Coral found herself running down the hallway searching for Atargatis. She had tried the location spell that Tahlmus always used, to know where they were when he needed them. She hadn’t been able to pinpoint Atargatis’ exact location, but she knew what part of the estate Atargatis was in. She ran faster as she knew the others were waiting at the main entrance, and Tahlmus was counting on them to find him.
“Atargatis,” she called out as she reached the southeast corner of the estate. “Atargatis, where are you?”
Atargatis popped out from behind one of the doors. “I’m right here,” she said. “Do you need…” she didn’t get to finish the question as Coral grabbed her hand and pulled her back towards the entrance hall.
“No time to explain. Just know that Tahl needs us.” Atargatis tried nodding as she managed to get her feet under her to run on her own. As they rounded the corner, she saw Celestial, Fleur, Laguna, and Lillianna all pacing anxiously.
“I found her,” Coral said panting.
“Then we have no time to lose,” Lillianna stated. “We’re going to need a boat.” The others just nodded as they hurried out the door. Atargatis still wasn’t sure what was going on, but she followed after them. At the water, they found a man renting out boats. Celestial sang her song to the him, while the others snuck past and climbed into the nearest boat. Celestial soon followed, and they set off.
Fleur used her magic to communicate with the sea creatures, who helped the boat move faster. While in the boat Lillianna recounted everything to Atargatis, from Tahlmus coming to get Kanes’ amulet, to Aesop coming back to tell her that Tahlmus was in trouble and needing medical attention.
Atargatis felt her heart start to ache. She had always admired Tahlmus from afar. She had never wanted to interfere with the others, but every moment she got to spend with Tahlmus, she could feel herself wishing she could be more to him. As they got onto the beach, Atargatis started wondering if she’d be able to do what was needed. She had known some healing magic before meeting Tahlmus, and he had been working with her on more powerful spells, but she hadn’t mastered any of them yet.
They made their way as fast as they could across the sand, following Aesop. As they made it to the tree line, they noticed Aesop had stopped and was circling several feet in. Hurrying over they found Tahlmus lying face first on the ground. His robes were disheveled and torn, and a small pool of blood was starting to dry under his right hand.
Atargatis quickly used a spell that removed all of Tahlmus’ clothing except his undergarments, before kneeling at his side. The others could see wounds mostly on his side, though there were a couple along his neck and shoulders.
“Is he…” Coral’s voice trailed off.
“No,” Atargatis replied. “He’s breathing… barely… but he’s breathing.”
Atargatis then focused on his right hand. It was mostly severed from his wrist and while it looked like he had tried to heal it, the bleeding had not completely stopped. She started weaving her magic, as she tried to stop the bleeding. She had seen how pale his face was, and knew Tahlmus had lost a lot of blood. After getting the bleeding to stop, Atargatis started trying to weave a spell Tahlmus had taught her. It was a spell one could use to heal wounds that needed stitches.
She tried and tried until tears streamed down her face, to get his hand to reattach to his wrist, but it wouldn’t work. Atargatis couldn’t get the spell to work. Refocusing onto Tahlmus himself, she noticed he was somehow growing more pale, and his breathing was even more shallow. Atargatis almost smacked her palm against her forehead. “Other wounds,” she thought, “he’s still bleeding somewhere.” Taking a deep breath she turned her head to the others. “Help me turn him over,” she said.
Celestial, Coral, Fleur and Laguna all went over and carefully turned Tahlmus onto his back. His body felt like dead weight, but once on his back they could just barely see his chest rising and falling with each breath. They also saw scrapes, cuts, and deep gashes all over his upper body, some of the deeper ones were still bleeding. Atargatis started weaving magic to heal his upper body. The small scrapes and cuts healed with no visible traces. The larger wounds however, left scars. Atargatis felt the sting of fresh tears. She was failing him.
“What about… about…” Fleur could only point at Tahlmus’ hand which lay by his side still half severed.
Atargatis closed her eyes, willing the tears not to fall. “I… I’m going to have to remove it. I’m not strong enough to save it.” She raised her hand to perform the necessary magic, but she couldn’t bring herself to complete the spell. “I… I can’t do it…” she whispered.
Lillianna came forward and knelt by Atargatis. She had been standing back with Aesop perched on her shoulder. She had not wanted to interfere, but knew she had to now. If Atargatis couldn’t fix the severed wrist then it had to be removed or the area could become infected causing much worse problems. With Tahlmus in a very weak state, they couldn’t risk infection, otherwise he’d die.
“I’ll remove it,” Lillianna whispered taking Atargatis’s hand in hers. Atargatis just nodded. Lillianna then released her grip and started to perform a very different form of magic, which finished removing the hand from the wrist. Holding the now completely severed hand in her own, Lillianna felt hollow inside. She had never used the spell before, and to have used it on someone who had taken time to care for her, made her feel empty.
Without a word Atargatis stemmed the new flow of blood, then healed and bandaged his wrist.
“What… what do we do now?” Laguna asked finally taking her eyes off of Tahlmus’ body and looking at the others.
“We have to get him back to the estate,” Celestial stated in a much stronger voice than she felt. Using a little magic that Tahlmus had taught her, a clean pair of robes appeared on him.
“I… I think I can levitate and move him,” Coral stated in a more monotone voice, “but we should go the back way to the estate.” The others nodded. Coral then used the spell that had come to her after Lillianna had finished removing the hand.
Tahlmus started to raise off the ground and Coral carefully maneuvered him to the boat. Fleur again used her magic to communicate with the creatures in the water. With their help it didn’t take long to reach Tevinter’s shoreline. Coral then performed the spell again, and slowly moved through the backstreets and alleys until they reached the backdoor of the estate, and into Tahlmus’ room where she managed to gently lay him on his bed. Everyone stood there in silence until they were startled by a knock on the door.
They all looked at each other, before Celestial went to open the door. “Kanes,” she said surprised to see Tahlmus’ twin.
“I was looking out the window,” Kanes stated. “is he…” Kanes words drifted off. He had never known his brother, but he wasn’t sure if he could handle being the reason his brother died.
“No,” Celestial managed to say louder than a whisper. “He’s alive. Unconscious, but alive,” she replied, stepping aside to let Kanes in. He walked over and stood by Lillianna looking over at Tahlmus.
“He… He’s missing his hand,” Kanes stuttered.
“How did he survive?” A familiar voice sounded from behind them. Turning around they all saw Urytemil in his human form standing just inside the door. “If the metal suppressed Draconic magic, he never should have lived. The only reason I did was because his father rescued me.”
“The Dark Lord,” Celestial said. “He had metal that suppressed all magic. We worked with Tahlmus, teaching him to be able to use his magic while in the cuffs and bracelets the Dark Lord like using.”
“So, that’s what he was doing during those couple months I couldn’t track him.” Urytemil stated while deep in thought. “He’s much stronger than I could have anticipated from just observing him every couple of weeks,” he said to himself more than the others. He strode forward. The women thought about trying to stop him, but the look in his emerald eyes had them moving aside. “Do you still have his hand?” Urytemil asked.
Lillianna stepped forward. She had been in a slight daze still holding onto Tahlmus’ hand. She couldn’t believe she had used the spell that she’d swore to never use. The spell had been passed down as a way to torture any enemies and she had used it on a friend.
Urytemil took the hand, that Lillianna held out to him, before she moved back to be near Kanes who wrapped his arms around her. They watched as Urytemil used his magic on the hand. When he was done, the hand no longer looked like it was covered in flesh, but more like leather. A slim cuff-like band also appeared, where the wrist normally would be. He then turned to Tahlmus weaving more magic.
The group watched as the bandages disappeared, and the wound healed perfectly, and a wider cuff-like band appeared. Once that was done he placed the hand on the bedside table. “Do not be too hard on yourself Atargatis,” he stated without turning to look at her. “Without your magic, I would not have been able to do this. He will be able to put the hand on when he wakes,” Urytemil started turning to look at the Sirens. “The bands will allow it to snap into place, and he will have full use of it. However, it cannot be worn constantly, he will have to remove it every so often.” The Sirens all nodded, as they watched Urytemil weave more magic. “I have reinforced the protective charms Tahlmus had placed over the estate,” he said as he finished the spell. “You will be safe, but Lillianna and Kanes, you cannot for any reason, leave this estate. Mystic is outraged, and using every available resource to find both of you, in hopes you will lead him to Tahlmus. These charms will not allow him to find you, but as soon as you step outside the estate walls, he will be able to detect and locate you.”
Kanes embrace tightened around Lillianna, hoping it would help stop her trembling, as his own fear had almost reached the point of being overwhelming.
“You should not develop any further feelings for her,” a voice sounded in Kanes head. He looked around until his eyes fell on the little golden dragon.
“What… what are you talking about?” He asked out loud, since he could not control who got to hear his thoughts. Everyone including Urytemil looked at him, then followed his gaze to Andrevin who was standing in the doorway.
“To fulfill the prophecy,” the dragon now spoke to everyone. “Lillianna and Mystic must die by Tahlmus’ hand.”
The Sirens all gasped and Lillianna started visible shaking. “no,” Kanes replied. “That… that can’t be right.” As he finished the sentence he looked over at Tahlmus, who was still lying on the bed, unconscious.
“That is what Tahlmus said,” Andrevin replied. “But things go wrong when you defy the prophecy. Just look at him now.”
“That’s why Tahlmus has been so distracted,” Coral stated with wide eyes. “He was trying to determine the best way to save us,” she said motioning at herself, Celestial, Fleur and Laguna. “And then he was trying to figure out how to get around having to kill you,” she continued pointing at Lillianna. “You’re one of the tasks he didn’t want to complete.”
“It must go as written,” Andrevin stated after a few minutes of silence.
Urytemil started shaking his head. “Not all Prophecy’s go as written,” he replied. ‘Once every few hundred years, someone mentioned in the prophecy will find a way around it’s literal meaning, still fulfilling it, but not following it as written. I believe now, that Tahlmus is powerful, and smart enough to be one of those who can fulfill the prophecy without following it to the letter.”
Andrevin scowled while the rest of the group looked hopeful. “He was reckless,” he growled. “He almost got himself killed. How is that smart?”
Urytemil smiled. “I thought so at first too, Andrevin. But he has stronger motivation than just coming back to his four wives.”
“What other possible motivation….” Andrevin trailed off, as he then felt what Urytemil was referring to. The group was lost as Urytemil nodded at Andrevin, who growled then disappeared. Kanes took Lillianna from the room. She was still trembling and he knew she would need time alone to digest everything they had learned.
The Sirens all opened their mouths to ask questions, but Urytemil held his hand up to silence them. “He will not wake for seven days. I will be back in eight.”
“Wait,” Fleur said, before Urytemil could disappear. “What was his stronger motivation?”
Urytemil looked over at all of them. “He wouldn’t have known yet about you,” he said to Fleur, “but he would have been able to sense that both Celestial and Coral are pregnant, even if they wouldn’t have figured it out for a couple more weeks… which by then would have been too late as Mystic would have already had one of you.” Urytemil then disappeared from sight without another word.
The Sirens all looked over at Tahlmus. “Oh by the way,” they heard behind them. Urytemil had popped back in. “Tell him how you feel Atargatis. He will not disappoint you.” Urytemil disappeared again.
Celestial, Coral, Fleur and Laguna all looked over at Atargatis who had tears trickling down her cheeks. “I’m in love with him too,” she admitted. Celestial, Coral, Fleur and Laguna all hugged Atargatis. They told her to tell Tahlmus how she truly felt, before they all settled in for the night to watch over him. It was going to be a long seven days.