Some things only seemed like a good idea when one had drunk enough to send common sense running for cover. The Pig’s cheapest bourbon had been just the thing to start that process. Kyraine drank the rest of the last jug, the alcohol blending in with the exhaustion, adding to it. The room spun, she could barely keep her eyes open.
“See this, you bitch?” she slurred. “Can’t keep me awake forever, aye? No, you can’t…” The rest of the sentence trailed off into a laugh that was almost hysterical. Maybe the ghost was right. Maybe you did go mad after three days without sleep.
Another half crazed laugh escaped. Blue lifted his head from massive forepaws and whined softly. He got big, when did he get so big, Kyraine thought drunkenly. No wonder the innkeeper in Winterguarde hates him, he takes after the worg side of the family. Or, might be it’s me she doesn’t like. Huh. I’ve no bloody clue.
Blue whined again, a hint of a growl bubbling in his throat to go with it. His person smelled wrong, sick, almost. It was because of her. The woman that always came when his person wanted to sleep, the one who smelled like death and sent the fur on his ruff bristling. The one he could not bite, no matter how hard he tried. She laughed at him, teasing him by tipping her head back to show where someone had already opened her throat, the way the wolfdog wanted to. He growled again, for all the good it did.
“Forgot to finish the potions,” she told Blue, leaning over to ruffle the fur behind his ears. She missed his head entirely, and stumbled, sitting down hard on the ground by the small room’s fireplace. Blue pressed against her, licking her face once, trying to reassure her in the only way that he knew how. Kyraine looked around and spotted her pile of gear, left in an unusually messy heap by the stand that held her armor.
The bottles clinked when she moved them, digging through the leather satchel that held her herbs. A friend in Redridge had taught her how to brew the potions, when she had stayed there after a particularly messy job. Kyraine squinted, focusing on the precise measurements. “All the warnings you gave me about taking these damn things,” she muttered, vaguely aware that she was talking to herself again.
It was so hard to sleep, when every time she closed her eyes, the ghost burned her. “Ta, darling,” the ghost always said at the moment Kyraine started awake. Then that mocking laugh, the tip of her head on its ruined throat- like it was a Light damned hat- before she faded from sight.
“If I hear one person say Ta to me, I’ll gut them,” she snarled. She could almost hear the ghost laughing at her, even though the creature never showed up until she drifted off.
The potions were finished. Dreamless sleep potions and bourbon. Kyraine set three of the bottles on the small nightstand next to the bed. By themselves, they never lasted long. With bourbon and exhaustion? It just might work. Before her common sense could make an appearance to tell her just how stupid mixing bourbon and the potions was, Kyraine downed one, collapsing back onto the bed soon after.
Blue’s ears twitched. He knew what unconscious was, when he could bark and whine and even nip at a hand, and the human did not wake up. She lay like that now, not moving.
He felt it when the ghost came, of course. He always did. A quick leap brought him to the bedside and he faced the ghost, showing his teeth in a vicious snarl.
“Oh, darling little dog. You are almost as amusing as she is.” The ghost tipped her head back, laughing. “Good dog. Except that you aren’t, or you would protect your mistress, wouldn’t you? Ah, but you can’t.”
She glided by Blue, ignoring the wolfhound’s frantic attempts to drive her away, and leaned over the bed. The first burn did nothing. Frowning, she looked down at the crazed dog. “I was right. This will be entertaining. Let’s see now, pup, how many times it takes before she finally wakes up.”
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