~Relax,~ he whispered. Sensations faded, became confused. Pain left, yet it was all around me. I floated in my head, like in a trance, oblivious to the outside world.
Also around me floated Rhaelgyr's warmth. It was like a thousand hearth fires. Like a ward against a thousand lonely nights. I tried to curl up in it, to take comfort in the dragon.
Something wouldn't let me. I groaned, fighting a stiffness in my side. Looking at my shoulder, I found the source of my discomfort.
It looked like a twisted fetus, with long runners of flesh burrowing into me. Bleary eyes glared at me, waxen lips not formed enough to move. "What are you?" I asked, fighting back the urge to vomit.
~This is the parasite Kurlog made. It's just for you, gaining life from your essence.~
"Get it out of me." I looked for Rhaelgyr, eyes wide. My hands itched with the need to tear it loose. I couldn't find the dragon, and my panic increased.
~I'm trying.~ His words were weary, voice fading.
"What do you need me to do?" Resolution stiffened my spine, and I clenched my fists. Rhaelgyr was helping a stranger from the goodness of his own heart; the least I could do is help with my own healing.
~Keep it distracted.~
I laughed, a short bitter chuckle. "That sounds easy enough," I mumbled. Rhaelgyr's presnce stirred around me, but he didn't reply.
Everything would have been easier if I could have just seen him. He was with me, and he was holding my physical body. It was purely psychological, but things would have been better with him at my side.
"All right, little shit," I said to the parasite. "What have you got for me?"
Eyes narrowed as I turned to face it. Its features had refined further, and it had dug deeper into my left side. It now had enough of a mouth to hiss at me as I glared.
"Is that it?" Facing the creature that had been tormenting me changed my perception. I had something to focus on, not just a vague ache in my shoulder.
Though it was gross, though it was growing from me, I held nothing but contempt for this parasite. It had no power, and existed only at my sufference.
The creature squealed, rearing back. I winced as a tendril came free and lashed at my face. ~Keep doing that!~
I wasn't sure what I was doing, so I just grinned at the thing. "My friend is going to kill you, and then your master." The parasite's squeal continued, and my ears ached from the sound. However, I pressed on. "You're done hurting me."
Another tendril popped out, bloody and spiky, and I grew dizzy. It didn't want to let go. Logically, I couldn't blame it for not wanting to die. None of us wanted to die. But it didn't get a choice in the matter.
Choking out a laugh, I fell to my knees. "You don't get it." It kept screaming. "You don't get to live here anymore. You need to move on." My stomach roiled, but I kept laughing.
~Stay strong, my dear. This last part will be the worst.~
I nodded, bracing my hands on my thighs. "My boyfriend's going to eat you."
Rhaelgyr ripped the parasite free, throwing it far away from me. Every inch of my body was wracked with agony. I felt the original wound again, and something sharp and painful being drug out of it. I screamed and screamed, and thought it would never end.
Then I was sagging in Rhaelgyr's arms, breathing heavily. I smelled blood and sweat. My body was limp, like a wrung out rag. Fighting sagging eyelids, I gazed up at the dragon in his delightful elven form.
"Your boyfriend?" he whispered. Rhaelgyr's energy flowed into me, his hand clamped over my throbbing shoulder.
"Why not?" I quipped. My eyes refused to stay open any longer.
The dragon chuckled. "Why not."