Late evening, Feb 29, 708 CR
Trapped in the form of a quadrupedal dire wolf, a captive cowered in the center of a strange, circular room. The room was made entirely of marble, half black and half white. Eighteen thrones circled it, nine to each side, with the two most directly in front of him raised above the others on daises, the black throne half a step lower than the white. The white side glowed by the light of crystal orbs and silver metal wrought in orderly geometric patterns. The dark side smouldered with dim, ever-burning torches and chaotic accretions of twisted iron.
The wolf paid little attention to the décor, straining in unadulterated panic against the chains that held him in place. One of glowing silver and one of flaming iron, each bound him to a ring set into the floor, one on each side of the dividing line between light and darkness. No matter how he flailed against them, neither would yield, and he only burned his mouth when he tried in desperation to bite them. The collar choked him when he tried to pull his head out of it, and weighed damningly on his neck when he didn't. For the hundredth time, he tried to change forms. Taur, man, dog, anything to shake loose! He'd have more easily tried to halt the sun in the sky. For the hundredth time, he slammed into a wall in his mind, and pain crashed down on him like a wagonload of bricks. His legs buckled and he collapsed to the cold floor, gasping and sobbing.
Please, help me!
Whisper slammed down into the snow, cleaving into the paving stones underneath. But its target was gone, and Misha looked for it in wild bewilderment. "What- Where did- Drift? Drift??"
Raven approached. When had she arrived? A sick feeling suddenly curdled in Misha's gut. He remembered another time when Raven had seemed to appear from nowhere after a gap in his memory: after the daedra Suspira had tried to ensorcel the patrons of the Deaf Mule two years ago.
"Where is Drift?"
"Lord Revonos attempted to take your friend after his Oath, but Lady Akkala has disputed his claim. He has been taken before the Celestial Court to be judged."
"The Celestial Court?"
"A full assembly of the aedra and daedra lords, meeting on neutral ground."
Anger built in him, at the daedra for causing this and at himself for his powerlessness to stop it, but he quashed it for the moment. There would be time later to be angry. "What will they do to him?"
"They will decide whether his prior obligation to Lady Akkala supersedes his new oath to Lord Revonos, and whether he was coerced into making the latter."
"And if the answer is 'no'?"
The she-wolf turned away, saying nothing.
He touched her on the shoulder. "Raven?"
A pained twitch flickered across the Lothanasa's eyes, an unexpected crack in the Lothanasa's habitually stoic expression. "Pray to your Eli for a miracle, Misha. It may be your friend's only hope."
The doors behind the wolf opened and he whirled in a clatter of chains. He then bolted in terror to the end of their reach when he saw who had stepped through: a woman in tight red leather whom he did not recognize, and a man in black armor whom he did. Nobody trusted the Lord of Murder enough to walk ahead of them, so he always preceded everyone into the hall of the Celestial Court. Suspira, Goddess of Lust, walked in with him, arm in arm, kindred spirits of selfish malice. "And you got him by guile? You, who would rather smash down a wall than look for a door?" She laughed so hard her generous cleavage nearly bounced out of its halter. "I never would have expected it."
Revonos bared his teeth in a feral grin. "Nobody ever does."
"You're so clever," Suspira purred, brushing her fingertip down his nose. "Agemnos must be furious!" The rattling of chains drew her attention as the wolf thrashed like a hooked fish. She leaned down and cooed, reaching for him. "And this must be the fool himself... What lovely fur he has!"
The wolf strained against the chains, black spots dancing in front of his eyes as the collar throttled him. His lungs screamed for air, but his instincts screamed even louder to be away from her, to not let her touch him. Nonononononononono- Her fingertips brushed his cheek and suddenly he was pressing his head against her hand. His blood rushed hot. He ached with desire for her. He would do anything to have a chance with her. His tongue lolled as he drank in her cinnamon scent, crawling to her and groveling on the ground in abject abasement, a plaything, a puppet on her strings.
"Ooh," Suspira purred, running her fingers through the wolf's gleaming fur. "Don't damage this one too much, cousin. I think I'd like to stud him to my hellhounds, see if they'll inherit the pelt."
Her companion snorted. "You know that's impossible."
Suspira smiled a small, coy grin. "Is it?" She trailed her finger along the wolf’s jaw, teasing the whimpering beast, then got up and walked away to her seat.
The wolf stared after her, jaws agape, as sense returned to him. Blood pounded in his ears and his body shook from the violation, and yet part of him still yearned to crawl after her. His mind whirled with confusion. What... what just happened?
Revonos kicked him. "Quit drooling, slave. She’s mine." Without further comment, he took his seat.
Overwhelmed, the wolf curled up into a shivering ball, closed his eyes tight, and tried with all his might to pretend that none of them existed, that this was all some horrible nightmare, and he just needed to wake up. It was a doomed wish, but most of the remaining aedra and daedra seemed either willing to allow him the moment or disinterested enough not to care. Lilith, the daedra goddess of predation and the undead, paused to look him over before departing with a dismissive sniff, and a dichotomy of heat and chill marked the passage of the sisters Yajiit and Oblineth, aedra of fire and daedra of ice.
Only one more decided it was worth his time to stop: a tall man, thin to the point of emaciation, pale of skin with a dour expression, and dressed in a dark brown robe. He carried a thick book, well-worn and full of notations, which he flipped open to a fresh page. Producing a dark vulture's quill to write with, he spoke in a voice both courteous and polite, yet coolly distant and utterly devoid of any trace of empathy. "My name is Lord Tallakath. If you do manage to get your voice back at some point, I’d like to get your thoughts on what it felt like to be changed by Lord Revonos. I’m certain it was quite painful, but specific details would be most helpful for my research. I write for posterity, so your absolute honesty would be appreciated. I’m sure you understand." A shuddering sob was the only reply. Tallakath made a note. "How interesting." He left the shivering beast behind without another word.
The doors to the Follower Cathedral slammed open. "Where is he?" shouted Xavier as he stormed in, Priestess Merai chasing up the hall after him. She didn't catch up in time. "Where is the man who claims to lead this wretched mob of fools?"
Father Hough looked up from his prayer book, from which he'd been reading aloud. A small group of people knelt in the pews close to him, having taken shelter there when the alarm of 'daedra' had spread through the Keep like a chill wind, and the echoes of their interrupted chant competed with the bang of the doors for space in the vaulted cathedral ceiling. Setting the book aside, he rose to his feet and brushed his robes into their proper order. "I am Father Hough. May I be of assistance, sir?"
Xavier brushed past the pleasantry, ignoring in his fury the stares his entrance had gathered. "Why don't you stupid Patildor teach your children to beware the daedra?" he snarled.
Hough held up one hand in a futile attempt to calm the feline. "We Followers are all taught not to consort with any spiritual powers, and to come to the Ecclesia when those powers come for them. The daedra have no hold here and cannot touch us here, so long as faithful Followers come here."
"As long as you're here? Can't touch you? Can't reach you?" Xavier's speech broke down into fragments as fifteen different replies all tried to jam themselves out of his mouth at once in a fit of apoplectic fury. His hand rose as if to strike the priest.
A pebbled wall moved from the side of Xavier's vision, interposing itself between the leopard and the priest. The mage froze in shock, for the first time truly seeing the tri-horned Zachary, who was so large that Xavier's subconscious had labeled him 'scenery'. At the same moment, Merai seized Xavier's arm, forcing it down and basketing the half-bared claws inside her own hand. She needn't have bothered- Xavier just stared in baffled amazement at the gargantuan triceratops as if he'd materialized from thin air, throwing him at least temporarily off his rant. "How on earth do you even fit through the doors?" he finally asked.
"Very carefully," rumbled the dinosaur. "Do not call your heathen magic here, or I will put you outside." Leaning closer, he ruffled the leopard's fur with an exhaled puff of breath. "If Father Hough insists, I may even use a door to do so."
Taking advantage of the blunting of Xavier's outrage, Merai circled to face the leopard, adding another layer to the wall between him and Father Hough. "Baron Marcus, you are behaving very wildly. I am not certain that you have entirely avoided a brush with the aura of the Lord of Rage. We need to go. Now."
The memory of a wail in the night extinguished Xavier's fury, but bitterness lingered like dying embers. Turning with a rippling swirl of his cape, he walked out the doors of the Cathedral... and immediately flung his hands wide. Twin gales roared down the hallways to either side of him, and candle flames throughout the Cathedral danced madly as the air inside raced out to fill the vacuum. Many went out. Xavier turned, the storm dying away as quickly as it had come, and his eyes landed on the seven-sided lamp that Drift had made for Father Hough. "Still think they can't reach you? Tell it to the maker of that lamp." Before Merai or Zachary could stop him, the leopard pointed at the flame and snapped his fingers. It vanished instantly.
In what little light remained, Father Hough saw the anger and hauteur slip from the leopard's face like a mask, grief and pain weighing the young nobleman down like leaden chains. But the slip was only momentary, and the bitter anger slammed back into place with the finality of a closing door. "Oh, wait. You can't. Because they reached him." Without another word, Xavier Marcus vanished down the corridor, cape snapping in his haste to be away. Merai flashed Father Hough an apologetic look, and then hurried after.
While Zachary shut the Cathedral doors, Father Hough immediately began restoring the Cathedral to order. The two large tapers on either side of the altar had, fittingly, survived the blast intact, and from them light spread back into the darkness. As an altar boy carried the flame to Edward Snow's lamp, Hough began to lead a prayer. "Father Eli, we pray tonight for a lost soul..."
A flare of power announced the last two arrivals to the Court. On the white high throne, a cloud of golden light settled, while on the black appeared a man of shadows, his eyes glowing blue-white like a pair of flames. "Let this session of the Celestial Court come to order!" declared the golden light, High Lord Kammoloth, King of the Gods.
"Prosecutor, step forth," proclaimed the shadow man, Lord Ba'al, Prince of the Daedra.
Agemnos stood from his chair, but took no step forward. "Lord Ba'al," he said, "I must recuse myself from the role for this trial, due to a conflict of interest." He turned and beckoned to a younger man standing behind his throne, who stepped forward instead. Instead of a hand, the young man's right arm ended in a lion's paw, golden fur tracing like a gauntlet halfway to his elbow, and he made sure it was displayed prominently. "My son, Pride, shall take my place. I foresee no further difficulties."
"Conflict of interest- ha! I heard you got out-gambled by one of your own servants!" Lord Wvelkim, master of the sea, catcalled from the aedra side.
"Hardly," Agemnos replied, his tone pitched as if speaking to a half-wit. He gestured to Artela, seated across from him. "If she wins, I'll still have tomorrow to kill or claim him. Easily done. Ergo, a conflict of interest."
Revonos growled at Pride. "Throw this case, and I'll gut you like a squealing pig."
Pride sniffed dismissively, polishing his leonine claws on his immaculate white shirt. "As if I would. To put my name on a win at the Celestial Court, even one as paltry and certain as this one-"
"Never call an undecided trial certain, young Pride." Lady Artela, Goddess of Mercy, did not step from her side of the arena so much as flow from it, her grace and poise unmistakable. "It is unbecoming... not to mention premature." Her even expression then quirked into a slightly scandalous smirk. "Though, from what I've heard, you are premature at a lot of things."
"How dare you-"
"Shut up, Pride," Agemnos interrupted. If he though Wvelkim a half-wit, his tone suggested that he clearly thought his son a complete idiot. "She's goading you. Do try to show -some- dignity." He took his seat.
Pride seized the wolf's jaw in his lion-clawed hand and lifted it, looking into the beast's wild and terrified eyes for a moment before casting it loose. Grimacing in disgust as if he'd just stuck his hand into a bucket of filth, he drew a silken handkerchief from a pocket to wipe the barest fleck of frothy spittle from one knuckle. Throwing the cloth away as if it had been hopelessly soiled, the daedra noble turned to face the two high thrones. "My Lord Ba'al," he said with an ingratiating bow, "Assuming that the esteemed Lord Revonos has no objections, I would ask that this creature's voice be returned to it for the time being. Otherwise, we'll be here all night listening to this whimpering."
"Higher quality whimpering!" Revonos demanded with a raucous guffaw. "Go ahead- I can always take it away again later!"
"Klepnos?" the shadow intoned.
Halfway around the circle, another of the daedra jerked to startled awareness. Interrupted in the midst of a bizarre three-way argument with voices only he could hear, Klepnos, the Lord of Madness, shook himself. "At once, my lord!" came the quick reply, and he held his hand out toward the captive. His face broadened into a mischievous grin as he advised the creature, "There may be some momentary discomfort." Then his fingers crooked as if seizing the beast from afar, and the bottom dropped out of the wolf's reality.
For an instant, he was back in Metamor, collapsed to all fours, the stench of burned flesh and fur filling his nostrils from his scorched hands. A roaring inferno swept through every cell in his body, screams of pain ripping his throat raw as a terrible pressure pulled at him from all directions at once. Then, just when his bones were about to shatter into a million razor-edged shards, his flesh on the very edge of tearing apart from the inside out, Klepnos jerked his hand back. Reality slammed back into place with a gut-wrenching lurch and dumped Drift on the courtroom floor in a crumpled, shuddering heap.
"There we go," the Trickster Lord said over Drift's choked, retching sobs, dusting his hands off theatrically before sitting back on his throne. "All fixed." Several of the daedra laughed.
Lady Artela laid her hand gently on the samoyed's convulsing shoulder as he heaved himself dry, and beckoned to two of the aedra. "Lady Akkala, Lady Velena, would you aid me, please?" When they arrived, she said, "Do what you can," and then interposed herself between the trio and the rapidly approaching Pride.
"What do you think you're doing?" the daedra demanded, a question that evoked a disgusted scowl from Agemnos just as it brought a smile to Artela.
"Healing his wounds and calming his spirit," the goddess replied, with a slow, level tone that suggested she was speaking to a particularly dull-witted child. "Otherwise, we'll be here all night listening to his whimpering. We wouldn't want that, would we?" Several of the aedra laughed in turn.
Pride's scowl darkened with humiliation, knowing he'd walked right into that one, and he recovered with bad grace. "Fine. See if I care," he retorted dismissively, shooting a hateful glare at Drift before spinning away to stalk back to his side of the courtroom. More laughter chased him, this time from both sides, and his jaw clenched. He didn't dare strike back at Artela, but that mongrel mortal was another matter. That would have to come later, though, and he soothed his wounded ego with contemplations of just what he might do once this case was properly decided. Revonos' arenas were assuredly brutal, but Pride was certain he could think of something to make them worse.
Drift recognized Akkala's kind visage and the help the two goddesses were offering, but he couldn't stop himself from shrinking away. Not with Suspira's attentions so fresh in his mind. Not when his jaw ached where Akkala had healed him of tetanus, as if her Mark had become a brand burning its way into his bones. Not while a panic that he couldn't control bound his heart in ice, growing tighter as they came nearer, and his muscles quivered like jelly after being nearly ripped apart... again. Teeth chattering, he cowered against the edge of the light half of the circle, terrified by their approach, yet not daring to cross into the dark.
Dvalin, the Lord of Storms, huffed in annoyance. "Can you two hurry this up, please?"
"Why, cousin, are we keeping you from someone?" Suspira purred with a knowing smile.
Velena and Akkala ignored them both. "Peace, Snowchild," Akkala began, but Velena stopped her with an upraised hand, her lips drawing down into a troubled frown.
"Wait... Something is not right here." Extending her upraised hand palm-out toward the trembling samoyed, the Goddess of Love closed her eyes and concentrated. Panic drew tighter around Drift's heart as he felt a warmth wash over him, the scent of roses on the air, and Velena turned a pointed glance toward Revonos. "A trap," she declared, a statement of fact rather than an accusation, and the dark-armored daedra smirked in reply. Velena made a quick motion with her hand, as if severing a thread, and the ice around Drift's heart shattered.
"You're no fun," Revonos scoffed.
His voice still shattered from screaming, Drift could only ask with his eyes. But Velena understood. Kneeling down in front of him, she stroked his cheek with her fingertips. "Love brooks no falsehoods, Snowchild." Her eyes soft with compassion, Velena produced a soft cloth and began to wipe the tears, blood, and worse from Drift's face. "Breathe, Edward. Your fear is understandable, but panic has been thrust upon you. It is now broken. Be at peace, for the moment."
Warmth washed over Drift again when Velena touched him, but this time it settled over his shoulders like a cloak. A strange feeling of security settled with it, as if his fear was a rainstorm and her touch had placed a glass bowl over him to shield him from it. He could recognize in his mind that it was still there, slowly sinking away from its sanity-clawing peak, but he felt it only as a detached observer instead of a participant being drowned in it. It was a strange feeling, this calm, but welcome beyond words. Weariness dragged at him as his adrenaline ebbed. His racing heart slowed, his muscles eased, his tail hesitantly uncurled from against his belly. Akkala’s touch similarly wiped away his burns and weariness, and he knew he should be grateful, but it was to Velena that Drift clung like a drowning sailor in a storm. "Don’t go. Please don’t leave me," he begged, though each word felt like knives in his throat.
"I am sorry," the golden-haired goddess replied, "but Lord Revonos will accuse me of influencing the trial if I stay." She flashed another angry glare at the dark-armored man, who smiled knowingly in reply. "Be brave, Snowchild. Not all hope is lost. You can endure this, and you will." With one last gentle stroke of his ears, Lady Velena slipped from Drift's grasp, her silken dress sliding like water through his fingers, and the dread of anticipation twisted Drift's guts as her induced Calm slowly faded. Wordlessly pleading for just one more moment, he crawled after her to the limit of his chains.
A mailed foot interposed itself, attached to a male figure clad entirely in silver armor. Narrowed eyes glared down in contempt-filled disapproval through the slit of a closed visor. "Get to your feet, man," he instructed, hauling the rag-clad canine up with a single hand and then casting him back to the center of the circle as if repelled by his presence. "You’ve made your choices, and you’ll have your fair chance at court. Face your fate with some dignity."
"For what little time left that you have any," added Lord Revonos with a sneer from across the room.
"Be silent, Revonos."
"Make me, Dokorath."
A flare of power cut the bickering short. "That will be enough of that," Lord Ba’al interceded. To Pride, he asked, "Are you now ready to proceed, Prosecutor?"
The daedra noble bowed to both high thrones. "Yes, my lords."
"Advocate of the Accused, are you ready to proceed?" asked Lord Kammaloth.
"Yes, my lords," replied Artela.
"Very well. Then I declare this meeting of the Celestial Court now in session. Prosecutor, you may state your case."
Rickkter sifted through the red-stained snow where Linafex and his daughter had fallen, their bodies cleared away for burning. He'd felt and recognized the pulse of a soul gem being activated, and he knew it had to be around here somewhere... Another hand closed on it first, plunged into the snow only an arm's length from where he'd been searching, and the raccoon mage glared when he recognized its owner. "Malger Sutt. Give that to me, now."
"No. The Lady Nocturna insists that the daedress Alexastra remain captive for the time being, for her own safety."
"By what right?"
"By the right of a mother for her child, stolen at birth and hidden from her for four thousand years."
"... She's what?"
Pride puffed up with self-importance as he stepped forward, all but preening in the limelight. "Since some of us have places to go and people to meet," he all but snickered, "I'll keep this brief."
It was a blatant lie. Pride adored the sound of his own voice, and his opening remarks carried on with such pompous and windy abandon that Nocturna leaned over to Agemnos and asked, "You don't actually reward your minions based on word count, do you?"
Agemnos only smirked in reply. Everything was going exactly according to plan. No matter what outcome resulted here, he would still come out a winner. Still, there was no need to push the bounds of diplomacy any further. "Wrap it up, Pride. Some of us really do have places to go and people to meet."
Pride bristled at the interruption of his monologue, but he obeyed. "At issue here is the contest between Lady Akkala and Lord Revonos. Whose ethos was this mortal more directly serving at the time of his Oath to Lord Revonos? The answer is obvious: oathbreaking is a cardinal virtue of the Lord of Rage, and swearing an Oath to him is a violation of his prior Oath to Lady Akkala. But if more evidence is needed, let's take a look just before he made his very foolish Oath..." Dipping his leonine hand into a basin of wine, he flicked the droplets skyward with a precise and intricate series of gestures. The first twist of his hand froze the ruby drops in midair, the second swirled them together, and the third expanded and transmuted them into a floating crystalline orb, within which the light of the room began to swirl...
The image swam into focus just in time for Drift to scream in Misha's face. "Do you know how I'm going to give it back to him? Point first!!" The samoyed trapped in chains flinched away from the memory replayed, and Pride smiled. The image froze, eyes wild and teeth bared in fury. "From the mortal's own mouth," purred the daedra, with a gesture sending the scrying bubble to hover right before Drift's face. "As you can see, he was already planning murder. Prior to that..." The scene spun back in time, detailing first Drift's ambush of the Watchman, then replaying him smashing a chair over Xavier's head and then beating him into unconsciousness, and Drift shrank away from his own rage.
"He didn't kill any of them when given the chance," Artela interjected.
Pride waved away the rebuttal as meaningless. "It doesn't matter. The Oath was made of his own free will, whatever stress and baiting was involved. He. Chose. This. Everything else is just window dressing."
"Th-that's not true! It's a lie!" Panic jarred Drift's mouth into motion, and kept him babbling even when he saw Artela's pained wince and Pride's triumphant smirk. "You tricked me! Controlled me! You must have! I didn't-"
Revonos leapt from his throne and stomped his foot down on the iron chain binding Drift to the floor, jerking the samoyed to a groveling crouch. Next, he seized a handful of scruff and twisted up and back until Drift screamed, his neck on the edge of breaking. "Up until you swore your oath to me, ex-Patildor fool, controlling you would have been impossible," the dark lord sneered. "All I did was whisper in your ear. Everything you did, you -chose- to do, of your own free will."
Akkala rose to her feet, her eyes snapping. "Release him at once! This trial is not yet decided!"
"Oh, it will be, sure enough. And when it is..." The Lord of Rage slammed his prey to the ground, grinding Drift's muzzle into the marble. "Get used to this pose, dog. You're going to spend a lot of time in it." Without another word, he let go and returned to his seat. Drift remained, shuddering, on the floor.
Wolfram struggled back to consciousness. He hurt everywhere. He tried not to think about it. The room felt like it was spinning. He tried not to think about that, either. How had he gotten here? Where was here, for that matter?
"You're awake. Good."
And who was that?
Was that him? He forced one eye open- the other seemed stuck shut, and refused. Blurry light stabbed into his brain like a lance, and he hissed. Broken teeth in his mouth did not thank him for doing so.
"Hold still," said the voice, and he felt a light touch on his brow. "I am Priestess Tessa. I will do what I can."
His vision cleared a little, and something wet brushed across his stuck left eye, wiping away whatever was keeping it shut. He blinked a few times and then squinted, trying to focus. "S'll bl'rry," he slurred at the two identical ladies kneeling next to him. "You sis'rs?" Even as he said it, though, the two merged into one, her brow furrowed with concentration.
"Better?" she asked, her dark eyes tired, but soft with compassion. "You're lucky to be alive. Not many survive an encounter with-" She caught herself at the last moment. "With what you have."
"Feel like I got hi' by a wag'n. Wha' happen?"
"You don't remember?"
"I'll tell you later," she murmured, gesturing toward the nearby crowd with her eyes. It looked like they were in an inn of some sort. Lots of people sleeping. Louder, she continued, "A small memory gap is not unexpected with your head injury."
Thinking was like slogging through thigh-deep mud, but Wolfram finally caught on and changed the subject. He raised a shaky hand to the side of her head, brushing her cheek with the backs of his fingers. "Y'r pretty. Like 'n elf. Look like one. I think." He tried to brush her hair back (such pretty hair, he thought, like red autumn leaves just starting to brown) to see if her ears were pointed, but his shoulder refused to cooperate and his ribs stabbed knives into his side. His stomach rolled and Wolfram lay back on the floor with a moan. "I'ma go sleep now," he mumbled, closing his eyes in hopes the room would stop impersonating a cart wheel.
"Oh no, you're not." The elf lady in the pretty dress shook him gently until he opened his eyes again. "You need to stay awake and talk to me. Can you tell me your name?"
"W'f'am." The slur in his speech demolished his last name, and he had to make an extra effort to speak clearly. "Wolfram Barhart."
"'The traveling wolf with the heart of a bear.' You have a strong name."
"S'rong head, too."
"I noticed. Hold still: this may sting a bit."
Wolfram hissed as, with a touch of her hand, his ribs shifted back into place and started to knit back together. The jolt of pain cleared his mind long enough for him to push her hand away. "'M no' gonna owe 'nybody any favors, 'm I?"
"'M notta 'nasi. Don' wanna-"
"No. No favors. If it comes to that, I will ask you first."
"Good. Don' wanna... don't..." The thought slipped away from him like wet ice through numbed fingers. He cast about for the thread of it, but something else rose in its place- something important he needed to do. What was it? "Drift... where's Drift?" He tried to rise, but the pitching floor and the elfish priestess kept him down. More hands descended on him at the priestess' call, called away from other beds and cots nearby. Wolfram fought them. Too many. Too many.
"Drift... have to get to... Drift. Stop him somehow. Not in his right mind. 'Lexis missin'. 'S a trap. Gotta be. Gotta get to Drift..."