Chapter 13 - Come and Save Me
Come and Save Me
The ship was rocking gently around him as if the sea didn’t want to bother his thoughts either. Adam was sitting on the simple bed in his cabin. He was staring on the floorboards with his head in his hands. His eyes were bloodshot and puffy from crying and lack of sleep. Now he felt just empty. It’s been two days since they conquered the Land of the Volcanoes capital, Devil’s Hook. Two days since he had Tommy back. Two days since Vito was killed. And two days since his brother was gone for good.
He pressed his eyes shut as he remembered how he left Tommy to Isaac’s care and ran down on the yard to his brother’s body. He was dead. His only sibling. He looked as if he was just sleeping, but the knife sticking out of his chest and the trail of blood by his mouth said otherwise. Adam pulled the knife out and let it drop on the ground next to Neil. His hands fisted on the bloody fabric of his brother’s clothes and Adam could feel hot tears slipping down his face. A choking sob was what his men around could hear while they disarmed the surviving men of the enemy. Their victory was clear and they could thank that to Neil and his brilliant plan. His last plan.
Adam couldn’t break then. He couldn’t mourn his flesh and blood. First he had to act like the king he was. Orders were to be given, the situation explained to the innocent people of the Volcanoes. He could feel Sauli’s reassuring hand on his shoulder as he tried to collect himself. He looked up at him thankful. The blonde told him to go, he’d take care of Neil’s body. It was clear the commander too was devastated by their loss. He always liked Neil and his sarcastic nature.
So Adam stood up and walked up on a few stairs to face the people. He let the tears dry on his pale face as he told about their victory. He looked at the defeated men kneeling on the ground, hands bound behind their backs. He wanted to give the order to kill them all on the spot. He wanted to watch them all die. They hurt his family and kingdom beyond words, but that was a decision for the war council to make. For now they were imprisoned, the slaves and innocent people of the land freed. He gave orders for the troops to strengthen their defenses in case Thalia decided to attack the fallen land. Reinforcements were only two days away as he learned. From now on the Land of the Volcanoes was their territory too and if the Amazon Queen wanted to attack it, she’d have to count with the anger of the Sand, Sea and Caves too. Adam didn’t think she’d risk that. Not after losing her strong ally.
After that Adam went back to Vito’s chambers just in time to see the body being carried out. He found Isaac sitting on the bed next to Tommy, who was still staring at the floor in front of him. A blanket was wrapped around his naked and shivering body. He wasn’t talking, not even when Adam went over and crouched in front of him. He avoided the dark-haired man’s gaze and only muttered one name: Taylor. Adam had no idea who that was, but he sent Isaac to find the man Tommy was calling for. His heart ached more when Tommy pulled away from his embrace. Figuring he was traumatized by these men too much, Adam didn’t try again, he was just sitting there on the floor.
Now Tommy was in another cabin with said Taylor. It turned out he was a slave and a former boy toy of that disgusting Vito. Tommy closed up completely, only letting Taylor close to him. After talking to the boy Adam learned that he used to treat Tommy’s wounds after the… sessions Vito and his men had on him. Adam didn’t even want to know the details, he could imagine too clearly what kind of awful things his husband had to live through while waiting for them to arrive and save him. But what really bothered him was that Tommy wasn’t communicating with anyone. Not even with Taylor, he just let him take care of his still healing wounds, but no words left him. The boy informed them that he became like this a few days ago and even he couldn’t change it. He said that it was probably his mind protecting itself and that it’d take some time until he’d talk again or even recognize the change of scenery around him.
Adam tried to be understanding and strong and let Taylor do his best to tend to Tommy’s wounds. He knew from experience what had to be done and Adam… he just felt useless. He felt no happiness about their victory. He lost too many things along the way to rejoice. He didn’t know what to do with Tommy, how to bring him out of this state… how to let him start healing. He wondered if the Tommy he knew was gone for good too… Like his baby brother, who looked after Adam a lot of times as if he was the older instead of the younger sibling. Oh damn, how was he supposed to face their parents now? After all, it was all Adam’s fault they lost one of their sons.
It was Adam who insisted on going after Tommy. It was Adam who didn’t want to wait and who took Neil with him. And now his brother’s blood and life was on his consciousness. He sent a messenger ahead so his parents and the kingdom could prepare for the funeral. Oh god, he just made Miriam a widow and his nephew will have to grow up without a father! He’s the worst uncle and son and husband in the world. What was he thinking?
His hands curled in his dark hair, threatening with pulling some out. Another dry and ugly sob fought its way out of his mouth. He messed everything up. Big time. Now everyone will hate him. He should have listened to their father… But then… then who knows if Tommy survived? Who could tell he wouldn’t end up dead soon?
A knock on the door interrupted his intense self-hate. He wiped at his eyes and took a few deep breaths. He had to look strong in front of others. They couldn’t see how broken he really was. He was the king. He had to show strength even if he was choking and sobbing on the inside.
“It’s open,” he said running his hands through his hair to make it appear less messy.
“Sorry for bothering, but you should come, your Majesty…” Isaac said with a sympathetic look.
“What’s going on?” he looked up.
“What’s with him?” he stood up instantly and walked closer to his husband’s personal guard.
“He has a high fever… Taylor doesn’t know what to do with him. Probably one of his wounds got infected. He doesn’t know about your family’s… skills so I came to fetch you. Maybe you can help on him,” he said quietly, seeing the deep wrinkles of worry appear on Adam’s pale face.
“I’ll be there in a minute,” the tall man whispered and stepped back to his bed, reaching under it for a brown leather bag.
He was floating between darkness and consciousness. He had no idea where he was or who he was, for that matter. He only knew he felt awful. And so hot. It was as if his skin wanted to peel off his bones. He prayed for the darkness like he always did lately. There he didn’t have to think or feel, no matter what was happening to him.
Just how long does he have to suffer? What did he do to deserve this fate? He used to be a good boy, a little rebellious as a teen, but who wasn’t like that at that age? He tried to be a good prince, tried to become a good king. And for the short while he actually was a king, he thought he did quite well on the side of his husband. So then why did the gods everyone was so fond of set him this path? Was this their way to punish him for not believing in them?
If it was then they did a good job, because Tommy wanted nothing else than just die and finally find peace. But who could tell if that was the case after death came for him? What if the afterlife was just another form of suffering? If there was an afterlife at all…
Hot. So fucking hot… Water. Someone give me water…
But what was he expecting from his captors? The barbaric animals that raped and beat him up repeatedly until he could barely move. The ones who made him starve until he was nearly skin and bones… reaching a point where even if he ate, more than not he threw up that little too… Then after a while – which felt like months to him – he stopped feeling the hunger too. His body was in constant pain most of the time so he started to seek shelter in the depths of his mind. And most of the time it worked.
But not today. Today this heat was dragging him out of his quiet and dark place, making him feel all the wounds, bruises and pain his broken body housed.
Until… until there was a sweet smell mixing into the salty air of the sea. That scratching feeling in the back of his throat from the ash slowly fading away. The scent got somewhat stronger and there was a strange high voice, like when someone was using a singing bowl. It was quite relaxing and certainly drew his attention away from the pain and heat he was feeling.
Then he realized someone was chanting and finally something was cooling his head and arms and that ugly burn on his side. Breathing came somewhat easier and the need to scream for someone to stop this all lessened a bit.
That chanting and the cool touches on him combined with the sweet scent soon relaxed his mind and body enough to send them into a healing deep sleep.
“He should be okay from now on. Make sure he gets enough water,” Adam opened his eyes after he came back from the trance-like state he was in. He was using one of the many healing techniques combined with the ancient knowledge he was taught as a Lambert.
The air in the cabin was still heavy with the sweet smell of incense and different kinds of herbs were plastered on Tommy’s wounds.
“When he wakes up, call for me and I’ll prepare an herb tea for him. That should help with the rest of his fewer and relax his mind and body so he can heal faster,” Adam said quietly and put everything away, not caring about the amazed looks he got from Taylor and Isaac.
“Thank you, your Majesty,” Taylor bowed. He looked better than when Adam first saw him. He was bathed, a simple but more comfortable tunic was given to him and the leather-band of the slaves was cut off from his neck. As he and Tommy seemed to have grown close and he was a free man now, he asked if he could go with them to the Sand. Adam had no objection. The boy seemed to know what to do with Tommy and the broken blond let only him close. That hurt Adam, but he didn’t show it. He knew he had to be patient with him.
Now he just nodded and looked at the more relaxed man he called his husband. “Tell me if anything changes about his state.”
“You don’t want to stay?” Isaac asked standing by the door.
“No. I just… can’t. I can’t,” he mumbled picking up his bag and left the cabin to get some fresh air.
The ship slowly sailed into the harbor. People were lined up everywhere. Adam looked up at the rebuilt Oudjat and saw the simple black flags of grief dancing in the wind. He sighed and closed his eyes for a few moments to pull himself together and step into the role of the king. His expression was far from his usual one. The pain and exhaustion was clear in the hard lines as they slowly left the ship. He was leading the small march towards the palace while behind him men were carrying the casket covered by a black cloth. Taylor was in a palanquin with Tommy. This time the curtains were drawn closed. They agreed with Isaac that they shouldn’t let the people see their other king in his current state.
It was hot. Adam could feel the sweat beams on his forehead and at the back of his neck. His heart got heavier with each step they took among the grieving people and towards the palace where he’d have to face their parents. Some of the people were crying, but most of them just stood there in silence, giving the respect the dead deserved.
The king was looking straight ahead as he was playing the role which was expected of him. By the time they reached the top of the stairs that led up to the palace, his face was rendered into an expressionless mask.
Former queen or not, first his mother ran to him with tears sliding down on her pale face. It was clear that she had little sleep since she got the bad news. For a moment Adam was afraid she’d slap him or something, but nothing like that happened. Leila just threw her arms around his eldest and sobbed into the broad chest. The young king swallowed hard and put his long arms around his mother. His red eyes were burning from the unshed tears, but somehow he still managed to hold them back as he looked at his father over Leila’s head. Eber had similarly red eyes and he didn’t seem to blame Adam either. Not yet, at least.
After a minute his mother finally let him go and his father could greet him too.
“I’m so sorry. This is all my fault, mother, father. I couldn’t keep him safe,” he whispered hoarsely and he sighed bitterly when he spotted Miriam with Joshua sitting on her arm, tears flowing freely on her kind face, but she made no sound. Adam made his way to her too and went down on one knee. “Miriam, I beg for your forgiveness too. I do anything you ask to help you and my nephew.”
“Adam… raise. Please,” she whispered while Joshua was watching silently. It seemed the little boy felt it instinctively that something bad happened. “My heart is bleeding as I loved your brother dearly. But I don’t blame you. He had a good death, fighting for you, Tommy and our kingdoms. He had a warrior’s death. Please… don’t blame yourself. What I’d ask for, you cannot fulfill as the dead must stay dead. Thank you for bringing his body back to us,” she said and Adam was amazed just how well his brother had chosen when he took this strong woman as his wife.
The young king stood up, hugged her and Joshua to him and pressed a kiss on his nephew’s head. He could hear him asking for his papa, but Adam was already on his way to rejoin his parents and the march up to the throne room where his brother’s body would be kept until the funeral so the people of Oudjat and the kingdoms could pay their respect.
Once inside the palace they let the servants take the casket away to prepare the body for the ceremonies and for their parents and wife to see Neil and say their goodbyes. Adam already did that on the ship. He was sitting by Neil’s body for hours sobbing, talking to him, thanking him for being the good brother he couldn’t be and apologizing.
“How’s Tommy?” Leila finally asked watching as the palanquin was taken towards the royal chambers.
Adam shook his head and sighed heavily. “He’s not well, mother. He was being tortured… they did horrible things to him. He is still in shock, not himself. It’ll take time. I… we can announce that we managed to save him and that he needs time to heal… But I don’t want the people seeing him like this. Besides the funeral will be there too. I brought a young boy, Taylor with him from the Volcanoes. He used to share the same fate and was to tend Tommy’s wounds while he stayed in that awful place. Sauli stayed behind with his troops…”
“Son, we can talk about these things tomorrow,” he suddenly felt Eber’s hand on his shoulder and Adam couldn’t stand how kind and sympathetic his look was besides the obvious grief in his eyes.
“Ron is here and Tommy’s sister’ll probably visit soon too. We’ll talk in the war council tomorrow. As I see you have the traitor captured too,” Eber looked over Adam’s shoulder. The chained and muted Carlo was being dragged towards the prison cells. Adam just nodded, a sudden wave of anger washing over him, but he controlled himself with his last strength. “We’ll deal with his fate tomorrow as well.”
“Go, refresh yourself and try to rest a little, son. You look exhausted,” his mother said softly.
Adam nodded and mumbled a ‘thank you’ and went after Tommy and Taylor just to meet Sutan in the royal chambers, who was already preparing the baths.
Later that night Adam was letting out some tension while crying in his mother’s arms curled up like he and Neil used to do when they were small.
My dear readers! Thank you for all the kudos, comments and patience again! :)
I just wanted to tell you that next Monday's chapter might be a few days late as I'll be away. I hope breaking the "Monday Update" tradition won't stop you all from waiting the next chapter just as much. I'll try to update as soon as possible, promise! ;)