Pain. Pain was everywhere. Barrett couldn’t even say what parts of him the pain was coming from. It just hurt. Then, he would blissfully fall unconscious again for what felt like a few brief moments. Then the pain returned. Barrett had no idea how long he drifted in and out of consciousness for, only that the pain never seemed to reduce.
Finally, the pain consolidated itself into discrete forms. There was pain in his legs, and anytime they moved he felt the burns shoot pain through his legs. However, that was the least of his problems. His back was much worse, and he was laying on that. It felt like he was still on fire, and the crackle of his skin reminded him of the crackle of the blazing inferno. His chest… it only had one part that ached. It was painful, but also carried with it a cold, heavy sensation.
His arms had not been spared the pain of the fire, and he also felt great pain any time he tried to move them, or even wiggle his fingers. He would open his eyes and look at them, but it hurt to even try, and when he pushed through the pain to partly open one eye, all he saw was blackness. Perhaps not total blackness, as there was the slightest hint of light, but regardless he saw nothing useful… and felt he had caused quite a bit of harm. The rest of his head was not much better. Though he couldn’t reach up his hand to feel it, there were certainly bandages everywhere. Barrett realized that the pain wasn’t quite everywhere. There were certain places that were numb. However, somehow that felt even worse than the pain. When he moved his head, it ached even more, but he still did so. The bandages shifted ever so slightly, but there was none of the feeling of it rubbing against hair that Barrett expected. When he thought about it, it wasn’t a surprise that hair wouldn’t survive a fire.
However, this thought made Barrett realize he had survived. Even if it didn’t feel like it, he was definitely alive and conscious now. At least for brief periods. The sounds of a door creaking open filled his ears. At least those still worked, even though they hurt. Just like his lips and throat when he tried to move them to speak.
“Oh, you’re awake?” a woman’s voice came to Barrett’s ears, though it was muted. “Don’t try to speak.” The sound of footsteps coming closer followed that, and then there was a clinking sound. “Soup.” Then he felt a hand on his chin. It was gentle, but every sensation brought pain with it. However, he appreciated it, because he couldn’t really move his jaw as he wanted himself. The soup poured into his mouth… thankfully cool. It had little taste, but that was probably for the best. Cool wasn’t even quite the right word. Perhaps it was lukewarm soup, but at least it wasn’t hot. Barrett didn’t want anything hot. After a number of spoonfuls Barrett didn’t count, he felt pleasantly full, though nothing else felt pleasant. “That’s all. Try to sleep.”
There was actually nothing else Barrett could do. Even though all he had been doing was sleeping, he was still exhausted. He drifted into unconsciousness again… this time for perhaps a bit longer.
Over the next few days he had more soup. He couldn’t even say what it was, just that it was only broth. Not that he could have chewed anything. He could barely move… though he gained a little bit move movement with each day. Finally he managed to croak out some words. “Who are you? Where am I?”
“Oh, you can speak? I’m Margerit. You’re staying at the Ravenhall estate in Triridge.”
Barrett wanted to ask more, but he couldn’t get out the words. At least he knew where he was. Not that it was much better than being out in a ditch somewhere. Actually, he thought he might prefer that. Denton lived in Triridge, which meant he was around here somewhere, and that made Barrett not want to be here. He couldn’t go anywhere though, so there was nothing he could do about it.
Thinking about that made him realize how long it had been. It had to have been at least a week or two since the fire for them to travel to Durham and back to Triridge, plus the time he had been conscious. It would likely be more.
The next chance he got, he asked one more thing. “My parents? Are they…?”
The woman’s voice came solemn and neutral. “You seem to be the only one who survived.”
Barrett was glad his face was covered in bandages. That way nobody could see him cry. Before, he would have cried for himself, but his eyes wouldn’t do even that. Now, he had somewhat come to terms with the pain in his body, he hadn’t been dealing with the pain in his heart. Although he hadn’t known until now, he felt it. After all, otherwise why would he be here, and why would his parents not visit? And… Reina. Barrett was distraught about his parents and his sister… but Reina. She was the last thing he had seen before falling unconscious. Besides blackness, she was still the last thing he had seen, except muted little bits of light through the bandages.
She had been right there in front of him. He thought he’d shielded her, but apparently it hadn’t been enough. On the other hand, any number of things could have happened. Perhaps another section of wall, or the fire… Barrett didn’t want to think about it. He couldn’t stop thinking about it, but he tried not to.
Margerit changed Barrett’s bandages, and that gave him an opportunity to look at himself. He even convinced her to bring a small hand mirror. He regretted it after he looked, but he couldn’t stop. His face didn’t even look like his own. It was blackened, except parts of it were pitted. His hair was burnt off, and his ears were shriveled. He couldn’t imagine what his back was like. His chest was less severe, except for one thing. Barrett had almost forgotten that he worse an amulet with his family’s crest. It had been a constant thing. Now… that crest was melted and burned into his chest. The bits of metal were slightly melted and deformed, but definitely from that amulet. The skin had already started to grow over it and form a lumpy scar. Barrett wondered just how much he could recover. Even if he did, he would surely be deformed. Even though his face wasn’t covered, he still cried for himself.