Amelie got out of bed and put on her robe. Trying to sleep was just no use. When she managed to relax for a while, her mind would start to drift, back to the delusions caused by the poisoned food. And that was the last thing she wanted to think of right now.
Quietly, she left the tent, careful not to wake anyone else. For a few minutes, she paced the encampment, studying the desert horizon, and looking into tents to see how the others were doing. Most adventurers tried to rest at this time, save their strength. Mea Catunta was not far anymore, and it was unclear what awaited them there, besides desperate necromancers and the Source of all Necromagic, whatever that might be.
An elf caught her eye. He nodded at her in greeting and continued his meditation. Amelie wondered if the poisonous delusions still haunted him too. Her mind drifted again to that moment in the oasis where she had heard Arnoud’s voice. The reasonable part of her mind, the part that knew her son Arnoud was dead and had been so for a long time, shut down. Her legs just started running towards the silhouette of the boy. Her arms reached out. She shouted: “Your mum is here now, Arnoud! Come to me!”
Time seemed to slow down. The sun blistered Amelie’s skin as she ran, sweat streaked over the lightning tattoo on her face, her breath came in ragged wheezes as she called out to the boy. “Arnoud, it’s time to come home. Mum is getting tired.” But the boy kept on running. It was impossible to catch up with him, the distance between them only grew. And then he looked around at her. He had aged, he was such a handsome boy, with the same naughty eyes as his father. He grinned at her and started to run again. Amelie’s legs laboured through the hot sand to catch up with him. “Arnoud! Don’t leave me!”
Several arms caught Amelie at the shoulder and the waist. Two elves spoke to her. “It’s an illusion.” “You’ve been poisoned.” “It’s not real.” Amelie struggled in their grip, her eyes still locked on the silhouette of the boy disappearing in the distance. “I could almost see his face…”
“We promised you we would stop you.” The elves needed their combined strength to restrain Amelie. Until reality dawned on her. Her knees gave way and she collapsed into a pitiful pile of sobs. “If this is poison, I don’t want to be cured…” But her voice was broken, she didn’t mean it. She was weak and she knew it. She cried in silence as Killian approached her and cured the poison. She allowed the elves to help her up, but she didn’t speak again that day.
Amelie stopped at the edge of the encampment and stared into the distance. Soon, she would see Molly again. Molly looked up to Amelie, she was such a great apprentice. But Amelie had a harsh lesson to teach her. Molly’s lover had died, heroically sacrificed his own life to deal an enormous blow to the necromancers. And now Amelie would have to make Molly go on without him. Make her understand that she should never get attached to anything, because it can, and will, be taken away. A lesson Amelie herself obviously hadn’t mastered. The delusion of the running boy spawned from her own mind, she was still the weak, foolish woman who wanted her family back. Despite having been the priestess of Destruction for all these years.
Amelie swallowed and turned her eyes back to the tents. Perhaps she would get some sleep if she just managed to distract herself and stop thinking for a while. With a sigh, she started to walk to the bar tent where other adventurers were lounging, drinking together.