Gasping, Xiyana forcefully sat up. She’d dreamt of her brother dragging her with him. She’d dreamt of him forcing her to leave her best friend behind to die. She’d dreamed of Sylin getting surrounded by tens of dozens of the creatures that had previously petrified him, without a way to escape.
But it couldn’t have been. She grasped the white sheets that covered her. White sheets that Sylin had left for her in the makeshift tent. They’d just found him. Bringing the sheets to her face, she caught a whiff of that his familiar smell. Relaxing, she finally brought herself to look around.
No. This wasn’t the tent, nor was she in the forest any longer. Where was she? How did she get here? Her eyes widened. No. It couldn’t be. A familiar consistent beep caught her attention. This was a hospital room.
Casting the sheets aside, she shifted out of bed, before a sudden sharp sting held her back. Looking down, she quickly recognized the source: an IV. What happened? How long was she here for? Where was Xev? Where was Sylin?
Yanking the needles out of her arm, she stumbled weakly toward the door. Almost immediately, she found herself squinting from the flood of light that rushed into the room as the door unexpectedly burst open.
“Xiyana!” Her brother exclaimed, rushing to support her.
“Xev.” She replied, desperately clinging to his sleeve. “Where is Sylin? How did I get here? What happened?”
“I had you sedated.” Xev responded. “I couldn’t take any more chances, especially with the way that you’d tried to run off before and with those beasts back there. I won’t watch you recklessly throw away lives, whether it’s your own or the men that get dragged down by your thoughtless actions.”
“Did Sylin come back?” She frantically asked, without fully processing his words. “I smelled him on these blankets.”
“No.” Her brother responded. “What you smelled was the plant by your bedside.”
Slowly, she turned to face the night stand, where silver-leaved plant greeted her.
“I’ve done some research since coming back.” He explained. “The man said he was a plant spirit, and it looks like I guessed correctly. Silver hair and golden eyes, assuming that they were naturally colored, left very few options.”
“What are you saying?” She asked, without taking her eyes off the plant.
“Simply put, he’s a plant spirit of the Dusty Miller species.” Xev answered. “I thought it might bring you comfort if something familiar was here in case I wasn’t around when you woke.”
“I don’t want this.” Xiyana shouted, surprising herself with the intensity of her own voice. “I want Sylin to return safe and sound. How could you abandon him like that?”
“Otherwise, what else do you want?” Her brother demanded. “To have us all die with him? To have him sacrifice himself in vain?”
“No…no…it wasn’t supposed to turn out this way…” She said, burying her face in her palms. “It wasn’t supposed to turn out this way…”
“It took us a couple weeks until we came into the military’s scouting range. He never caught up to us.” Xev explained, resting a hand over her shoulder. “The dead cannot be brought back.”
“No…he can’t be dead.” She argued. “He can’t be. You said he was stronger than you. He’ll come back. He might just be delayed that’s all.”
“Please accept reality.” Her brother said with a sigh. “At the very least, his dying wish was fulfilled. The captured creatures have been accepted by the higher-ups, and have proven useful in reducing the number of new petrification cases.”
“I don’t care about that anymore.” She screamed. “He’s already dead, what use is it to fulfill his wishes? You’d always wanted him dead. Are you happy now?”
“I see that there’s no use talking to you right now.” Her brother answered, in a suddenly emotionless voice. “I’ll see you tomorrow.”
A thought flew through her mind. Perhaps, she could find Sylin if she could get out of here… As Xev’s footsteps moved toward the door, she turned in her brother’s direction and did her best to hobble over to the exit. However, before she even reached it, the door slammed before her face. Pulling at the doorknob, she quickly realized it was locked. She was trapped. Her brother really didn’t trust her after all. With a hopeless sigh, she sank to the ground, defeated.