Considering how tumultuous the first leg of the trip to Carthis had been, Cyrus was more than just relieved to set foot on solid ground once more. Even if that solid ground happened to be covered in snow and ice and a terrible chill his desert-born bones weren’t used to.
Even if he was partial to winter weather, though, there were far too many things calling for his attention to stay ashore for long. His little stunt with the Beacon’s engine had done some considerable damage he was going to need at least a few days to fix. The Dionysian was still running on fumes without a credit in sight. And the crew, they were shaken, confused, and possibly in danger if any of the Carthian authorities found out what ship they were aboard.
But all of those things would have to wait because one thing called out to him louder than the rest. Literally.
Cyrus was just passing through the Dionysian’s crew deck on the way to his quarters to pick up a few things when he heard it: a faint but distinctive yelling from the lower deck, almost drowned out, but somehow managing to echo up through the metallic hallways to meet his ears. As he paused mid-step through the mess hall, Cyrus’ gut filled with a sense of dread. As indistinct as it was, he knew who the voice belonged to. And he knew, despite his misgivings, he had to go down there and face him.
Leta had said that Fiearius was getting better. Certainly, Cyrus thought, as he carefully approached the infirmary door, he was more vocal than before. But she’d claimed he was actually speaking normally, sounding like himself. So why, he wondered, was Fiearius now shouting indecipherable words all on his own? As Cyrus gently pushed open the infirmary door, he was worried who he’d find behind it: his brother or a madman?
But the moment he opened the door, the shouting stopped and the scene before him was nothing like what he’d expected. Fiearius was slumped pathetically against the base of the bed, his legs splayed out awkwardly in front of him on the floor. He looked up at Cyrus and breathed a heavy sigh of relief.
“Dov’ha ti’arte, I thought you were all dead or something,” he explained. “Help me up, would ya?”
Cyrus stood stunned in the doorway for just a moment. It had been over a month since he’d heard Fiearius actually sound like — well, Fiearius. Leta hadn’t been exaggerating after all. He really was getting better. As he watched his brother try and right himself, clenching his eyes in pain as he shifted weight onto his injured legs, he finally moved to action.
“What the hell happened?” he had to ask as he rushed forward, seizing Fiearius’ arm and helping him up back onto the bed.
“I could ask you the same,” Fiearius groaned as he sprawled out flat on his back in relief. “The fuck was going on out there? This ship ain’t shaken that much since — ever actually. And for her that’s saying a lot…Sat up for a second and got knocked straight to the ground.”
Cyrus winced and leaned up against the opposing counter. “We were taking fire,” he explained quietly. “The Society found us. Well…” Cyrus eyed him carefully. He wasn’t sure exactly how much he should say. After all, just a week ago, Fiearius had gone from cursing the Society to a thousand hells to singing their praises in a matter of minutes. Who could say what would send him back to that?
Nonetheless, he finished, “Ren told them where we were. So…we left. And the Beacon took some damage. But we escaped. We made it to Carthis. They didn’t follow.”
As Cyrus spoke, Fiearius’ expression remained locked onto him in serious concentration, as though he were carefully translating every word. It was only moments after he’d finished that Fiearius lifted his brows and let out a sigh. “Carthis, huh?” Cyrus nodded. “So they agreed to help out then.”
“Yeah,” Cyrus confirmed. “But…only Ren. They don’t know we’re here.” He looked away and his expression fell into one of apology. “They won’t help you.”
A small bitter laugh passed Fiearius’ lips, but he shrugged. “Figures.”
Cyrus reluctantly flicked his eyes back up to his sibling’s face. “You seem…better though,” he ventured.
A familiar wry smirk twisted the corner of Fiearius’ lips. “Yeah I seem better,” he agreed, though he certainly didn’t sound convincing. Not convincing enough to soothe Cyrus’ nerves anyway. He must have looked just as disconcerted as he felt because after a moment, Fiearius added, “But hey, I’ll be okay. I don’t need no damn Carthians’ help.” Before Cyrus could think to respond to what was clearly just an attempt to make him feel better, Fiearius frowned and reached out to put a hand on his shoulder. “How are you?”
At first, Cyrus didn’t know how to respond. ‘Terrible’ was probably the instinctive answer. Or ‘terrified’ maybe. ‘Hopeless’, ‘lost’, ‘desperate’, ‘confused’, any of them would work, but as he looked up into his brother’s face and saw his brow crease in genuine concern, he found he couldn’t say any of them. All he could say was, “I’ll be okay too.”