All the Reward (254 Words)
Her hands shook. She scraped the tough skin from the root, then cut the inner meat into thin circles. The pot was already boiling when she added the root. It was one chance in a thousand, but they had tried everything else.
She watched the plant fibers melt and disperse. The steam smelled like an unusual kind of spice, sweet.
“You’re doing it, then?”
Lara turned in surprise. She saw Lady Cymbeline behind her.
“I have to,” she said. Her throat sounded dry, cracked, like someone else’s voice.
Lady Cymbeline didn’t question her. She stood by the pot and stirred it herself.
“A small reward,” she said, “for bringing this gift to us. If I could spare you more of the root, I would.”
In the next room, Raq was sleeping. He had sunk into the third sleep like so many before him, and would not wake again except in the next world, in the cradle of the Mover of Waters. But Lara bent over him in bed and raised his head on her arm. She placed the bowl at his lips.
“Please,” she whispered. “Please don’t take him. Not yet.”
They had faced so much together. Dragons, the Deep Ones of Kah, the Skull Drinkers. But she could think of nothing more terrifying than facing a life of peace, of rest, without him.
His throat moved. He drank. And when his eyes opened, so dark, so tired, so full of light, she knew that this was all the reward she would ever need.
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