Morgan E. LaMonica


Griffon stirred, his eyelids feeling heavy and impossible to open. It was hard enough taking deep breaths to satisfy his lungs. He knew he was still bound, not because he could feel his body, but because his position had not changed in the past week–or was it weeks? Time blurred together as one long string of being forced to take the drug over and over. He heard shuffling beside him and forced his eyes open to peer at Nahlia through thick, mucousy lashes.

“Good…morning,” he croaked out. Her head jerked up and she smiled brightly, excited to see that her friend was finally awake. It took Griffon a moment or two, but he could make out a fistful of flowers in her tight grasp. “More poppies?” he smiled gently. Nahlia nodded and tucked one into his hair, removing the one from yesterday. She leaned back to admire how well her flowers matched Griffon’s auburn locks. “Thank you,” Griffon murmured, but before he could say more, a rasping cough wracked his body, seeming to coat his lungs. He tried to curl into himself to protect against the cough, but even through the numbness of daleant, he could feel his insides creaking with a sharp, sudden pain. Nahlia patted his cheek worriedly, trying in vain to comfort Griffon as he jerked on the dirt floor. Finally, the harsh coughing subsided, but what little breathing he could do before seemed impossible as he lay there wheezing.

Nahlia began stroking his hair and scar, not knowing how to help. She was so small, no more then four years old, if even that. Griffon was not a large man by any means, and yet he seemed to dwarf her in comparison. Eventually, the pain subsided a little, but the small supply of energy that Griffon had before was gone. He lay there, chest heaving, as his eyes began to close once more. The last thing he made out before the daleant led him back to sleep was Nahlia curling up against his chest, draping her cloak haphazardly over both of them. Her father would not be pleased.

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