Of all of the dreams Fjord had had, this one had been quite possibly the worst.
He barely remembered falling asleep, just remembered being exhausted, and then all of a sudden the eye was before him, and he could breathe. A new blade was before him, something he’d never seen before. It wasn’t his; it wasn’t familiar to him whatsoever.
The same voice rang out, and he remembered Avantika’s words.
Obediently, as if he wasn’t in control, he reached out to take the sword. This one was significantly longer, more wicked looking. His only thought was of Mollymauk, of preserving his legacy, of remembrance. The voice resounded again, more frustrated this time.
Fjord shook his head. He couldn’t lose the last piece he had of Molly. If there was some way to amalgamate all 3 swords, sure, but he wouldn’t do it otherwise.
The eye narrowed, glowing brighter, and suddenly the hunger was back, deep in Fjord’s belly, and he shuddered. It hurt, it burned, and he was never prepared for it. Images of Mollymauk flashed by, his red eyes going dull, a glaive smashed into his chest, blood gushing from the wound and from his mouth. His broken body in the snow, the gurgling hitch of his final breath. That was too much, even for Fjord, and he sobbed in the water, silently begging for Uk’atoa to stop.
Suddenly, he was back in the sea, and the Summer’s Dance was before him.
“Atone,” The voice commanded, and Fjord obediently took the sword, pushing the tip of it into his mouth. Something within him whispered more, and he nearly gagged as the blade hit the back of his throat, the edges of the scimitar pushing into the sides of his throat. The hunger flared again in his belly as he hesitated.
He whimpered and took it all the way up to the hilt, then pushed further, and with one final, pained swallow the sword vanished from his throat, the hunger gone. He shuddered and heaved, blood seeping into the water. The eye seemed more pleased now.
The eye closed, and the currents tossed him this way and that, and he was lost all of a sudden, the image of Molly burned into his mind. A gentle voice, a pair of hands pulling him upright-
Fjord was awake, shivering violently and lying on the floor. His throat was burning with pain, and when he tried to breathe he found himself choking on seawater, a harsh gurgling sound that reminded him too much of his nightmare. Someone was leaning him forward, strong arms around his waist, and the movement forced up a sudden gush of pink-tinted saltwater.
He began to cough violently, chest heaving as water streamed from his mouth and nose. He coughed and coughed until he could barely sit upright, the taste of blood filling his mouth. Fjord shivered, the memories of his dream more bitter than the blood was.
The familiar feeling of saliva flooding his mouth and his stomach churning indicated he was likely going to be sick, and the feeling made him gag. Apparently, his distress was obvious enough, because the unknown benefactor was holding a garbage bin in front of him, and the coppery taste of blood was enough for bile to shoot up his throat.
He was vomiting before he could stop it from happening, shivering and occasionally letting out a tiny whimper. At one point he called out for Molly, voice barely audible due to his wrecked throat. Throwing up hurt, the acid burning the cuts in his throat. He gagged drily, shivering hard and trying not to remember the dream.
Fuck, this was a whole new level of awful.
The person keeping him up was gently rubbing his back, whispering soft words of encouragement. Her voice betrayed her identity- This was Captain Avantika, and when he realized this, Fjord’s face flushed. Once he finished, he sat back, taking big, gasping gulps of air.
“Take your time, Fjord,” she said, eyes calm in the dark. He nodded weakly. “I remember what it was like when I was first chosen. I would go days without sleeping out of fear of having another nightmare. But now.. the words of Uk’atoa only call to me, strengthen me,” She murmured, voice reverent.
Fjord could barely understand how she could be so accepting of something so terrible, and the thought of the eye made his stomach roll. “But I have since learned to control the aftershocks. As I can see, you’re having a bit of trouble. He isn’t always kind,” Her voice was surprisingly gentle, and Fjord nodded. He tapped his throat, indicating he couldn’t speak, and her eyes widened. “It must have been particularly bad, then,” She said. Fjord nodded, and weakly reached for his bag, pulling out the bag of tea Caduceus had given him specifically for this reason. “Poor thing,” she said softly, trailing a thumb over his throat, and he shivered.
He started the process of making the tea, but soon, she was gently pushing his hands away. “I’ll do it. You need rest,” She said, and he sat back, leaning against the bed and taking slow, measured breaths.
He was a little lightheaded when she came over with the tea, and he sipped it gratefully. The cool menthol of it soothed his burning, wrecked throat, and he relaxed visibly.
“I’m sorry,” He murmured, words halfway slurred from the numbing effect of the tea. She frowned.
”For what?” Her eyes were glowing slightly in the light of the moon.
“Bein’ such a mess, gettin’ sick in front of you, it’s unbecoming of me,” Fjord said, face hot, and he closed his eyes.
“No, no, I’ve seen it in myself, it’s no surprise that you’d have such a reaction,” She explained, and sighed quietly. “I suppose I should explain myself. I had a dream as well, but I don’t think it was quite so bad. There was only the taste of salt in my mouth when I woke. I came in to check if you were awake, and I found you choking. I have more than a vague idea as to what occurred in your sleep, but..” she trailed off. He shook his head.
“A party member of ours was lost, someone I was very close to. His sword, I, I took it, and it’s a part of this now. It’s one of the only things I have left of him,” He mumbled, summoning the Summer’s Dance falchion.
He ran his thumb over the flat of the blade, looking at the gold sheen and sighing. “I saw him dead in the dream, as some kind of punishment for not taking a new sword. I think I still took some of it, but not the appearance, and He wasn’t so happy about that,” He clarified. “So I had to shove the Summer’s Dance back down my fuckin’ throat after watching Molly die.” Avantika nodded, sympathy in her gaze.
”I’m sorry,” she murmured. “I know that is never enough. But I know it must hurt, to be unable to please him, because if you did, you would lose such an important piece of yourself,” Avantika mused, and Fjord nodded. Her words sort of mesmerized him, made him remember the dream in vivid detail, and his next breath came out in a pained hitch. He was sobbing before he knew what was happening, hot tears flooding down his cheeks as he shivered silently.
“I’m sorry, Molls,” He managed, voice a wrecked, quivering mess. He clearly wasn’t quite there, forehead pressed to the cool, wet metal of his sword.
She said nothing to him, watching him with those strange eyes of hers and setting a warm hand on his shoulder. She rubbed gently at a spot on the back of his shoulder, fingers gentle. Neither of them spoke for a very long time. Fjord dropped his head to her shoulder, and he sighed. Being chosen, Fjord had found, was not nearly as wonderful as Avantika seemed to think. All he had felt was alone.
Now, though, he wasn’t the only champion. Maybe he didn’t feel so alone anymore.
He willed the falchion away before he could cry more, eyes closing.
He was snapped out of his thoughts by her voice. “I know you might not want to hear this, but you need to get some sleep, Fjord. You were already run ragged when you got here, and you need to get some of that strength back for tomorrow.” She told him, and there was something in the tone of her voice that made it hard for him to disagree. He nodded weakly, and she helped him to his feet and into bed, catching him when he nearly fell back to the floor. “There we are. Just rest now.”
He pulled the blankets up and stared at the ceiling, exhaustion flooding his form and leaving him strangely tense. Avantika was watching him with a vaguely worried expression. Soon, though, he relaxed, rolling over onto his side and pulling the warm blanket closer around himself. His eyes were heavy and nearly shut.
The Captain smiled, and with a ghost of a kiss pressed to his forehead, he was fast asleep, any adrenaline left leaving his body.
His sleep was dark and dreamless at last.