless, moonless night, with only one beacon in it.  I could smell only oxygen and sterile plastic.  No fear, no concerns, no lingering misgivings, only this hand tugging at my consciousness, what little remained.  I was there for what seemed like both an eternity and no time at all.  Near perfect sensory deprivation, and strangely, I didn’t mind being alone in the darkness with that beacon.  It was warm, and familiar.

I could feel a tingle in the background, and slowly the tingle grew.  My hands and feet were tingling now, and that tingle grew and grew… Then it began to roar.  Pain, and agony spread up from my limbs and started to permeate my torso.  I couldn’t help but start writhing, but I felt strapped down.  It hurt so bad that I started trying to scream, and I couldn’t.  My chest felt ever so slightly pressurized with air, and it burned.  The pain spread up to my head and it was then that I could feel the pulsating pressure within it.  Yes, though I couldn’t think of much with the pain, I came to recognize my surroundings as a bed, with blankets, sheets and a pillow under my head.  I was strapped down to the bed, which I could feel from above the blankets.  And I couldn’t scream because there was a hard tube going into my mouth and down my throat.  It was incredibly uncomfortable, in fact it tickled my throat and made me want to cough.  It was hard to breathe, but I couldn’t move.  I was fully restrained.  It hurt so bad I wished in a moment more that it would just cease… Such unbearable pain, oh my… I couldn’t take it… It hurts… It hurts too much… Make it stop! MAKE IT STOP!

I felt a familiar cool tingle flowing into my arm from what felt like an IV on my arm, and even though it still hurt I calmed a little.  Someone was holding my other hand.  The pain started to subside, and I started to feel sleepy.  The hand continued to hold mine, my beacon was real, but who would be holding my hand?  I longed to know who carried that familiar warmth that lingered at my fingertips as everything began to fall away again.  It felt as though the world sank away from me and… and… What was I talking about?

What’s going on?

Hmmm…  it’s blue here.

Where am I?

In the abyss again, but not as long this time… I could feel a cold breeze against my skin cooling what felt like a ubiquitous amount of sweet on my arm.  I swallowed, and it hurt… But there was no tube in my throat.  I could feel a mask across my face and a slight pressure pushing at the top of my nose, like that of my glasses, but not.  I could feel someone’s hair and head rested against my hand, and their hand tucked under it.  My eyes were sticky, but I was able to open my eyelids after a moment of effort.  My body ached, but there was a cool narcotic calm, and ease about it.  I was apparently heavily medicated, as every subtle motion as though I was swimming in gravy.  It was nighttime, and I could see bluish moonlight coming in the opened window.  I had cold packs piled over my feet and legs and one across my stomach.  I had to blink several times before my vision cleared enough to look at the pitch-black hairy silhouette of a head by my hand.  First only the blurry bulb of a face, and then I could see the subtle patches where the eyes, nose and mouth were.  Then it cleared more and more, though I could hardly lift my head to look.  I recognized the face now… It was Danielle… Oh my goodness, it’s Danielle… I hadn’t seen her in almost a year.  Seeing her face passed out next to me was the happiest thing I’d seen since I’d been in this institution.  She was like my motherly guardian angel.  I remember in the temple, the few times I had somewhat severe tempest sickness, that she would come out to visit.  She came other times, but she had this motherly instinct about when I was in trouble.  With all the might I could muster I worked my hand into a position where I could clutch her hand.  I leaned my torso towards the window to get more leverage on her warm palm which her head had rested against.  “Gotcha!”, I whispered quietly as I grasped her hand.  The effect of which was to move her head a little.  She readjusted her head and went back to sleep for a moment.  Then, she adjusted her head again and attempted to stretch and readjust her hand, but my hand resisted this action.  She started to wake.  “Danielle”, I whispered.  It wasn’t like I could actually talk or use my voice.  That was the best effort I could muster.  “Danielle”, I say again and she rustles up from her sleep, and looks up at me.

She then quickly wipes her eyes of sleep with her other hands, and says, “Welcome back, Glowfly.”  She’d called me that before, because when down with tempest sickness there is always a BTTG somewhere on us… Hand, Forehead, Cheek or Thigh.  It was on my cheek this time.  “You are such a handful, kitten”, she said to me smiling in the moonlight, “We really almost lost you for sure this time…  Why do you always push yourself so hard?  I hear you have a new power now too.  You have always been full of surprises haven’t you?  Well, I wish you’d stop surprising us so much… It’s bad for our health.  I swear, child.”  Danielle leans forward and kisses me on the forehead, and pets my hair.  Emotions pour through me, even through the medicated fog I am in and tears stream down my face, “Don’t get all sappy on me now…  You’ll make me cry too.”

“I made you some spiced rhubarb soup with ice cream for you to eat later when you are feeling better.  I may have dropped a few recovery tablets in it, and I instructed the nurses to make you drink at least 3 recovery drinks before they give you anything else if I am not here.  If you don’t you may not recover”, says Danielle ending in a sombre tone while playing with the length of my hair.  Tears begin to stream down her face and her reaction clues me in on the seriousness of my condition.  “I’ll be okay, Danielle, don’t worry.   I’ve never let this stuff get me down before, have I?”, I say to comfort her in my most comforting whisper I can manage.  “No, I guess you haven’t”, she affirms while gently pinching my ear lobe.

“It’s late, and I will have to leave soon.  But I’ll come back in the morning and see how you are doing.  I’ll go let the nurses know that you have woken up, and are in stable condition for the moment”, she says then hops up, rubbing her eyes again on the way to the door, “You best get well soon or I don’t know if I’ll forgive you.”  She presses the automatic door button and the door opens with the electric whine of a motor, and closes with the somewhat quiet sound of a piston letting off air after she exits.  Just knowing she is there makes me feel better though, and I am looking forward to the food she brought for me, though the recovery tablets always make it a little bitter, sometimes a little salty.  But the looming concern was still there as I looked out the window.  I could see the moons halo but not the moon itself through the window and I wondered to myself if I would lay here and waste away like so many others with this condition.  I was in worse shape than I’d ever been, in all my life.  I was on the precipice of death.  And unlike others in this place, I placed no claim upon knowing what happens to us after death.  It’s not that I see an afterlife as “impossible”, but that I can’t know if there is, or isn’t, or know how that afterlife works.  That’s not what the church would have us believe, but I digress.  Things in the world are seldom so simple, it would seem.  The moonlight calms me into a peaceful sleep, but once again I don’t know what will happen or if I will wake.  My body grows more heavy, and off I go again.

The world is shaking… Wait, no, I am shaking… Wait… someone is shaking me.  I can see sunlight ambiently shining into the room, and the cool morning breeze through it.  Danielle is shaking me, and she already has the tray table up and the rhubarb soup with vanilla ice-cream out, though it seems to be a little over frozen from being in the freezer.  “Wake up, sleepyhead.  You need to eat something”, says Danielle while poking the frozen surface of the rhubarb concoction to blend the icy part in with the unfrozen portion beneath.  The concoction must have a lot of sugar in it, because it’s not frozen through and through.  “Drink these.  You know the drill by now”, she says to me handing me the apple flavored sports drinks.  The restraints from before are gone, but I can barely lift my hands to pull my mask away.  I am so weak right now it’s not even funny.  Danielle opens my containers and sets them as close to me as possible on the tray table.  One by one I drink them.  They burn my throat a little from the irritation of the tube from yesterday.  “I hope you like it, though I don’t know how you’re going to handle it at the moment”, she says now scooting it closer to me.

I take a spoonful and put it in my mouth, and it’s tartness is almost too much for a moment, and my eyes water a bit.  But the sugar and not the spice smooths it out quite a bit.  I swallow, and damn it… “Owww”, I yelp to Danielle after swallowing the rhubarb soup.  It felt like swallowing sugary lemon juice, pineapple, grapefruit, or something to that extent.  It was really, really tart, and it hurt going down…  “Oh, I’m sorry sweetie, I didn’t think your throat would hurt that much”, she says while reaching to take the food away.  I hold up my hand to stop her, while coughing trying to recompose myself.  I scoop up another spoonful, but this time I grab the ice cream as well.  Danielle still has that pained, apologetic look on her face, but as it goes down this time it doesn’t bother me as much.  In fact, it’s actually quite good.  It still hurts, but the cold plus the ice cream seems to be a good combination.  She sighs in relief seeing that I was able to find a way to eat the dessert she made me.  I have to say, I can’t tell whether I am tearing up from the feelings conveyed in her gesture, or because of its tartness.  But I know that I am happy to tears that she is here.

Danielle might as well be my mom, or my family because she was always like this.  She was always supporting, loving, and compassionate in spite of the cold kind of world we both lived in.  Danielle told me once that it too 3 days for them to find her when she came out of breach.  She was near death, and she was being held captive by a cult that hated tempests.  She said to me once in the temple, “Nothing says more about you as a person than to be the opposite of the coldness, apathy and brutality of the world we live in.  As soon as I arrived in this new world I realized the brutality of it.  I had to escape the power of that place on my own, and wait a day for transportation out of that hellish place.  It was then that I decided to be the person I am now.  I chose not to be like the cowardly men who hide behind their fears, or shirk the responsibility for evil in the world onto others.”  That was also the first time Danielle admitted to herself and me that she was actually an atheist.  I don’t know how she could continue to work for the church after that, but I felt that if she had rebelled that she wouldn’t have been able to help me.  Knowing the sacrifices she made for me was enough for a humbling cry in and of itself.  She was probably the icon of a human being that kept me going in that hellish temple.  Hmm, I guess this is the first time I thought of the temple as what it was.  However, it was a much better choice than any alternative that could have shown itself to me at the time.

Danielle and I had a bond that felt eerily familiar, but no matter how I tried, I couldn’t put my finger on it… Everything from her smell, to the way she always played with and brushed my hair.   I asked her once when she visited me in recovery at the temple, “Do you have any children?”, to which she replied, “Not in this world.  By the time I arrived here I was unable to, as are most of us.  But I remember having about 3 sons before all this chaos, though I can’t really remember their names or faces.  It pains me on some deeper level that I can’t remember.  I feel that I miss them, but I can’t even see their faces.  I just feel their existences tugging at my heart from an unknown place that I can’t see.  When my tempest was much more potent than it is now, I rescued hundreds of men from the ravages of war.  It’s not unlike you here in this temple.  I saw so much death, and blood, that there were days that I wanted to give up, on everything.  I used to look into their faces, almost as if I were searching for my lost sons.  Watching so many of them die… it was almost too much.  Being a tier 2 then, though just barely, often times they were so bad off that I could do little more than make them comfortable before they passed.  When I first met you, Alira, even though you were a girl, I felt as though I’d discovered my lost child, or one of them.  I feel like I am a part of your family, but I don’t know why.  I couldn’t help but want to cradle you in my arms, to hug you, and protect you.  I’d never felt that for any patient I’d ever met to date.  I’ve been in this new world for 15 years now, and not once had I felt a connection with anyone, until you.  I hate leaving you here, but I know this is all I can do to protect you.  This place is cruel…  But not as cruel as…  Sorry… Look at me, bawling like a baby.  Glowfly, you are as much my child to me as anyone could be.”

“I just wish I could do more, and I wish I could remember who I was before.  Then maybe, just maybe, I could piece my life from then back together.  I don’t believe in these institutions I serve.  How could I?  All I have seen since I’ve known you and beyond is just their cruelty.  I always felt something was wrong, but perhaps it just took the right trigger.  I dunno.”  She always sounded so depressed when she talked about the horrible things the church did, but she dared not defy them.

I finished the rhubarb concoction, but it became apparent to me that I’d been spaced out the whole time.  “Welcome back from Alira-Land”, Danielle says to me.  “Oh, sorry.  I was just thinking about something you said to me back in the temple, many years ago”, I retorted.   She just smiled at me and move the bowl to the side.  With an almost elegant motion she puts away the tray table.  “So”, “How long…”, we say to each other at the same time, stopping to let the other talk.  “Um”, “What…  Oh sorry, you go”, “No, you”, we go back and forth trying to decide whose turn to speak it is.  “Okay.  How long have I been in the Tempest Ward?”, I ask Danielle.  “A week”, she says with a decisively concerned tone.  “What?!”, I exclaim trying to fathom what that means for my chances of recovery.  “That’s why I was so worried, kitten”, she says now seated on the side of my bed where the tray table had been, “You weren’t waking up, and you weren’t showing any signs of life.  Your vitals were so weak as to be barely detectable.  To be honest, I can’t believe this place put you through all that.  It’s barbaric.  But there isn’t much I can do.  It’s still unclear if…  if…  I’d rather not say.”

“That’s about all I can say for now”, she continues now staring out the window.  I dread asking the question, so I don’t ask… But in my mind I ask it, ‘Am I terminal?’  I can tell Danielle notices the change on my face thinking about it, “Hey, before I forget, I have someone who is here to see you.”

“Who?”, I ask her perplexed as to who it could be.  “Give me a second”, she says then stands up and walks to the door and motions to someone up the hall.  From around the corner emerges Fallon, and Danielle ushers her into the room.  “She showed up on Sunday, and has since come to see you every afternoon.  She was also one of the ones holding your hand to let you know someone was here when you were unconscious, and she helped the nurses healing you just yesterday.  I take it that you are good friends for her to be that concerned over you”, Danielle says.  I feel so overwhelmed that I can’t help but cry, I cry so much that I can’t see anything.  Danielle seats herself besides me again, and holds my hand while I cry.  I am not even sure why I am crying, but perhaps I am overwhelmed by knowing that she was here while I was unconscious, that she cared.  Fallon walked up to the left and placed one hand on my arm and the other against my face.  “Hmmm”, says Danielle, “What was your name again?”  She replies after looking down into my tear filled eyes for a moment, “Fallon.  Fallon Rutger.”

Danielle draws her brows in, “Hmmm, I feel like I know you.  I don’t know why, but I just do.  But I don’t recognize that name.  Strange.  Also, I wouldn’t be seen doing that with Alira if I were you.”  Fallon immediately yanks her hands away, “It’s okay, don’t worry.  I am not one to judge.  It’s just there are ‘eyes’ everywhere, and people tend to jump to conclusions”, Danielle assures.  “Well, I’ll leave her in your care for now.  There’s no classes today, and I don’t go back ’till Sunday, Alira.  So, I’ll certainly come to see you tomorrow.  Make sure you rest, and drink plenty of fluids, and recovery drinks when you can.  It was nice to meet you, and I am glad you are looking after her, Fallon.  I wish you the best.”  Danielle walks out of the room borrowing one of Ed’s goofy little waves as she leaves.

Fallon pulls up a seat by the bed.  “So”, says Fallon from my beside looking at me intently, “You’re a paladin now, I hear.”

“Perhaps”, I say back, thinking about how there is no telling what will happen to my power now.  “So, how was private study?”, I ask her back.  “Grueling, boring, and musty”, she chimes back with a sense of disappointment.  “How have”, “So, whats”, we both say interrupting each other after what seemed like an extended silence, “So, whats the doctor here been saying?”, she inquire.  “I don’t know, I haven’t talked to them.  But I know that I have been under for a week.  I’m really starting to feel like this place doesn’t like me.  Ha ha”, I respond trying to make light of my situation.  “How do you feel?”, she leans into me.  “Honestly?  I feel like I was hit by a truck, which knocked me over a cliff, where I rolled down a steep rocky hill for 3 miles, to be walked on my a moose, and then buried in snow by a squirrel who wanted to save me for a Christmas meal”, I say to her sarcastically, “Not to mention I was drugged by the squirrel so that I couldn’t get away.”  Fallon chuckles a little, because at least it seems that I have a sense of humor about it.  “Thank you”, I blurt out to Fallon who immediate goes wide-eyed and then red in the face.  She shrugs with an anxious giggle, “Don’t worry about it.  It was nothing.”  “I heard that you knocked Bueller on his but, then healed him and blacked out.  And that you’ll be moving to the paladin dorms… I don’t really like this, but…”, Fallon continues but does so with her legs crossed now and hand bracing up her head.

“The paladin dorms are nothing like the Angel Wing.  They aren’t…  They aren’t nice people there.  It’s a rough dorm.  And you won’t be able to sleep in anymore.  And… Well, I just… I don’t like it”, Fallon says to me looking up with her face resting on her arm resting against her elevated knee.  She seems almost depressed in some way, but like she is trying to act apathetic about it.  “I can always come back to visit”, I say and I am then cut off by Fallon, “You know that you’re not supposed to do that.  Not that I think Sheila will care, but… You know…”  “Then how am I supp…”, I begin to say as Fallon flies up from her chair to cover my mouth with her hand.  “I know, believe me, I do know.  These last 2 weeks have been… Well… (sigh)”, she lets go of my mouth and resumes sitting.  She resumes her earlier position but this time conceals her face from me with her hand.  Seeing her expression makes tears well up in my eyes, but not enough to over flow.  “It’ll be okay, I am sure things will work out some how”, I say to her.

“I’m not so confident, Alira.  How can I be?  This world is notorious for taking away the things I…  (sigh)”, she says in an emotional voice.  “Is there anything I can do, Fallon? You know I would”, I say to her hoping to ease whatever pain it is I am sensing inside her.

“I kind of have some clue of what your life was like.  When you speak sometimes I can see it in your mind.  I don’t know how.  But when I came out of breach, I was physically about 3 years of age.  I didn’t remember anything, but I felt estranged in this world almost immediately.  I am a rather rare type of healer… I specialize in blood.  But if it was that simple, well… I was found by an elderly man who took me to an orphanage.  I’d been hungry, cold, and lost for nearly a week when he found me.  No one, not even I knew I was a tempest back then.  I spend the first three years in this ‘new world’ in a lower end orphanage.  The other children were always scared of me, because I could somehow read what they were feeling.  They called me a ‘witch’, and some even said I was possessed by demons.  Then one day one of the kids hurt himself, and then collapsed of anemia.  Some how, I knew what was wrong with him”, Fallon explained.  “What happened then?”, I asked Fallon.  This was the first time she’d really shared much about herself beyond just basic information.  It pained me to know that I barely knew the women I loved.  “Well”, she continued, “I tasted his blood with my finger tip, and immediately confirmed my suspicions.  So as easily as breathing I brought forth my tempest which was a rich deep yellow-green hue and I cured his anemia and healed his minor wound.  I got sick for a few days after that, but otherwise I was fine.  The orphanage really had little with regards to resources, so it wasn’t uncommon for children to come down with iron deficiencies all the time.”

“After that, the other children really feared me.  Practically everyone was watching when I did it, and they starting calling me a demon, a vampire.  But the managers recognized what I was, and I was adopted out very soon after that.  I still didn’t remember much about my life before back then.  They were a rather wealthy, but cold-hearted couple.  With my dark hair, and strange features, I was shunned, even by them.  So I was locked in my room most of the time.  Only allowed to leave when there was no company, or to go to church approved schools for tempests.  I became rather pale, and with my blue eyes and starkly black hair, it made me an oddball.  Even though these children never knew me in the orphanage, they came to know me as vampire as well”, Fallon stated in memory of those times.  “Why did people treat you like that?”, I asked in a gentle and accepting voice.  “Because I was, I am a hematologist tempest, a rare one, and I could figure out what was wrong from touching their blood to my tongue.  There was a kid who’d collapsed in P.E. class, but he was still relatively alert.  And I tried to tend to him, as there were no other trained healers there at the time. 5th graders tended to be rather paranoid about me.  He wouldn’t let me look at him, so I grabbed him and bit him.  (sigh) But, that wasn’t all.  I was able to control the growth of my eye teeth, and like the legends in ancient books, I bit him, tasted his blood and recognized his condition immediately.  He had tempest poisoning, like you did the other day, so I sucked out the poison and regenerated his blood.  From that point on it was difficult to go back to school.  The children feared, even hated me for what I was able to do.  It took me a week to figure out how to reduce my teeth to normal size, but the damage had been done”, she said finishing with a depressed sounding sigh.

“So I was branded a freak, and forced to the isolation schools and nunneries.  My family hid me from the world, and had me in constant religious classes.  But no matter how hard they tried, I just couldn’t seem to use my powers any other way, and their prayers did nothing for the demons they thought I possessed.  They tried to exorcise me many times, the last one, the one before I came here was the worst.  They tried using drugs and convulsive therapy to do it.  I ended up with tempest sickness because I freaked out and just blasted power out until I collapsed.  My fangs were out the whole time.  But some how, when I got better they were convinced some how that the demon was gone.    But, yeah… (sigh).  So my reputation as a “blood drinker” precedes me everywhere I have gone.  They tried to send me back to regular school, but my complexion and skin tone still frightened other children and by that point I was very anti-social.  The only boy I’d ever expressed any interest in ran away from me screaming.  Everyone I’d ever considered a friend has been a branded tempest… And well… They don’t stick around long.” as Fallon finishes she begins to cry into her hands.  “What was it Fallon.  Who did you lose?”, asked her while reaching my hand out from the bed to her.

She scoots the chair closer and grabs my hand, “She was a lot like you.  She was an exile, she had the homosexual mark, like half of the mark on your face.  Her name was Charlotte Sprague.  To say that I… To say that I loved her, would belie how much she meant to me.  She got into the school because she was a tier 1, and she was still young when she was found.  But she had a tattoo on her when she came out of breach that identified her sexuality, and she was immediately placed into exile status.  She was my only real friend.  We’d go for walks, hand-in-hand, in the gardens of the school in Neo Zion we both attended.  It wasn’t the elite school at the top of that damned skyscraper, it was the older one build shortly after the last reformation.”  She scoots in even closer and begins to cry and places her face against my hand, I can feel her tears against the back of my hand.  It’s making me want to cry with her.  “I’m sorry… Can we stop talking about this now?  Please?”, she says with tears streaming down her face, to which I reply with a nod.  “I am so sorry that you had to go through that.  I think I understand something about you now though”, I say to her now touching her face, “I won’t probe you about it anymore.  I don’t know if there is anything to do, but all you need is to ask.  I think I can understand how you feel, though perhaps I am lucky that I was forbidden from having any real companionship in that way.”  I wipe her tears away with my thumb and concentrate really hard, but nothing comes.  And then slowly my hand starts to feel warm, and my blue flames emerge, ever so slightly and begin to flow into her skin.  She starts to smile and her face begins to have a glow about it, and then she realizes what it is I am doing and stops me, “Whoa, what are you thinking, woman?  You shouldn’t be using your temp… Wait a second… If you can use your tempest… Then that means…”, she sighs deeply, throws her head back, and closes her eyes.  “Maybe I’ll be able to sleep tonight.  You have kept me awake.  I’ll expect some form of repayment for that, but not now… You really need to rest and get better”, she says to me sarcastically.  “I promise”, barely irks from my lips before she slaps her hand over my mouth again.

“Don’t, just don’t.  Please”, she pleads with me.  “Okay”, I say to her through her hand.  She sighs and walks towards the door now, “I have to go.  We don’t want to give them any reasons, now do we?”

“Sure”, I say unsure of the entirety of what she is implying.

“I’ll see you later”, Fallon says to me with her typical pinched, vague smile.  But I can hear her saying “I hope” under her breath.

She pushes the door open manually and it gives her significant resistance before she decides to smack her hip against the button to open it.  I lean my head as far over as possible to watch her for as long as I can as she walks away down the hall.  I close my eyes, and begin to notice the effects of drowsiness from the medication, and well… Everything really.  In my half asleep state I hear someone come in, check my vitals and leave.  I don’t know what is in store for me, but something in Fallon’s reaction indicates for me that I can relax now.  This is not a case of tempest sickness I want to repeat.  I know on some deeper level just how close to death I came.  It’s not a place I want to visit again.  Not a place I want to visit ever.  But the question is, if I truly am a paladin, what does that mean for me?  And why are my powers so strange compared to others?… Still so many questions lingering on my weary mind… At least, on some level, I feel as though I can trust Fallon more.  Unfortunately, it just means I love her that much more, which will make this all the more trying in the long run.  As I begin to doze off I think, “Man, I could really use a vacation from all of this.  Seriously.”  For now, I had respite from those worries, and I could rest peacefully if only for a while… Unable to maintain any further thoughts, I fall asleep.