BE AWARE: This is an un-edited, un-beta read, un-proofread etc etc bonus story!
The main focus is on Silas and Shinta but, of course, the other characters will make their appearance as well. I’m not sure how this story fits in the general Himura Saga, and perhaps it never will be more than a side story. Who knows, the whole Himura Saga started out as short stories, and look how that ended.
I’d love to hear your opinions on it, so if you have the time, drop me a comment below. 🙂
The first thing Shinta became aware of was a burning sensation that originated from his chest and spread out to his every limb. Everything was dark, yet he was certain that wherever he was, Feilon and Mei Lin were nearby, because he sensed their auras, giving him energy and a sense of security. Yes, I’m safe.
He drifted in and out of awareness, yet couldn’t fully grasp whether he was awake or dreaming. But the pain in his body increased and pulled him more and more from this dreamy state back into consciousness. He must have made a sound because someone grabbed his hand tightly and something cool was pressed against his forehead. He heard voices, but they were too vague for him to understand, and the more he tried to concentrate, the more his head pounded. In the end, he gave up and let himself be pulled back into the darkness.
The second time he came to, his head was a bit more clear and when he focused on his surroundings, he realized he was in a bed. If the incessant beeping sounds were anything to go by, he was pretty sure he was in a hospital. He tried to open his eyes, but it made no difference as the room was completely dark.
“Shinta?! You’re awake!”
Toshiro! He tried to talk, but his parched throat didn’t want to cooperate and he was wracked with coughs instead.
“Shhh, don’t talk.” This time it was the familiar voice of his Master. “Here, try to drink something,” he added.
When his head was being lifted a little and a straw was held at his lips, Shinta greedily he drank the water down, and after also digesting a shot of Ambrosia, the chemically enhanced blood, he felt considerably better.
“You gave us quite a scare there for a while,” Feilon said softly.
“S… Silas… is he… did he..” His voice was barely audible, but he had to try.
“He’s fine. You scared him half to death though when you collapsed, but he didn’t have a scratch on him. You protected him well, I’m proud of you,” Feilon said. “He’ll be elated to hear you’ve finally decided to wake up.”
Right on cue, the door opened and Silas came in, followed by the others. They’d heard from the nurse that Shinta had woken up and wanted to see for themselves.
“SHINTAAAA!” Silas burst out and before Shinta realized what happened, he was being crushed with what he assumed was Silas’ bodyweight. “I was sooooo worried! I thought you were a goner for sure!” he cried while still hugging Shinta tightly.
“If you keep crushing him, he still might,” Raenef said.
“Arg, sorry! Did I hurt you?!” Silas said worried while patting Shinta down in search of injuries.
“I told you already, I don’t die that easily, stupid!” he croaked out. “Now, can someone please explain to me why we’re all talking here in the dark?”
“You.. can’t… see?” Feilon asked.
“No, it’s too dark in here. Can’t you turn the light on?”
“Master?” worry lacing his words now.
“Shinta, the room is brightly lit. I.. I think something must be wrong with your eyes. We’ll have the doctor run tests, I’m sure it’s nothing too serious,” Feilon said reassuringly.
Shinta nodded but wasn’t too optimistic. He remembered what happened. He also knew the toxin had run rampant through his body for too long before they administered the antidote, and that chances were the damage was permanent.
“We’ll get you the best doctors out there,” Eclipse assured him.
“I’ll have to pull Shinta from active duty,” Feilon said.
The three brothers were sitting outside in one of the pavilions drinking sake and enjoying the last rays of sun for the day when Feilon dropped the news.
Eclipse and Raenef looked at each other. “Don’t you think that’s a bit premature? It’s only been two weeks. He might still recover his sight,” Raenef said.
“The doctors said the chances of that happening are slim to none. Either way, it’s not safe for Silas to be without a designated Makhai. I need to reassign someone to him,” Feilon said. “Hopefully it will only be a temporary solution until Shinta’s sight recovers. But if not…”
“He will be devastated. They both will be. Perhaps you should wait, give him some time…” Eclipse said. “There’s no rush. Silas will be fine. We took the perpetrators out and with Shinta still recovering, he’s spending most of his time indoors anyway.”
“I know it will hurt him deeply, but I can’t risk Silas’ safety,” Feilon said resolutely.
“Shinta? Please say something…” Feilon almost pleaded.
“What’s left to say?” Shinta said laconically.
Feilon felt frustrated. He’d expected the boy to be angry, upset, even expected him to plead or flat out refuse. Anything but this lackadaisical reaction. As if he had given up. Anger flared deep inside of him. Can’t he see there’s more to life than being a personal Makhai? He should be grateful he’s still alive at least. Why did he just sit there and accept his demotion? He always fought him on the most ridiculous things, so why not now? Why not now when it counted the most?
“Talk to me Shinta, I know you’re hurting, but I can’t help you if you won’t talk to me,” Feilon almost pleaded.
“What good is talking going to do? It won’t solve anything. Besides, this isn’t about me, it’s about Silas’ safety, and the way I am now, I can’t protect him.”
“Since when are you the pragmatic one?” Feilon said, trying to bait the boy.
He didn’t take the bait. Instead, the boy laid back on the bed and turned his back, effectively ending the conversation.
Two weeks went by with no change to Shinta’s condition. His eyesight was still lost, and not even Raenef could heal that. At first glance Shinta seemed to have taken it all in stride, but the people close to him knew better. They saw past the facade he’d put up and saw he’d lost more than his sight.
He spent most of his days aimlessly wandering around the estate as if trying to reacquaint himself with his surroundings, and sometimes he would disappear for hours, not telling anyone where he’d been or what he’d been doing. Shinta sensed the worry growing in Feilon through their Bond, but he couldn’t help it. He was angry. Angry to be this disabled. Angry his enemies had gotten the better of him. Angry for having failed Silas and his Master. Angry at Feilon for having cut him from active duty. Angry at himself for being angry at the last. He knew Feilon had no other choice. A blind Makhai was as useful as a spoon with holes in it.
His mind kept going back in circles about what happened. He’d been poisoned hundreds if not thousands of times before—either willingly as part of his training or testing out new poisons he created himself, or forcefully administered by others. Yet never, NEVER, had he gone blind. Sure there were poisons that caused temporary vision impairment, but not complete blindness like he was suffering from now, especially not after the antidote was administered. But what if the antidote hadn’t been enough? What if there is still a small dosage of poison in my system?
Even though he tried to get his mind off the subject, there was something in him that felt he was missing something. He started asking questions about what exactly happened when the others finally found Silas and him. What had been his heart rate? His blood pressure? How long did it take them to administer the antidote? Which one did they give him, and in what quantities? It only resulted in worrying everyone even more about him, and he was sure that by now they thought he was losing it. Maybe he was. But he had to do something. Figuring out what exactly happened was as good a start as any.
Realizing he needed to run tests to see if he’d missed anything, he carefully made his way to his lab. He had his own laboratory and greenhouse—Small accidents had happened over the years, thus Feilon had banished his lab to the outskirts of the property—where he grew a large variety of poisonous plants. He also kept various poisonous animals. It suited him just fine. Here he could do what he wanted without any disturbances. His own little world, albeit a toxic one.
When he entered his lab, the rather sweet scent embraced him like a long-lost lover making him at ease for the first time since the attack. By touch alone, he made his way to his desk and set down on the wooden chair. He automatically reached for his keyboard to work on several ideas when he was painfully reminded he couldn’t see. He cursed loudly while slamming the keyboard hard on the desk. Damn, this is not going to work!
After taking a deep breath, he forced himself to calm down. He needed to look at this differently. Computers were a recent discovery; He had all the knowledge inside his own brains, he just needed to access it. Getting up, he rummaged through his desk drawers. Finally, he found what he had been looking for; a small recording device he kept for when he was working. Then he made his way over to the attached greenhouse where he sat down on the small patch of grass in the center. He laid down on his back, trying to relax and calm his mind. It was an exercise his old sensei taught him, and it did wonders for his concentration.
Once his body relaxed and the tornado that was currently his mind started slowing down, he tried to focus on his breathing. Once he had that under control, he directed his mind to the information he had.
Directing his thoughts to the night of the attack, he let the onslaught of memories and feelings wash over him. He focused on the first attack; the champagne. It had tasted bitter, and after a while his mouth burned as if he’d eaten wasabi. Now there were many poisons that left a bitter taste, but only a few would burn, therefore he was pretty sure they’d used a form of Aconitum. Not something he would have used, but he was familiar with it—His parents had fed it to him from the moment he was born.
The next attack were the poisonous darts. That’s where it got a little tricky, because he wasn’t exactly sure how many times he’d been hit by them. He estimated at least four times, maybe even five. Taking into account the amount of poison on each dart, that would have been about six times the lethal dosage. Jotting it down on his mental notepad, he next he estimated the time it had taken for the effects to kick in. This was a tricky one, because they’d been on the run, fighting off enemies, and he knew from experience that time appeared to go in slow motion in such situations, making it hard to make an accurate estimation.
Then he tried to determine the time it took the others to administer the antidote. For this he had to rely on the information he’d gathered from Feilon, Toshiro, and the doctors who had treated him in the hospital. From what he’d gathered, it took them approximately fifty minutes from the moment they had found them in the basement till the moment they had administered the first dosage. He’d read the medical report, and knew exactly how much of the antidote they had given him, as well as what other medications they’d administered over the course of the next few days.
Eventually, his concentration was broken by an increasingly pounding headache that wasn’t to be ignored. The pain was making him nauseous and he was close to passing out, which would only prove to the others he was pushing himself too far again. He tried to breathe through it and when the worst subsided he crawled over to his desk, no longer trusting his legs to hold him up. There he found some painkillers, at least he hoped they were, since he couldn’t read the back of the strip. He popped two of them into his mouth and swallowed them down with water. Then he plopped himself down again on the floor, his back resting against the desk.
He must have fallen asleep at one point because he woke up by faint calling outside. Someone was calling his name. He got up and made his way to the door.
“Shinta?!” It was Toshiro.
“Stop yelling, I’m coming,” Shinta said softly, cringing at the resounding echo of his own voice inside his head.
Toshiro looked surprised to see him coming out of his lab. “What were you doing in there?!”
Shinta gave him what he hoped to be a scowl. “Just because I’m blind, doesn’t mean I can’t get work done!” He instantly regretted his outburst. It wasn’t his brother’s fault.
Toshiro sighed but otherwise made no comment. “What were you working on?” he asked instead.
“Nothing in particular. Just… checking some things,” he said evasively.
“Look, promise not to say anything to Feilon, okay? Or Mei Lin.” He knew he was pushing his brother, as he didn’t like to keep things from his Master.
A long silence followed by a soft acquiescence.
“I know you think I’m being obsessive, but I have to find out what is causing this blindness. It shouldn’t have happened. I should be dead, not blind!”
He had expected Toshiro to tell him to forget it, that he was wrong in chasing after things that weren’t there. That he should be grateful he was still alive. Hell knew the others kept repeating it to him. As if repeating it would make it come true. Assholes.
But Toshiro stayed quiet for a while. “Okay,” he said eventually.
“Okay?! That’s it? You’re not going to tell me to quit? That it’s useless and I simply have to accept this.. this blindness?” His head pounded again in protest.
“It may be useless. Then again, maybe it’s not. I know you, you’re highly intelligent, and when it comes down to poisonings, you are one of the best in your field. If there is any chance you can undo this blindness, I’m all for it. Just… be careful, okay? Thinking we’d lost you was one of the hardest things I had to live through, I don’t want to go through that again. So please, I’m begging you, don’t do anything stupid?”
Now it was Shinta’s turn to fall still. “I won’t. I promise.”
“Good. Now let’s get back to the house, you look like you’re about to pass out,” Toshiro said, gently steering him in the right direction. “And if you need my help, let me know. There’s no need for you to do this by yourself.”
Almost a month went by with little to show for it. Shinta kept listening to his recorded calculations over and over again, adjusting time frames and numbers, hoping to gain new insights into what might cause his current condition. The only thing he could come up with was that he had an overdose of the antidote. The more he thought about it, the more it made sense; No one knew exactly how much of the toxin he’d been injected with, and most likely by the time they’d tested his blood, the levels of toxin would have been high. The doctors administered the additional antidote according to a normal immune system. Due to his training though he wouldn’t have needed as much.
His heart was racing. This must be it, this has to be the cause. He wanted to jump for joy and get to work immediately on a way to restore his vision, but instead, he paced himself. If there was one thing he’d learned from experience, it was that working with deadly toxins while being bouncily elated was not a good idea. No, he needed to sit on it for a while and do a double check tomorrow. Only then, when he was calm and collected and he was still sure he’d found the right solution would he start preparing the medicines that would hopefully cure his blindness. He forced himself to take a deep breath and left his lab to get himself away from the temptation.
It was hard for Shinta to keep quiet about his findings, but he didn’t want to get everyone’s hopes up until he was sure the treatment worked. Though he now had a conception of what might be causing his blindness, it didn’t mean that administering the right type of medicine would actually solve the problem. It might be too late by now to reverse the process and, if that would be the case, he didn’t want their sympathies. In fact, he didn’t want to think about that scenario period, because truth be told, he wasn’t so sure he could keep his act together. The only thing that had kept him going this far was the hope he found a cure and with that gone…
For the first time since the attack, Shinta slept throughout the night with no disturbing nightmares haunting him, and it left him well-rested and clear-headed. He even showed up at the breakfast table, much to the surprise of the rest of the family, and offered to do the dishes.
“Toshi, go get the doctor, I think your little brother has finally lost it,” Feilon said in mock alarm.
“I’m perfectly fine. Besides, aren’t you the one who keeps telling me that being blind doesn’t make me useless?” Shinta threw back.
Feilon gave him a peck on his forehead. “You’re not. Since you’ve finally realized that yourself, you can start by cleaning up the mess in your room,” Feilon teased before walking out of the kitchen to start his teaching lessons at the dojo.
“Something good happened?” Toshiro asked when Feilon was out of earshot.
“Perhaps. We’ll see,” Shinta said cryptic before heading outside himself.
He fast-tracked the dishes, only breaking two plates and a cup, before making a beeline to his lab. Once there, he replayed his recordings several times to make sure he’d made no miscalculations. He started mixing various ingredients and let it simmer on a small gas stove. He could tell by the smell that it was exactly what it should be, but to be sure he sampled the mixture. In another beaker he measured out several milliliters of alcohol and water. Then came the crucial part of the recipe. In order for it to work, he needed to add the right amount of toxin he’d been poisoned with in the first place. This would balance out the residual antidote still coursing through his veins, and would dissolve the blood clot that was blocking his sight. At least he hoped it would. He took a deep breath as he opened the vial that held the poison he needed. With a small pipette he measured out several drops, letting his hearing guide him. Once the mixture was done, he added it to the cooling compound and stirred.
The moment of truth…
For a mere second, he held the beaker in his hand, going over his calculations one more time. He was aware that if he had it wrong, it would most likely kill him. He didn’t care, at least he’d tried.
Without further delay he chucked down the entire content of the beaker, grimacing as the bitterness assaulted his taste buds. Sitting down on his chair, he waited for the magic to happen. His scientific mind told him it could take up to several hours before there were any results, but a small part of him expected fireworks to go off behind his eyes and he would suddenly see again.
Be patient, it will work. It will have to work!
After several long minutes of nothing happening, he started to get nauseous. He told himself it was merely his nerves and tried to ignore it. However, when a growing numbness spread through his body and his heartbeat started racing, he knew something had gone wrong. He tried to get up from his chair, realizing he needed to call for help, but his legs no longer held him up, plummeting him to the ground. He tried to crawl to the door, but sudden seizures incapacitated him from any further movement. Wheezing for air, he couldn’t even find the strength to call for help. Pain wracked his whole body and when cold darkness came over him, he was almost glad.
“FEILON! FEILON!” Toshiro’s voice could be heard all the way in the dojo, and even from a distance, Feilon heard the panic in his fledgling’s voice. Nothing like the calm, quiet boy. He quickly dismissed his class and ran over to the main house where Toshiro was yelling out orders to the staff while making his way into the house. Feilon ran over to catch up with him, knowing something must have been wrong. Only then did he notice the lifeless body the boy had been carrying and was now laying down on a laid-out futon.
“Toshi? What’s wrong?”
Toshi looked over his shoulder and Feilon was taken aback by the look on his face. “It’s Shinta Master… He… — I found him in his lab… I—”
Feilon rushed over and had his worst nightmare confirmed. The body Toshiro had been carrying was Shinta’s.
He sat down on the other side of the lifeless body, checking for a pulse. It was barely more than a flutter, and the boy had a sickly pallor to his skin that Feilon didn’t want to think about. “What happened?!”
“I don’t know, I found him like this in his lab, seizing and choking.”
“What in the world was he doing there?!” Feilon was getting angry as unbidden thoughts rose their ugly heads. Was it really an accident? Or had the boy fooled them all into believing he was alright? After all, Feilon knew something was up with his fledgling these past couple of weeks. He’d known the boy was preoccupied with something, but he had told himself not to pry, to give the boy his space. This morning he’d been so close in confronting the boy, but seeing him cheerful for the first time since the attack, he hadn’t had the heart to do anything to upset him. How could he not see this coming?
“He… was looking for a cure,” Toshiro said guiltily.
Before Feilon could question him further, Raenef stormed in, closely followed by Eclipse and the doctor. “What happened?!” Raenef asked, kneeling down next to Toshiro.
“We’re not sure. Toshi found him convulsing and choking on the floor of his lab,” Feilon recounted.
“Do we know what he took?” Raenef asked worried while his hands were already channeling his Mana in the boy.
Feilon looked to Toshiro, but the boy only shook his head. “I only know he said he was working on a cure, and that he was close to finding one.”